Too long. Too too too long.
The world’s least favourite director Michael Bay returns to helm this unnecessary follow up to a mediocre summer blockbuster from two years ago. This time out, Sam Whitwicky (Shia LeBeuf) heads off to college, only to become embroiled, along with his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox), in a new attack by the Decepticons against the planet Earth. Teaming up again with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and a dozen or so other Autobots, they set out to foil the doomsday plans of the oldest of the Decepticons, known only as The Fallen.
The dialogue is truly terrible, on two fronts: human and robot. On the human front, we have such gems as “It’ll work, I know it will.” “How do you know?” “Because I believe it.”; while on the Transformer side of things, all the Autobots apart from Optimus Prime sounds like they’re from the Bronx, which is certainly unusual for a species of sentient robots from another planet.
In addition to this, the jokes aren’t funny. There are dozens of short little scenes between characters that serve very little purpose, other than to allow characters to banter back and forth. It took me a little while to realise that these scenes were supposed to be comic relief because no one in the cinema was laughing. Not one person. Certainly, not all of the jokes are bad, and I’m sure I laughed a few times, but 4/50 is not a good success rate when it comes to comedy.
The acting is also less than stellar, with Le Beuf given very little to work with, and thus hands in a thoroughly mediocre performance. Megan Fox appears to have been shot by a masturbating 13 year old boy, existing for no reason other than to bring the boobage. Sam’s father Ron (Kevin Dunn) is once again terrible, but his mother Judy (Julie White) is good for a few laughs at the start of the film. John Turturro is reasonable as Agent Simmons, though does nothing particularly memorable, and Leo Spitz (Ramon Rodriguez) marches straight onto the list of most annoying and pointless sidekicks ever.
The plotting is poor, with Bay constantly being distracted by shiny things that keep bogging down the plot any time it threatens to actually go anywhere. That is not to say that the film is slow – there is always something happening on screen – just none of it leads anywhere. This is a relatively simple film, but it last for over 140 minutes and takes about 40 minutes longer than necessary to get to its hour long climax; which, as it lasts an hour, never really climaxes, just plateaus. A line of dialogue from Kevin Dunn summed it up nicely for me: “I don’t know what’s going on, but we’d better run.”
Then there is the issue of the effects. There is certainly no question the ILM have, as always, outdone themselves. My gripe is more to do with design and direction, and it was an issue I had with the first Transformers film too: the Transformers are so incredibly complex and the direction is so fast moving and fast cutting that it becomes nigh on impossible to make out what is happening on screen when there are two Transformers fighting. This is a genuine issue for me, as I am by no means a CGI-hater. In fact, I love my CGI. I also think the availability of relatively cheap convincing CGI typically removes a lot of the old budget barriers that exist on old films. But on Transformers, a line has been crossed, where we have vast quantities of CGI for CGI’s sake. It has become so big and so complex that it actually makes watching the film MORE difficult than if the CGI budget had been halved.
So, in summary then, I did not enjoy Transformers 2. I went to the cinema expecting something mindless but entertaining – a summer blockbuster. What I got was two and a half hours of an assault on the senses, a film that leaves you drained and angry that you’ll never get those two and a half hours back. Don’t bother. Just don’t. C-.