It’s beyond depressing that this film ever got made, let alone cost $200m to make. A shambling, incomprehensible mess from beginning to end, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the Batman & Robin of its generation, so bad it makes Phantom Menace seem coherent and well planned – and at least that only had one comic relief character, not the 7 presented to us here. And at least those examples were designed with kids in mind (okay, predominantly due to toy and merchandising profits), even though it was at the expense of the older fan base, whereas Revenge of the Fallen features a confusing plot masquerading as complex, assassination of political prisoners by the protagonists, racism, violence, torture, sexual content, drug references, Megan Fox whose acting “talents” should really be restricted to post-watershed schedules, and so much techno-fetishism for military technology it makes the early works of David Cronenberg pale in comparison. So with the youth alienated, fans spurred, critics ignored and Michael Bay self-professed to have no love, interest or nostalgia towards the franchise, who precisely is this film for? Single me out a demographic please, that way we can hunt them down like an AUTOBOT ASSASSINATION SQUAD (the fuck!?) and put an end to Blockbusters aimed at one retarded market who are aiding the suppression of higher quality films because they’ll fork out £9 a ticket for sub-standard, intellectually dead trash. And spare me the “it’s only a movie” rhetoric; this film cost $200 MILLION in a time of financial instability and global employment crisis – and it’s abhorrent. Donnie Darko cost less than Shia LaBeouf’s wardrobe department, so for the equivalent cost of a small island in the tropics, I expect a film to be nothing less than the Second Coming of Gonzo. If film is the death of culture, then Revenge of the Fallen is the rancid fluids leaking from the corpse, mopped up and sold to us at a higher cost than just a cinema ticket.
Part 1: Why not have Autobot Death Squads? You’ve Already Mutilated the Franchise
Years have passed since the world learned of the existence of aliens; big ones. Robotic as well, with the ability to turn into vehicles, walking cannons that would make the Death Star feel modestly underequipped, instantaneously absorb information and languages from the internet, and create new soldiers at whim using the All Spark. Hurrah, definitive proof there is life out there – even if it’s technically sentient machines…locked in eternal war… God has a cruel sense of humour. That is, humanity should know they are not alone, considering a small scout party of the aforementioned mecha-Martians trashed a substantial portion of LA last film in broad daylight, however the government has decided the world is not ready for the truth, convincing the world at large that it was all part of a movie shoot and assumedly snuffing all eye-witnesses to the event. In the meantime more non-existent aliens have been arriving on earth, with the Decepticons lying low and the Autobots working with the military to, and pay close attention here, TRACK DOWN AND KILL THE SLEEPER CELL DECEPTICON TERRORISTS. That’s right, not only is this a transparent attempt at social commentary, highlighting that if illegal aliens wish to stay in official US citizens they must track down and kill their brothers who disagree with the beliefs of the American government, it’s also turned the beloved Autobots into a government sanctioned death squad – the fucking Autobots man! And the Decepticons haven’t done anything since the fall of Megatron, instead lying low and keeping out of trouble until the AUTOBOT DEATH SQUAD come to fuck their shit up. Presumably in this ass-backwards Bizzaro World Rawshack and Comedian are members of Greenpeace, and Freddy Krueger was made head orderly of a narcolepsy clinic. In China, Optimus’ SS brigade uncover a particularly Bay-esque Decepticon:
As the Decepticon flees – that’s ‘flees’ not ‘starts shooting up the place and killing people left, right and centre’ – Optimus cripples him and brings all his army buddies to watch the poor bastards death throws. The Decepticon informs them cryptically that the Fallen is coming and when he does he’ll prove that the Decepticons are the true villains of this film. Optimus is having nothing of this and proceeds to gangland shoot Demolisher through the face like he was Gungrave’s Brandon Heat, only with none of the poignant character dissociation.
