A film review by Craig J. Koban



2009, PG-13, 149 mins.  zero stars


Sam Witwicky: Shia LaBeouf / Mikaela Banes: Megan Fox / Capt. Lennox: Josh Duhamel / USAF Tech Sgt. Epps: Tyrese Gibson / Agent Simmons/Jetfire: John Turturro / Leo: Ramon Rodriguez / Ron Witwicky: Kevin Dunn / Professor: Rainn Wilson / Judy Witwicky: Julie White / Megatron: Hugo Weaving

Directed by Michael Bay / Screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, based on Hasbro's Transformers action figures.

A critic recently wrote that TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN was a “perfectly dreadful sequel that’s the filmic equivalent of a 150-minute waterboarding session.” 

Rarely have someone’s words meant so very much when encapsulating the wretched experience of seeing a truly wasteful and unthinkably wrongheaded film. 

This film left me utterly speechless.  No.  Really.  I could process my recollections of it in the form of words as I left the theatre.  Sometimes I can rather easily let my intense feelings of hatred towards a film flow onto the keyboard, but this time I feel somewhat stymied.  TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN is no normal film-going experience:  As I barely endured its incomprehensibly long 149 minutes – punctuated by an audio/visual assault on the senses that can be best described as tortuous – and finally leaped out of my theatre chair in search for the exit sign, I discovered that I had a really hard time putting the experience behind me.  

TRANSFORMERS 2 is a bloated, excessive, uncompromisingly putrid, frequently offensive and unsavory reflection of all that is dreadful about overstuffed summer blockbuster excess.  This is a film that pummels viewers into shocking submission and, ultimately, is something to watch in stunned incredulity…kind of like a freak show…or a car accident…or an example of one filmmaker’s unyielding ego and directorial narcissism gone horribly afoul.  

What's worse: kids will be eagerly lining up with parents to see junk like this.

What I am simply left with is a desire to understand this film:  Honestly, what were the motives of its makers, seeing as sanity cannot be properly used to describe their mindsets going in.  Well, let’s just say that my prayers have been answered.  I will not bore you with more pompous jabbering on my part about this film’s incalculable low worth.  Instead, I got a real treat for you:  I know a secret Hollywood insider that has managed to uncover secret tape recordings of a meeting between director Michael Bay and Executive producer Steven Spielberg.  Their conversations occurred before pre-production of the sequel and offers some stunning insights into what was going thought their heads before setting out to make the - no hyperbole on my part at all - single worst sequel of all-time.  I have taken the liberty of transcribing it here.  



Bay:  Yo!  S-Spiel.  How’s my partner in crime? 

Spielberg:  Um, good…I guess.  What’s on your mind? 

Bay:  Well, seeing as TRANNIES made…like…nearly a billions dollars worldwide and greatly contributed to your savings account…I think its high time we make another…as quickly as possible.  My peeps can’t wait forever. 

Spielberg:  Um…okay…but don’t you think we should wait a while longer?  Maybe create a sense of anticipation and release these summer tentpole films a bit further apart? 

Bay:  Stevie, Stevie…it does not matter when I release “my” films, because those mindless, pinhead teenage zombies that worship my work crave my stuff to come out as soon as humanly possible.  They can’t get enough of me. 

Spielberg:  Um…Okay.  So where’s the script?  What’s this gonna be about? 

Bay:  Script?  What’s that? 

Spielberg:  You know…that 100-120 page written document with character names, dialogue exchanges, location descriptions, and a…well…story. 

Bay:  Ha!  S-Spiel…when have I ever needed one of those?  My soulless films would cease to be soulless if they had a "script".  All a dude like me needs are ideas and visuals. 

Spielberg: Um…okay.  So what are your ideas?  At least give me the basic outline for what it’s gonna be about. 

Bay:  Sure thing.  Okay.  So I think the film will like start in 17,000B.C.. 

Spielberg:  17,000 B.C.? 

Bay:  Yeah.  The Transformers arrive on earth back when there were mindless, uncivilized savages running the planet.  I'll cast a whole slew of mean looking black actors and have them running around in loin clothes, thrusting spears, and screaming…etc. 

Spielberg:  Um…okay. 

Bay:  The robots arrive.  The savages will be in awe of them…just like the apes were in 2001 to the monolith.  There is this gigantic weapon that will…uh…kill the sun and everything on earth…yeah…that’s it…and the good robots and bad robots will have this big war and during it…uh…the robots will lose a special…uh…key….that will be used to turn the doomsday device on.  Yeah.  That’s it. 

Spielberg:  Key?  Doomsday device?  Sounds like your making this up as you go, Mike. 

