Originally Posted at Aint It Cool News 06/23/09
I know that food metaphors are the province of lazy movie reviewers. Check the archives of every critic you’ve ever read, and start in their nascent period, before they achieved full-fledged professional asshole status – you’ll see at least 1 or 2 reviews built around the substitution of cinema for eating. It’s where clichés like “Eye Candy” or “Comfort Food” come from, from tired people numbed by pretty, mindless crap being poured into their eyeballs.
With that being said:
I used to be the kind of person who believed there was no such thing as “too much cake.” The concept was silly to a slovenly, melty person like myself. Tell Ron Jeremy there’s something like “too much sex.” Tell Stephen Hawking there’s something like “too much breakdancing.” “Preposterous!” they’ll say. “Ludacris Bridges!”
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is 151 minutes of truth to that lie.
Around hour one, I was pretty satisfied with this sugary cinematic confection. But then another cake was placed in front of me. And another. And another. And Another. And I couldn’t scrape off the frosting, or pick off the roses made of icing. I had to eat every last cake. Not piece of cake; Whole Cake. There was no milk to wash it down, no moisture of any kind to help ease the cake into my tummy. It was shoved down my throat like a rifle butt was behind it. It was fast, angry cake, stacked up, undigested in my stomach like Donkey Kong girders. At some point, I actually forgot what cake tasted like as I gagged on yet another mouthful of icing and sugar. Then the movie ended.
Criterion controversially added both The Rock and Armageddon to their collection in the 90’s. They explained by saying something like “These films perfectly capture a style of filmmaking that deserves to be represented and examined by those who appreciate film.” I want to say that Criterion can go ahead and replace those two with this, because Revenge is a movie that perfectly encapsulates everything that is Michael Bay. In a filmography that includes Bad Boys II and Pearl Harbor, this is Bay at his most masturbationally indulgent.
And yet, I won’t say that, partially because Criterion doesn’t give a shit what I have to say, but mostly because this isn’t really a Michael Bay movie. This is Michael Bay making a cinematic mixtape out of James Cameron’s filmography. Roger Ebert wrote that The Rock was a movie built out of other movies. Revenge of the Fallen is built out of the earnest grandiosity and sci-fi goofiness of The Abyss, the mean-spirited, often degrading sitcom vibe of True Lies, the posing, preening evil of Terminator 2 married to the technical brilliance and horribly shitty pacing of Titanic. And those are just tonal and plot similarities. The shots themselves are often direct lifts that make you think Bay’s DVD/Blu-Ray shelf begins with C and ends with Ameron.
Shia LeBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky, an everyday doof with a girl (Megan Fox) way out of his league, on his way to college after spending a couple years hanging out with his alien robot car, (Bumblebee) with whom he saved the world from alien robot jets. (Megatron and Starscream)
The film opens with a beautifully disorienting action sequence featuring the Army working in tandem with The Autobots, (good bots) climaxing in an alien robot truck (Optimus Prime) parachuting out of a bomber and onto the face of wheeled alien robot thing blowing up Singapore for the Decepticons (Bad bots.)
An alien robot devil (The Fallen) wants to suck all the energy out of the sun , and so he sends alien robots to find a shard of the all-spark, last seen being shoved into an alien robot jet (Megatron) to kill him. They then shove their shard back into Megatron, which (logically) resurrects him.
Sam, aided by his pet Alien Robot car, enlists alien robots Stepin and Fetchit, aka Car Car Binks, to pick up John Turturro and his hairy bananahammocked ass (rethink your IMAX ticket now) to find an Alien Robot Jet (Jetfire) who will teleport them to Egypt where Sam can decipher the alien symbols infesting his mind after touching his All-Spark Shard. From there, he will find The Matrix of Leadership, which will help Optimus Prime defeat The Fallen, ensuring Sam survives to hump his girl on the hood of his pet car yet another day.
Other things that happen include everything.
Gay dogs dominating each other. An RC truck doing a Buscemi impersonation humping Megan Fox’s leg. John Turturro escapes being peed on but spends a considerable amount of time being dwarfed by Robotesticles. There’s a Camaro crying. A jet farting a parachute. A boy goes to robot heaven. A woman eats a bag of weed cookies and tackles ultimate Frisbee players. Green Day.
Some will read this and agree: This is simply a case of too much cake. If I want to see the everyman ascend beyond death to be visited by alien angels with the answer to life, the universe and everything, I’ll watch Ed Harris do it. If I want to see a stone killer slowly stroll at the camera as clouds of destruction billow, Robert Patrick is waiting on DVD. Revenge of the Fallen is a shortsighted pastiche of all Cameron’s worst clichés with pacing as smooth as the Transformers “Bionicle-crapped-a-box-of-razors-and-brillo-pads” designs.
Some will read this and think: There’s no such thing as too much cake, and this pussy is basically telling me that Michael Bay just made the best movie ever. The only thing better would be if the old British Jet-Robot with a walking stick sighs and says “I’m too old for this crap,” after totally kicking some Decepti-butt. Wait, that happens? Really? Well then, more cake, please.
Either reading is totally correct.