There are two types of people: those who enjoy robots blowing each other up, and those who enjoy plot and artistry. Somewhere in the world, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen was a bust. I’m not sure Director Michael Bay ever found out, because it grossed $108.9 million its first weekend and was number one at the box office for two weeks straight.
But apparently it was a repulsive film. From Roger Ebert calling it “a horrible experience of unbearable length,” to internet blogger mockery, critical response was overwhelmingly negative. On the other hand, people went to see it. A lot of people went to see it. How bad could it be, right?
I initially enjoyed this movie, because I grew up with Tranformers toys and cartoons. I couldn’t get enough of the heroic Autobots taking on the vicious Decepticons in the epic battle to save the doomed planet. So perhaps I came into the movie a bit biased.
The first sign that my initial reaction couldn’t be trusted was this: I, to this day, cannot remember what exactly happened. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) goes to college, his mom and dad come along and his mother gets high. It’s a funny opening with touching moments between Sam and Megan Fox (give her a character name, I dare you: she will never be anyone other than Megan Fox). We, the audience, are having a perfectly enjoyable experience.
The action picks up as a Decepticon (the bad-guy robots who want to destroy the world) tries to kill/seduce Sam (you just have to see this one, I guess) and Bumblebee, the Chevy Camero-turns-giant-robot, swoops in to save the day.
And we’re off. The movie is full of explosions, robots punching each other, and chaotic battle scenes. The plot is scattered at best, and the viewer is tempted to forgive the director – I know I did. And then the climax.
Climactic? Not sure that’s the word for it. In a matter of seconds, someone dies. Optimus Prime (the leader of the Autobots) shoots something, and… I think it’s over now. That’s the most anti-climactic climax I’ve ever seen. I, for one, thought that this big, bad “The Fallen” character was going to be a bit harder to kill. But there he goes. Boom. Dead.
Nothing is set up. Nothing is foreshadow-ed. Nothing makes rational sense when you think about this movie. Just when all hope seems lost and the “matrix of leadership” (the explanation I’m giving for it is about as good as the one in the movie) has crumbled, some giant robots give a dying Sam renewed life and the power to save Optimus Prime and the world.
The only phrase that comes to mind at this point is “Deus-ex-machina.” The mysterious force steps in to tie everything up.
But I enjoyed the movie. Why? The critics hated it, and the film had very few truly redeeming qualities. What saves this movie experience for me?
Giant explosions. Giant Robots. Megan Fox. In the end it’s really the simple things that get me.