Breaking down Transformers 2

by Paul William Tenny

michael-bay.jpgA couple of things ought to be clear by now, even if you don't tend keep up with this stuff yourself. First and foremost, Revenge of the Fallen set a record for Wednesday openings with about $16.4 million to spare, over Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

But unlike Phoenix, which got very favorable reviews from critics and fans (71/100 on Metacritic), Fallen was savaged by critics (35/100) for having a nonsensical storyline -- even for a Michael Bay film -- confusing effects sequences that leave you wondering what's going on and who is winning, non-existent character development, offensive racial stereotypes and crude humor seemingly detached from any relevance to the film.

And those are the good parts.
Empire's Nick De Semlyen:

A super-sized second helping, but the novelty factor and some of the charm's gone. Hey, at least there's more Megatron / Starscream squabbling this time round.

New York Daily News' Joe Neumaier:

Hey, Michael: It's the robots, stupid. Despite all the mechanical mayhem, none of the Transformers stand out.

Philadelphia Inquirer's Carrie Rickey:

Roughly an hour in, Transformers 2 morphs from teen adventure into lumbering war movie. Bay and his screenwriters squander their human capital in order to show us scenes of 20-ton toys crushing 10-ton toys.

Boston Globe's Ty Burr:

'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'' is - there's no polite way to say this - 2 1/2 hours of tumescence disguised as a motion picture. [Note: Ty dropped by to tell us what his original line was, which is way more funny.]

I don't know what tumescence means either. ReelViews' James Berardinelli:

The storyline is so infantile that it will appeal to young kids.

And here's where this is really, really bad. Let me quote extensively from the Aint it Cool News review:

The film is padded by an hour of completely unnecessary, worthless, offensive and repugnant sequences that do nothing but tread water. Be it the family dogs f**king, twice. An extended sequence of Mom hopped up on pot brownies on a reefer madness binge. The well talked about racist foul-mouthed robots that are built in monkey proportions, have a big shiny gold tooth and do nothing to advance the story an inch. It's almost like Michael Bay showed the script to George Lucas and Uncle George let loose with another of his awesomely inappropriate animated racial slurs. But the racial stuff isn't limited to just the animated variety. There's a black man with bad teeth working in a Butcher Shop to earn new teeth that kinda blew my mind. But my problems with these things aren't so much of the PC variety.

But this film has so much obviously wrong with it, that you have to wonder if anybody in the process ever told Michael Bay that he was f**king offensively retarded.

All that said though - my nephew loved the film, he's nearly nine. He hated the kissy stuff. But he loved pretty much everything else. He adored Mudflap and Skids - which is more disturbing than anything else. The amount of foul language popping out of their mouths is astonishing, especially with the shit, bitch, muther..., ass, p**sy, etc...

What the hell is this stuff doing in a TRANSFORMERS movie?

And there-in lies the problem. This is a movie written and produced for teenage boys and young men that appeals -- purposefully -- to children. That's wrong on many different levels and wickedly inappropriate behavior by many different parties. Orci and Kurtzman just did very well writing the new Star Trek movie, but they lost everything they had and even more by putting their name behind this garbage.

Chicago Reader's Andrea Gronvall:

The special effects are better and the dialogue slightly more humorous than in the first movie, but the anti-Arab subtext is repugnant.

Christian Science Monitor's Peter Rainer:

An impossibly, incomprehensibly overlong and cacophonous bore.

My favorite, Rolling Stone's Peter Travers:
Transformers 2 has a shot at the title Worst Movie of the Decade.

And we're still going to get a third one, based on the following numbers. $198 million in five days. $60 million opening on Wednesday -- a record. Projected ticket sales of $1.3 billion worldwide if the numbers hold, based on the performance of the previous record holder for a Wed. opening: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Transformers 2, graph 1

I seriously doubt this movie will hit $1.3 billion worldwide since that would make it the second highest grossing film of all-time, even better than Dark Knight, but it matches up so well with Phoenix for the first five days that it's an honest projection, just not a very useful one.

Just for fun, here is Transformers 2, Order of the Phoenix, and The Dark Knight:

Transformers 2 vs. Dark Knight vs. Order of the Phoenix

The caveat being that Dark Knight opened on a Friday, while the other two films opened on a Wednesday.

So that's interesting, Revenge of the Fallen is making more money than the first movie but it also cost $50 million more to make. It's very closely tracking Phoenix but the real test will be the working week falloff. People actually liked Phoenix, but Revenge of the Fallen seems widely hated by a lot of people. Now that everyone who was determined to go see this movie has already done so, it's time to find out if bad worth-of-mouth will kill it early.
in Film


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"Tumescence" means a hard-on. I originally wrote "'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' is a 2 1/2-hour erection disguised as a major motion picture," but my editor made me change it. Just so you know.


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