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Going into a movie like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, you pretty much know what you’re in for. Afer all, it is a Michael Bay movie, and with that label comes certain expectations. The movie will be a huge spectacle of noise and fury. It will be loud, it will be crass, and it will probably not make a whole lot of sense. Some people buy into Bay’s world of excess, and just as many despise everything about it. At the risk of alienating the latter, I have to confess that with the excpetion of Pearl Harbor, I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of his movies. And that includes Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Having said that, it could have been much better. There is a terrific movie buried within the entirety of the film, but sometimes it’s pretty hard to spot underneath the extraordinarily juvenile “humor,” disjointed storytelling and inane dialogue. Another vicitm of the Writers’ Strike, an outline of the script by Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Ehren Kruger was rushed into completion in order for Bay to begin Pre-Production during the strike. As such, it’s a film of (rather spectacular) ideas and sequences more than anything.
Assuming that we have all seen the first film, this time around begins with the Autobots (the good Transformers) working with the Govenment in an attempt to hunt and capture the remaining Decepticons (the bad Transformers). But why are the Decepticons still here when they were defeated in the last film? Of course, in typical sequel fashion, the answer is on a much larger scale than last time, spanning thousands of years, enhancing the mythology of the Transformers, and yet all coming back to the central character, Sam Witwicky.
As played by Shia LaBeouf, Witwicky is just a normal kid starting college with typical freshman worries. He just happens to have gotten caught up in this epic battle. Tagging along for no reason beyond providing eye candy for the audience is Megan Fox, bringing absolutely nothing substantial to the role. There is an attempt at fleshing out their relationship, but that is all filler between the robot fighting.
And the robot fighting is what this movie is all about. It is non-stop, huge-scale, massive action animated superbly by the geniuses at Industrial Light and Magic. The effects aren’t the most photo-realistic they’ve done, but the artistry behind them is a thrill to watch. There is almost always something visually exciting on screen, even if there isn’t anything of real substance behind it.
With so much happening at all times, it is very easy to lose yourself in a movie like this. Having said that, there are three characters that come close to ruining every scene they are in. The first of these is Sam’s mother, Judy Witwicky, played by Julie White. While the entire movie is over-the-top, she takes this concept to a cringe-worthy, embarrassingly awful level. Overacting the simplest of sequences, she creates a caricature of a mother losing her son to the adult world. I hated every shrieking line of dialogue, and every aspect of the performance. The other two are the twin robots, Wheelie and Skids, played by Tom Kenny (the voice of Spongebob Squarepants). Portrayed as uneducated ghetto robots, complete with gold teeth, I felt like cringing everytime they were on screen.
Despite these flaws, the movie is a blast to watch. Every setpiece and every transformation took me back to when I would spend hours playing with my Transformer toys as a kid. This is a Michael Bay movie through and through, and if you are somebody who can appreciate his over-the-top playground, then this is definitely worth seeing on the big screen.