The first Transformers film was a bit of a surprise. Mainly because it was a competent product — from Michael Bay of all people! — that seemed to satisfy the throes of Transformers fans (for the most part). I’ll tell you now: I did not grow up liking the Transformers. I got a few of the toys at some point, but they never really got their hold on me. Same goes for the cartoons, which I never saw until Beast Wars; which was decent, but again, did not hold my interest. So I came into the first movie not really expecting anything, and I thought it was okay. Not the best silly action movie of ’07 (see: Spider-man 3), but it was okay!
So the sequel has gotta be a step up right? ‘Cause that’s what sequels are all about! It’s gotta have lots of explosions, and a big fight in the desert that takes up a lotta time! And maybe some silly jokes, and John Turturro too!
“Hey, you were just describing the first Transformers,” you might say.
Boy, are you in for a surprise~
Michael Bay: “I don’t know how to start things, so lets just have Optimus explain it in a voice over.”
So after Optimus explains that thousands of years ago a bunch of Old Transformers built some Energon harvesting-thing conveniently on Earth — and after we breeze by the title logo incredibly fast — things get started. The Autobots, along with their (AMERICAN!) government buddies, arrive in the sorriest excuse for Shanghai Ive ever seen (because it’s actually Pennsylvania) to take down a Decepticon who’s been hiding there. After the obligatory wanton-destruction, the Decepticon ever so kindly provides the team with more exposition: The Fallen — one of the previously mentioned Old Transformers that liked to stomp pesky human savages — is back to… turn on his machine or whatever. Only 5 minutes into the film, and the sheer amount of exposition that was being forced upon me was already making things slow to a crawl.
Michael Bay: “The Fallen… great name huh? I came up with that myself.”
Cut to Shia LeDORK as he’s finishing packing for college and telling Bumblebee (BUBBLEBAYYY) to stay the fuck here, when a shard of the AllSpark falls out of his old jacket. After two fucking years, he just now pulls it out of the closet and the shard conveniently falls at this moment, huh? Yeah, fine. And then we cut to some more exposition about Megatron’s body and another piece of the AllSpark from the (AMERICAN!) government and Optimus, while Soundwave tentacle-rapes a satellite to listen in. And then Shia and his stupid parents arrive at the college after like a day of driving, even though they were in L.A. and the college is on the East Coast. “Huh,” I thought to myself, “That’s a little odd, but okay.” There’s more stupid scenes with the mother and we meet his annoying roomate, who I’ll call Walking Plot-Device ’cause that’s all he fucking is; as well as some skank who turns out to be a Decepticon and wants to get into Shia’s pants for some reason. Back at the ranch, the cardboard cutout that is Megan Fox stops a stupid little RC Truck from stealing the shard by locking him in a box, and then sits around to wait for a video chat date with her zany boyfriend; but he’s at a party for some reason, and Bumblebee shows up and — not even noticing that the skank girl sitting inside him is a Decepticon — drives our stupid hero to Optimus, who is in a graveyard for some reason… and then they talk about something… and if you’re reading this and saying, “Man, this is really dragging on,” well guess what: this is just how the movie feels!
Michael Bay: “The graveyard scene! So deep on so many levels. Yeah, I came up with that.”
Meanwhile, the Decepticons steal the other piece of the AllSpark and use it to resurrect Megatron. He then immediately flies to the Decepticon Moon-Base (huh?) and talks to his master, The Fallen (double-huh?). If he was his master, why didn’t he go get him at some point during the ridiculous amount of time Megatron was frozen on Earth? In fact, why didn’t he just take over the fucking planet before the Autobots even got there if he’s so fucking powerful!? Grrrrr. Anyway he’s this red guy who just sits around and does nothing until the end, so who cares about him. Shia goes bat-shit, Rainn Wilson makes an awesome cameo as a ladies man professor, and then Megan Fox flies out to see her man and arrives what feels like minutes later — I’m not even gonna bother figuring out how she got a robot locked in a box on the plane — and walks in on the Decepti-skank and Shia. And then there’s a chase, and a little robot tries to rape Shia’s brain; then we transition from a warehouse on the docks to a forest (what is going on with this editing?!), and then Optimus gets gang banged and dies. Boo hoo.
