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UK Film Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro
Directed by: Michael Bay

Here is something you might never have thought possible with a Michael Bay movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is very, very boring. With so much impenetrable (often inaudible) dialogue between bouts of sporadic, confusing action, about the only thing left to keep your attention is a healthy dose of humour. Yet most of this is bizarre at best.

There are two bickering Autobots, Mudlfap and Skids (both voiced by Tom Kenny), who exchange insults in a spectacularly dated ‘hip speak’ manner that would be racist if it wasn’t so ignorant. This is an uncomfortable watch, particularly as Revenge of the Fallen is supposedly aimed at children. “Yes, kids, those robots are meant to sound like black people. Don’t they talk funny!” It’s Sebastian the crab from The Little Mermaid all over again.

However, saying this movie is just for kids is like saying trainers are just for athletes. Certain men (and so-inclined women) in their puberty years and beyond are as likely to be entertained by Megan Fox bending over a motorbike in tiny denim shorts or unzipping a leather pants suit than any of the robots on display. Hollywood go-to Costume designer Deborah Lynn Scott even risks a vestal white dress, which given the vehement sexuality of the actress herself, surely pushes suspension of disbelief a bit too far.

To be fair Michael Bay seems all too aware of Megan Fox’s inherent eroticism and, as if ever so slightly embarrassed by it, gets the come-hither moments out of the way early on. This leaves Fox with the busy business of leaping, pouting in soft lighting, and suddenly bursting into tears when a Decepticon hovers nearby (even though they have been trying to kill her character for most of the movie already).

Megan Fox is not a bad actress, far from it; she bought a surprising resonance to her part of an exploited starlet in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2008). It is just that she, like the rest of the cast, is always playing second fiddle to the robots themselves. They do have more to say this time around, but even with advances in CGI technology Transformers still can’t emote.

Moreover these characterless machines are hard to tell apart, especially the new ones. Fan favourite Soundwave’s appearance as a giant satellite is most disappointing of all. He looks and sounds just like all the other gravelly voiced silver Decepticons. The toys were a lot more fun and colourful.

Save for a loud, exhilarating almost hand clappingly bonkers forest battle that sees the end of Optimus Prime (or does it?), the robot brawls are now so generic it is difficult to imagine how they might look any different for the inevitable sequel. Shoot further away perhaps? A new director? JJ Abrams? He might at least be interested in pace. Note for Bay: if you are going to kill a central character then make us believe for a second that he is actually dead. Otherwise all the slo-mo sullen faces, stirring strings, guilt, tears and endless dialogue – it’s all a waste of time.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is too long, the story unfathomable garbage, and even the robots don’t seem that cool anymore. One day they should give this series a reboot, but for now let’s just call it a day with this one.

© 2009 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.