Review: Transformer 2

The movie that almost everyone is looking out for this year, 'Transformers 2: The Revenge of the Fallen' arrived on Malaysian shores with tremendous euphoric greeting of Michael Bay’s (and Megan Fox’s) latest summer popcorn smash (GSC’s online booking website almost crashed from excessive demand!!). Transformers 2 was hoped to live through a life of a better sequel, i.e. Terminator 2, Aliens, Godfather 2, The Dark Knight) whereby the sequel was arguably a better version of the original. But alas, you may put some money on James Cameron or Christopher Nolan to deliver such a promise, but never Michael Bay. Free from the supervision and shackles of Steven Spielberg’s guiding hand in the first Transformers movie, this time around Michael Bay is let loose, and what a loose-cannon he is, and his unrestrained bayhem was unfortunately personified on screen for all to see.

No doubt bigger in every way (except where it is needed, i.e. the script), this film represents Michael Bay at his most undisciplined and ridiculous. Any reason and logic that can be associated to any fleeting likeness to a plot or script is thrown out the window with an adredelin-induced kick. Whatever words or sentences muttered by the actors serves no main reason whatsoever except to move from one big action scene to another, and in instances when there’s no action scenes, the words are simply fillers to entertain the viewers with mainly childish humor that would mainly perk the pre-teens and grown men that suffers from a serious case of 80’s nostalgia.

But almost everyone would have expected nothing less from Michael Bay, he is after all, Michael Bay, the great action conductor that brought us memorable popcorn fun in movies like Armageddon, Bad Boys I & II, The Rock, and of course the original Transformers. With Michael Bay, action is what he is all about and action he doesn’t fail to bring us with a big, loud bang. Armed with almost USD200 million of a war chest, he spends them without a care in the world and the special effects are certainly a USD200 million visual feast of a joyride for all to see. With more robots, bigger action sequences, more explosions and definitely more Megan Fox (I just have to throw that in), Transformers 2 is unquestionably an action opus that would make any action and robo junkie’s wet dream.

But speaking of action sequences, in general Transformers 2 suffers from an over-ambitious intent that leaves the overall movie composition feel like a one big expensive mess, in particular the last hour where it’s set in a Middle-Eastern desert. With almost an entire hour devoted to this piece of action scene, it becomes one long drawn out and untidy desert fight scene that has characters running amok from explosions igniting from anything that can be exploded, robots appearing and disappearing just as quickly from nowhere and the heavy participation of the military that made the movie feel like a half-commercial for the army, it all drags on and tires out, leaving any feeling of excitement sucked completely dry and what is left is a mindless and soulless MTV video clip glorifying Michael Bay’s crack-induced action flair (and Megan Fox running in all different manners possible in slow-mo).

A novelty of the first Transformers movie was the design of the robots, but in this sequel it has become a chore to watch. With the Decepticons’ similar chrome coloring and spiky designs, it all becomes somewhat confusing, especially in the desert action scene. With Michael Bay’s usual hyper-editing and extreme close-ups, it is often someone would confuse Megatron with Starscream, Scoponok with Soundwave and so on. When the action is on hyper mode, one would need to take a moment or two to recognize a specific robot or whether that robot is good or evil, but by that time when this realization is complete, one would already have missed a significant chunk of the action as the quick-fire editing moves things along at hyperspeed. Due to this, it is best to just not bother and simply watch the action. The result of this is that all the action becomes cold with no connection between the viewer and what is on screen whatsoever, and this contributes to the overwhelming disorganization and disorientation on screen.

Coming off best from this carnage is the comedic roles played by the side actors such as Ramon Rodriguez as Shia’s roommate as the web crazy oddball with a senseless energy. Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Shia’s parents almost stole the show with their comedic slack, especially during the scene when Shia was just checking into his new college. John Turturro returns and continuing what he did best in the first movie, and virtually saves the second half of Transformers 2 from over-induced action and tediousness, he picks up the comedic slack amidst all the sand-blasting and metal-clanging carnage by helping to leave a smile or two on our already sensory-overloaded faces.

Besides the robots, Megan Fox is certainly the next in line for the reason why hordes of boys are lining up at box-office for this movie. With the help of Michael Bay’s MTV flair for bringing out the best curves humanly possible from Megan, she simply remains as the sole person in the world at the moment to ooze testosterone –filled charm without uttering a single word. With that however, is how far Megan can go at present because besides her perfection in displaying her curves and looking so hot in slow-mo not seen since Pam Anderson in Baywatch, her acting abilities still has some way to go. She already seduced the masses with her good looks and now all she needs is a few good acting performances for her to be propelled to real super-stardom and not fall into the void of “all looks and no brains” category of an actress.

The bottom line is, as a mindless summer popcorn movie Transformers 2 will provide all the thrills but not the satisfaction associated with the first Transformers movie. The first Transformers movie enjoyed the novelty of a CGI spectacle not seen since Jurassic Park with the dinosaurs, or the Lord of the Rings with the fantastic creatures and battle scenes. But with Transformers 2, the novelty wears off, and it wore of thin and fast. As the movie moved along, the action becomes repetitive, the jokes became corny and the story is just non-existent, with the viewer simply waiting for the ‘next thing big’ to happen, but it never did. For all Michael Bay had achieved in the first Transformers movie, the sequel sadly falls into the category of “should have been much better” and it should really could have been much more better. Michael Bay made a mess of this movie, he was out of control and hopefully he knows it.

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

Verdict: 7 / 10

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