This series focuses on the one and only Michael Bay. Attempting to deconstruct his filmography, one film at a time. The ideas explored here may or may not end up in my Dissertation about Michael Bay and Post-Cinema.
And to answer the question: Does it ever rain in a Michael Bay movie?
TRANSFORMERS was a massive success. Naturally audiences wanted more of the same. But after the Spielbergian/Bay mashup of the first film, TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN ended up becoming a critically derided mess.
It had something to do with the Writer’s Strike of 07/08, but there is something admirable about the sequel.
Before I get onto the admirable parts, and yes they do exist, there are many many problems.
The sexism and objectification of any woman, whilst present in the first film, the second one is even worse. The racism, is played for laughs, and is misguided. Whilst this should be expected for an R-rated action film directed by Bay, this should not be in a mainstream Blockbuster.
The length is an issue throughout the series, none more so an issue here. I alluded to the Writers Strike of 07/08, and although there was a script it clearly needed another work through to get rid of some of the narrative fat. I also feel this script revision would have removed some of the more overtly juvenile humour, like Robot Testicles and dogs and robots that dry-hump.
So onto the positivity. First up, there is some real weird shit within. There is the Pretender, a Transformer that can turn into a human/Terminator/death machine. Whilst the camera gazes at her with all the horniness of a 13 year old teenage boy, the weird Terminator thing going on is somehting brought up, and never seen of again. Then there is the Cronenbergian sequence where a Squid-like Decepticon burrows up Sam’s nose, tentacles coming out and causing unnatural convulsions from the host.
The first proper action set piece takes place in the woods. Again this follows the same formula as the first film. There are wide shots, the aspect ratio switches to IMAX lending the set-piece some scale. The fight between Optimus and the other Decipticons does seem to have some choreography to it. However this good work is undone with the death of Optimus Prime, which has no emotional impact, the characters and the narrative doesn’t mourn the moment, almost as though they know he’ll come back.
Onto Egypt. Effectively one long set-piece, where our heroes have to stop the Decipticons from activating a machine thats hidden underneath the Pyramids, and simultaneously ressurect the dead Optimus Prime. The visual assualt doesn’t stop, explosions, robot debris, actual debris, it just doesn’t really come to a halt. In my previous post, I spoke about how there is no ‘weight’ to the visuals. This is even more apparent here.
One of the complaints I hear about the series as a whole is that Kurtzman and Orci have turned Optimus Prime into a murdering pscychopath. That the character of the TV series and the 80s movie would spare the life of his enemies, and show mercy as it is the heroic thing to do. And I have to agree, it is an odd tonal shift to have a character rip the face off The Fallen, and then punch through his chest to rip out his mechanical heart, and then mere seconds later deliver a rousing heroic speech.
You know another thing that’s pretty cool about TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN? Tony Todd voices The Fallen.
Does it rain? Nnnnoooooo…..
Next up: Even more TRANSFORMERS.