“... From the day the [writers'] strike ended to the first day of shooting was three months, so we had to write the script in those three months, handing in pages at the end of every day so they could be prepped. It was crazy. We finished writing the movie two weeks ago, literally.”
co-writer Roberto Orci, as quoted in Superhero Hype, June 23 2009
You can't make stuff like this up, folks.
Look, you knew Revenge Of The Fallen was going to suck. I knew it was going to suck. Everybody knew it was going to suck as only Michael Bay movies do nowadays. So why is it on pace for the fifth-best opening of all time?
Put it this way: forty-six percent of this country voted for John McCain, remember?
I kid, I kid. To be fair, there were moments where Revenge improved upon its' predecessor: the opening sequence and Optimus Prime's last stand in the forest delivered what everybody was looking for – Giant Robots Kicking The Sh-t Out Of Each Other. And with bolstered rosters for both the Autobots and Decepticons, Orci, co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Ehren Kruger and director Michael Bay got to raise the stakes, if not necessarily the casualties, in a logical fashion from the first film. The increased interplay between Megatron and Starscream was suitably full of venom, and the Decepticons' eye in the sky, Soundwave, was a capable villain in his own right.
But the problem – and this is always Bay's problem – is that nobody on the creative team here can resist going from increase to excess. And, sure, we got more robots and more battles, but the biggest problem with the first film only got worse here: Too much LaBeouf; too much Fox; too many humans, period. None of these people, though integral to the story because of creative choice, were the reason to go see this movie.
Likewise, the idea of the Autobots working with a military ops squad makes sense; the silent, sad reaction of human ally, Lennox (Josh Duhamel) to Prime's apparent demise is as close as the film comes to invoking a sincere emotion. But again, Bay undermines both that moment and Duhamel's performance with his constant fawning over the U.S. Military, to the point of making any other fighting forces look like chumps.
So watching Optimus fight for his and Sam's (LaBouf) lives in the forest, which could have been a welcome callback to his self-sacrifice in the animated feature, is undone from within – too many cut-backs to a cowering Sam and a score that JUST WON'T SHUT UP throughout the film, with invasive “orchestral” touches and faux-inspiring chants.
So to assuage those who just say critics are “hating” on this film because it's Stuff Blowing Up, let me assure you, that's not the problem. It's the crap that Bay and the writers – Orci & Kurtzman gave us much more enjoyable escapism just a month ago with Star Trek - lump in with it. It's Sam's “vision;” it's the Twins; it's the dog-sex jokes and Sam's annoying parents; it's the 20 shots of Fox and Labouf setting the screen inert with their non-chemistry; it's the things that take a movie from mindless fun to just plain mindless. And no amount of money can buy back the feeling of wasting three hours of your life.