In Bay’s twisted mind, having gifted us with a murderous, dogs-of-the-military Autobots, he decides that the best way to completely shit over the audience is to spend the next fragment of eternity with Shia LaWitwicky agonising over leaving for college (that’s university to UK readers – and ‘pants’ are trousers). He talks with now established girlfriend Mikaela as she scraps the bottom of her career barrel in rehashing the only reason she became a household celebrity overnight:
The only reason she’s in this film is because they had some bikes lying around on set she could lean over, and because men would foolishly spend the price of the admission ticket to see this when it’s free online – I’m betting a substantial amount of the appalling $836,303,693 box office taking were because of this talentless hack’s ass, hence I have no faith in mankind’s’ future. Back to the narrative (HA!), Sam discovers a shard of the All Spark in his jacket, implying he hasn’t washed it in 2 years because their washing machine isn’t rampaging through the streets. The shard animates half the kitchen appliances which lead an ineffective revolt against their former master – their missiles having a damaging effect on anything that isn’t Sam’s smug face. Over powered and outmatched by a toaster, Sam calls Bumblebee out of retirement/imprisonment in the shed to overkill the critters into the afterlife. Thanking Bumblebee for saving his hair from a potential mussing, Sam banishes him back to the cramped shed and reminds him that he isn’t taking him to college, despite a) denying himself a car that is a bigger pussy wagon than the Pussy Wagon
and b) Bumblebee being his guardian against a clearly still vindictive Decepticon invasion fleet. But no: the shed is to be his fate. The Spell-check confounding Mikaela arrives and is given the All Spark to safe-keep while he’s getting his dick wet at college. Are you sure you want to give a relic that just weaponised your kitchen to a ditzy, grudge harbouring lass who works around motorbikes and other All Spark-susceptible machinery Sam? The pair are making more of a deal (okay, nothing but a 100% deal with no thought deviating elsewhere) about Sam’s inability to tell his unwashed girlfriend of 2 years he loves her – fuck, no wonder Bumblebee showered Sam and his new sex toy with wedding rings in Dark of the Moon, if he thought it’d move the plot along. Angrier than Asuka Langley on the rag, Mikaela takes the All Spark and Leaves. Here’s a thought: give it to the trustworthy Bumblebee to return to Optimus and avoid this unnecessary relationship/trust issues bullcrap!
Optimus and crew are chewed out by a government official over their actions in China, by the only person who can see that they’re acting out of 30 years worth of established character in having merrily slaughtered their way through Decepticon political prisoners. In the stratosphere, fan dreams are raised as Soundwave conducts Operation Exposition Eavesdrop, learning of the location of Megatrons’ corpse and the splinter of All Spark retrieved from his chest and placed into protection. IT’S SOUNDWAVE, PEOPLE :D!!!!!! Finally we get to see him in action and hear his iconic voice…wait, why does he have 4 eyes instead of a cycloptic visage? Oh well, no shakes – I’m sure his voice….is not run through the synthesiser…ameh, well to see him transform and kick some ass later will be worth the redesigns…he’s spending the only 2 scenes he has as a satellite in space. FUCK YOU MICHAEL BAY!!! The Soundwave imposter dispatches Ravage to infiltrate the military stronghold and retrieve the All Spark, which he does by vomiting up a load of beads – to go into more detail of how this leads to mission accomplishment would be no less vague or frustrating. With this the Decepticons destroy the vanguard around Megatrons’ watery grave, having thundered out of the sky as hunks of flaming metal, landing on the battleships unseen (the fuck!?) and slipping underwater. One poor sod is torn apart so his spark can be given to Megatron, leading us to ponder; why do they want to revive Megatron, at the expense of one of their better infiltrators no less? From what we’ve learnt of him in the last film he fucked up Cybertron, then abandoned it in the middle of the war to chase down his precious (never again referenced by him) All Spark, spent an ice age trapped in the arctic, and another 50 years imprisoned in Hoover Damn of all places, and then dispatched after only 15 minutes back in action. What possible qualities does he possess that make him worth all this fanfare, because it ain’t his forward thinking? Christ, even Starscream, Starscream, ran a tighter operation in setting up the search and retrieve mission and the subsequent planting of Decepticon forces throughout the military, and he’s a slagging scientist, not a military strategist! As if to purposefully annoy me, Megatrons’ first act upon reanimation is to fly to Mars and curtail to his master, The Fallen, in a display of grovelling one expects from Starscream, NOT MEGATRON THE LEADER OF THE DECEPTICONS! Megatron bows to no one, that’s his one defining trait aside from ignorance and a disregard for his underlings, and here we have him grovelling to the transformer equivalent of Doug Jones as depicted by H. R. Giger.
