If you didn’t like Transformers as a kid, you were probably not much fun. I mean, they were freakin’ robots that freakin’ transformed. The first Transformers flick had that element of nostalgia going for it. You were seeing a modern take of something that we all loved when we were growing up. We were able to look past Michael Bay’s horrible filmmaking, past the fact that the dialogue was probably written by either actual children or someone with an equivalent reading level and past how the movie played more like a commercial for the various car and soft drink brands not so subtly placed all over the place. The majority of that has worn off and I’m sure I’m not the only one seeing the second movie for exactly what it is.
The second film takes place what I assume is a year or so after the events of the first. Sam is on his way to college and Mikaela is working for her dad at motorcycle shop where she poses uncomfortably while airbrushing graphics on the sides of hogs. While those two are dealing with the regular challenges facing long distance couples, Optimus Prime and the gang are teamed up with the military guys they fought beside in a new top secret strike force called NEST, which hunts remaining Decepticons on Earth. I’m not going to go any further into the plot because…well, the plot is seriously secondary in the movie and the vast majority of it is convoluted and cliche. That and you could probably watch the trailer and figure most of it out for yourself.
Let’s go through the positives first. For most, Transformers 2 will be entertaining. I mean, in the summer, what’s more fun than watching robots kick some ass? There’s nothing wrong with the movie in this sense. If they just left it at robots kicking ass, I would’ve probably liked it a whole lot more. The animations seemed a bit last minute and several times, there was far too much going on in the shot and a lot of it is lost in a fast paced action scene. An early fight between Sideswipe and Sideways is great because it’s simple but a number of other melee sequences are too busy. Actually, I think I liked the action featuring the human soldiers the best since Michael Bay excels at slow motion picturesque shots with people but that doesn’t translate well with 50-foot behemoths. Two or three of these giants getting tangled up doesn’t look great on camera…sometimes you can barely tell whose parts are whose. Optimus’ final battle is also a bit disappointing, especially since you see what his opponent is capable of. Did all those cool anti-gravity abilities just suddenly disappear?
Speaking of the characters, there are far too many of them. Sure, we all want to see our favorites in the film but the movie crams so many of them in, most of the time without explanation or often even names, it’s hard to care about any of them. This is especially difficult with many of the Decepticons since quite a few of them look very similar. I mean, you can tell which one is Starscream and which one is Ravage but some others get really lost in the mix. Jetfire, for example, is done properly. You get a bit of his history and he tells you his name. I’m a little confused about why he has a British accent and is a SR-71 but that’s beside the point. While we’re off-topic, isn’t the SR-71 “Blackbird” just one of the most gorgeous machines you’ve ever seen?
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to mention this or make this comparison but why did they decide to include those god awful twins in this movie?! They were the Transformers 2 equivalent of Jar-Jar Binks. Every time they were on screen, I was getting increasingly annoyed. No, they’re not funny…and why on earth do they sound like they’re from Brooklyn? They’re from space…
Perhaps my biggest complaint about the actual story requires a SPOILER ALERT. I love that they included Devastator in the movie and he looks badass but why on earth is he killed almost immediately? Sure, experimental railgun…great. We don’t want to seem the biggest Transformer get shot from a boat miles away…we want to see him throw down against the Autobots!
The humans do a reasonable job in their roles. They spend the vast majority of the movie counter-intuitively running in slow motion away from explosions or serving as thin comic relief. Also, it’s hard to complain about Megan Fox.
Again, the plot is terrible. Far too much explanation was necessary and ultimately never delivered. With the backdrop of previous encounters with early humans and a great mix of Transformers lore, conspiracy theory and human history, you’d think they’d be able to come up with something better. I had the same complaint about Angels and Demons where Tom Hanks just solves the mystery without having to really decipher the clues…almost like “Oh, here’s the answer. I’d tell you why that’s the answer but we don’t have time!”
But let’s be completely clear here…no one is going to watch this movie for an Oscar-caliber plot. The hundreds of film critics simultaneously telling people why this movie is terrible in hundreds of different languages hasn’t deterred movie-goers from making this one of the highest grossing films of all time. It’s not a good movie, but it is a fun movie. You’ll have a good time seeing it with your friends and talking about it after…or heck, even complaining about how bad it was after. I’d probably recommend you bring at least one friend that knows the names of all the Transformers so you’ll know all the names Michael Bay decided could be cut from the script. I wish he would’ve cut some more things as the film is about half to an hour too long at a whopping 149 minutes.
Add it all up. The plot is drivel constructed by chimps on typewriters, the dialogue is cringe-worthy, and if all the Michael Bay slow motion was played at regular speed, the movie may have only been 45 minutes. Check your brain at the door or just leave it in the car. You really shouldn’t bring it with you if you want to enjoy some MOAR EXPLOSIONS!
Verdict: 4.5 out of 10