Bay:  No.  Really.  That’s the story.  Anyhoo’, we flash forward to the present and it appears that the good Transformers – the Autobotsie-thingamabobs – are living in hiding as to not reveal themselves to the planet.  Optimus Prime works for the government and that super sweet yellow sports car Trannie lives in Shia LaBeouff’s garage.  Kind of like a family dog.  Yeah.  That’s a good hiding spot. 

Spielberg:  Uh…okay.  Stop.  One thing that I never understood about the first film was that the Decepticons and Autobots had this insanely large-scale war… 

Bay:  ...shot in my trademark style of using seizure inducing editing, maddening and spastic camera work, and without any semblance of visual coherence whatsoever. 

Spielberg:  Uh.  Yeah.  Like what you said.  But…they have this war that causes the same amount of damage as about 100 9/11’s combined and in front of thousands of screaming eye witnesses in a heavily populated city…and the government has…hidden the aliens’ existence from the public?!  This has to be the single least plausible governmental cover-up of all time. 

Bay:  Stevie, Stevie…Do you think that people who admire my work have attention spans deep enough to remember the plot of the first film?  Plus, no one who watches and likes this new film will be smart enough to pick up on those nitpicky details.  We’re making a toy film, for Christ’s sake. 

Spielberg:  Okay.  Good point.  Go on. 

Bay:  All right.  So we are gonna have the ultimate bad guy Decepticon leader…let's call him “The Fallen.” 

Spielberg:  The Fallen?  That’s...uh...kinda weak. 

Bay:  Naw.  Sounds cool.  And we’ll call the film “Revenge of the Fallen.”  Man, that’s good.  And this Emperor of the bad robots will send his minions back to earth to perform CPR on Megatron. 

Spielberg:  CPR...on Megatron?  Um.  Okay.  Hold on.  I thought that the Federal Government in the first film dropped Megatron into the deepest section of the earth’s ocean.  Wouldn’t the pressure from that utterly destroy it for good?  How would The Fallen resuscitate it? 

Bay:  Sigh.  There you go again, Stevie.  Worrying about silly lapses in logic in the story.  My films don’t require creditability.  How many times to I have to tell ya!?  Gosh! 

Spielberg:  Sorry.  So sorry.  Go on. 

Bay:  Great.  So, they bring Megatron back to life to they can…uh…hunt down LaBeouf. 

Spielberg:  Um…okay.  Why? 

Bay:  Why?  Uhhhh….because he has found a piece of the AllSpark in his shirt one day.  Ya know…that Rubik’s Cube  thingy that was the Trannies’ life source that was destroyed in the first film? 

Spielberg:  Um…Okay.  When does this film take place after the first? 

Bay:  Uh…a couple of years, I guess. 

Spielberg:  So, I’m expected to believe that this kid just happens to find a piece of this in his shirt after two years?  Wouldn’t he just find it a lot earlier? 

Bay:  Stevie, Stevie…you’re nitpicking again. 

Spielberg:  Sorry.  Go on. 

Bay:  Okay.  So the kid has this last piece that the bad guys need so they can turn on that giant machine that will destroy the sun. 

Spielberg:  Why do the Decepticons want to destroy the sun? 

Bay:  I dunno.  'Cause it’s big and bright.  And hot.  And yellow.  And…er…I dunno…who ever said these robots were sane? 

Spielberg:  Good point. 

Bay:  So, Megatron and his clan try to seek out LaBeouf, get this piece back before the bad guys do.  I foresee all of this culminating in a large war at the end of the film in…uh…Egypt…yeah…Egypt… and the doomsday machine will be hidden in one of the big pyramids.  Yeah. 

Spielberg:  Doomsday machine...in a pyramid?  Um…okay.  But how could a machine like that be hidden in a pyramid for thousands of years without anyone uncovering it? 

Bay: S-Spiel.  You’re doing it again.  Looking for loopholes when it does not matter. 

Spielberg: Sorry,  Go on. 

Bay:  Okay.  That’s the basic idea of the…what was that you called it…oh yeah…screenplay.  But I have some other improvements that I hungrily want to add. 

Spielberg:  Okay.  This sounds enticing.  Go on. 

Bay:  This new movie needs even seedy objectification of the female form…specifically of Megan Fox’s rack and rump.  Ummmm…she’s is so fine. I made her into the sex object that she now is revered as. 

Spielberg: Um…okay.  But in the first film you shot her like she was in a FHM spread. 

