Pros: Fantastic SFX, some funny bits...
Cons: ... typical mindless action blockbuster, little character or plot development...
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen carries on where the first Michael Bay Transformers movie left off - Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is about to leave for college, leave his car that turns into a robot behind, and try to live a normal life. His parents (played by Kevin Dunn and Julie White) are looking forward to a new life of their own now that their boy is flying the roost. Mikaela (Megan Fox) is to keep in touch every night via webcam, and all is right in the world. Well, except maybe her pressuring Sam into saying he loves her, a small remnant of the Allspark turning Sam's brain into a dangerous message, the Decepticons trying to destroy the world, and stuff like that. You know, typical college life.
Without any plot spoilers, here are some of the things you can expect to see in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:
•- Amazing special effects - they really are impressive.
•- Lots of explosions. Seriously, lots of explosions.
•- A photo opportunity for Megan Fox's posterior that could become even more famous than that shot from the first Transformers movie (which probably did more for her career than anything else could have!)
•- A few genuinely funny moments
•- Some reasonably good plot elements hidden in among the myriad explosions (remember those?)
•- Little Decepticons who will remind you strongly of Gremlins...
•- Ninja twin transformers taking on the biggest transformer of all (silly, but strangely fun... though the same two characters were generally very annoying)
The plot isn't too bad, it gets bogged down with a lot of imponderables but really you don't expect too much from a movie like this, especially when it's directed by Michael Bay. Needless to say there are a lot of metal-crunching fights between Autobots and Decepticons, and between human armies and robots. The trouble with the robots is, despite them having personalities... well, unless you're a big fan of the original series, you'll probably find them rather boring. There are one or two characters that start getting interesting now and then, but really all of the Transformers are one-joke or one-attribute characters. The humans aren't all that much better, though Leo (Ramon Rodriguez), Sam's room-mate, is quite funny.
Megan Fox is actually required to do a bit of acting here, though clearly she is mainly there to look gorgeous. Her lips look much too large (has she has a collagen injection?) and she pouts almost as much as Victoria Beckham, but other than that she's pretty good reprising her role from the first movie. Shia LaBeouf gives another strong performance, I'm coming to really admire his acting ability. For me the best performance John Turtorro as Agent Simmons / Jetfire - his crazy character helps, but his performance is full of charisma. I enjoyed the movie much more once his character appeared.
If you want enough a hint of realism (even in scenes not including giant robots that transform into cars), forget it. In one of the movie's opening scenes, the American army and the Autobots are in Shanghai trying to take out a Decepticon who's hiding in the area. Oh yes, I can just see the Chinese authorities letting the US army in without much objection. Autobots big boss Optimus Prime does a voiceover for the intro and outro of the movie... both sounded rather ridiculous to me. This is a pity really... Peter Cullen tries too hard to give Prime's voice real gravitas, but he sounds almost embarrassed at the drivel he has so say. Similarly the music score (Steve Jablonsky) really tries to add drama to the proceedings, but it doesn't really have much to work with in the way of genuinely moving characters or situations.
The dialogue isn't too bad, though most of the transformers' lines are banal even by Michael Bay standards. There are some genuinely funny bits, but aside from the violence and some sensuality, the movie pushes the 12A / PG-13 rating to the limit with quite a bit of bad language or smutty humour. The language is often indistinct with a lot of background noise (usually explosions, naturally) which lessens the effect, and some just sounds more odd than anything. The toilet humour very rarely even approaches being funny; as with the first film, the most genuinely amusing scenes are built on understated embarrassment and misunderstandings.
Did I mention that a lot of things go bang in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Michael Bay clearly believes that explosions are a good thing... unfortunately he doesn't seem to have discovered that you can in fact have too much of a good thing. Action junkies will be happy, but there was too little plot and character development going on for my liking. Forgot to mention the choerography - for the first half-hour the camera is absolutely obsessed with going round in circles repeatedly.
Overall, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was about what I expected; not really my sort of film, a typical summer blockbuster, and a typical Michael Bay film. If you've liked his movies in the past, you're unlikely to be disappointed with this one. For me, the first Transformers movie was marginally better, though my wife liked this one a bit more.
My review of Transformers (2007)