At The Picture Show
BANG! BANG! BANG! BOOM! BANG! BOOM! BANG! BANG! BOOM! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BOOOOOM!
Michael Bay unleashes holy hell on his unsuspecting audience in 'Revenge of the Fallen'
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Director: Michael Bay
Screenplay: Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Ramon Rodriguez, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese
Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White and John Turturro
Rated PG-13 / 2 hours, 30 minutes
Opened June 24, 2009
(out of four)
Suddenly it's all so clear. Maybe I've known it all along. Maybe I've just been
holding out hope. I don't know why it took this long to crystallize, but it's high
time we all came to this sobering conclusion: Michael Bay has no idea how to
make a movie.
I'm not saying he makes bad movies - that much had been established. I'm saying
he doesn't even know how to do his job. Watching one of his attempts to do so -
especially one with the word "Transformers" in the title - is like being stuck on a
turbulent transatlantic flight for a few hours, the ride getting bumpier and more
nauseating, when suddenly the cockpit door swings open and you discover . . .
nobody's flying the damn plane!
This is a guy with all the technical know-how in the
world, but whose films at times inexplicably reek with the scent of incompetence.
He makes action movies, yet seems to have no idea how to put together a coherent
action scene. His movies are stocked with comic relief, yet he has no sense of
humor to speak of. Behind the camera, he is able to create a spectacular, eye-popping shot . . . and then render it completely meaningless within the context of a
scene. And he has the uncanny ability to make the most simplistic of plots seem
convoluted and even confusing.
His filmmaking choices are arbitrary; his films are made up of one superfluous
scene after another. And yet it seems they never, ever end. Who has the patience
for a 150-minute trailer? When are we going to get to the actual movie? Case in
point, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which makes the series' first entry
seem restrained by comparison. What we're getting is the mind of a 10-year-old
boy playing with big, grown-up toys . . . while making a movie about toys we
played with as 10-year-olds. It's all very confusing. Kind of like one of Michael
Someone should have told Bay that his movie was
about giant robots fighting each other over a piece of metal. That he believes this
story deserves two-and-a-half hours of our time should tell us something in the first
place, but besides that, he treats his childish melodrama with such a sense of
bloated self-seriousness that it's impossible to justify.
His way to counteract those scenes? Why, with such putrid attempts at humor, it
makes Year One look good. Like our hero's mom accompanying him to college,
only to accidentally eat pot brownies and wreak havoc in a drug-fueled haze all
over campus. (Hahahaha. Hilarious!) Or by having a pair of jive-talking Autobots
mimic inane black stereotypes as comic relief - characters that have already drawn
unflattering comparisons to Jar-Jar Binks. (Good racist fun! Hilarious!)
Or by having the cute (read: annoying) little pet Transformer sneak around in a
garage, only to get his wheels caught in rat traps. (Hysterical!) Or by giving one of
the Decepticons a pair of huge testicles. (Uproarious!) Let it be said here first:
Nobody loves a good scrotum joke quite like Michael Bay.
And then, of course, there is Bay's insistence that all
high school and college girls look and act like high-class prostitutes. He even
makes our heroine, Mikaela (Megan Fox), look like one of those cheap biker
chicks in truck-stop magazines. She's still dating our hero, Sam (Shia LaBeouf),
and despite the fact that they've been together for two years now, they've
somehow never said "I love you" - offering Bay the opportunity for a phony
Sam's parents - who, might I add, are inexplicably thrown into the climax of the
movie without explanation - are the film's most excruciating characters, and I
actually felt sorry for the two actors for playing roles that were treated with such
contempt. (I don't care if the kid has an 18-year-old mentality or not; there's no
reason Mom and Dad need to be made into complete morons.)
The flimsy plot from the first Transformers is basically replicated here - only
instead of the Decepticons being after something in Sam's possession on an old
pair of glasses, they're after something inside Sam's brain. This story's really
going in exciting new directions, you can just tell.
But why am I telling you all this? Michael Bay
certainly doesn't give a crap. He just wants to make a ton of noise, bang a bunch
of sound effects together, splice in a bunch of spasmodic action shots and blow
stuff up. And in a way, he succeeds - this movie blows. This is not a movie you
can actually watch - this is a movie you can look at. Big distinction. And even if
we stare long and hard, it's not always clear what we're looking at anyway.
Part of me wants to ask Bay about all those scenes that make no sense whatsoever.
Or why one Decepticon can suddenly change into human form. (I mean, when did
we introduce that possibility? And if they can take human form, why aren't they
using that more to their advantage?) Or why he keeps hammering us with so much
interminable noise without giving us anything worth hearing. Or why he goes out
of his way to make his characters and his action scenes as vapid and obnoxious as
Then again, if I want to spend my time picking someone's brain, I'd rather choose
someone who knows what he's doing.
Read more by Chris Bellamy