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Transformers sequel a sorry mess


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To both my horror and delight -- horror because of my general disdain for the Michael Bay oeuvre, delight because of my desire to enjoy every picture I see (contrary to popular belief, film critics don't enter a theater wanting to hate the movie; what sort of dreary, masochistic career would that make?) -- I somewhat dug 2007's Transformers, writing in my original review that "even folks who wouldn't know a Transformer from a Teletubby can expect to have a good time" and praising the film for being "decidedly more character-driven than expected" and "balancing action with emotion." For this, I credited the presence of executive producer Steven Spielberg, who was described in the press notes as being a "hands-on producer" during the making of a film that, in its best moments, recalled the mirth of Spielberg's own 1980s output. Well, Spielberg must have been on an extended vacation and far away from the set during the making of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a perfectly dreadful sequel that's the filmic equivalent of a 150-minute waterboarding session.

As before, two warring factions of intergalactic robots -- the noble Autobots and the evil Decepticons -- are waging their battle on our planet, with youngsters Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) offering their support to the good 'bots. Yet while the film's running time is almost identical to that of its predecessor, the priorities for this torturous follow-up have been shifted. The slugfests between the Autobots and the Decepticons -- incidentally, the dullest portions of the first flick -- have been elongated this time around, and without the added benefit of allowing viewers (except for the most devoted fanboys, of course) to figure out who the hell is pummeling who. And by including more fights and more explosions and more military hardware (Bay must fantasize about fondling missiles the way teenage boys fantasize about fondling Fox), that leaves less room for any meaningful human interaction. On the other hand, given that scripters Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have made Sam's parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) more insufferable than before and also have added an annoying new character (Ramon Rodriguez as Sam's dorkish, dickish college roommate), maybe the less seen of the humans, the better.

Unfortunately, the Transformers themselves are no more interesting. Several new ones have been introduced, with the most offensive being two "black" Transformers who sport buck teeth (one gold), admit to not being able to read, and cuss a lot. Forget Jar Jar Binks, who comes across like Paul Robeson when compared to these stooges: You'd have to go back to the days of Stepin Fetchit and Sleep 'n' Eat (nee Willie Best) to find such a jolting comparison.

Bay doesn't believe in stooping too low, so he also treats us to not one but two shots of dogs screwing, as well as a mini-Transformer humping Mikaela's leg, a Transformer with flatulence problems and a close-up of John Turturro's thong-clad buttocks. And did I mention the swinging metallic testicles on one of the Decepticons? That last-named bit of idiocy thus allows me to segue into my own phallic quip: This movie sucks.


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