Michael Bay and overkill is like Christmas and presents. The guy started out fairly low-key with Bad Boys and delivered a very good action movie with The Rock but completely went overboard with Armageddon and has raised the bar with every movie since then. He has a very distinct visual style and you can easily recognize a Bay movie. Over the top action sequences in which the viewer is put in the middle of the debris, low point-of-view slow motion around characters who are looking at something, the latest military equipment, helicopters against a sunset, bombastic music, toilet-humor, planes flying overhead also in slow-motion. If you have all that in a movie you’re watching a Michael bay movie for sure. And to be honest, I like the man’s style. He might not be the best story teller but on the play-field of action-movies Michael Bay is the star quarterback. And his latest touchdown is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the sequel to the 2007 original also directed by Bay and starring pretty much the same cast. The movie starts off where the last one left off: The Autobots are now part of a black-ops division of the American military. Their job is to track down fugitive Decepticons and kill them. The opening sequence consists of such a job and features the destruction of not only one big ass Decepticon but also a great part of Shanghai. High ranking government officials are not too pleased with the extra terrestrial soldiers just aiding but not sharing their weapons technology with them and the fact that they think that there are only Decepticons on Earth because there are Autobots since there’s no other reason for them to be there doesn’t help either. Well it turns out that they’re wrong and that the Decepticons are busy planning the return and the titular revenge of the Fallen. His goal: to harvest the energy of the sun which will kill it and destroy life on earth. As you can read, The Fallen could be the next James Bond villain.
For those familiar with the 1986 animated movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will have many familiar elements and similarities in the plot. An ancient hostile life-form wants to destroy the planet to retrieve energy, Megatron has the ability to turn into a tank, and not to spoil anything but early on Optimus Prime “dies” in a battle with Megatron after which a certain Matrix Of Leadership enters the storyline. A feast of recognizition. There are also tons of new Transformers introduced to us and while there are really cool ones in that bunch the quantity of these Transformers seemed to be more important than quality i.e. memorability. There are so many new faces, some are hardly even introduced to us before they exit the scene again. This is where the overkill comes into play: most of the new Transformers look alike, especially in the Decepticon camp. They are all metallic/grey with red eyes except for Devastator. At the end of the movie I had really no idea who was chasing Shia and Megan. Starscream, The Fallen, Megatron, Scorponok? Your guess is as good as mine. They even make the mistake of having Devastator do battle with one of the twins. This twin is red and he was fighting the head of Devastator (he’s rather big) which is also red. I had some difficulty of seeing what was actually going on, and I kept wondering why they didn’t have the green twin battle Devastator.
But to give credit where it’s due there are a lot of cool new ones also, characters with there own personality and distinctive look, Jetfire being my favorite. True to his origin he’s a defected old Decepticon talking with an English accent, sporting a metal beard and walking around with a cane. He also has the ability to teleport which made me wonder about two things: why can he change into a plane as there is no need for him to transport? He can simply teleport everywhere. The second is something I’ve been wondering about since the cartoon: why don’t all the Transformers have at least the same weapon technology? Jetfire is the only one who can transport in this case while in the original series Mirage was the only one who could turn invisible. Even if you don’t have the blue-print you can always reverse engineer it.
Soundwave makes his long-awaited appearance and is now a satellite. Ravage also turns up as an alien version of a panther. I liked the character of Wheelie as a smart-mouthed Decepticon who turns into an R/C car although him humping Megan Fox at one point was over the top. Two other additions that have to be named are the earlier mentioned twins: Skids and Mudflap who are representing the ghetto of Cybertron. These guys are very annoying and totally unfunny. Word to yo momma!
The action sequences are impressive as always, the visuals have the same flair Bay’s movies always have, the comedy falls flat and the story has one or two too many sidetracks it takes. The end-battle, while impressive, was overlong and at some points it was hard to find out who were actually involved. Of course it’s a fun watch for once but I’m hoping that the next one will be more substantial. I’d rather have 10 Transformers in a great story than 20 in a lesser one.