We posted our extensive Transformers 2 review up on Sunday night — it focuses on explaining the storyline step by step with an analysis of the new characters and robots from a fan’s perspective. Some fans were not happy with the outcome. View Movie Chronicles review
Meanwhile, pyramids are dismantled, bodies hurled through the air and facial orifices probed. And all the metal on display is more brassy than precious.
No amount of technical virtuosity can make up for an agonizingly witless story, clumsy dialogue and uninteresting characters.
The battle scenes are bewildering. A Bot makes no visual sense anyway, but two or three tangled up together create an incomprehensible confusion. I find it amusing that creatures that can unfold out of a Camaro and stand four stories high do most of their fighting with…fists. Like I say, dumber than a box of staples. They have tiny little heads, except for Starscream® [Jetfire], who is so ancient he has an aluminum beard.
Aware that this movie opened in England seven hours before Chicago time and the morning papers would be on the streets, after writing the above I looked up the first reviews as a reality check. I was reassured: “Like watching paint dry while getting hit over the head with a frying pan!” (Bradshaw, Guardian); “Sums up everything that is most tedious, crass and despicable about modern Hollywood!” (Tookey, Daily Mail); “A giant, lumbering idiot of a movie!” (Edwards, Daily Mirror). The first American review, Todd Gilchrist of Cinematical, reported that Bay’s “ambition runs a mile long and an inch deep,” but, in a spirited defense, says “this must be the most movie I have ever experienced.” He is bullish on the box office: it “feels destined to be the biggest movie of all time.” It’s certainly the biggest something of all time.
At last year’s Comic-Con convention, several representatives of Revenge of the Fallen appeared with the slogan ”Bigger. F—ing. Robots.” on their T-shirts, and Bay, taking that cue, knows just what his job is relative to the first Transformers (2007): It’s to make the movie huger, louder, smashier, and — on the mechanical level — more crazily, audaciously imaginative. He succeeds. Revenge of the Fallen showcases an infectiously diverse brigade of chattery unfolding contraptions, from mechanical gremlins that transform out of kitchen appliances to one that erupts from a vintage airplane to a coed with a tongue of steel. Each of these creature-gizmos has a marvelous, organic fluidity — they don’t just move, they clank and roll. And it was an inspired touch to set the film’s most ferocious battle amid the Pyramids, featuring a Decepticon so humungous it just about waddles with power. Revenge of the Fallen may be a massive overdose of popcorn greased with motor oil. But it knows how to feed your inner 10-year-old’s appetite for destruction.
Chicago Tribune (1.5/5)
There’s a lazy cynicism to “Transformers 2,” from the dubious comic-relief “ghetto” ‘bots known as the Twins, to the rump-in-the-air introduction of Fox’s character, to the general air of militaristic fetishism. The chief human antagonist is an Obama administration security adviser who keeps pushing diplomatic solutions while the Decepticons kill, kill, kill. Near the end an aged Autobot, waling away at his enemies atop a pyramid, mutters the line “I’m too old for this crap.” No matter, pal. You’re not in the target demographic.
Harry says TRANSFORMERS 2 is foul mouthed, racist & misogynistic! It also runs an hour too long!
All that said though — my nephew loved the film, he’s nearly nine. He hated the kissy stuff. But he loved pretty much everything else. He adored Mudflap and Skids — which is more disturbing than anything else. The amount of foul language popping out of their mouths is astonishing, especially with the shit, bitch, muther…, ass, pussy, etc…
What the hell is this stuff doing in a TRANSFORMERS movie?
This film was conceived during the WRITER’S STRIKE — with Michael Bay up at ILM doing animatics on the big action sequences. Then when the strike was over, he brought in Orci & Kurtzman to string the scenes together. Which oddly enough was kinda how Hitchcock and Lehmann worked on NORTH BY NORTHWEST (to radically different results). And then the roto-rooter of screenwriters, Ehren Kruger did the mop up work on the film. At least that’s how I’ve heard it went down.
