Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Michael Bay, 2009)
The inevitable has happened. Revenge of the Fallen, the much-anticipated sequel to 2007's Transformers, opens to the absolute delight of the franchise's rabid fans around the world, raking in during its opening weekend in the United States an amount of money slightly larger to the yearly GDP of Anguilla, a tiny sovereign island-nation in the middle of the Caribbean. Perhaps the citizens of Anguilla wouldn't mind this alarming worldwide wastage in this era characterized by widespread poverty and economic recession, considering that Revenge of the Fallen seem to provide what was expected from it, no matter what its critics are saying. The film has robots, explosions, jokes, and the token sexy girl (Megan Fox) clean a motorbike in a compromising position. It can't be that bad, right? So, I was forced to bow down to mob mentality and force myself to watch the film. Simply put, the film sucked.
Michael Bay, who effectively turned the 80's cartoons inspired by a line of robot toys into a massively lucrative movie franchise by following his gut instinct of dishing out entertainment that satisfies humanity's basest cravings, sex and violence (and more importantly, without the accompanying guilt of devouring such pleasures), reuses the formula, only this time with larger doses. Thus, Revenge of the Fallen is grossly ostentatious in its excesses. Bay's sequel has this incessant need to nag about sex. This is not the adult and mature understanding of sex, but the prepubescent one, where each hump equates to a giggle and a high five between friends. Thus, some of us have to suffer through a bulldog and a chihuahua in visualized acts of fornication, a squeaky-voiced robot humping Ms. Fox's shimmering leg, and a Decepticon transforming into every shallow-headed college boy's dream girl. Revenge of the Fallen is the cinematic equivalent of a pimply thirteen year old kid who is suffering from a chronic case of bursting libido, with only gigabytes of internet pornography and succeeding wet dreams to quell his overactive hormones.
I appreciate the effort to de-robotize the transformers. Bay's team of writers detail a transformer's life cycle, from how they are hatched from transparent eggs to age into grumpy yet noble giants. Unfortunately, none of that really matter because the transformers who matter are as dull as earthworms hunting for prey. Optimus Prime, the supposed figurehead of the good transformers, is disposable scrap. Even his death, accompanied with the requisite slow-mo and music, failed to move me. Bumblebee, the franchise's inconsequential mascot (designed without a voice but with puppydog mechanical eyes), descends to factotum status. The rest are negligible eyecandy. Sure, they are colorful, humongous, and they make loud noises and huge explosions when they fight, but they are essentially ornaments, whose most acknowledged function in the franchise is to help sell action figures and burger meals, nothing more.
Don't get me wrong. I thought I was prepared for this. I listened to my friends who advised me to "leave your brain outside the cinema and just enjoy the show." I did exactly that, but I was still annoyed by this gargantuan vomit ball. It is not so much the intellectual void that bothers me but the fact that the film is to put it plainly, sensually torturous. The story is all over the place, jumping from one focal point to another like a horny Lothario in Amsterdam's red light district, but essentially getting nowhere. Bay utilizes every trick in his three-page pamphlet of directorial techniques, and what we essentially get is a headache-inducing encyclopedia of what the grossly inadequate director learned making such classic crowd favorites as Bad Boys (1995), The Rock (1996), Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Bad Boys II (2003): slow-mos, circular pans, explosions-in-exchange-for-logic storytelling, boobs-butt-and-legs-in-exchange-for-personality characterization, and obviously manufactured sentimentalism.
But what the heck, you're not going to listen anyway and still award this heap of trash with heaps of your hard-earned cash. I might as well stop and just let you and the rest of the world storm to the movie theaters and spend two and a half hours of your life watching this flick, and contribute to its ever-increasing haul. Maybe with your help, its worldwide earning might even overtake the GDP of the Philippines, a fairly moderate sovereign economy located in Southeast Asia and home to around fifty million people whose daily meal is equal to the amount of money you are about to spend to watch Revenge of the Fallen. How's that for a guilt trip?