Living

The sequel of stupid, transformed

Michael Bay movies are just like piñatas: No matter how much we critics bash them, they still shower the eager masses with tasty, colorful, easy-to-swallow junk. This makes reviewing "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," his latest pileup of a movie, all the more irrelevant.

I'm pretty sure there is nothing I can say to make you take a pass on this film and, perhaps, see "The Hangover" for the second or 15th time. You probably had your mind made up when you saw the trailer during the Super Bowl. It's been embedded in your head for months. Thanks to the Hollywood hype machine (a machine that's a lot more dangerous and unruly than any of the giant, shape-shifting 'bots in this flick), you have been mentally conditioned to see this movie. The thought that it could, indeed, stink has barely crossed your mind. Heck, some of you may be going for that reason.

It seems pointless to point out what this movie has to offer, which is not that much. I don't know how Bay did it, but he's made a sequel that's dumber and more inept than its 2007 predecessor. The low-brow bits that went on when there weren't any robot fights happening in the first film seem to make up most of "Fallen." (If you've ever wanted to see a little, trash-talking 'bot hump a girl's leg, then this movie is for you.) It's like Bay and the screenwriters, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Ehren Kruger, are deliberately being tasteless and tacky this time around. (If it wasn't for the purposely, effectively crude/rude "Crank: High Voltage," this would be the most shamelessly crass action flick to come out this year.)

For this installment, the Autobots have joined forces with the U.S. military to battle the Decepticons hiding out on Earth. The Decepticons have a plan to resurrect their leader, Megatron, as well as The Fallen, Megatron's master (basically, he's the Emperor Palpatine to Megatron's Darth Vader), to destroy both Earth and the sun.

Now, since I've gotten the plot out of the way, let's rap a brief taste about the robots. They're loud, clanky and a bit on the uppity side -- and I'm talking about both good and evil robots. They're even bigger tools (and I don't mean that as a compliment) than the people they're protecting. (And the people aren't that worthy of saving their dang selves.) The most horrendously-written robots are Skids and Mudflap, bumbling, ghetto twins who sound like Shawn and Marlon Wayans. It's like Bay brought them in to annoy the people who complained about Jazz, the hip-hop-loving robot from the first movie.

To say there is a human cast would be putting it mildly. Bay spends so much time making the robots look kerfawesome on screen that he hardly bothers making the characters resemble actual human beings. Even Shia LaBeouf, whose motormouthed charm was the only thing that made the first movie worth sitting through, doesn't come off all that appealing. In "Fallen," his reluctantly heroic, college-bound lead character touches another piece of the AllSpark, which makes him freak out and see ancient robot text in his head. This requires him to act like an autistic person having a brain seizure in some scenes. Yeah, this doesn't make him look good.

As his way-outta-league girlfriend, Megan Fox doesn't so much act as pout, as she once again wears close to nothing and straddles any motorcycle she sees. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson return as the military men who work with the Autobots, although I don't know why they're back. Duhamel is one of the many characters whose dialogue consists of the expository words this script is padded with, while Gibson says even less, spouting nothing but clichés. ("This is not good" is one I heard a couple of times.) Oh yeah, John Turturro once again camps it up as that alien-obsessed agent.

"Fallen" manages to be more unbelievable than the original -- in more ways than one. The most unbelievable thing about "Fallen" is that screenwriters Kurtzman and Orci wrote both this and the superb "Star Trek." Maybe they spent all their time concentrating on making "Trek" such a great summer movie that they didn't bother putting any effort into this. And, to be honest, I can hardly blame them.

It's now expected that every summer Bay comes out with a movie that is as stupid as it is soulless. Where rampant chaos and cataclysmal destruction reign. Where product placement runs wild and nobody acts like a real person. Where the extras are just as breast-enhanced as the lead actress. Where cultures are defined by their worst, most stereotypical traits. (This movie made me sorry for the French -- THE FRENCH!) And where nothing makes sense because nothing was thought out.

The only thing that's certain is that Bay will destroy everything that he comes in contact with -- and that includes a person's good taste in movies.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments