Mr. Movie

Tabloid stars can't save latest 'Transformers'

Michael Bay has now done two self-indulgent, effects-crammed movies about toys that toymaker Hasbro is credited with inventing.

For those that missed it, Transformers was a really popular after school cartoon show that children of the 1980s used to rush home to watch after school.

-- Trailer, times, theaters.

-- Read The Critic of Pure Reason's review.

Bay’s sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has Shia LeBeouf’s Sam Witwicky and Megan Fox’s Mikela Barnes working again with the good guy Autobots against the dark forces of the Decepticons. It introduces ancient Transformers that were on Earth 17,000 years ago fighting over control of a doomsday machine that will eat the sun. Autobot Optimus Prime’s ancestors defeated the Decepticons through self-sacrifice and by hiding their power source.

Revenge runs a staggering 2 hours, 30 minutes. Bay’s robots clank, bang and painfully grind themselves into gigantic, terrifying creatures. Dialogue while these transformations take place is wedged into the annoying, constant whooshing of over-processed studio noise and is indecipherable.

The Transformers transform so quickly and move in such a flurry that it is nearly impossible to digest what’s happening. In the non-stop battles you rarely know which Transformer is which. They’re just a blur of action accompanied by a lot of noise. They kill humans and level buildings, ancient monuments and each other. The automatons rage on for two hours. What passes for a plot is interspersed into the remaining half an hour.

The two stars are popular fodder for the tabloids. Fox is especially — uh, for lack of a better word — hot now. She makes daily outrageous statements and staged a semi-nude, and now very popular Internet, photo shoot. Anything to pump up the attention. Twenty minutes into Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and you understand why.

Fox has nothing to do but look gorgeous and be dragged by the arm through her scenes by LeBeouf, who also has nothing to do but pretend to dodge bone-squashing machines that aren’t really there. Without the hype of on-set make-out sessions, who’s the best kisser, scantily clad appearances and drunken antics, these are career-ending performances.

No white elephants in the room. I’ll be brutal. Bay’s film sucks with a capital “S” and with the word enveloped in bold italics. Slathering fans that pop out of a showing of Bay’s sequel, Revenge of the Fallen and think it’s one of the oh-my-gosh-best movies worry me.

The TV series was crap on a serious level, but the popularity is understandable. All-powerful robots that can disguise themselves as cars and trucks is a cool idea. Many of you still have yours, stuffed away in a drawer somewhere with the Teenage Ninja Turtles — a discussion for another day.

The well-done Transformers from 2007 featured creative robots beating each other into nuts and bolts via a passable plot. Parts of it — especially John Turturro’s straight-faced comedy as the special agent tracking the mechanical beasts — were really fun. Nothing, not even a reprise by Turturro, in this headache-inducing mess can make that claim.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It opens Wednesday, June 24 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.