A Viewers Guide to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

A word of advice: If you’re one of the few who has yet to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and judging from the $200 million–plus grosses, you probably aren’t), we suggest rushing out immediately to see Michael Bay’s latest in its full IMAX glory. Quality aside—the over-long extravaganza isn’t nearly as bad as critics say, but it also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense—this thing is positively massive when viewed on a screen that measures 76 feet high. We don’t want to spoil it, but towards the end, when a bunch of Decepticons combine to form Devastator … well, prepare to have your mouth fall agape at the sheer size of robotic carnage. Of course, if you’ve ever seen Voltron, you can already imagine what Devastator looks like. And that might be the main charm of Revenge of the Fallen: At its core, the film is simply a greatest-hits package of popular culture. Don’t believe us? Check out this partial list of movies and television that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen gloriously steals from. Spoilers ahead!

Chuck: Tell us if this sounds familiar: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, surprisingly neutered) winds up with tons of secret information in his head (because he looked at a piece of junk from the first movie, natch) and it causes him to have flashes that spill said information out. Umm, really? We were half expecting to see Sam working in a BuyMore by the third act. Chuck creator’s Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak should probably call their lawyers about this.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Much has been made of the minstrel-show-like robots Skids and Mudflap, and, deservedly so: They are patently absurd and shocking in their racist portrayals. But how come no one mentioned Tyrese Gibson, whose only function is to stand around and comment on how the situation is screwed up, or, about how he screwed it up, all while looking really scared. You want to talk racism? He’s Revenge of the Fallen’s very own Jar-Jar Binks.

Species: While in college, Sam hooks up with a hot-to-trot college freshman that turns out to be a Decepticon, and their make-out session, complete with creepy robotic tonguing, feels like a deleted scene from Species. If Mr. Bay thought we wouldn’t remember back to 1995, he was wrong. (Also, a note to incoming freshman: We’ve been out of school for a few years, but we’re still pretty sure it doesn’t look anything like the college in Transformers.)

The Matrix: Mr. Bay didn’t really steal that much from the Wachowski brothers’ classic, but he did have the gall to call a major piece of technology “The Matrix,” which made us giggle a little every time it was said.

Every Michael Bay Movie, Ever: There was an unnecessary 360-degree camera swoop around Sam and Mikaela (Megan Fox, still crazy hot) that reminded us of Bad Boys; Sam writes all over a Bad Boys II poster in his dorm room (for no reason); one of the military grunts actually references using “green smoke” to signal a job has been done, just like in The Rock; the Decepticon Emperor, “The Fallen” (whatever that was), lives on a spaceship that looked suspiciously like the asteroid in Armageddon (plus Sam and Mikaela share an Animal Crackers–less love scene); and pretty much the entire ending—complete with another Linkin Park song—is word-for-word the same as the final scene in the first Transformers. No wonder Mr. Bay doesn’t want to make a third film so soon—he has to wait to build up his catalog again! A Viewers Guide to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen