How to transform a cult children’s-TV cartoon into a big-budget flick for sexually-frustrated frat boys? Michael Bay has all the answers.
The sequel to the nail-bitingly boring 2007 Transformers opens with the now-allied Autobots and American ‘Nest’ Forces preparing for an explosive showdown with straggler Decepticons in downtown Shanghai. Bizarrely, the Chinese authorities prefer to watch from afar as half of Shanghai is ripped to pieces by US incompetence I mean, superiority.
Meanwhile back in the States, the ongoing Punch-and-Judy relationship between the precocious male lead Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), and his motorbike-loving girlfriend Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) reaches an estranged stage as Sam prepares to leave for far, far away university. Sam’s mum kicks up a pantomine-esque fuss, while the temperamental Bumble-Bee Autobot is told to stay at home in the family garage (presumably self-aware robots don’t need any stimulation).
After many explosions and screen deaths it becomes obvious that the Decepticons are in fact searching planet Earth, looking for something dangerous… enter the Presidential Advisor. He believes the Decepticons are merely belligerently looking for a fight with the Autobots (even though they seemingly avoid them), and effectively tells them to f**k-off Planet Earth. It requires the mighty intellect of Optimus-Prime to pose the palpable question – what if he’s wrong?…
Obama’s Advisor – he’s actually named in the film – plays the over-the-top role of the bureaucratic antagonist to the righteous wranglings of the Autobot/US military coalition. Not to worry, he can always be ejected out a plane (I hope this isn’t a subtle message).
This sets the tone for the whole film as American Forces and Autobots endlessly chase the ‘terrorist’ Decepticons around the World, unleashing havoc and mayhem in the pursuit of ‘peace’. Now take the word ‘Autobot’ out of the equation, and couple with the scenes where the U.S. forces brutishly assault the Middle-East. Then with all the countless buildings and antiquities which are destroyed in the process of preventing the apocalyptic machine (WMD) getting in the hands of the evil ‘Fallen One’ (Saddam/Satan?), what do you have?… Answer: the current US foreign policy.
Fittingly, a single British soldier plays a token role in this ‘Coalition of the Willing’, while the politically-stubborn French feature when Sam’s holidaying mother is disgusted by the taste of Parisian snails, as his philistine father swigs back a Bud. More shameless product-placement continues, with all the heroic Autobots sporting their GMC logos (ironically, the American car industry really could do with a transformation).
Furthermore, EVERY American teenager is apparently beautiful, even the young teacher who welcomes Sam at University. EVERY female character in this film is either a sex-symbol or stupid, but largely both. Megan Fox epitomises this credo, while the close-ups of her face reveal enough layers of foundation to provide effective bullet-proof protection. Most of the male characters are shameless sexual predators, even the balding astronomy lecturer which comes across as downright weird.
The level of blatant American propaganda in this film is shocking. As the glorifying scenes of rows of shining US fighter-jets and tanks show, Michael Bay appears to be in a romantic relationship with the hyperactive US military and attempts to justify their excessive global presence. Thank God the mighty US military saved the World again from the evil [delete as necessary] robots/terrorists/aliens!
The jarring audio is probably the most successful element of this film. The visuals are also graphically complex and impressive at times, although Bay still insists on condensing so many bizarre camera angles into the fight-scenes that it’s often near-impossible to tell what’s actually going on.
The plot is the main let-down. It’s a cheesy-mash of The Lord of the Rings/Indiana Jones/Independence Day. So much so, that not unlike having an entire wheel of Camembert forced down your throat, you want to be physically sick.
Nevertheless, the film does feature some funny moments – the (albeit unintentionally) funniest being when a butcher-cum-hacker phones a U.S. battleship to inform them to get off their asses and use their ‘classified’ weapon on the Decepticon behemoth ripping apart an Egyptian pyramid. The battleship, now enlightened, promptly destroys the behemoth with one shot, then proceeds to sheathe the weapon when the larger, more pissed-off robot arrives.
This may be the first time the entire Savoy cinema audience has simultaneously mocked a film out loud, but it won’t be the last – Michael Bay is tipped to direct Transformers 3.
I won’t be Deceived again. Will you?