Immediately after what is supposed to be a deep and meaningful moment, we get bombarded by “the Twins” — some people think they are racist characters; I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying so I can’t really say one way or the other… but they are annoying and I hate them. They were nowhere to be seen in the previous scene, so how they managed to meet up with Bumblebee and the stupid humans is beyond me; I’ll just chalk that up to the terrible editing. Anyway, Walking Plot-Device serves his purpose by knowing where John Turturro is for some idiotic reason that I ignored, and then there are lots of dumb jokes and talking until the party heads to Virgina to meet up with a geriatric Transformer. Hey, remember that shoddy editing? Well, after busting out the hanger door (in Virginia, remember), the gang steps out into an airplane graveyard that looks nothing like the area should look: because it’s Arizona. And you don’t need to know where it was filmed to tell that it doesn’t fit; You can just look at the FUCKING MOUNTAINS in the background. But who cares about that, since the old robot teleports the gang to Egypt!
Michael Bay: “How do we get them to Egypt? They can teleport. Huh? ‘Explain it’!? I don’t have to fucking explain it; I’m Michael Bay! YOU’RE FIRED!”
Yeah, things get worse. After the longest exposition ever (Fuck your Matrix of Leadership, buddy), and the longest movie fetch-quest ever, we are treated to the longest series of explosions in a desert ever. The RC Truck and the Twins just sorta disappear without explanation after awhile, and Plot-Device and Turturro do annoying and pointless shit. Shia dies (?) and is brought back (??) by the Robot Gods (!?) or some nonsense, and if they are powerful enough to do that AND put the Matrix of Leadership back together why didn’t they just skip this whole step and bring Optimus back right off the bat? I doubt even Michael knows. Finally, we get an anticlimactic ending where Optimus does everything ’cause everybody else sucks, yet he just lets Megatron leave after he says, “This isn’t over.” After one final scene of Rainn being more interesting than everyone else in this movie, it’s over. Everything is back to normal, no one (important) is left to bring back from the dead…
Hey, that’s just how the Power Rangers movie ended.
Michael Bay: “Man, I love the Power Rangers movie!”
God, and the characters. Shia’s alright — I personally don’t mind him, but it usually seems like he’s just playing himself rather than a character — and he tries to keep this whole mess of a movie together, but fails miserably; he’s just being dragged along for the most part by the end. Megan tries to flex her acting chops but is undermined by the fact that her character is pretty much useless, as well as the ridiculous positions she’s forced to endure; the first shot of her (“where she’s fucking the motorcycle,” says Mora) is not only unnecessary and over the top, but she’s painting something on the bike upside-down while she’s doing it… which doesn’t even make sense. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson return as White Soldier and Black Soldier, respectively; both of them have nothing to do for the whole movie aside from the occasional joke, until the very end where they get to yell and blow shit up. Even then they are criminally underused. Ramón Rodríguez — who was actually kinda good on The Wire — plays Walking-Plot Device, an annoying fucking character who’s only redeeming moment is when he tazes himself; even then, he’s a chore to watch. And Tuturro’s character doesn’t even make sense anymore; he knows all this shit about Transformers that he just kinda put together in his own head, and he always turns out to be right.
The Transformers themselves are almost a non-entity at times, being drowned out by the incessant chatter from the stupid humans. Optimus is probably the only one with a decent amount of dialogue, and even after being dead for about an hour he still manages to say more than most of the other Autobots combined. The Twins also talk a lot, but I could rarely comprehend what the hell they were saying, so I won’t count that. Megatron and Starscream just sorta growl at each other, and The Fallen is probably the most useless villain ever. He just sits around for the whole movie, until the end where he wrecks shit briefly before being killed. He’s just another bullshit Summer Villain that doesn’t even warrant having a whole movie dedicated to him. (see also: Ivan Ooze)
I never thought a movie could have so much talking with so little to say. At 150 minutes (2 minutes shy of The Dark Knight) this movie is excruciatingly long. And there really is no reason for it to be so long, as barely anything happens: There is a machine on earth that will blow up the sun, and the Autobots need to destroy it. That is ALL THAT HAPPENS. Near-endless scenes of irrelevant dialogue and stupid jokes pad out this paper thin plot, beating out Wolverine for the title of “Longest Movie with Least Amount of Things Happening” this year. And Michael Bay once again shows us just how out of touch he is, giving us the obligatory “Worldwide broadcast with everyone watching, which would never ever fucking happen” scene that’s straight out of Armageddon; and a group that hunts down Decepticons all over the world that — save the one guy with an accent — is all AMERICAN and run by the AMERICAN government, which I would say is jingoistic but I doubt Bay knows what the word means. Add to that some incredibly strange editing and scene transitions that give you no sense of how much time has passed, and you’ve got a mess of a movie.
The first film must have been a fluke, because this is the worst kind of Summer Movie tripe: Everything works out in the end, no important message is sent to the audience, and its not even fun (see: Speed Racer). In other words: It’s Michael Bay.
Michael Bay: “Yup, I’ll probably get an Oscar for this one.”