Bay:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I know!!  It made those horny teenagers…and many an adult man…and possibly even some women…droll.  I mean…that opening shot in the first film with her in her halter top, mini-jean skirt, bent over Shia’s car…man…I could not get enough of that.  We need more loving shots of her assets in the new film. 

Spielberg:  Um…okay. 

Bay:  Yeah.  I have a new opening shot of her that will require viewers to call Mission Control…because they will instantly achieve lift-off when they see it, if ya catch my drift!  Get it?  Lift-off?  Ha.  I kill me.  Anyhoo’, I will have her wearing daisy duke shorts, a tight top, and I will have her bent over a motorcycle while she’s working on it.  The camera will swoosh around her so we catch every scintillating portion of her sweaty, grease-monkey body.  For that matter, I will shot every scene with her like it was a sleazy music video.  Lots of slow motion shots of her running with her cleavage bouncing up and down too.  Ummmm…my peeps will love it.  I’m loving it just thinking about it. 

Spielberg:  Um…okay.  But don’t you think that objectifying women is kind of lecherous and wrong for a kiddie “toy movie” aimed at kids? 

Bay:  Are you saying kids can’t appreciate some luscious T&A? 

Spielberg:  Good point. 

Bay:  Oh…I am going to have another super hot piece of trim in the film.  She will be played by Isabel Lucas.  Oh man…I can’t wait to fixate my camera on her.  She will play a Trannie in the disguise of an unattainably hot college student that tries to seduce Shia.  She be just like that liquid robot in the second TERMINATOR film...but hotter...and not a Terminator...she's a Trannie.  I mean…this film will have not one, but two chicks of uber-Megan Fox hotness. 

Spielberg:  Whoa.  Wait.  Shia is in college? 

Bay:  Oh yeah.  I forgot.  He goes to college and the super smoking Trannie in disguise finds him there. 

Spielberg:  Um...okay. 

Bay:  Plus…having the film set in a college will give me an  opportunity to partake in my favorite activity: casting as many scintillatingly gorgeous women as possible to be used as extras.  I want this college to look like the Playboy mansion…I mean…just filled with students that look like super models.  We need lots of brunettes and blondes with big jugs.

Spielberg:  Um…okay. 

Bay:  Plus…I think that this film needs way, way more comic relief on top of my objectification of women. 

Spielberg:  Well that sounds like a good idea.  Go on. 

Bay:  Okay.  I want to have a scene where Shia’s mother gets high on marijuana brownies while visiting her son at college. 

Spielberg:  Oh.  Um…okay…that’s not really all that funny and…. 

Bay:  Ohmygawd….wait…I also think we need not one, but two shots of Shia’s dogs screwing one another. 

Spielberg:  Dogs humping?  Isn’t that a little puerile? 

Bay:  No way.  Dogs screwing are funny.  But I got something even funnier. 

Spielberg:  What? 

Bay:  We’ll bring back John Turturro’s character and have a close up shot of him removing his pants to reveal a thong with his pubic hair spouting out.  Ha.  That’ll be a riot. 

Spielberg:  That’s…uh…kind of digesting…and even more puerile. 

Bay: Yeah.  I know.  It’ll be funny.  Plus…he has now been reduced to work in a butcher’s shop since he no longer works for the government.  We will also have a shot of one of his co-workers…a mentally unstable black dude with gigantic buckteeth that grunts and groans in the background with a meat clever.  I'm not sure if he's retarded...but maybe.  He's more unstable I guess.

Spielberg:  Er...um...a black dude with gigantic buck teeth?  May be retarded?  I’m not sure that’s in good taste, or even the slightest bit appropria…. 

Bay:  Hang on.  There’s gonna be more black humor in this film.  I want to have two bumbling Autobots that look, act, and talk like black guys. 

Spielberg:  Huh? 

Bay:  Yeah.  They will be Chevy concept cars.  And we’ll have them designed with gorilla-like proportions…large lumbering limbs…short legs…big ears and a big nose…and we’ll have them with two gigantic buck front teeth.  And one in each will be gold plated.  Best of all…they talk like black guys.  You know...they will speak in jive and all types of black lingo. 

Spielberg:  Black robots?  Speaking jive?  Gold platted buck teeth?  This…sounds….like a really, really bad idea for the…. 

Bay:  No way.  It’ll be a laugh riot.  It'll be like having two Jar Jar Binkses in the film.  And we know how loveable he was in that STAR TREK film.

Spielberg:  You mean STAR WARS?

Bay:  Same difference.

Spielberg:  Mike.  Listen.  Hear me out.  Why would interstellar alien robots look, act, and talk…black?  Plus, what do you mean they will talk black? 

