Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

directed by Michael Bay

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen poster  
A story based on a line of Hasbro toys rather than on an issue that unsettles many people is always going to have trouble engaging viewers. So it's no surprise when the second film in the Transformers franchise begins with an absurd plot twist that introduces a whole new set of the machines. Nobody thought to mention it in the first movie, but the Transformers have visited Earth before. In prehistory.

All sorts of possibilities for merchandising now spring to mind: the Horse and Cart-tron, Chariotbot, Viking Longshipticon... Fortunately most of that is left to our imagination as the plot returns to the present time. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is going to college, and for the Witwicky family it's a momentous occasion. His mother is both choked up and overexcited about her boy growing up and moving out. Sam has reservations about spending time apart from his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox).

Autobot Bumblebee has been staying in Sam's garage, and since students aren't allowed cars Sam doesn't know what to do with him. To add to his troubles his college room-mates are a group of alien conspiracy nuts who attempt to make money by posting news about cover-ups and sightings of freaky events online. But Sam's worries about his odd room-mates, essays, and the difficulty of keeping up a long-distance relationship are soon nudged into the background when he finds a stray shard of the Allspark.

The Decepticons may have been defeated, but they are growing desperate. Without a source of energy their race will die. When Sam starts to see strange symbols and gains an inhuman understanding of physics the Decepticons see their chance to resurrect their fallen leader and take their revenge on the human race.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen begins well enough. Although some of the new characters are a little clichéd, the situation at college is enlivened by Bumblebee's cheeky humour. We also meet a number of new Transformers who don't necessarily conform to the tired old stereotypes of good guys and bad guys.

However things go rapidly downhill in the middle of this movie, when the robot battles get going. It's one thing to have a dash of blazing action as huge machines fight each other and tiny humans scramble for cover, and indeed it would be a strange Transformers film without that. But at a certain point the edge-of-the-seat action becomes the edge of consciousness as the movie bombards us with fight after fight, and the real struggle becomes managing to stay awake through it all. The scenes get sillier and sillier as the main human characters charge through scenes of vast destruction to emerge miraculously with barely a scratch on them. And all the while the American military, powerful though they may be, look like little more than ants compared with the warring Transformers.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is overlong, and unduly fixated on rampaging machines. For Sam and Mikaela character development is limited to a few cheesy lines when they're not running for their lives. As a result this movie has far less charm than the first Transformers. It attempts to distract us with shiny new (and rusty old) toys, but no amount of new robots can disguise how unappealing the script is.

Film Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 12

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Independence Day cover    

Independence Day by Roland Emmerich
Enormous alien spaceships arrive on Earth just before the USA is due to celebrate the 4th of July.

2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Michael Bay

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