From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Do you like boobs?

Do you like explosions?

You will love this movie.

Do you have a pair of testicles hanging from the back of your enormous stinking truck, and do you think there should be more cars with testicles in this world?

You are a douchebag and you will love this movie.

Do you hate books?

This movie demolishes a whole library!

Is your idea of college the Playboy Mansion?

You, sir (I’m sure it’s not ma’am) will love this movie.

Do you love robots in blackface acting out illiterate Sambo stereotypes?

You are made for this movie.

If you said no to any of those… go see Up again.

Watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a lot like trying to play pretend with an overbearing seven-year old. No matter what you do, he instantly invalidates it. “Well, I shoot at you and—” “I deflect it with my AWESOME SPECIAL WEAPON!”

It hits you with over and over again. Robot fight, stuff blows up. Bad frenetic jokes, spoken at a million miles an hour. Hot chicks. Rinse and repeat. It speeds up, gets stupider and faster, and eventually you can’t really pay attention over the booming music and explosions and you certainly can’t tell where one techno-organic vegetable robot begins and one ends.

I have a bad thing for Transformers and I hated this movie. And I liked the first one. It was un-self-consciously corny—remember the Decepticon asking, “Are you Ebay user ladiesman142?”—and it also had some novelty value, with the joy of hearing Prime’s cartoon voice onscreen. The special effects sequences were all over-the-top, but at least they were a little more spaced out.

Also, the jokes were funny. In this movie, the only jokes that work are the ones that copy the first movie’s successes, like when Bumblebee uses the radio to hint not-so-subtly to Sam that the Decepticon in disguise as a hot chick is a “Superfreak.” But said robot balls, along with said robot humping Megan Fox’s leg—Bay, you’ve scraped right through the bottom of the barrel, and the floor beneath.

Half the time the actors speak too fast to actually be heard. The plot is incomprehensible—when Optimus Prime confronts Sam Witwicky, why can’t Prime just tell Sam the truth that Prime will later die for? Why do the farting, humping, testicle-laden Decepticons want to blow up the sun while they are still on the planet that would be in the way of said supernova?

The battle scenes are all shot by what appears to be a cameraman having a severe anxiety attack—and who could blame him, with so much stuff blowing up. Or perhaps he’s overexcited by the many, many times he gets to shoot Megan Fox jiggling as she runs from explosions, not to mention when he gets to shoot up the tiny dress of the Decepticon hot chick who turns out to have a long robot tongue.

The robots still look terrible, like giant heaps of random metal that got stuck on a magnet, and it’s fairly impossible to see where any part of them begins or ends while they’re in the middle of the fight sequences, until, that is, they transform back into the GM cars that this movie is a giant commercial for.

Worst of all, the movie throws in racist stereotypes to do a minstrel show proud: two stupid little robots who talk in Chris Rock accents and get lines like, “Reading? Uh, I don’t do so much reading, I don’t do that stuff so good.”

(Not to mention the throwaway line that the Decepticons are causing “the worst crisis since 9/11.” Can you not compare your giant product placement movie to a national tragedy, please Mr. Bay?)

One scene manages to be captivating: when Optimus Prime bravely takes on five or six Decepticons at once and dies to save his human friends. It’s only the robots, so you don’t have to deal with the illogic of trying to sympathize with real soldiers who act like cartoons. It’s the kind of thing you can replicate with toys, which the most important thing to take away from this film. And it recalls a specific moment in the animated Transformers movie of 1986 when Optimus died, again, to save his troops.

In fact, it reminded me that if I wanted to see Transformers, the 1986 movie is packed with terrible music, but at least it’s not Linkin Park, and the animation is actually pretty amazing for its time, full of imaginative little details like five-faced evil robot judges, robots being turned inside out, and a massive planet that eats other planets—then transforms into a galactic-sized robot. Not that it’s high art. But even an hour-and-a-half of 80s cartoon glory outdoes this movie. (That is also its saving grace—it’s over an hour shorter than Bayformers.)

If you don’t want to go there, just see Up or Star Trek again. Those are movies that will make you cry for very real characters, laugh at actual funny jokes, and thrill to action sequences that you can actually follow.

Unless, of course, you said yes to all my questions.

Then go see this movie—and afterward, please rethink your life.

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