Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – movie review

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Anyone who has known me for longer than about half an hour will be painfully aware that when it comes to tragic obsessions, mine is not football, celebrities, nor even one of The Trilogies of Sauron or Sith. No, my own personal albatross is that of the Cybertronian War between Autobot and Decepticon. I forget the point in my early childhood that the Robotic Rubik’s Cubes stole my attention, but it was over two decades ago now, and is hardly likely to fade overnight.

The reason I mention this blinkered bias is that instinctively I would want to give Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” a carte blanche; an unflinching five out of fanboy-five, and so it pains me that I feel unable to do so.

Set two years after the original Bay Blockbuster, we find Shia LaBoeuf’s Sam about to embark on a new life in college. Autobot guardian Bumblebee appears to have found a comfortable existence in the Witwicky’s garage, so is understandably upset to learn that not only can he no longer doss down, but student vehicles are banned on campus. Unbeknownst to them, Sam still has a fragment of the first film’s Maguffin (the AllSpark) in an old pocket. Once the evil Decepticons get wind of this, inevitably, robo-carnage shortly follows.

To go any further into describing the plot would be a wasted effort: not least of all because there is hardly any to speak of, and what there is makes little or no sense to even the hardened Geewunner. When Bay’s first Transformers movie was released in 2007, heated discussions soaked up bloggers’ bandwidth all around the world as most audiences were divided between the two opinions: “this film is stupid – it sucks!” and “this film is stupid – it’s awesome!” Whatever your personal position was after seeing the first one, simply dig your heels in, strengthen your resolve, and prepare to not have your mind changed at all.

Michael Bay and his creative team have been variously quoted as describing “Revenge..” as “more of the same” and that is a perfectly succinct description of this movie – there really is more of every element from the original – More robots! More fighting! More US Military-Porn! More babes! More explosions! More awkward “comedy”! More nods to the fanboys!

If I sound scathing or cynical, I hasten to clarify myself: the action sequences in this film truly are breathtaking, and they are the best example of CGI work to date – these are not Robot Jox’s stop-motion plastic toys, these are back-flipping, sword-fighting agile creatures, rendered in many thousands of points of articulation that will most likely not find an equal or peer in the cinema this year. Bay has played on his reputation as The Exploder of Things for some time now, and in this film he explodes things like no other director can – “Revenge..” finds the time to tour the entire globe, and then blow it up; stopping off in Shanghai, Paris, Washington, Egypt, and countless other backdrops for flawlessly choreographed destruction.

One aspect of the “MORE!” philosophy that genuinely grates was the level of schoolboy humour that is prevalent. Arguably the film is designed for a target audience of pre-pubescent 15 year old boys, but seeing a RC truck-former dry humping Megan Fox’s leg, or farting a ball of gas as it transforms, not to mention giant Gestalt-former Devastator’s vast, clanking testicles: I have no doubt there are audiences out there that will enjoy these lapses into the playground, but the moments sit uncomfortably in between epic shots of aircraft carriers being blown to pieces, nuclear subs being casually tossed out of the ocean, and one of the Wonders of the World being clawed to rubble.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a very long, very loud, and very stupid work of cinema – to that end, it is exactly what people would have wanted from a sequel to the 2007 film. Take a cushion for your seat and leave your brain at home for the evening. Niggles and quibbles aside, it is 150minutes of sensory overload that will leave your head spinning and your ears ringing.

Make sure you see it on the biggest screen you can, and that includes getting to the limited run in the IMAX if at all possible.

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