Writing a review for a film like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is pointless, really. No matter how violently angry the reviews may be, how low its overall rating is on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences will still have their tickets ripped with force and speed. Huge opening weekend, more dollars in the pockets of Michael Bay. I was debating on whether or not I should even do this “critical consensus gathering post,” but the catch-22 with this issue is that critics always sharpen their blades harder when it comes to this kind of film—-gloves off, come out swinging, let the poisonous wit hit from all angles.
As of now, a crumb past midnight on Monday, two days before the Transformers sequel is unveiled, the film is at a sucks-for-those-who’ve-been-expecting-some-high-art score of 38% (14 positive reviews out of 37). The only reason why this is somewhat notable is that Bay was talking loose-lipped delusions about how this is the best film he’s ever made, and how amazing producer Steven Spielberg thinks it is, and blahzay blah blah. You’d expect nothing less from an arrogant showman like Bay. But he’s not fooling anyone.
So who wants to see this with me immediately after work Wednesday night? Fuck a 38%—–this shit looks like exactly the dumb fun I’m hoping for. Clearly, few critics agree (none of the game’s top critics have checked in yet, though, so keep that in mind, whatever that’s worth)…….after the jump, a sampling of their reactions:
Setting this off is Peter Bradshaw, film critic for the UK’s The Guardian….a taste of his one-star review, which, it should be stated, reads as if its coming from Michael Bay’s number one hater (biased, much?):
“Bay has a great love of flashy effects, stroboscopic editing and loud crashes; he famously calls his cinematic technique “fucking the frame”. That phrase might be brutal, but it’s accurate. And there’s no doubt about it: he really has given the frame a right old seeing-to this time. Bay has turned up at the frame’s flat with some unguent massage oils, scented candles and a hundredweight of Viagra. It isn’t long before the headboard of the frame’s bed is crashing repeatedly against the wall, while the frame gazes up at the ceiling … and I think the frame is faking it.
Because this film really is quite staggeringly uninteresting. The loud explosions – so densely packed as to resemble a 150-minute drum roll – are the only things keeping you awake. While the Transformers were clanking noisily around, my mind wandered and I found myself thinking about Hazel Blears, swine flu and whether Waitrose was going to take over all the empty Woolworths buildings.
The cherry on this cake of direness is the performance of Megan Fox, playing LaBeouf’s sultry girlfriend – a performer so poutingly wooden she makes Jordan look like Liv Ullmann. You’ll get better acting and superior entertainment at a monster truck rally.”
Ray Bennett from The Hollywood Reporter agrees:
“With its intelligence at the level of the simple-minded, however, the film is not likely to attract moviegoers who seek something more than a screen filled with kaleidoscopes of colored metal. Fan boys will no doubt love it, but for the uninitiated it’s loud, tedious and, at 147 minutes, way too long.
Bay’s team of four editors stitch together smashing but meaningless images, though it’s as difficult to make out which machine is which as it is to tell what anyone is saying. The noise level — not helped by Steve Jablonsky’s relentless score — is super-intense and everyone yells lines at high speed. Because nothing they’re saying makes any sense, it’s hardly important.
LaBeouf gets little chance to show what charm he might have. Meanwhile, Fox has little to do except look great in a tank top and tight jeans while running in slow motion through flying sand.”
If you’re like me, right now you’re thinking, “People get paid to write shit like this? Acting as if they’re an authority for stating the bloody obvious about a film that’s review-proof anyway?” Crazy, right? Not paid well, of course, but still seeing paper. Like those drones who ask the “How does it feel to win/be nominated?” questions on red carpets or after sporting events. A damn shame.
Here’s a kinder write-up from Total Film scribe Mark Samuels:
It was always going to be a tall order for the sequel to replicate its predecessor’s wow factor, stoked as it was by twenty years of fanboy expectation and CG magic that made childhood imaginings flesh.
But Fallen so frequently approaches the first pic’s all-out awesomeness, and even occasionally surpasses it – notably in an opening blitzkrieg in Shanghai and a forest face-off between Optimus Prime and three Decepticons impressive enough to merit comparison with King Kong’s multiple T-Rex smackdown – that it’s this close to being the perfect summer flick.
The problem is, it’s the parts you remember, not the whole.
Bay may have upped the ante, taking his ’bots on the road (New York, Paris, the Pyramids), into space and even back in time (courtesy of an Apocalypto-like prologue set in 17,000 BC), but he hasn’t managed to assemble his components into a coherent mechanism.
Nor does his inability to keep his camera still or go two minutes without blowing shit up help, the hyperactivity reaching its nadir during a drawn-out climax in the Egyptian desert.
But Fallen has much to admire. It’s at its best in early scenes showing Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, likeable as ever if hardly stretched) trying to balance college life without hot girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) and carrying a brain-frying secret that makes him key to evil robot The Fallen’s plan to wipe out the world.”
Enough of this, I think……you’re going to see the movie regardless. As am I.
Primed and ready for this forest “smackdown” that’s apparently on par with King Kong‘s dino-brawl. A tall order, right there.