I was a fan of the original Transformers television series. I wasn’t a rabid fan though. So when the first film was announced, I was curious but not as over the moon as some of my friends. That first film was bloated, horribly written, and plotless. On top of that, a lot of the action was shot and cut in such a way that it was tough to follow. I had hope that the sequel would improve on all of these weaknesses but this is Michael Bay we’re talking about.
This second film, again, is definitely bloated. Right away I can say an hour of the film’s two and a half hour running time could be cut. Some of the action scenes are an endurance test because they just seem to go on and on and some of the comedy bits fall flat and could have easily been left on the cutting room floor. There’s a lot in this film too that’s been ripped from other robot films including Terminator, Short Circuit, and the new Battlestar Galactica. There’s not an original idea at all in the writing of this film, but the action scenes look cool….
With that said, I will say that this installment of the Transformers franchise is better than the first. The plot is fairly convoluted and it ends up being such somewhere between parts of something like star Trek Generations and the first film. The setup for this installment even involves a chunk of the cube from the first film. How about a completely unique story for this one guys? The biggest difference is that Sam is heading to college at the beginning of the film. The Autobots have also established an uneasy alliance with what’s supposed to be Earth apparently but it feels more like just the United States. They work to track down any remaining Decepticons hiding around the world and take them out.
That’s all I’ll say specifically about the plot to avoid spoilers but let me say that the actual meat of the story is so eye rolling it’ll give you more of a headache than the explosions. There are some new Autobots in the lineup in this film and two of them are built on such heavy handed stereotypes that they make Jar Jar Binx look politically correct. One of the Autobots actually has a gold tooth! I’m not a prude when it comes to edgy comedy but this is supposed to be a family film for the most part. Also, if you’re going to do this sort of humor, than you should actually make it purposeful. These aren’t the kinds of cheap laughs you want to take a chance on in a 200 million dollar film meant for mainstream audiences.
Now, there are actually some good things about this film. The transformations in the first half hour are extremely exciting and the action scenes overall are pulled back just far enough that everything on screen makes sense and for the most part is entertaining to watch. Sure the action scenes are often way to long, especially in the second half of the film, but at least they look cool this time around. There’s a good bit of humor in the film too and often it’s all really hilarious. I realized a few minutes in that the funniest bits are actually ripped off from the Gremlins films. I guess that’s ok considering the Transformers films are produced by Steven Spielberg. There are some truly LOL moments involving some new tiny Transformers. Speaking of funny, Sam’s parents start off quite funny but by the last act I just wanted Megatron to actually transform into a giant gun and blast them into oblivion. On the other hand, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox do have some nice on screen chemistry. As little development as their characters, get these two actors do manage to make these characters endearing.
So, this isn’t a good movie, there’s no way around that. This is, at times, an entertaining film. It’s like cotton candy. It’s fun at the time but it has no lasting appeal and it’s really just not good for you. We do have to remember the animated show that these films are based on. I just started digging into a new release of Season One of the Transformers and I’m realizing that for better or for worse, Bay and company have really tried to stay true to the mythology and feel of that television series. Now, that series was made for the sole purpose of selling toys, so what does that say about these films? What should we expect from a film that’s biggest claim to fame is being in the Guinness Book of World Records for featuring the largest explosion ever captured on film?