So with the first movie being such a success, there was no doubt that a second movie would be making it’s way into production to take advantage of the new generation of fans. I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer for this movie during the Super Bowl, it did get me excited to go see it. However, after calming down from the initial excitement, I started to get worried about it being all flash and no story. Still, I did have the desire to see it and decided to leave work early one day and went to an afternoon showing with the girl I was dating at the time. So let’s get ready for Michael Bay’s second entry into the Transformer’s franchise; Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.
The plot: In 17,000 B.C., a primitive human hunting party comes across a strange structure and several, large mechanical beings, The Primes, and one of the Primes proceeds to attack the party. 2 years after the battle in Mission City, the Autobots have partnered with a secret military group called NEST, led by General Morshower, to secretly protect Earth from any further Decepticon incursions. A Nest team led by Major Lennox and USAF Master Chief Epps head to a steel factory in China, which has been evacuated with the cover story of a toxic spill. Accompanied by the Autobots, including some newly arrived from space, they head inside to look for the Decepticons and are attacked by the massive Decepticon Demolisher. As they start to attack, a second Decepticon, Sideways, is seen fleeing the scene and Lennox sends Arcee, Chromia, and Elita-1 (a trio of motorcycles) and the twins, Skids and Mudflap, after him but when they are unable to stop him, Sideswipe is called in and he cuts the Decepticon in half. Meanwhile, Demolisher has made it out onto the highway and Epps calls in for Optimus to be brought onto the scene, who finally manages to stop the Decepticon. As Optimus prepares to finish him off, Demolisher says that the Fallen will return, just before Optimus shoots him in the head. Back in the states, Sam Witwicky is packing to go to college and talking to Mikaela, trying to convince her to come with him, when he discovers a shard from the All-Spark caught in his clothes from the Mission City battle. As he picks it up, a jolt from the shard sends a series of Cypertronian symbols into Sam’s brain. Sam drops the shard, which burns through the floor of his room and lands on the kitchen counter, turning all the appliances inside into killer robots. When the robots start attacking Sam, Sam yells out for Bumblebee to help and Bumblebee bursts out of the garage and destroys the robots, damaging the house in the process. As the police and fire fighters arrive to deal with the fires, Sam goes into the kitchen and grabs the shard, then hands it to Mikaela, who just arrived, and asks her to keep it hidden. Sam then goes to talk with Bumblebee, as his mother told him that Bumblebee had to leave when he does, and tells Bumblebee that he isn’t allowed to have cars on campus since he is a freshman and that he should rejoin Optimus and the others. Sam and Mikaela say goodbye and as Mikaela leaves, she is observed by the Decepticon Wheelie, disguised as an R.C. truck, and he detects the shard in her possession. Wheelie contacts Soundwave, who is disguised a satellite, and Soundwave tells him to retrieve the shard, then hacks into a U.S. military satellite just as NEST Command is talking with Lennox and Optimus at the naval base they are stationed at. Optimus warns Morshower that the Decepticons are planning something but he doesn’t know what but NSA Theo Galloway, who was just assigned as liaison to the base, argues that the recent attacks of the Decepticons are because they are hunting the Autobots and asks Optimus if the U.S. deems it necessary to revoke their asylum, would they leave. Learning that NEST has a shard from the All-Spark in their base, Soundwave launches Ravage to Earth, who infiltrates the base and sends in Reedman, a razor-thin Decepticon composed of hundreds of tiny, beetle like Decepticons, to steal the shard and they make their escape. Meanwhile. Sam heads to college and meets his roommate Leo, who runs a conspiracy website that tries to post videos of the Transformers’ attacks but he is always scooped by another site run by a man called “Robowarrior”. That night, Leo and his partners take Sam to a frat party, causing Sam to miss his online web date with Mikaela. As Sam is looking around, the Cybertronian symbols suddenly start flashing in his head and he starts having a seizure and begins drawing them in cake icing. Alice, a girl in his dorm, sees this and starts flirting with him but before anything happens, someone yells about a yellow Camaro outside. Sam runs outside and sees Bumblebee outside and when he asks what he is doing there, Bumblebee says Optimus needs to see him. Sam gets inside but Alice gets in as well and as they drive off, Bumblebee uses the radio to admonish Sam before doing what he can to get rid of her. Afterwards, Bumblebee takes Sam to see Optimus, who tells Sam that he needs his help in convincing the government that they are needed there to ensure the planet is safe from the Decepticons. Meanwhile, Ravage heads to a freight out near the Laurentian Abyss and meets with some of the Constructicons that are hidden on board. The five of them dive down into