For a CGI-heavy, all-action adventure film, Transformers was more or less perfect. Sure, the story telling could have been a little tighter; Michael Bay was at the helm after all, but fans couldn’t really have asked for any more. Still now, it’s easy to loose a couple of hours revelling in the outright adrenaline and spectacle of Transformers but just how good the original was, posed a difficult problem for executive producer Steven Spielberg and his team, how do we better it? Speaking in advance of the Transformers’ release back in 2007, the legendary filmmaker might have been joking when he commented “we’re going to make the best one first”, but despite a bigger budget and the return of all the major stars, there was always every chance his prediction would come true.
Picking up a little after the events of the first film, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen sees Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) about to head off to college, but when packing up his things finds a shard of the power-giving AllSpark. Desperately trying to revive leader the Fallen, when the Decepticons catch wind a remnant of the cube has been found, they step up their plans that will decimate the earth as we know it. Defending what is now their home country, the Autobots, however, will do anything to stop their nemeses, as once again, humanity gets caught in the middle of the inter-robot war.
Directed again by Michael Bay, the story telling was never going to be spectacular, but the script of Revenge Of The Fallen leave a lot to ask for. Both the plot and dialogue are very slack and where the original kept it simple and effective, Transformers 2 tries to blend in a few too many story strands without ever developing any to enough detail. This is the first real stumbling block for new power house writing, and for other projects, producing, team Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. There have been signs of a decline in recent films, with tepid dialogue frequently threatening to boil over, but their imagination has always saved the day. Here they should have ground their ideas, and spent more time ironing out a better, more focussed plot.
A lot of the frailties could, however, have been remedied in the editing room. At almost two and a half hours, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is substantially too long, lagging heavily after a promising introduction. More frustrating though is the film’s tendency to stray into the ridiculous. The first film knew it is was fantasy but took the premise seriously, the only way the audience would then be compelled to believe in it. Here, Michael Bay uses a combination of ridiculous story telling elements and frustrating characters and quirks that undermine all the fantastic action. Similar to the monkeys in Indiana Jones 4, twins Mudflap and Skids’ attempts to be funny fall flat on their face while R/C truck Transformer Wheelie is nothing but irritating.
There is still though a lot to like about Revenge Of The Fallen. Shia LaBeouf, now a fully fledged Hollywood star after a fantastic couple of years since the original, has a captivating on-screen presence. He bring such excitement and passion to the role and delivers his comedic lines surprising comic timing. Bar the aforementioned twins and Wheelie, the rest of the cast do a decent job, with Megan Fox providing the expected eye candy, and perfectly glossed lips throughout.
Given the industry-leading CGI, you might be surprised to hear, if anything, Transformers 2 could do with a little more robot fighting. The action scenes are wonderfully implemented, especially the opening chase and closing showdown, we just need a few more of them. Over the lengthy two and a half hours, the set pieces feel few and far between, though this might be more owing to the stuttering plot development.
In the battle of the big robot movies, what seemed like an easy victory for Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen has proven a draw. Both have their plus points, but equally their downsides, it’s just frustrating that if the Transformers 2 took itself a little more seriously, it might just have blown audiences away the same way as the original did.