With a plot and camera that’s always in motion, director Michael Bay documents chaos of his own creation. It’s definitely a big event, just not a great movie.
A few years after the Autobots defeated the Decepticons on Earth, an alliance is formed between Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) and Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel) to covertly ensure the safety of Earth from the Decepticon threat. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) prepares to enter college, where the only thing he should have to worry about is holding onto his hottie girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox). Unfortunately, a shard of the shattered All-Spark somehow infects Sam, giving him a glimpse to the location of an ancient artifact that could restore a life or end all life on Earth as we know it, and the Decepticons already knows what he’s seen.
Director Michael Bay must be praised for at least this: no one else can introduce chaos into a scene like him. It isn’t enough for him that a scene is taking place (such as one with, you know, important plot-driving information), but there’s always something chaotic taking place distracting you from such “insignificant details.” Examples? LaBeouf’s character is moving away to college but can’t seem to get out of the house before the fire department shows up. Or while helping move her son in, mom helps herself to some pot-laced brownies. And after traveling halfway around the world to find something important, two robots can’t quit playing pinch-butt and grab-ass long enough to even look for the MacGuffin. It’s as if the film were made for children hopped up on Riddlin who got it from the ADD and ADHD kids who “feel just fine, now, thanks! Is this a sequel?”
The problem isn’t that nothing is going on, it’s that there’s no reason to really care. The result must be what post traumatic stress must feel like right after a battle sequence; you survive one episode only to move on to the next, then repeat until the battle ends. But this isn’t a war, it’s a movie, and there’s no time to digest anything going on or in anyway connect with it because Bay just HAS to show you something else… right now. Is this his way of providing your money’s worth or a constant distraction so there’s no time to think about any of it? To the credit of the writers, it looks like more of the original Transformers story was mined for details (yes, they’ve been here for thousands of years already… the Transformers, not the writers), but creating a whole extra layer by making Megatron subservient to someone bigger and badder (aka “The Fallen”) undermines his character in the worst way; he might as well be Starscream’s brother.
The mantra for the entire production seems to be “one step forward, two steps back.” Instead of building and relying on what we know and filling in the blanks, new characters are constantly being created for every new question. Worse yet, we keep being fed evidence that these alien Transformers could probably turn us all into Borg-like drones, able to interface easily with biological entities or disguise themselves entirely as something organic. If this is all true, what have the Decepticons been waiting for all these years, or even since the last movie? They could easily have destroyed the world’s economy, shut down any government, or done far worse to subvert the human race than turn into armored vehicles and fight head on. Heck, why couldn’t the president himself could BE a Transformer?
The original production suffered from these bizarre, unexplored revelations; if you can touch anything mechanical or electronic with a piece of the All-Spark and bring it to life, why do they always become Decepticons? This is the reason that the onscreen chaos seems more like a distraction; was this a choice of the writer’s to gloss over their own implications, or something the director thought on-set would be “cool?” For ANY story, if you write the rules, you have to follow them unless you have a very good reason not to, and that should be a plot epiphany, not a footnote. To the credit of the human cast, each gets a moment to shine and do some actual acting (yes, even Megan Fox), but for everything else, bigger, louder, and more destructive just doesn’t add up to better.
(a two skull recommendation out of four)