After seeing “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” I felt a little like the boy who cried wolf.
After all, I’ve already tarred both “Night at the Museum 2” and “Land of the Lost” as the summer’s biggest big-budget crimes against cinema. And now here comes this latest steaming pile from director Michael Bay to blow them all out of the water.
I sat through this $200-million movie’s hubristic 147 minutes (the longest, most painful sit since “Australia”), stunned into semi-consciousness at how something that cost so much could make so little sense.
It’s hard to exaggerate what a depressing mess this misbegotten monstrosity is. More depressing still, it will attract lemming-like multitudes to multiplexes this weekend, further convincing Bay of his own genius.
This is what we’ve come to: movies based on cartoons that were marketing tools for toys. The most important name in the credits isn’t Bay’s – it belongs to Hasbro. I know that any day now, I’ll read the announcement that Bay has signed someone like Adam Sandler to play Tony the Tiger in “Frosted Flakes: the Movie.”
Like the 2007 reboot from which this unholy spawn springs, “Transformers 2” is about robots from outer space – good ones and evil ones – who decide to have it out on Earth. According to this film’s prologue, it’s been going on since the days of the cavemen (in this case, with a politically correct group of racially diverse Neanderthals).
Modern-day Earth weapons apparently are useless against these so-called Autobots. That doesn’t stop the U.S. military from sending troops to fight them with conventional weapons (apparently no other army on Earth is willing to engage).
Once again, the key to everything is a teen named Sam, played by Shia LaBeouf, who hasn’t looked like a teen for a number of years. But the plot is merely an excuse for endless demolition-derby effects: explosions; flying masonry; more explosions; blindingly incomprehensible computer-generated sequences of these walking scrapheaps fighting like pro wrestlers – and did I mention explosions?
It finally occurred to me that pyrotechnics are Bay’s pornography: massive, fiery money-shots. The bigger the fireball, the more he gets his rocks off. I hope he had a sufficient supply of tissues in the editing room.
Bay may be a maestro at directing explosives experts, but when it comes to directing actors, he’s either thoroughly inept, completely bored or both. LaBeouf chatters most of his dialogue like a meth-addicted chipmunk, as though his agent had wangled a bonus for saying his lines faster than people can hear them. I have a mental image of Bay behind the camera saying, “Faster! Faster! I want to blow something up already!”
As for LaBeouf’s love interest, Mensa postergirl Megan Fox’s attributes are obvious, beginning with Bay’s initial, loving camera caress of her hindquarters, poured into short-short cut-offs. Her talent, on the other hand, is negligible; most of the robots exhibit a greater range of expression, though she apparently does respond to directions to look at the camera. Then again, so would a magpie, if you dangled something shiny.
Really, why go on? Nothing I write here will discourage anyone who is eagerly anticipating this film from buying a ticket.
But I will say that, the first time I looked at my watch, it was an hour into the film. When I realized there were still almost 90 minutes left, I had to seriously consider whether to go on living.
Shame on everyone involved.