He looks so frail and impractical even Ralph Wiggum could chance taking him on. Borrowing a plot device from Van Helsing (I wish I was embellishing), the newborn Decepticons are dying upon childbirth, so The Fallen and Megatron need to retrieve an ancient Cybertronian artefact that’ll allow their children to live and spread a new generation of misery, sort of like Beast Wars and Beast Machines. Hold up, how the Sam Hill does this tie into Megatrons’ previous machinations? Last film he wanted the All Spark to become all ubber-Thanos, and now he’s saying he came to earth to find this Matrix of Leadership in order to save the kids that arrived on Mars CENTURIES AFTER HE CRASHED ON EARTH? Bear in mind that the screenplay was written by the same individual who wrote the first incomprehensible films’, and even he can’t keep the story straight after 2 years.
A bit of back story; at the dawn of the homosapien (here decided as 17000BC), the most ancient of the transformers arrived on earth, yet somehow millennia after Megatron did. Strait jackets at the ready as they explain these were the original Primes who built a sun-harvesting, energon creating machine not realising that they did so on a populated planet, spacks that they are. One of the Primes decided that he cared more about saving his plants energy/food crisis then a bunch of fleshy creatures with sticks and proposed they turn on the machine. In response he was named the Fallen, and the Primes in their infinite wisdom committed hari kari to hide the key to the sun harvester, rather than killing the allegedly irredeemably evil Fallen, or less morally dubiously simply breaking the machine and moving on to an unpopulated planet. So…if the Prime lineage died with these 7, then how are Optimus and Sentinel here? If it’s just a name thing, then anyone could call themselves Prime and save a lot of shit from going down come the final act.
Mikaela is still brooding over Sam’s emotional retardation, only just noticing Decepticon infiltrator Wheelie (here voiced by SpongeBob Squarepants channelling Joe Pesci) as he tries to seize the All Spark. Alerted by the cowardly snitch that the Decepticons are once again after Sam for the knowledge in his head (all facts point to something having to be in their aside from angst and prissy tantrums), Mikaela takes the Spark and with Wheelie as hostage goes to Sam. Around this time, Sam is settling in with his new roomies – yet another comic relief character of no significance to the narrative – and chasing his *sigh* stoned mother around campus as she drunkenly embarrasses Sam in front of his peers. You don’t have to have toked to know that stoners don’t go running around blabbing about their son’s penises to strangers, and this anti-drug sentimentality is as forced as worm tablets down my cats’ throat. Yes, weed is something SOME college students experiment with, but get the fuck over it Hollywood! Naaaaaarg! In the middle of class, Sam goes full-blown crazy and starts scribbling cybertronian symbols everywhere, then pulls the hottest girl in the State. She follows Sam to his dorm and rams her tongue far enough down his throat to taste his colon just as Mikaela walks in on him (great, now there’s even more dramas to contend with and reduce the titular Transformer’s screen time). Luckily the hot co-ed is a Decepticon spy, ripped from Terminator 3 (these are the films that inspired the director?) who must have pulled the short straw to receive a mission requiring the tonguing of Sam Witwicky – it’s ranked beneath writing detailed plot synopsis’ for all the Grays Anatomy episodes Megatron missed during his imprisonment. The lovers and the 4th token comic relife human flee from the Decepticon while having a domestic.
