Given his first major global threat since coming to power, President Obama proves to be more than a little bit useless. Hiding in a bunker somewhere, we are informed, he orders the Autobots off Earth in the hope that, y’know, the Decepticons might follow too.
Alas, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen proves to be everything fans had hoped that the predecessor wouldn’t be. It takes a particular kind of inept to make GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER seem uninteresting, but director Michael Bay manages to pull it off. By the movie’s end, you’ll be thoroughly bored of the thundering great battle scenes (ruined by the fact that it's impossible to tell which robot is which) and even more bored with the interminably horrible human scenes.
To sum up the plot (which seems like it was made up as the writers went along), we find Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and his girlfriend (Megan Fox) right were we left them; Shia LaBeouf still looks like a greasy-haired PC World employee, and Megan Fox is still, like, totally hot. Her character has a name, but Megan Fox essentially plays a pair of breasts and an ass anyway, so such things as a 'name' are unimportant. Bumblebee, meanwhile, still lives in the garage (dude has serious self-esteem issues). As Sam prepares to go to college, he finds a shard of the allspark left in an old jacket pocket. This transfers a bunch of symbols into his head, and also alerts the Decepticons to, um… something. Only Sam’s newfound knowledge, trapped in his brain (a bit like Chuck), can help The Fallen – who lives in the asteroid off’ve Armageddon, controlling shit from above – and the newly re-empowered Megatron – to re-activate an age old device and black out the sun.
This amazingly shitty plot wouldn’t normally be a problem in a Michael Bay film. But unfortunately, the director struggles. There’s only so much you can do with GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER, and Bay seems to have run out of variations already. Hell knows how he’s gonna manage a third instalment (Transformers VS Beast Wars, perhaps? Or a big-screen adaptation of Transformers VS X-Men).
Given that the robots are only interesting when BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER, Bay gives the human characters much more to do this time around. And he also introduces a lot more comic relief. There are at least eight comic relief characters, all of whom are incredibly annoying and frequently interact with each other. Sam’s parents make an extended appearance during the first quarter of the film, climaxing in a truly horrendous scene where Sam’s mom eats a bag full of cannabis brownies (really) and wanders around Sam’s college grounds spouting bullshit and generally acting like stoned people don’t.
Talking of pointlessly re-introduced charatcters, John Turturro’s Secret Agent makes a re-appearance. He seemingly only exists to tell everyone where to go next (to a teleporting ex-Decepticon, as it happens… whereupon the whole gang are teleported to Egypt). The newest – and most widely reported upon – pieces of 'comic' 'relief' are Skids and Mudflap, Michael Bay’s own version of Jar Jar Binks (Car Car Binks?); sporting jug ears, gold teeth, illiteracy, and talking in ebonics, its led to a considerable amount of allegations of racism for Mr. Bay. Racism aside, they’re fucking annoying. There's so much comic relief in Revenge of the Fallen that Rainn Wilson has time to make a cameo... and plays it almost completely straight compared to everyone else.
And yet the first half of the movie is pretty good, to be fair. There’s plenty of action, and (stoned mom aside) the ‘comedy’ won’t have started to grate yet. But as the kids go into hiding, everything slows down to a sluggish pace, and the ill-advised slapstick kicks in. If you’ve ever wondered what a Michael Bay directed comedy would look like, this is it. Humping dogs (twice), farting Transformers, robot ball-sacks, John Turturro in his undies, characters falling onto one anothers' crotches... the 'comedy' never lets up, and just gets progressively worse as the movie goes on.
Maybe a better pair of lead actors would have helped things somewhat. Together, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox make up the worst leading pair since, uh, ever, creating a vacuum of sheer awfulness that drags everything - GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER included – down with it. LaBouf is spectacularly bland as ever, but Fox continues to confuse with her ability to get acting jobs. Sarcasm, menace, happiness, sadness and fear are lost on Ms. Fox, as she exhibits the same Lads’ Mag Pose expression throughout. Her voice sounds slurred and moronic; emphasising that the only thing she does well is Sitting on a Motorbike, Baring Her Ass, fooling moron blokes into thinking that Transformers 2 is a good film.
Everything else plays out like a spoof of a Michael Bay film. Everyone - particularly the Transformers - speaks in videogame dialogue. There are an obscene amount of shots of LaBeouf’s chin, taken from a particular Bay favourite – the low angle. Just as you think he won’t find the time, he even manages to fit in the widely spoofed shot of a helicopter passing behind someone’s head in slow-motion. There’s the oh-no-he’s-dead-oh-wait-no-he’s-not thing, as well as several characters sacrificing themselves to save another.
Revenge of the Boring isn’t quite as bad as this review makes it sound, but it’s also incredibly easy to rip on. (The good bits, then: The pre-credits sequence, the opening chase, a fight in a forest… uh…)
But anyway, some will say I’m missing the point with this; that summer movies are meant to be big and stupid… which is true, and also the reason Transformers 2 scores so badly. It’s simply far too boring and bloated to entertain like its predecessor did, and doesn’t even stand up to Bay’s own back catalogue (it's still better than The Island, though).
In the end, despite all Bay's attempts at comic relief, the single funniest thing in Transformers 2 is the idea that Shia LaBeouf has anything in his head at all, let alone something of value to a whole race.