Bay:  Stevie, Stevie.  Black dudes are funny.  Did you not see BAD BOYS I and II? 

Spielberg:  Regrettably. 

Bay:  Yeah.  And robots that act black…oh…sorry...let me be more PC….like African Americans…will have audience members rolling in the isles. 

Spielberg: Mike…I just think that having that butcher character and two robots that look like monkeys that display features of African Americas and talk like hip hop artists is really…well…kind of offensive and tasteless. 

Bay:  C’mon Stevie.  This is the 21st Century.  We’re well beyond racism in the movies. 

Spielberg: Um...okay…I dunno…but… 

Bay:  Oh…I also want a big close-up of one of the robot’s balls. 

Spielberg:  Uh…balls?  Why would an alien race of robots have balls? 

Bay:  Stevie…Stevie…testicular comedy is fantastic.  Whether they are being kicked in or shown altogether.  Nothing will be more uproarious than a big ol’ close up of one of the giant robot’s metallic nutsack. 

Spielberg:  Gee…I dunno… 

Bay:  Hey…do you wanna here the best part? 

Spielberg:  Couldn’t get any worse.  Shoot. 

Bay:  I want to make this movie even longer than the first.  I want it to be over two and half hours long.  Plus…I want to absolutely pummel my fans with as much auditory and visual noise as humanly possible.  I mean…I want to blow lots of stuff up…I want robots fighting one another in sequences that have shots that barely last a millisecond…and I want the action to be so chaotic, so over-the-top, and so confusing that viewers will feel utterly exhausted…like they were a part of the war.  I want this to be big, bloated, and extremely overstuffed. 

Spielberg:  But…Mike…don’t you think that people are getting tired of your narcissist excesses as a director?  Can’t you just shoot scenes…more simply? 

Bay:  Stevie…Stevie…my style is my calling card.  My doped-up peeps want the volume cranked up as much as possible to illicit deafness.  They want battle scenes so bewilderingly shot and orchestrated that they can’t decipher what’s happening.  The want the editing and framing of shots to induce epileptic seizures.  Man…my film’s should come with a bloody warning from the Surgeon General!  Ha.  Don’t you get it, Stevie?  My film’s are not about order, storytelling, characters, and dialogue.  They are about throwing as much chaotic rubbish on the screen as possible.  And at 150 minutes, I have the opportunity to be as wasteful, over-indulgent, and ego-driven as I possible can be.  By the end, my fans will want more, not less.  And...on top of that...

Spielberg:  There's and on top of that...?

Bay:  I want to actors to scream as much as humanly possibly in the film.  They don't need to give performances, per se, but just bellow till their collective throats hurt.  They will need to be heard over top of the mass explosions.

Spielberg:  Okay…so let me get this straight.  You want me to associate my good and respected name with a film that will be a hopelessly unnecessary length, have no coherent story to speak of, have scenes that portray women as smutty sex objects, have moments of revolting and teeth-gratingly juvenile sight gags, have action sequences that throw lucidity and logic out the window, have the actors yell through their dialogue all the time, and have two robot characters that are a vile and reprehensible reflection of some of the most nauseating ethnic stereotypes against black people?  Right? 

Bay:  You nailed it, S-dawg. 

Spielberg:  Mike.  I need to be honest.  My name would be forever tarnished to be on the screen here as Executive Producer.  TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN sounds like the worst, most wrong-headed sequel ever made. 

Bay:  Stevie…Stevie…you still don’t get it.  My idiotic-worshipping fans don’t care if it’s any good.  This film could be a pile of crap and...ya know what...people will still see it.  A sense of artistic worth means nothing when the film will most likely open to $20 million opening day and will gross like a billion worldwide when all is said and done.  Come on…are you saying you don’t want a cut of a billion bucks? 

Spielberg:  Well...no...er...yeah…okay…but the film sounds unattainably atrocious, crude, and offensive.  I just don’t know if I can do it. 

Bay:  C’mon S-Spiel.  Sign the dotted line and make yourself rich…uh…again.  Plus…we all have movie skeletons in our closet. 

Spielberg:  Yeah…my two Oscar statues for Best Director inform me otherwise. 

Bay:  Yeah…well…films like WAR OF THE WORLDS and THE TERMINAL should tell you otherwise.  Plus...you were Executive Producer of the first Trannie film.

Spielberg:  Good Point.


Okay…I lied.  

I don't have a source in Hollywood.  I have no secret tape recording sessions between Bay and Spielberg.  I cannot, alas, prove that this conversation actually took place.  

But after seeing REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, I believe in my heart of hearts that it did.


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