Sam: Why are you mad – I only made out with a Decepticon.
Mikaela: Because for whatever contrite reason, I am jealous over anything giving you sexual thoughts
Sam: But I was a virgin until I met you, and you only slept with me because I proved my worth as boyfriend material by dragging you into the forefront of an interstellar civil war.
Mikaela: I’m complex that way. She had her tongue down your throat!
Sam: I WAS BEING RAPED!
The Decepticon T-X Terminator (‘Alice’ according to Wikipedia) is killed but Sam is taken hostage by Megatron. Turns out that Sam, upon touching the All Spark shard, gained intel on where the Matrix of Leadership is (‘Matrix of Leadership’ being Cybertronian for ‘key that’ll power the sun harvester). This is a pretty specific piece of relevant knowledge that just so happened to be in the miniscule fragment of All Spark that Sam had on him – it could so easily have been the part that instructs how to rewire a plug, or the sun ending one – and the Fallen has commanded Megatron, Megatron, to suck this info out of Sams’ grey matter, literally. But didn’t Megatron arrive in Transformers millennia before the dawn of mankind chasing the Cube, so how does it contain information on what happened after it crash landed? So many inconsistencies it could drive an obsessive compulsive person to suicide. Megatron sets to work shoving sharp objects up Sams’ nostrils and jabbing his brain, which actually makes up for a lot of the issues I have with this movie. Outside the Autobots are assembling, aware that every second they wait is another second of torture Sam must endure – so they do their best to delay the rescue operation.
Optimus: Okay, we’re all clear on the plan: we go in there, as a unit, and rescue Sam.
Assembled Autobots: [muttering in monotone] Yes Optimus.
Optimus: I mean it, I don’t want to go charging in there, balls deep in Decepticons then look around and see you the other side of the car park with coffee and doughnuts.
Ratchet: I miss Jazz.
Assembled Autobots: *Sniff*, *weep*
Optimus: I thought I made it perfectly clear in the last movie that I don’t give a flying fuck about Jazz. Sam is all I care about, despite his lack of redeemable qualities and sharing little screen time with him throughout the franchise. Let’s roll out. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Optimus runs in blindly, unaccompanied by the other Autobots.
Ironhide: Is it just me, or is Optimus a real jerk?
Optimus busts out Sam and flees into the woods, where he is ganked and fucked by the Decepticon tag team, ending with him impaled through the spark by Megatron. The Autobots wander in from off screen with doughnuts and coffee.
Sideswipe:…and then she says “that’s not my gold plated 12XP3 power couplet” hahahahaha!
Assembled Autobots: Hahhahahahah
Ironhide: Hey Optimus, you’ve got to hear this one, it’s a killer…ooooooh…
Arcree: Oooooh, too soon.
Ratchet: Way too soon – the audience has no real reason to mourn his passing.
The Autobots look awkward, trying to remember if they’re the types of robot that have emotions or not.
Part 2: They aren’t racist; they’re Cybertronian
The kids go into hiding with Bumblebee, leg-humping wheelie and the racist stereotypes Mudflap & Skids. How racist we talking?;
At Autobot Assassinations Inc. the government announces that the Decepticon killing unit is to be shut down DUE TO THE ARRIVAL OF THE DECEPTICONS, effectively making it illegal for Autobots to apprehend Decepticons during this time of war. How much bleach does one have to chug to see this as a good idea? Over in Paris, complete with Eifel Tower, escargot and fucking street mimes (it’s either Paris or a Rowland Emmerich set), Sam’s parents are kidnapped by a bulldozer and demands are made for Sam to report to the nearest Decepticon torture & brain removal chamber if he wants to see his parents again.
Sam: Oh my God, I have to save my parents. I’ll do whatever it takes.
Mikaela: Even cheat on me?
