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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen *

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Revenge of the Fallen leaves its predecessor looking like a tempered masterpiece of screenwriting, with pace and character-driven drama. It depends on LOUD NOISES to keep its audiences awake through 150 minutes of computer-generated robot wrestling. Cheap doilies of exposition are lewdly draped over its hulk: a vain effort to conjure an illusion of modesty. It has been built around effects sequences and shots of military hardware. Less has definitely been proven more: the effects were built up with some kind of anticipation in the first outing, but here they explode in your face from the word go. But R.o.t.F. does live up quite well to the original source; from a toys and games cool-factor perspective, it might be quite satisfying. And there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with shallow action. Although a persuasive review here demonstrates that even on these lowest of standards, the film comprehensively disappoints.

Transformers 2

But Michael Bay has no aesthetic sensibility, just a pornographer’s eye. His fascistic fetishisation of soldiery comes with a macho grunt; his sexual and racial politics are neanderthal: directly and symbolically communicated in his style, ‘fucking the frame‘. He apparently went to the ‘salty garbage‘ school of female characterisation. Part one actually presented Mikaela (Megan Fox) as some sort of person; here she is basted like pizza in a Hut advert: served as an ingredient, in a recipe for maximum return on investment. Some sadness for Shia LaBoeuf must be acknowledged, because (contrary to Mark Kermode’s claim that he’s a “charisma vacuum”) he is actually a very talented and interesting performer to watch, and he does his best with this drivel. As he puts it himself, “whatever minimum characterisation stuff you get to do, you’re very grateful for it…it’s not being driven by the characters; they are almost being used as signholders for the next action scene“. Yes, the human element is greased up and bent over, wiggled promiscuously as Bay puts on his rubber gloves. And how could I leave out the “cybernetic minstrel show” that is Mudflap & Skids? Merely the icing on this monstrous neocolonialist cake.

Transformers is a product-oriented children’s franchise, and so the cinema crowds are full of kids, young boys and girls (an audience 46% female), who are having this repulsive filth crammed in their ears, burned on their retinas. Who I fear for. Boycott the film, to undermine the financial incentives behind this stuff.

NB: Although if you insist on going, you’ll be glad to know that all the noise will drown out your incessantly popcorn-munching pituitarily disadvantaged peers.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Dir. Michael Bay, Writ. Kruger, Orci & Kurtzman, Star. Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox & John Turturro, Dreamworks, USA, 2009


Written by James P. Campbell

21/06/2009 at 14:10

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