*I finally finished this review. Thank you for your patience and enjoy!
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is often heralded as the black sheep of the franchise as not only did critics bash it, but it was also the first Razzie winning Transformers movie. Even the people who helped create the film, such as Michael Bay himself admitted disliking it. He put the blame on the Writer’s Strike that happened in the late 2000’s, which stuffed up a lot of different movies and TV shows made at the time. This included Revenge of the Fallen, which suffered the worst because they were still writing the script while they were filming! Box office wise it grossed better than the first movie did, so financially it all was worth it in the end.
So what did I think of this movie and is it truly as bad as they say? Well, it’s kind of funny, but Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is technically the movie that got me into Transformers. I was in primary school when my friends convinced me to catch up on the first Transformers so I can join them at the cinema to watch Revenge of the Fallen. It was the first mature rated (or PG-13 rated if you prefer) film I had ever seen at the cinema and it was awesome. On this most recent rewatch I still enjoyed the movie and the only thing that really appalled me is how this violent, perverted, sexist, racist, drug induced movie avoided an R rating.
Revenge of the Fallen is subpar compared to the first Transformers, but to give it some credit it’s definitely one of most bat-shit insane movies to ever come out of Hollywood. (That’s a possible top 10 list idea.) Like the first movie, the story is needlessly difficult to follow, but unlike it’s predecessor it’s not bogged down with boring subplots. This time the writing is so bad that you can feel that they’re making this rubbish up as they go along. A good idea of what we’re looking at is with the two film’s opening monologues. The first movie has Optimus Prime explaining what the AllSpark is and how it’s affected the Transformer war. The second one isn’t as clear, but the point of it is that the Transformers have been on Earth since the caveman times. It’s a pretty bad opening, because this information isn’t going to be relevant again until over halfway through the movie, but what’s worse is when you realise that the title villain, The Fallen, is in this same scene and they fail to even mention him. It’s a strange choice too as The Fallen is far more relevant to the earlier parts of the movie than Transformers being on Earth since forever! It would have been nice to have already been aware of who The Fallen is when that dying Decepticon is stating his eventual return, before Optimus straight up executes him. (We’re going to get to Optimus the cold blooded killer in a bit.)
There are three major plotlines this time, that being the new military/Autobot division, the Decepticons doing evil background stuff and Sam Witwicky’s college days. I’m just going to focus on the college plot as it’s of course about my favourite dork and is easily the most wild portion of this movie. I have to be honest, it’s a pretty pointless subplot, but it’s stupidly entertaining, so I’m not arguing. Sam’s first scene in this movie has him packing up for college, while also saying goodbye to his loved ones. Good stuff, but this whole sequence is totally bonkers as it also features Sam’s parents acting way more agro than they were in the last movie, more gratuitous sexy shots of Megan Fox, the drug addict dog humping another dog and Sam dropping a shard of the cube in his house, which causes an epic robot battle to erupt in his backyard.
When Sam is actually at college, it’s some top tier dumb Michael Bay comedy. The mum gets high on a marijuana brownie sold at the school and then she assaults a few students in the park. I’d like to thank IMDb for revealing to me the reason why we never find out the name of the school Sam is attending – it’s because the colleges featured in this movie didn’t wanted to be associated with this incredibly random, but necessary marijuana joke. The other highlights of this portion of the movie involve one of the beautiful models attending this nameless school constantly hitting on Sam, and Sam seeing Transformer symbols everywhere he goes, which make him go insane and have a deranged fit during his lecture. (Fun fact, one of these highlights is crucial to the plot of this “serious” movie.) My favourite scene in this movie is when Sam’s roommate walks in to see that Sam has written these Transformer symbols all over the walls of their dorm and it made me laugh when Sam is talking really fast while tossing kitten calendars and repeatedly saying those exact words. This is directly followed with the girl who is pursing Sam revealing herself to actually be a Decepticon. A human transformer, you might be saying. how does that work? Well you see, in a movie like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it doesn’t actually make any sense, but they’re just going to gloss over that and move on to something else that’s equally nonsensical and as fast as possible, so you don’t have the time to realise that.
The story doesn’t really get cracking until almost an hour in where the Decepticons resurrect their fallen leader, Megatron, using ironically the thing that killed him in the last movie. (Trust me, that isn’t the dumbest thing to happen in this movie.) We find out that Megatron isn’t the leader of the Decepticons, as it’s actually The Fallen, a character who was never mentioned in the last movie nor do we know why he wants revenge until another hour later. The Fallen kind of acts like the AllSpark is nothing in comparison to this new mystery power thing on Earth, that only Sam knows the location to. This is because he touched the shard at the beginning of the movie, which sent the symbols to his brain, and he needs to understand what they mean in order to find the matrix of leadership, and do I sound like an baffling idiot yet? Let’s continue, because honestly this post is writing itself. Next they meet a hibernating old man Transformer, who teleports them all to Egypt, from the Smithsonian so he can explain the entire backstory of The Fallen and his desire to use a big sun destroying gun. This gun is hidden under one of the pyramids of course, the key to using the sun destroying gun requires someone showing leadership, thus activating the matrix of leadership. Sam shows he has leadership in the final battle scene of the movie by running for his life, while trying not to get shot by Transformers with his girlfriend. Sam is killed and he goes to Transformer heaven, where the Transformer gods think he is leadership material and bring him and the matrix back to life. There is more we can dissect, but I think you get the idea by now.
Shia LaBeouf is still great, Megan Fox is a improving mainly even with the dumb lines she was given. Some of the other improved performances from the first would be Hugo Weaving’s Megatron and John Turturro’s ex government character is back and with more to do too. He probably says the dumbest things for this movie, but John Turturro looks like he’s having fun so I condemn him for been one of the better human characters to come out of these movies. In two movies Optimus Prime has quickly become my favourite character, which is mainly due to him being a psychotic murderous badass. The moment where I realised he was my favourite was the forest scene where Optimus single handedly takes on three Decepticons. During this and his other fighting scenes he tears those Decepticons apart like a young kid would open a present. The Transformers that are killed in this get the type of gruesome deaths you would expect to see in an R rated action movie, but since every human death is implied, and we only see CGI robots experience these fates, movie rating boards say this movie is suitable for children. I know the current ratings in place technically state Michael Bay’s Transformer movies aren’t really made for children, but I argue how could that be the case when there was a video game tie-in for Revenge of the Fallen and toys for the movie were sold at Target. Too not sound like a crusty old man or anything I actually love the violence in Revenge of the Fallen and implore it. My shock comes from the fact that I saw this as a young kid, who hadn’t yet been exposed to any violent movies like it, plus this something you wouldn’t in action movies of today. Lastly are other factors too that I skimmed over throughout this review such as the tasteless crude humour, that you would find in a 2000’s R rated comedy and how every gorgeous woman in this movie is pretty much objectified by the camera work.
Overall, I love Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for different reasons than I enjoyed the first movie. A fun dumb nostalgic throwback to my past. If it was shorter, and there were less scenes with the boring military, then I might consider this a guilty pleasure.
This review was a long time coming, because I was wrapping up University studies for the year, and I should now have the time to continue this series again. So stay tuned for Transformers Dark of the Moon and other Blog Complainer content.