The film will make a mint, undeservedly so. Steven Spielberg should be embarrassed to have his name on shoddy storywork like this. Shame on you Steven. Kids will be lining up for this — and they’ll be met with dog fucking, cussing, racial stereotypes and more. I seriously wonder if Spielberg was thinking of Mudflap & Skids as he watched the inauguration of Barack Obama — because he’d read the script at that point, he knew what his name was bringing, and yet he still had the gall to attend.
The filmmakers, studio and toymakers behind this film should be ashamed. To spend this type of money to bring this sort of hurtful and repugnant work to screen — it is an insult to every DREAM that so many have WORKed for, for years.
I’d like to ask you not to support this film, but those of you with young boys, I know there isn’t a chance. But realize you’ll be taking them to see a film with the lowest forms of humor, stereotypes and racism around. Not only that, but its packaged for our children. Which makes it all the more offensive.
The movie currently sits at a low 30% from top critics, the community give it 68%.
Transformers 2 is a sequel that builds on its predecessor in every way; more robots, more humor, more action, more sexiness, better effects, more explosions and more characters. As a popcorn fueled blockbuster it succeeds in being fun and ridiculous, a two and a half hour escape from reality to a world of 30ft robots and insecticons.
As a fan I spent time spotting the individual robots and all the newcomers, especially the ones I’ve seen as toys — yet ultimately I left wanting more, lots more. The excitement at seeing the new characters quickly dwindles as they disappear ten seconds later, with the off chance of another appearance slightly later. Sideswipe, Arcee, Devastator, Jolt, Sideways, all constructicons, The Fallen, Grindor and Soundwave are momentary plot elements, each are a little disappointing in their own way — you could blink and miss them for the most part. However, the new characters that have plot invested in them — Jetfire, Ravage, Wheelie, Skids and Mudflap are all superb and valuable additions. Alice is an odd plot point, interesting but an idea still not fully explored.
The hype about Sideways, Arcee and Demolishor, spurred on by the superbowl teaser, make up the opening action sequence, including the NEST bonus footage. It’s all over in a flash — Arcee is seen chasing Sideways as briefly as in the TV spots, the twins — currently as an ice cream truck, attempt to help but curb badly and fall apart. The rumored scene showing the truck splitting in two and then reforming, past some bewildered kids (as read in the Bethlehem Steel call sheet) isn’t there. The motorcycles drop away and Sergeant Epps calls in Sideswipe — a kick, a slide and a flip and a huge sword slices the Audi R8 clean in two. Meanwhile Demolisher is running amok in Shanghai, taking out helicopters and generally destroying everything he comes across on those enormous great wheels. Optimus Prime drops in via parachute, speeds along the bridge and leaps onto his head, creating that spectacular explosion as seen in the teaser and filmed at Long Beach. A swift blow to the head and Prime takes him out — easy as you like, but not before he can mutter something about The Fallen returning.
Cut to Sam’s parents house and Sam Witwicky is leaving home for college, his mom, one of the pivotal comedy elements, is making a scene. Packing for college, Sam uncovers a shard of the AllSpark, it burns through the floor and sets the kitchen abuzz with little terrorizing robots — out to attack Sam. Bumblebee is called in to save the day, but his weapons destroy the house and dejected he’s sent back to the garage. Cue the “I’m so excited” ShoWest footage and Sam leaving home and Mikaela.
The ever so sinister Soundwave is the overseer, keeping watch on all human activities. He sends in Wheelie to steal the shard from Mikaela and listens in on a debate at the autobot hangar. Here a government bigwig is moaning about the operation, and over a live video feed reveals Megatron and the AllSpark’s location to the decepticons. If you’re watching this scene in the glorious full screen IMAX experience, Optimus Prime will be actual size as he stands tall — it’s spectacular to imagine.
Ravage falls to earth, his mission — to retake the AllSpark parts. Everything about Ravage is brilliant, the way he sneaks and prowls is perfectly animated, it’s mesmerizing. The ball bearing bots are released into a security bunker, where inside they form a tall slither of a robot which steals the cube, Ravage providing cover fire with his hind mounted turrets.
Back at college, Sam is moving in and his parents are helping — his mom describes the dorms as Hogwarts before getting stoned on hash brownies — hilarity shortly ensues. We also meet Ramon Rodriguez’s Leo Spitz — a spunky but cowardice conspiracy theorist. Leo points out the sultry Alice, played by Isabel Lucas, and she’s already making eyes at Sam. At the student party Alice comes onto Sam, and when Bumblebee turns up she forces her way into the car for the ride. To the car radio and lyric “your cheating heart”, Bumblebee makes a nuisance of himself, and as seen at Princeton, Alice ends up covered in green goo, storming off into the night. All the while, Mikaela sits at home, missing out on their first webcam date.
The devastating Decepticon news is broken to Sam at the cemetary by Prime, “It’s not my war”, and all that lark about leading a normal college life. Now the symbols start appearing and Witwicky Jr. can’t stop drawing them everywhere — including an episode in Astronomy 101.
With Megatron’s co-ordinates, the enormous Long Haul, Ravage and constructicons descend into the watery depths to resurrect their leader, sacrificing one of themselves so that the (German) doctor can piece him back together — in an instant it seems. With new life it’s up and away, as a jet and into space, to confront Starscream and receive orders from his master, The Fallen.
Next up, the second of the three BD Live sequences, Wheelie attempts to steal the AllSpark shard from Mikaela, and we know how that turns out. Wheelie’s character is filled with crude laddish humor and his on screen moments are always entertaining — maybe with the exception of the leg humping one which is just plain odd. With Sam having a mental breakdown (brought about by symbols), Mikaela flies out to meet him, walking in on him and Alice seemingly making out.
“That kiss tasted like diesel”, Alice transforms into a spindly Decepticon and attempts to choke Sam with her huge mechanical tongue as Mikaela fends her off. Hot wiring the Saturn Astra, the three, Leo in tow, set off with Alice on the bonnet, akin to a famous Terminator 2 scene. Her life ends prematurely as she is crushed against a lamppost — a shame as the character had potential (you could make a whole movie about a single robot disguised as a human, hunting a boy, maybe the boy would be named John). Shortly thereafter we get the third BD live sequence; Grindor swoops in and carries the trio off to Starscream and Megatron — the fall should surely kill them but they miraculously escape unharmed. “I am zee doctor!” screeches the spindly mechanoid examining/torturing Sam, beneath Megatron’s huge claw.
The next action scene shows how much the special effects have developed in just two years — Prime and the autobots flood in to save the humans, leading to an escape sequence and a forrest fight we’ve seen snippets of in the TV spots. This fight is awesome, the effects are perfect and suddenly Optimus Prime is kicking all sorts of ass (swords and all) as he takes on Megatron, Starscream and Grindor all at once, all expertly choreographed with the token Michael Bay slow-mo death scenes. This is the adrenaline kick we’d hoped for. Ultimately it’s all too much for prime and Megatron destroys him, literally stabbing him in the back and exploding his chest cavity. With their leader gone, it’s time for the Decepticons to mobilize.
From hereon the slower second half somewhat fails to match up to the first — many protoforms are seen falling to earth, destroying Paris, aircraft carriers, etc., and amidst the carrier destruction the reinvigorated Fallen arrives on earth — through a hacked satellite network he issues a global broadcast looking for Sam Witwicky, he wants what’s in his head. This apparent global Decepticon attack never materializes on film — you’d expect some montage of worldwide robot destruction. NEST gets shutdown in the process.
Instead we cut to the unfolding mystery of Sam’s symbol obsession — which for no discernible reason has implanted itself in Sam’s head; ‘it’s his fate’ is the best explanation we’ll get. There’s a short and improbable chain towards explaining the symbols — Leo happens to know the guy that runs BigEffingRobots, who happens to have seen the symbols and happens to be Agent Simmons — (now working in a Deli after the shutdown of sector 7), here he has details of ancient prophecies and Transformers on earth. Wheelie reads said details (whilst on a leash) and points the four to the Smithsonian museum, whereupon they stumble on Jetfire, a bumbling old British fool with a cane — the Blackbird SR-71 and former Decepticon.