the Abyss and when they reach Megatron’s body, Scalpel, a small Decepticon riding in Ravage, has the Constructicon’s rip apart one of their own to use as spare parts to repair Megatron, then jabs the shard into his chest to revive him. The revived Megatron heads to the surface, destroying a NEST sub guarding the site, then heads out into space and towards a moon orbiting Saturn, where he rejoins the Fallen. The Fallen says that the knowledge of the All-Spark has been absorbed by Sam and that they need to retrieve him in order to make their plans succeed. Back in college, Sam has another seizure during a class, and begins drawing symbols and equations on the chalkboard before his professor kicks him out. Sam calls Mikaela and explains what is going on and realizes that this started when he touched the shard. He asks her if it is safe and she tells him yes but then catches Wheelie trying to steal it so she tortures him briefly before locking him in a chest, then tells Sam she is coming to him. Back on campus, Sam is drawing symbols all over his dorm room when Alice and Leo walk in. Alice pushes Leo out of the room and then starts flirting with Sam again but as she throws him on the bed, Sam doesn’t notice a robotic tendril emerging from her back. When Mikaela starts to enter the room, the tendril retracts and Alice kisses Sam, causing Mikaela to turn around and leave. Sam starts to go after her but Alice attacks him, revealing herself to be a Decepticon Pretender just as Mikaela and Leo return to the room. The three kids make a run for it, with Alice chasing after them but Mikaela hotwires a car and kills Alice by smashing her into a lightpole, then running over her. As they continue driving, Leo asks what is going on when they are suddenly captured by Grindor and carried away. They are taken to an abandoned warehouse, where Megatron and Starscream are waiting for them and Megatron grabs Sam and holds him still as Scalpel sends a probe into Sam’s head to ensure he has the data. When they reveal the symbols, Scalpel prepares to remove Sam’s brain but Optimus and Bumblebee crash through the warehouse and begin fighting with Megatron and Starscream. Optimus grabs Sam while Mikaela and Leo get into Bumblebee and they all leave but Megatron chases after Optimus and begins attacking him. Optimus tells Sam to hide as he takes on Megatron, Starscream, and Grindor, and Optimus manages to kill Grindor but Megatron stabs him in the back, then shoots him, killing Optimus. The other Autobots arrive and Ironhide tells Bumblebee and the twins to get Sam out of there while they provide cover. Back on Saturn’s moon, The Fallen senses Optimus’ death and says it is time for the Decepticons to reveal themselves. More Decepticons fall to Earth and destroy a U.S. aircraft carrier while another Decepticon captures Sam’s parents in Paris. Megatron and Soundwave help hijack the telecommunication systems and the Fallen broadcasts to the world and demands that they turn over Sam. Back at the NEST base, Optimus’ body is brought back when Galloway shows up and says that NEST is shut down and that they are pursuing every option to end the conflict, including turning Sam over to the Decepticons. Meanwhile, Sam asks Bumblebee and the twins about the symbols in his head and they tell him it is ancient Cybertronian but they can’t read it. Leo says he saw similar symbols on Robowarrior’s site and they head to New York City only to discover that Robowarrior is actually former Sector 7 Agent Simmons. Simmons is upset to see Sam and Mikaela in his shop but when Sam mentions the symbols, he takes them to his secret lair, where he kept hundreds of files that he stole form Sector 7 before it was shut down. He shows them pictures of the symbols that are on archaeological digs and says that Transformers had been to Earth before. Mikaela brings the trunk into the room and lets Wheelie out and he says it is the language of the Primes, then tells Simmons that the pictures he has is of Seekers, some of the oldest known Transformers. Wheelie shows the location of the Seekers and the closest one is in Washington DC so they head there. Tracking the Seeker to the Air & Space Museum, they discover that the SR-71 Blackbird is the Seeker known as Jetfire and use the shard to reactivate them. After showing the symbols to Jetfire, Jetfire teleports them to Egypt and explains that a device was hidden there that could create Energon by destroying the sun but the Primes refused to use it if there were worlds with life on them that would be harmed. The Fallen despised the early human race and wanted to use it anyways but his fellow Primes refused and war broke out over the issue. The Fallen was to strong for the Primes to kill so they stole the key to the device, the Matrix of Leadership, and hid it away, using their own bodies to make a tomb for it. Jetfire says that only a Prime can kill the Fallen and when Sam asks if the Matrix could revive Optimus, Jetfire says he isn’t sure but it is a possibility. Sam and the others make their way towards Jordan, where Jetfire says the key is buried, and Simmons contacts Lennox and tells him to bring Optimus’ body to the border of Jordan and Egypt. Lennox secretly contacts Morshower and tells him to send reinforcements and tricks Galloway into jumping out of the plane as they head to the rendezvous. Meanwhile, Sam