Bad Movies: Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

Welcome to Bad Movies, a new weekly feature here at We Got This Covered. This is where the scourges of cinematic endeavour find themselves without solace. You know ’em well: movies that have plagued humanity with their badness, and insulted the innocent movie-goers who obligingly paid to see them.

These aren’t just poor or mediocre ventures: these are the pictures that have us pondering the very death of cinema itself. How the hell did they ever get made? And note: these movies aren’t so bad they’re good, they’re so bad they’re frankly embarrassing. Nobody, at any point, should ever put themselves through the task of watching one of these monstrosities. Please.

This week: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Having no plot should be, above all, a director’s incentive to halt production, go back to the drawing board and get one. You can’t make a movie without a plot. You can make a movie – an action movie, yes – with a shitty plot, or a plot that verges on the non-existent, but no plot at all? You need something. And yet Michael Bay, in his dedications to all things CG and flaming, crafted a motion-picture in 2009 that managed something quite incredible: a movie with no plot, that actually managed to be fully incomprehensible at the same time. Such feats are rare.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen might be the worst blockbuster ever made. I don’t make such comments lightly. Almost every second or third blockbuster released in theatres nowadays is mediocre to some extent, most of which are digested quickly and without afterthought. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of mindless blockbusters. Sometimes it’s good to just sit in a theatre and enjoy something that isn’t sending a message or working things out. But Transformers 2 isn’t just mindless, it’s brainless, and I’d argue there’s a major difference.

A movie that is simply mindless – and we’ll use Taken because it’s a good example – requires absolutely no input from you. You sit down and you watch it and you don’t think about much else but what you’re seeing because everything is told to you. The plot is simple, usually linear, and you follow it with ease. Nothing wrong with that.

But a mindless picture still has to make sense, because that’s fair play. Taken does what it does, does it well, and it makes sense given the world it has established for you. But the brainless picture doesn’t play fair at all. The brainless picture wants to lower your intelligent, to bring you down to its level. The brainless picture is incomprehensible because, well, it doesn’t make sense fundamentally. Worse still, it might try and have you believe that it does. Case in point: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Although it’s impossible to actually describe the narrative in detail after, say, the 30-minute mark, Transformers 2 is set a few years after the original flick (which, I’ll admit, is a better and far more grounded movie). Sam Witwicky, played somewhat erratically by Shia LeBeouf, is going away to college, and his super-hot girlfriend Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) is left back home fixing motorcycles (she’s that kind of girl).

Don’t get me started on Bay’s photographing of Megan Fox: it’s a point that’s both frustrating and redundant. Yeah, it’s pervy and weird, and Bay has no idea how to shoot women without a creepy kind of objectification… on the other hand, Fox wasn’t hired for her acting abilities, was she? She must’ve picked up her cheque knowing full-well what she was going to come out looking like. Anyway, there are Transformers, too, which are alien beings that smash each other up and transform into cars and stuff, and there are basically good and bad versions of these. They also like Sam.

That’s about as much plot as you’ll ever understand. Soon after that everything unravels and the movie tries to have you believe that it might make sense if, say, you watch it twice or something. Nevermind: it’s simply easier for you to picture a world in which everything is made of high-octane explosives. Call it Baytown, and picture objects exploding well-beyond their means at the slightest touch. And when I say everything, I mean everything (the pyramids are not spared, for God’s sake). Essentially this is all the movie ever is: Sam and Mikaela jetting off to foreign destinations, sometimes arguing, sometimes dodging out of the way as unidentifiable battles take place between opposing robots.

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