Jetfire’s rambles are a charming nonchalant backdrop to the Transformers mythology; he quite randomly ends up teleporting all parties (Skids, Mudflap and Bumblebee included) to Egypt, via the Space Bridge — Sam happens to damage his arm in the process. Now begins the unnecessarily long ‘mystery’, with an aim to resurrect Optimus Prime — following lame clues to find the Tomb of the Primes and the Matrix of Leadership, which breaks into dust on touch. Meanwhile, Simmons has contacted the NEST crew and, with Primes’ body, Autobots and reinforcements, they set off for Egypt. All very slow and drawn out.
The action kicks in again near the pyramids, or more precisely, in White Sands, New Mexico. NEST’s arrival coincides with Starscream’s swooping attack on Bumblebee and the twins, splitting the group in two and sending Sam and Mikaela running towards NEST; leaving the twins, Simmons and Spitz to confront whatever the building site throws at them.
The next big robot battle commences, although without the choreography, urgency or adrenaline of the forrest fight. As NEST and the autobots fend off Megatron, constructicons (Scrapper, Long Haul, Scavenger), Ravage and numerous characterless repaints, the twins find themselves facing the vacuum sucking behemoth Devastator (somehow made of the same constructicon models already battling elsewhere — slightly confusing for fans).
We don’t see much of Devastator’s constituent parts (nothing more than the footage seen in the TV Spots) and there’s no explanation for their presence. Mudflap gets sucked into Devastator’s vortex before attacking him from the inside and being spat back out, and as the humans stand beneath the slow moving giant for safety, it begins its climb up the pyramid. Devastator is entirely disappointing with it’s giant demolishing balls clanging above Simmons as he sends in the order for the top secret rail gun — an attack that takes the giant out in one fell swoop. No battles, no clever autobot team up to take him down, no aggression or personality; might as well have been one giant snail with a Dyson.
Meanwhile, the tanks and guns that struggled to take out Decepticons in the first movie, take out attacking robots with relative ease. And as Sam and Mikaela desperately run from more giant robots, the Decepticons can’t catch up or shoot straight, crazy. The highlight of this segment comes in Bumblebee’s handling of Sam’s parent’s hostage situation; launching on Scrapper from above and executing him with expert style, before rumbling with Ravage and ripping his spine out in slow motion. We see Arcee for another split second before she gets destroyed by a missile, I think she utters a couple of words; no misinformation from Bay this time around. Sideswipe makes an appearance, commanding some men, whilst Ratchet and Ironhide are relegated to minor battles.
As battle draws to a close, one last gasp missile from Megatron catches Sam, knocking him down, where for a few moments we are led to believe he might be dead. “Am I dead? Where am I?” Sam asks, as the scene cuts to autobot heaven and the ghosts of the primes with their messages of fate and leadership. The Matrix of Leadership re-materializes and Sam uses it to bring Optimus Prime back to life, but not before announcing his love for Mikaela.
Without warning, The Fallen, in his brief third appearance, teleports in, steals the Matrix and teleports back out to the top of the pyramid, to begin activation of the sun harvester. In response, Jetfire sacrifices himself to heal Prime’s broken parts (as the only decent thing he’s ever done) and augment his powers — here comes Jolt’s ten seconds of stardom — his robot mode and electrical powers are called upon to facilitate. Prime now flies off to battle The Fallen and Megatron simultaneously atop the pyramids, and again he kicks all sorts of metal rear; heavily damaging Megatron (who cowardly flees to fight another day), and beheading The Fallen in a brutal attack, sadly it’s all over quite quickly. Where all the other Decepticons have gone isn’t clear, Starscream could aid but doesn’t. Optimus Prime is victorious and the movie ends shortly after with Sam and Prime standing aboard the John Stennis aircraft carrier, once again awaiting whatever the future may bring. New Divide plays us out and there’s no extra scene at the end of the credits.
Roll on Transformers 3.
We had a couple of sneak previews from fans that shared their thoughts about Transformers 2, now it’s time to get onto the serious stuff. Spoilers within.
Seems like the first half is great — a fantastic whirlwind of action, comedy and big robots all at a good pace. However there are many negative opinions on the second half and the inevitable build up to the finale feels labored and boring.
