As it lurches toward us, metal gears clanking and whirring like Larry King at a mixer, early reviews of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen come trickling in. The word? Basically it's loud and garish and, worst of all, not fun.
Take Roger Ebert's scathing review for the Chicago Sun-Times:
If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.
Oh, sad robot.
Ray Bennett at the Hollywood Reporter is equally dismissive:
Bay's team of four editors stitch together smashing but meaningless images, though it's as difficult to make out which machine is which as it is to tell what anyone is saying. The noise level — not helped by Steve Jablonsky's relentless score — is super-intense and everyone yells lines at high speed. Because nothing they're saying makes any sense, it's hardly important.
LaBeouf gets little chance to show what charm he might have. Meanwhile, Fox has little to do except look great in a tank top and tight jeans while running in slow motion through flying sand.
Variety and a couple other pubs actually enjoyed the thing, if only for the slickness of the stupidity. But while we're fully expecting the movie to ravage the Fourth of July holiday box office like so many crazed alien robots ravage the lurid curves of Megan Fox, we also wonder how long this dumb-but-bracing genre of summer action pic can last. What with a big, big hit like Star Trek earning glowing notices and being zingy and CGI-packed. Can a schlockist like Michael Bay continue to tread water when more and more talented directors—both visualists and storytellers—successfully raise the bar?
Let's hope not. We mean, watching a toaster come alive and eat Shia LaBeouf may have its place in the world, but it's also nice to at least begin to care about characters and revel in a witty turn of phrase here and there. "Run, oh God, run! The angry space Egyptian robots are coming," barely even counts for camp value these days.