figures out where the key is and they discover the Tomb of the Primes but as Sam goes to grab the Matrix, it disintegrates into Dust. Mikaela and Simmons says it is over but Sam refuses to believe them and collects the dust into one of his socks. They make their way towards the rendezvous but the Decepticons have learned their location and Starscream attacks them. Sam and Mikaela leave the others and make their way through an abandoned village towards the rendezvous but the Decepticons reveal they have Sam’s parents and use them as a trap. Bumblebee rescues Sam’s parents and Sam tells him to get them to safety while he and Mikaela continue towards Optimus. Meanwhile, the Decepticons are attacking the Autobots and the NEST soldiers while Simmons and Leo witness the Constructicons merging into Devastator and it begins dismantling one of the pyramids, revealing the energon device. Simmons contacts the Navy and has them use a prototype railgun to destroy Devastator as reinforcements arrive to help the Autobots, including Jetfire, but as Sam makes a run for Optimus, he is caught in an explosion. As medics work to revive him, Sam sees a vision of the Primes telling him that they were watching him and found him worthy of the Matrix. Sam revives and finds that the dust has re-solidified into the Matrix and he rushes forward and plunges it into Optimus’ chest, reviving him. Suddenly, the Fallen shows up and grabs the Matrix, then heads for the machine and uses the Matrix to activate it. Jetfire tells Optimus to use his parts to power himself, then rips out his own spark and Ratchet and Jolt work on merging both Jetfire’s spark and his body to Optimus. The newly powered Optimus flies off to the pyramid and destroys the device, then begins fighting Megatron and the Fallen, severely injuring Megatron before finally killing the Fallen. Megatron cries out in disbelief at the death of the Fallen and Starscream says it is better they leave in order to fight again. Later, as everyone prepares to return home, Optimus approaches Sam and thanks him for saving his life.
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen was panned by the critics, holding a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a noisy, underplotted, and overlong special effects extravaganza that lacks a human touch.” The college scenes were shot at both Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, but neither school is named in the film as they both felt the Judy Witwicky scenes were damaging their image. The movie was a box office hit, earning $836.3 million off of a $200 million budget, but it wound up winning 3 Razzie awards, including the Worst Picture Award, making it the highest grossing movie to win the award.
Before I get to the actual review, let me take a second to go on a rant. You would think that a movie about giant robots wouldn’t need to stoop to something as classless as a racial stereotype but unfortunately, that is not the case. The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time racism has come up in Transformers, as Casey Kasem ended up leaving the show after the episode “Thief In The Night” in the original cartoon. However, I honestly think Revenge Of The Fallen was worse with the characters of Mudflap and Skids. These were two of the most blatantly racist stereotypes you could possibly come up with, and the fact that the gave one of them a gold tooth and made the comment about they didn’t know how to read was just terrible. The fact that the writers decided to put that in there, and Michael Bay allowed it to be filmed, is shameful and made a bad movie even worse.
Now that I got that out of the way, let me go ahead and say that there were some good parts to this movie but on the whole, it was kind of disappointing. The acting was ok, and Shia Labeouf’s (Sam) spastic character portrayal actually helped the times he was supposed to be seizing and acting erratically. Megan Fox (Mikaela), John Turturro (Simmons), Josh Duhamel (Lennox), and Tyrese Gibson (Epps) were all good in reprising their roles and I did like the introduction of Isabel Lucas (Alice) and Ramon Rodriguez (Leo). The story honestly sounded like any other fantasy/sci-fi movie, with nothing really original that would help make this movie more unique and not just another CGI spectacle. Aside from the twins, I also didn’t particularly like what the did with Devastator, especially when they set him up to be the butt of a cheap “balls” joke. I will admit that I loved how they portrayed Jetfire, playing homage to the original cartoon (and Marvel comic series) in that he was a Decepticon first but then decided to join the Autobots, and a more recent version from Transformers: Armada, particularly where Jetfire combined with Optimus to make a more powerful version of Optimus. I also liked that they made Alice into a Pretender, as that was a branch of Transformers that really didn’t get much notice or recognition in the U.S. when it first came out, though a whole series was dedicated to them in Japan. The special effects were definitely improved upon from the first movie, and the IMAX scenes really were incredible. Some good parts, some really bad parts, and a whole lot of predictability make this good for some mindless entertainment, but leaves you wanting more.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5