It’s been well over 12 hours since I saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and I must say I’m not sure my audio/visual senses have quite recovered. It is almost two-and-a-half-hours long; the most common reaction when people spilled out of the packed theater in Times Square last night (some cheering, others limping out of their chairs like they had just undergone great robot battle) was a head-shake or ear clap as one does when getting out of a chlorinated pool. A very loud pool where things blow up. A lot.
So yes, young Shia and the blow-up doll that is being forced down our throats as a sex symbol, Megan Fox, (who is almost an avatar at this point—quite a lot of needless slow-motion time was spent on watching her perfect breasts sway to and fro as she ran from danger) are back. Let me say for the record that there is not one ounce of exaggeration in the following statement: I could not follow the first 10 minutes of the movie. True story! Is it because I never watched the cartoon as a child or brushed up on my Transformers mythology before going to see the sequel? Was I distracted by how similar those ten minutes were to that weird long intro of Rock Band or that insidious Army Recruitment ad movie theaters keep playing? But, no matter, I managed to catch up with the plot, which basically boils down to hope-for-the-future Sam Witwicky (Mr. LaBeouf, a long way from his Project Greenlight days) heading to college – somewhere on the East Coast at a campus that looks like Princeton and Harvard barfed up a Dartmouth. He must say goodbye to his parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White, who do their best to bring some fun moments to the script), his robot/guardian Bumblebee, and his girlfriend — remember, this is a magical and alternate universe where Shia LaBeouf can score a chick like Ms. Fox. But of course, nothing is so simple. His roommates include a conspiracy-theorist blogger named Leo (played by Ramon Rodriguez) who has a poster of Cloverfield up on the wall and, strangely, yet another super-hot chick (Isabel Lucas) seems to want to get with him, but then he has a total Beautiful Mind-like meltdown in a class taught by Rainn Wilson because he’s seeing crazy ancient robotic symbols in his head. And we’re off!
Turns out Sam alone has the key to the outcome between good and evil and the age-old battle between Decepticons and Autobots. The Autobots have been secretly working with the US Government, but a new National Security Advisor (John Benjamin Hickey) appears determined that all Transformers should be banished from our planet. Sigh…still with me? Needless to say, college must be put on hold as various cities around the globe start getting the stuffing knocked out of hem, and Sam and co. (which includes John Turturro and those kinda annoying twin robots) get cracking on the mystery. I’d be hard pressed to describe what happens next: it involves the Smithsonian, Egypt, Jordan, a grouchy old Bot who had the funniest line in the whole movie, and then a final climatic third act that must have been at least 90 minutes long. In fact, I felt just about every heavy second of the 150 minutes running time. The special effects are indeed mind-blowing, but is there such a thing as too much when it comes to these things? (Teenage boys, I already know your answer). The big battle scenes were so hypnotic that I had trouble distinguishing good robots from bad (don’t get me started about the basic good vs evil of robots in general) and found myself thinking such deep thoughts as, which would be worse? To be trapped in a submarine or outer space? And also, why can’t Megan Fox ever keep her lips closed? And where does she manage to get lip gloss while out in the desert?
Still, all this being said, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will make a squillion trillion dollars. Count on it.