Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen

This is kind of a tough one for me as I’m a bit torn about how I feel about it. Here’s my dilemma – first, if you’re just interested in an escapist kind of experience and couldn’t care less about the craft of filmmaking, then this is a decent film. If you’re more skeptical and are picky about things like good writing, good acting, good directing, well, then this may not be the best choice.

Let’s start with the obvious – the effects are amazing. Easily some of the most elaborate and believeable effects I’ve ever seen, truly spectacular, I had no trouble suspending disbelief during the effects sequences.

Action and loads of it. Plenty of battles; it was good to see the Autobots kicking Decepticon ass, especially Optimus Prime who finally got to thrash the Decepticons during the tranformers fights and really unleash on Megatron (who I thought dominated the battles in the first film).

The acting is ok, not overly great though, I think this is largely due to Michael Bay’s directing as most of the characters seem to go over the top whenever possible which gets annoying after about the first 15 minutes of the film.

Speaking of directing – does every Michael Bay film have to have the look of an over-produced car commercial? With the low angles he uses, his mission, to some degree, seems to be to make everything look as grandiose as possible as often as possible; it’s overdone.

In regard to the characters, another annoying thing is about half the characters (including the Autobot twins) are written and played to be as obnoxious as possible. I think one character like this can be fun and provide some comic relief but too many appear in this film and get on your nerves pretty quickly.

Then there’s Megan Fox. Why do I bring her up? Well, the director must really like her and not want her to get her hair too messed up because she appears to be perfect in nearly every frame of the film. I find this interesting considering she’s jumping through explosions, rolling around on the ground and performing other such feats while wearing white pants and never having her hair, makeup or pouty lips compromised in the process. Oh, and how many more possible model-like poses can be arranged for her in this film? She’s seems more of a prop and less of a character.

The strongest performances come from Shia LeBouf and Optimus Prime as well as a few of the support characters here and there. LeBouf seems to be coming into his own as an actor and is starting to show a bit more depth and range, overall, he’s a good actor.

The writing in this film seems a bit overly ambitious and at times confusing. The movie clocks in at around 2 and half hours and to be honest, it does start to drag on just a little. Instead of over-complicating the storyline unnecessarily, they could’ve shaved about a half hour off of this film and made it a bit more straightforward.

You’d think that with the kind of budget he gets to work with and the amount of resources at his disposal (including the US military?!) Michael Bay would focus a little more closely on details such as fixing the poor writing, pulling back on an overabundance of annoying characters and adding more substance. But, then again, we’re not in it for the substance so much as the escape with his films, which is why I would guess he’s already hit $300 mil with it.

Reviewed by Sean McKnight