IGN UK (3/5)
View full review
It’s a fine set-up that is forcefully established in the movie’s superb opening hour. Bay masterfully zips between events at Cybertron (the Transformers’ homeworld), Sam’s opening day at college, the drama on a variety of military bases, and throws in several robot-on-robot battles for good measure, all at a breakneck pace that leaves you breathless.
“The film reaches its pinnacle with one such action set-piece that takes place in a forest — a brilliantly crafted sequence that is kinetic, emotional and genuinely thrilling. Unfortunately however, it is a climax that comes only an hour or so into the movie — the remaining 80 or so minutes just never quite scale the same heights.”
That’s the one BIG problem with ROTF; the movie stops dead halfway through, and then spends the rest of its overlong run-time building up a head of steam again, painstakingly setting up the eventual climax.
Bay takes an age meticulously manoeuvring all the film’s protagonists into place for a vast, epic confrontation in the middle of the Egyptian desert. But by the time this all-in royal rumble between the Autobots, Decepticons and US Army finally arrives, you are too numbed, exhausted and inured to actually give a damn about the outcome.
It is just kind of inexcusable that with such a ridiculously enjoyable formula, viewers of ROTF still spend the movie’s final half hour nursing a numb head and arse, and willing the noise to stop. Transformers 2 proves that sometimes less is more.
Total Film (4/5)
View full review
Fallen so frequently approaches the first pic’s all-out awesomeness, and even occasionally surpasses it — notably in an opening blitzkrieg in Shanghai and a forest face-off between Optimus Prime and three Decepticons impressive enough to merit comparison with King Kong’s multiple T-Rex smackdown — that it’s this close to being the perfect summer flick.
The problem is, it’s the parts you remember, not the whole.
Bay may have upped the ante, taking his ’bots on the road (New York, Paris, the Pyramids), into space and even back in time (courtesy of an Apocalypto-like prologue set in 17,000 BC), but he hasn’t managed to assemble his components into a coherent mechanism.
Nor does his inability to keep his camera still or go two minutes without blowing shit up help, the hyperactivity reaching its nadir during a drawn-out climax in the Egyptian desert.
For all its faults, Fallen is genuinely more enjoyable than the summer’s other giant-robot picture Terminator Salvation. In contrast to McG’s portentous, po-faced tone, Bay works in a likeable strain of knowing humour that makes the two hour-plus running time fly by.
View full review. This review is heavily critical of the feature.
The Fallen is as big and burly as fans of loud, frenetic blockbusters will want it to be. It shouts, it screams, it explodes, it screams some more and then it explodes again; it is more than simple cinematic fodder for the preteen Saturday mobs, it is the next stage in the evolution of cinematic fodder, stripped down and streamlined to feature only marketable, trailer-friendly, toy shelf-conscious moments. Junk, then.
Troublingly, like so many other recent blockbusters (Terminator Salvation to name but one) there is so little that feels like a real threat: explosions are nothing more than decoration; all Transformers, both Autobot and Decepticon, are in dire need of an intensive training course in how to shoot; the much talked about Fallen comes across as little more than a computer-generated slouch; even Sam and Mikaela appear to be made of an indestructible, alien rubber alloy. How is an audience supposed to care when it doesn’t ever believe that anything bad will happen? Ultimately, for all its obvious expense (with Bay at least, the money is always on the screen), the action is tediously unengaging and totally sterile, and nowhere near enough of a reward for the 40 minute bout of nothingness that precedes the final act.
View full review
In terms of explosions, firepower and sheer shrill, all-action, popcorn entertainment it is hard to see how this big’n’bold sequel can be topped this year.
Star Trek might have had more spaceships and aliens and Terminator: Salvation more grim-faced robots, but this Michael Bay summer blockbuster is pure mindless adventure mayhem that sticks firm and hard to its winning formula. In truth, it is a film for teen boys — and a bloomin’ long one at that — but is also a guaranteed multiplex crowd pleaser.
Saying that, for the most part it is also a complex lumbering mess of a movie that is long on turgid backstory and short on tension, laughs and subtle acting.