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Robot Bores

Space robots and awesome cars and hot chicks—yawn

A big, bad-ass space robot

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Director:Michael Bay
Cast:Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Samantha Smith, Rainn Wilson, Anthony Anderson, John Turturro
Release Date:2009
Genre:Action, Science fiction, Adventure

By Michael Byrne | Posted 6/24/2009

BEFORE THE LIGHTS go down for this promotional screening, someone doing promo for Otakon announces to the crowd—with nearly two full theaters, it is a crowd—that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen apparently used whopping 135 terabytes of computer memory in the creation of its special effects. That's about 60-odd research libraries' worth of information. So, you're churning through the quantitative equivalent of the library at MIT for every two minutes you're watching giant space robots beat the shit out of each other—the Library of Congress for every 10 minutes.

No idea how that stacks up to other CGI-based movies but, good g-d, you should expect much more than Revenge for your digital value. Hate to call this movie "boring"—it is, after all, a movie about battling space robots full of awesome cars and hot chicks and easily digestible cultural stereotypes and stuff—but at about two and a half hours and offering nothing and no one you actually care about, it's tedious, like watching someone play a video game. And it's not even just the movie's shallowness that makes it tedious—even the battles between the biggest, most bad-ass space robots are, in the grand scheme of battles between big, bad-ass space robots, boring. Again, no idea how that happened, or why director Michael Bay pulls that off, but through some combination of needlessly orbiting camera angles, congested scenes, and a complete and utter lack of suspense, Revenge's battles between big, bad-ass space robots are just not fun.

Good robot, bad robot, or babe girlfriend?

Does the plot even matter here? There is one, and for no apparent reason beyond fidelity to the television show and first movie, it's complicated. There's this kid (Shia LaBoeuf), see, and he has these symbols in his brain that lead to this thing that destroys the sun that the bad space robots want to use to gain robot fuel but the good robots are good and want to save humanity so they try and protect the kid, who's going to college and has a babe girlfriend (Megan Fox), with some piece of metal that does something, and there's this other piece of metal that can either activate the sun-destroying machine or bring Optimus Prime back to life, and the government's involved. OK, that's from memory, so maybe it's not that complicated.

Furthermore: Fuck Michael Bay for a totally tasteless Sept. 11 allusion. Revenge is, by today's standards, a kid's movie and the violence is pretty cartoon-y and there's a corny joke or wisecrack about every four minutes. About halfway through the movie, the bad space robots attack the humans and there's a television clip during the furor that calls the attack the worst "since 9/11." Maybe it's just my tender PC sensibilities, but it seems pretty lame to reference an actual real-world tragedy in the context of a shameless summer blockbuster. And given the relentless Chevy—of bankrupt, bailed-out GM fame—product placement in the movie it feels like, through your tax dollars at work, you're actually paying for the movie twice.

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