Last time on Screen Savers I talked about a little known reboot of a toy series from Hasbro that released in the summer of 2007 and made fans world wide cringe in unison. No, not Bratz (though I should get around to talking about that monstrosity one of these days). I am of course talking about the Michael Bay Transformers reboot, an opener that left such a bad taste in my mouth that even as a child I knew that this franchise could do better. Since reviewing that film, I have played the 2015 Platinum character action game, Transformers: Devastation, which rekindled my love of these dumb robots. With this new found excitement for the franchise, I thought I would be an idiot and ruin it all again by jumping back into the fire. Yes folks that’s right, today I am going to try and talk about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen without yelling angrily at a keyboard. Key focus on the word ‘try’.
So, what have those wacky robots gotten themselves into this time, eh? Well, the film opens up with the premise that the Transformers have actually been to earth before, thousands of years ago in fact. In 17,000 B.C, seven Primes travelled space in search of energon, but promised to never destroy life for it. Big shocker, one of the primes, The Fallen, decides to betray this rule and attempts to destroy earth, though he is instantly stopped and imprisoned. Smash cut right back to present day and the autobots have formed a new organisation with the military known as N.E.S.T, a force set up to destroy all left over decepticon forces left on earth. With this organisation set up, Sam Witwicky happy in his normal life and the world pretty much at peace, you will never guess who comes back to ruin the day. Yep, it’s Megatron, the decepticon who was defeated in the last movie, but instead of actually getting rid of him, was just dumped in the ocean so the sequel could be set up. Well he is back, along with The Fallen, and they want the macguffin of the week, the matrix of leadership, which just so happens to be inside Same Witwicky. Because he’s the main character.
But enough set up, what are our BELOVED human characters up to, eh? Well, everyone’s favourite meme-boy Shia Labeouf is back to play that iconic hero Sam Witwicky, who is going off to college and leaving his talking robot crew behind in search of better things. Megan Fox is back, who this time is given a little more agency in the overall plot, though she is still introduced ass first, leaning over a motorbike. In fact almost every big name actor returns to reprise their roles, even John Turturro shows up half way through the movie, over delivering his lines with a thick Jewish accent shouting about bagels. New comer to the series, Rain Wilson (The Office), plays a creepy perverted college professor who has zero relevance to the plot, yet has one of the most baffling, sexually charged scenes in the entire film. Speaking of sexual charges, this film is consistently trying to prove how adult it is with the mention of sex. While the first film was awkward with its use of ‘adult themes’, this time around the cringe levels are off the charts, with even Decepticons talking about how they want to sleep with Megan Fox.
Speaking of the Decepticons, this movie features some new players on both sides. Megatron is back, more evil and pointy as ever, though he is not the big bad this time. The previously mentioned ‘Fallen’ is at centre stage here, an older prime who is far more violent and driven by his goals due to thousands of years of being imprisoned. He works well as a villain, though he could be replaced with Megatron and not a whole lot would be lost. The Autobots have some new faces too, as this film introduces a whole cast of new Autobots due to a signal Optimus Prime sent out into space for help. These new bots include good and bad, with Sideswip and Ironhide bringing some much needed personality to the good forces. The thing is though, these two don’t even come close to making up for the introduction of three horrific, racist, terrible transformers who go by the names Skids, Mudflap and Wheelie. These three, two of which voiced by Tom Henny (Spongebob, Ice King), are by far the worst part of the film, as every moment they are on screen they do nothing but spew god awful one liners, down right racist stereotypes and sexual innuendos, something a transformer should never do.
In my review of the first film I mentioned that the fight scenes had a major problem with making the viewer care about the Transformers locked in battle due to them not having much of a character to begin with. This time around that problem is back, but somehow isn’t even the biggest problem with the action, as now due to some god awful sound design, the fights have literally no impact. Transformers are thrown through buildings, bridges and forests and barely any noise or audio feed back is given. They fights feel more like the Transformers are fighting through Lego cities rather then sprawling skylines. The same goes for the visual design of the Transformers, as once again, they look like clusters of metal rather then memorable designs. Skids and Mudflap take the cake however, as their clearly racist “ghetto” designs are complete with golden teeth, lazy eyes and bright neon colours. Apart from these monstrosities, everyone else has the same issue I have always had with this franchises designs, everyone is too pointy, wet and similar to be memorable.
While watching this film I noticed something, that the Transformers trilogy is, for lack of a better term, a period piece. I want to point out a scene in this film that I believe pretty much sums up how these films present a condensed version of the mid 2000s. There is a sequence in which Shia Labeouf walks into his college dorm to Green Day‘s ’21 Guns’, where he is greeted by three nerd bros in a room plastered with sexy girl posters, a Naruto wall scroll and a Mountain Dew machine. People will look back at these films and cringe, but that is because this stuff sold, it all has a grain of truth to it. This was many kids first introduction to Transformers, heck maybe even the concept of summer blockbusters, so there is something nostalgic to some people out there, but for others they are nothing more than a ugly reminder of how Hollywood can destroy childhood memories of a once fun franchise.