Short version: Just like super-sizing a McDonalds meal doesn't make it taste any better, neither does giving us more of what was in the first film improve Transformers 2.
Screen Rant reviews Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Regular readers here at Screen Rant are familiar with my disdain for the first Tranformers movie. While many agree with me and others disagree vehemently - both sides have been expecting me to skewer Michael Bay's Tranformers 2. I didn't go in expecting much, and that may have actually caused me to not judge it quite as harshly as a lot of other reviewers are doing.
The (very thin) story here is that of Sam (Shia Lebouf) heading off to college, trying to go back to a semblance of a normal life - where you don't have giant, talking robots that turn into cool cars. He'll be leaving behind tough biker chick Michaela (Megan Fox) but they'll continue a long distance relationship through the wonders of the internet.
Before Sam leaves, he discovers a shard of the "All Spark" is still in his possession - when he touches it, it has some sort of effect on him and is shown to still have the power to animate mechanical objects. Thinking he has it safely secured, Sam heads off to college where he meets his roommate Leo (Ramon Rodriguez), a guy who runs a website dedicated to robot sightings which is not nearly as popular as he imagines it to be.
It turns out the Autobots have been working with the government trying to track down the vestiges of the Decepticon robots that are still on Earth. It looks like the Decepticons have been searching for something, but no one (not even the Autobots) know what that might be.
Of course the last thing that will happen to Sam is a "normal" college experience, and he is soon drawn back into the world of the Transformers. He's joined by his reluctant roommate Leo and of course soon enough by Michaela and the buffoonish (now ex) government agent from the first film, Simmons (John Turturro).
From here the whole point is to stop the Decepticons (led by the ancient robot called "The Fallen") from getting their claws on a device that is of course a danger to all of humanity.
And it takes a really, really long time.
In Revenge of the Fallen there's more of everything that was in the first film: More robots, more explosions, more soldiers, more battle scenes, more juvenile (and inappropriate for kids) humor and more foul language.
In the end it doesn't make this film any better than the first one - it just makes it feel longer. I was surprised to learn that this film is only 6 minutes longer than the first one... it feels a LOT longer than that. Thirty to forty minutes could have been cut pretty easily - it's a movie about giant robot battles, does it NEED to be two hours and twenty minutes long? Even the scenes most people go to see, the battle scenes, drag on far too long.
So what was good? I liked the scenes involving the military, great stuff. I liked that Bay pulled back the cameras on the robot battles so you can actually tell what's happening (although the shots were too tight once again at the end of the film) - and about the best robot fight took place in the forest. Not "awesome" but probably the best thing in the film.
On the bright side, I actually liked Kevin Dunn as Sam's dad in this one, although the mom annoyed the heck out of me again. Aside from the "humor" I'll describe below, I thought some of it was actually OK - even Turturro wasn't quite as annoying. The CGI was excellent, although at this point for a film like this that should be a given.
What wasn't so good? Well, beyond "everything else," a big pet peeve of mine about the first film was the juvenile humor that I didn't think fit with the action. In the sequel, most of the "humor" happens during the first third of the film and thankfully it's not as prevalent later on (although it still pops up from time to time). In this film, instead of masturbation jokes, robots "peeing" fluid on people and acting like teenage girls hiding in a back yard, we have dog humping (twice), a robot humping Megan Fox's leg, gigantic robot testicles, farting robots and a college professor who's introductory lecture is limited exclusively to veiled sexual references.
There's also TONS of inappropriate language for the under-10 crowd that is sure to show up for this movie - including but not limited to a**hole, pu**y, ball sack, b*itch and sh*t. And of course in addition to the lingering shots of Megan Fox, there are suggestive scenes with actress Isabel Lucas, including an obviously carefully crafted "peek" shot of her rear/crotch.
I only mention all this because over and over and over again I've heard in defense of the first film: "It's a kids movie!!"
And despite all the action I found myself kind of bored... I actually almost nodded off at one point. Again: TOO LONG.
Oh, and yes, there are a couple of robots in the film (the "Twins") that talk and look like something out of an old minstrel show - that was pretty hard to fathom. I could possibly see if they acted like rappers (due to absorbing what they've seen on MTV or something), but ignorant, Southern, gold-toothed robots who can't read? It was reminiscent of the two black crows from Disney's Dumbo (which was made back in 1941). Of course one of the actors providing the voices is black, so I'd be curious to hear his take on all this.
So, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is more of the same. If you thought the first one "rocked" you'll probably think the same of this one; if you thought the first one was terrible, you'll probably think this one is even worse. Me, I had such low expectations going in and already knew what to expect based on the first film. I didn't have such a violent reaction to it - although I certainly don't intend to ever watch it again.
If you plan on bringing kids, I would highly recommend you check this out yourself before bringing them.