Does anybody out there yet doubt Michael Bay’s pyrotechnical abilities? This is only the eighth movie that he’s ever directed but I’m guessing that catalogue features thousands of explosions involving asteroids, weapons, machines, vehicles and plain old-fashioned bombs. That’s why I like to call him ‘Mayhem’ Bay.
If you enjoy incendiary destruction then you’ll be happy to know that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has more explosions than all Bay’s previous films combined, plus a few of Spielberg’s, Bruckheimer’s and maybe a Tony Scott or James Cameron film thrown in for good measure.
Sadly, that’s likely all that you’ll be happy about.
Bay is like a kid in a candy store with an unlimited credit card when it comes to excessive cinematic effects. That’s probably why he’ll never be at the helm of a tender coming of age period drama set in Britain. That is, unless, it’s during the blitz during the Second World War. Regardless, a movie like this is right up his alley.
Unfortunately it’s too perfect for Bay. It’s the sequel about an alien race of shape-shifting robots from the planet Cybertron who come to Earth looking for a cube called the Allspark that contained the source of their creation. They are divided into two factions: the good Autobots (led by Optimus Prime) and the bad Decepticons (led by Megatron). Fascinated yet?
Once again the Autobots get help from Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and his girlfriend, Mikaela (Megan Fox). The plot this time around involves the return of The Fallen, a Decepticon who wanted to activate a device on Earth that would enable a bountiful source of energy for the machine race. It would have devastating effects for everything else here though. Thus the war was once again on.
And what a long war it was. Bay and co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman do not know what brevity means. This 150-minute film could easily have half an hour clipped off the top, if not more. But no, they had to include a slow motion running shot of Fox in a tight white tank top several times. Can anyone say ‘gratuitous?’ That was sadly but expectedly about the extent of the benefits of her acting. There was so much of a convoluted plot and copious exposition to explain it that the synopsis probably runs 20 pages.
This extended pan-rattling film really only served to induce a major headache and nearly a seizure. There is so much intensity of action, colour, fighting and noise (all enhanced by computer-generated effects) that I had the powerful sensations of nausea and post-traumatic stress disorder afterward. I would not recommend this for children under 12 unless you want them up all night bouncing off the walls and reciting the profanity-ridden lines back at you. Another note: when will Hollywood stop making jokes about using Tasers on people for fun and comedy?
The truth is Bay is a second-rate director at best. His solution to overshadow his shortcomings is to throw around money. Some people say that fortune favours the bold, and it certainly hasn’t hurt him, but he will only go down in the annals of silver screen history as a boy playing with as many toys as possible.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Rainn Wilson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, and John Turturro, plus the voices of Hugo Weaving, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker and Tony Todd
Now playing at: Grandin Theatre, North Edmonton Cineplex, Westmount Centre Cinemas, and Scotiabank Theatre