Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen is an insufferable attempt at exercising all manner of excess. Most of what made the original film work exists here as well – including what can only be described as a gratuitous, semi-pornographic, cataract inducing usage of fiery explosions and chaotic robot crashes that lovingly explode on the screen. The film doesn't lack anything except the good sense to realize when it's gone overboard. This is not only an observation of the script (which meanders with semi-cooked ideas it can't explain – like robots taking on human form), but also of performances, such as Shia LaBeouf's Sam who hams his role and overacts his part as a savior of humanity and Earth.
This should come as no surprise. Director Michael Bay made Bad Boys watchable and its sequel torturous. Bay is the one-man powerhouse who defines what big summer blockbusters mean today – but also seems to incorporate in his sequels all the failing and trappings of where and how sequels go wrong if they indulge too much, encapsulating the law of diminishing returns. Transformers 2 is an over-indulgent film made by an over-eager director. The film attempts at being funny with its juvenile humour, but many of the jokes, which mostly involve sexual innuendo not just between humans, but dogs and also robots, are embarrassing. Similarly, the decision to focus more on humans this time doesn't pay off. Sam's parents are probably the most nauseating onscreen pair this year and the film substitutes character development with robot variety (comic relief is provided by twin cars and other freak gadgets). Would you believe the most well developed and engaging person is a decades old Blackbird plane?
Though not an admirer of it, I was briskly entertained by the first film – which took its time with characters that did not grate and made a comparatively more restrained point about the masculine fascination and dependency on machines. This return offering is a misunderstood misfire. Take Megan Fox's Mikaela for example. Bay understands her appeal for drooling internet fan boys, so he gives us numerous gyrating shots of her, on a bike, running, sweating; projecting all the grace of an air head Playboy bunny. Then there is all the globe-trotting, from the US to China and then Egypt, none of it sufficient in capturing the originals sense of scope. The Michael Bay who made that film was possibly humbled by the string of failures he had been struck with, but success now seems to have brought out his inner wild child.
The setups here are actually a lot like those in Lord of the Rings without the requisite vision or viewing satisfaction. Optimus Prime is essentially Gandalf, Megatron is Saruman, The Fallen is Sauron, the All Spark fragment is the One Ring, Sam is an Aragorn/Frodo hybrid, Mikaela is either Galadriel or Arwen, depending on your point of view, and so on. Despite this, Revenge of the Fallen has a lot more in common (tonally and in terms of execution) to Howard the Duck. The entire film is also, rather unapologetically, possibly the biggest product placement/movie tie-in that troubled car maker GM could ever receive or hope for, with their signature Chevrolet brand being both prominent and integral to the films plot. There is little irony then in my noting that Transformers 2, devoid of any entertainment value or pleasure, feels quite bankrupt. - Faizan Rashid