Sam: That was 20 minutes ago, the plot has moved on, like, 8 plot flips since then. Remember all that stuff about the baby Decepticons? Me neither!
Mudflap: Yo dawg, ‘dis ain’t no pimp convention you jus’ walk into and slap a hoe.
Skids: Yeah, fried chicken and something equally offensive.
Bumblebee: But Sam, if you give them your brain then they’ll destroy the sun and you’re parents will be dead regardless, with your lack of forethought having doomed every life on earth!
At least this is what Bumblebee would be screaming from the tallest mountain if his debilitating laryngitis hadn’t returned between films. The kids are at a loss for what to do, and with Bumblebee lacking the stern voice to stop the adolescent bickering and anti-African American slander surrounding the twins, it’s time for Leo (Sam’s roomy) to advance the plot, suggesting they go to the ‘RoboWarrior’ who always beat him to leaking a Transformers story online so as to decipher Sam’s scrawling. Joy of joys the RoboWarrior turns out to be former-agent Simmons, decommissioned after saving humanity in the last film – this film may hate pot, but half the authority figures are huffing paint fumes based on the decisions made throughout the narrative. Simmons is able to decrypt the text which is a map to the Matrix of Leadership, and working on the Batman logic that if the Decepticons wants it then they must get it first, they follow Wheelies’ (now a converted Autobot in order to gain entry to Megan’s Fox-hole) to someone who can help them find it. One bare-assed John Turturro later the team use the All Spark to reactivate the crotchety Jetfire, who’s been sleeping at some aerospace museum. He spits, he drools, he farts parachutes; he’s Jetfire as we never knew him. Why did the Cybertronians originally build him with a shaggy beard and walking stick – it’s like the Futurama logic of robots built to be hobos with attached bindles, knife-happy psychos and Robot Devils. In his Cockney Keith Richards accent (the fuck!?) Jetfire tells them he’s joining the Autobots – far more cut and dry than the animated series’ case of amnesia, so much so that him being a Decepticon has no relevance to the story -, and TELEPORTS them to Egypt…uhg. Why not just fly the fleet to Mars and take on the Fallen while his army is on earth (or buried on the Moon if you’ve seen the abysmal Dark of the Moon), you may be wondering. There was some bollocks about only a Prime being able to kill the Fallen, but what is this based on? The Fallen’s spent the last 3 millennia on Mars plugged into a life support machine, and as previously mentioned Prime is a title, not a family name. Besides, Optimus Prime was killed by Megatron so how is the Fallen the only one to which this loop hole applies.
Part 3: Ghosts in the Machine, or Lazy Writing?
The Hasbro Globetrotters follow the clues that lead them to Petra and the tomb of the Primes, constructed out of their corpses and stowed behind the wonder of the world, which is promptly destroyed as Sam to defiles the bodies of the long dead warriors – take that noble heroes! You too beautiful monument, acting all smug and whatnot. Wrenching the Matrix from the death claw of the shrivelled Primes with as much disregard for boundary issues and the dignity of others as Hikaru and Kaoru towards Haruhi in Ouran Highschool Host Club, Sam and co watch as the relic crumbles to dust. One world treasure destroyed; one grave desecrated; one peoples reduced to negative stereotypes; one global audience cheated of cash, and now one irreplaceable artefact gone in an instant – this is quite the day Sam is having. Sam treats the powered remains of the Matrix with the dignity we have come to expect from his to this point: he pours it into one of his sweaty socks. PRIMES DIED FOR THAT, AND THIS IS THE REVERENCE YOU BESTOW ON IT! A lot happens from here, but in the blockbuster way of nothing happening to advance the plot so lefts speed this farce up. The Decepticons arrive in Egypt, Sams parents in tow, as the US military and their Autobot lapdogs arrive unannounced in foreign territory and declare ideological war in a country that isn’t theirs (just like the real US military). The Constructicons turn up and for a minute all the let downs and indignities suffered so far seem to have been purposefully designed to make this all the more awe-inspiring…and then it does fuck all but climb a pyramid hovering up dust and rocks before being taken down by a missile strike. This is all we get? THIS THING IS BIG ENOUGH TO EAT PYRAMIDS!
