One of the greatest functions of the film medium is its ability to convey an event visually in real time. Wheras language can only describe a scenario and still photography can only present one shot of an event, film can show you something happening over time.
But it’s not just a great functon of cinema â€“ it’s what the medium relies on. If you can’t clearly show me something happening when I am paying attention, you are failing. That’s not a matter of having too short (or too long) of an attention span, and it’s not a matter of being inable to appreciate a filmmaker’s style. It’s just fucking illiteracy.
That’s why, when I watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and I can’t follow simple sequences of one thing punching another thing, I can say that Michael Bay has no idea how to make films.
I’m serious. If Bay want’s to give me a dumb movie where robots explode into each other, that’s fine. But whatever movie you make, make it compatently.
But Bay just has no idea what he’s doing. In what seems like at least half of the sequences, where hundreds of tons of steel are fighting each other while random shit blows up in the background, I am somehow bored. How can something that massive be boring? Because Bay is deciding that, rather than utilize film editing essentials like pacing and tension-building, to just throw everything out at you, in a practically random order. It’s less a film than it is a show reel of special effects shots.
It’s a total shame, because a lot of people who worked on Transformers really knew their shit. The special effects, and the digitally created characters that make up most of this movie, are simply awesome. Not only in their photorealism, but in the fact that they are giant fucking robots. But just because the special effects guys knew what they were doing doesn’t mean there work is appreciated.
You see that shot up there, the one where Optimus Prime is wielding, like, firey hot steel blades? That’s fucking cool. I would love to see that in a movie. But I can tell you in all honesty that I don’t remember seeing it at all in the movie. How something that truly fucking cool could be 100% wasted is just a testament to how awful a directer Bay is.
Even things that I do remember, it’s like they could have never happened. If I told you there was a Megazord in this movie, you would probably be pretty psyched, right? I know I would. But the movie doesn’t do anything with it, except, like, eat sand. Actually, it might have been blown up too; but I seriously can’t remember.
I could complain about this movie being terribly bad for days, but why waste my time doing that when I can talk about how borderline offensive the it is at the same time?
Two Transformers who did not appear in the last film – Mudflap and Skids – are sure to be the topic of a very angry letter from the NAACP very soon. Speaking like a couple of white kids trying to act like rappers, these are given big ears and small I.Q.s. One of them has a golden tooth. I don’t think I’m hyperbolizing when I say these same stereotypes were present in the most famously racist film of all time, The Birth of a Nation.
And while, as a red-blooded straight dude, I don’t normally complain about seeing an attractive woman onscreen, I find there to be something kind of wrong when every woman on an Ivy League campus looks like they just got out of a Maxim photo shoot.
I could also complain about how it makes baseless and pointless attacks against President Obama and his regime change. Seriously. I don’t have a problem with somebody critiquing Obama, and to be honest Bay was probably too stupid to have even realized what his film was saying; but the film does make these statements, and that’s just another reason that Transformers is offensively moronic.
I will admit, there are some things that I enjoyed on a kitschy level about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. One thing that the first film did well was be a big and stupid action movie without ever having to apologize for it, and the sequel is able to carry that on. That’s made clear from the opening scene – after a giant bass thud that will challenge any sound system, it fades from black to images of prehistoric men as they stand in the shadows and hunt dangerous animals. After a few seconds of this, Optimus Prime comes in via voice-over, and simply begins with epic one-word statement: EARTH.
You know what else I enjoyed? This is the only movie I’ve ever seen where a main character dies, only to be brought back to life by the Robot Gods. TWICE.
But that’s not enough. Not when the last hour of the film is just an elongated action sequence without any coherrant thought or narrative. Not when it’s at times literally racist and sexist, while all of its two-and-a-half hours are offensively stupid and boring.