“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
— Macbeth, Act V, Scene V
Good old William Shakespeare wasn’t referring to Michael Bay flicks, naturally, but rather life. The above quote is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and overused quotes but I could think of none other that so exactly summed up the movie I watched this afternoon.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen starts out on the wrong foot simply by virtue of being an obnoxious two and a half hours. Roughly an hour could have easily been trimmed out of the film with no undue impact to the film’s dubious, threadbare plot. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is heading off to college and leaving both girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) and protector Bumblebee behind. His overall goal is to have a normal life after the events that transpired in the previous film; however, fate has other things in store for him. After a shard of the now-destroyed Allspark falls out of his clothing, Sam begins to see strange symbols and have bizarre, unexplained episodes of abnormal behavior. Meanwhile, the Decepticons are gearing up for a big showdown, as they rescue Megatron from the depths of the Laurentian Abyssal and begin to search for a new energy source on Earth.
Transformers 2 is so much of a mess it’s hard to know where to start. Megan Fox didn’t even bother to try to act. I suppose she knew what she was signing on for when every article of her wardrobe is cut up or down to her navel, but she ho-hums her way through the movie. LaBeouf is a decent actor most of the time but he’s forced to jerk and twitch his way through this bloated tangle of a movie. The normally impeccable John Turturro is reduced to a blubbering knuckledragger who shows up to scale a pyramid and to drop his drawers and reveal a set of g-string underwear to the audience. God Almighty, I hope Turturro bought a nice house with his paycheck. Even Witwicky’s parents are dunderheads who can barely survive the flick on their own without being swaddled in bubblewrap and bodyguards.
Plot points such as tattoos are brought up and then dropped, ne’er to be seen again. The film meanders from explosion to explosion in the first half before a geriatric robot named Jetfire shows up to monologue some exposition for the audience, explaining what exactly has been going on for the past hour and a half before picking right up again with – you guessed it – explosions.
The robots are tiresome, particularly The Twins, two robots who are the worst racial caricatures I’ve seen on film in a long time. Decked out in gold teeth and lopsided faces, these two spend the film beating each other up and firing off such treasures of dialogue involving profanity and odious slang. I have no idea who thought these two were a good idea, but it shocks me that someone tossed them in such a cavalier fashion. The adolescent humor that pervades the film, like scrotum and ass jokes, feels more at home in something like Meet the Spartans but I suppose Bay never met a barrel he didn’t like to scrape.
What is amazing is the level of detail to the CGI but even that wears thin quickly. Bay’s biggest forte has always been the fact that he can direct action scenes particularly well but the scale of the Transformers combined with the closer shots doesn’t lend itself well to a viewer making heads or tails of the bots fighting on screen. Sometimes all that detail does is make your head hurt.
Transformers 2 isn’t a film so much as a cinematic beatdown for the theatergoer. Bay’s purpose isn’t to entertain; it’s to pummel a ticket buyer into the plush theater seat with explosions and a soundtrack that would make the deafest of persons wince. (I left the theater at roughly 6:00 p.m. with a raging headache that has only moderately subsided three hours later.) If this film is a testament to anything, it’s Michael Bay’s unchecked ego.
Revenge of the Fallen is a behemoth of idiocy. There is nothing entertaining or amusing about it. There is no reward to this experience. If you go see it, aspirin and a cool cloth await you post-film with a strange sense of having been clubbed half to death.
If we were running on the star rating here at 1,416 and Counting? We’re talking half a star for those poor ILM folks who worked their tails off on the CGI. That’s it.