One missile volley – shit, it took the complete ground-to-air missile stockpile of the western hemisphere and a combined assault by army and Autobots to bring down one reasonably large Decepticon in Transformers, and this thing can EAT PYRAMIDS.
The Autobots and their loyal human soldiers home in on Sam and drop Optimus out of a plane at 50000ft (what does Bay have against the dead!?) in the hopes Sam can cure him of his terminal diagnosis of dead. Despite the cluster-mug of a battlefront waging one hell of a skirmish directly below, Optimus rather disappointingly fails to squash anyone on his hitting the ground at roughly the speed of sound, and Sam is killed by Megatron as he hurries to revive the only transformer who did not shed a tear for Jazz. In the afterlife, Sam is approached by the Primes.
Prime #1: Sam you have been chosen to live.
Sam: Why are their robots in heaven? Did I go to robot heaven?
Prime #2: You are destined for a great many things.
Sam: Does that mean that robots have souls?
Prime #3: And our hope rests with you.
Sam: How are you able to revive a complex living organism from the dead, but not Optimus; a pile of gears and pistons?
Prime #4: Now go, young human Witwicky; live and set our people free.
Sam: Why are you not answering my relatively sane questions!?
Sam is not reborn as a flesh devouring creature of darkness, however he does gain the power to turn sand into plot-aiding memorabilia, using the newly formed Matrix to revive Optimus. Sensing a heavy butt-ploughing defeat pending imminently, the Fallen (remember him from about 2 and a half hours back sitting in a chair with Megatron licking his balls? Me neither, but apparently he’s important and ubber bad) decides to activate the sun harvester, a plan endorsed by Megatron, who as you recall CAME TO EARTH FOR THE ALL SPARK, NOT GLOBAL ANNIHILATION in Transformers. Hold up, you’re activating the sun harvester before you get to a safe distance? It’s Pinky the Brain shenanigans like this that will forever be the true foil of the Decepticons – even Invader Zim would avoid actions this bloody stupid. Jetfire is ambushed by Scorponok and left critically wounded, so you know what the stoic, heroic Autobots do: pillage his body as he dies and ram the useful parts onto Optimus. When did the Autobots start recruiting from the Eli Roth Academy of Immorality? OPTIMUS PRIME IS WEARING THE STILL WARM SKIN OF HIS COMRADE.
Resembling a Cybertronian boogyman who wears stiletto heels made from pensioners, he flies over to the ubber formidable Fallen the cast have been whispering about in hushed reverence for 3 hours and kills him instantly with a spear to the face….an anti climax to rival the entire publicised works of Jeph Loeb’s Hulk run and Russell T. Davis’ Dr Who combined. Megatron runs away with Starscream as the remains of the Decepticons are destroyed by the *snort* overwhelming might of the US army. Yep, the Decepticon strike force was beaten more easily than an elderly diabetic non-swimmer in a vat of caramel.
Sam returns to college with Mikaela’s blessing, and subsequent gets his ass dumped; Optimus monologues while still not shedding a tear for Jazz; Megatron hides in Africa, having forgotten about all the dying baby Decepticons he was so happy to sacrifice his megalomaniac plans for; Soundwave continues to nothing in space; Michael Bay makes a fat pay check; audiences wish they had been watching the comparatively superior Attack of the Clones.
THE END…? I wish
*I’d like to point out that at a run time of 149 minutes (110 of which are spent exploding or delivering exposition – often at the same time come the final act), this is the shortest word count for an article in months, which just goes to showhow lacking Revenge of the Fallen is in substance that even I can’t find substanical enough plot material to highlight/rag on.