Let me get one thing straight: I loved the first Transformers movie. Loved. It was wish fulfillment writ large, writ huge, writ gargantuan even. My inner geek got a serious woody at the first sight of Optimus Prime and repeat viewings have done little to lessen the wow factor. Yeah, the plot is complete bunkum, the characters are either annoying or Megan Fox but the special effects money shots make my little eyes go wide and shiny every time.
Also, it was, believe it or not, the date movie for me and The Missus. This makes it special.
I sat in an extremely comfy cinema seat to watch Transformers: Vengeance of the Fallen with a gigantocola, a megapopcornosaurus, a smile on my face and a lump in my shorts, certain, certain that I was about to, yet again, be blown away...
Micheal Bay should really stay away from sequels. Bad Boys 2 was immensely self indulgent, ridiculously overblown and mildly offensive. T:VotF repeats those first two sins but manages to fall on the side of schoolboy humour rather than frat boy nastiness. It's two and a half hours long for goodness' sake, at least 45 minutes longer than necessary, the irritating cast is expanded by far too many other annoying characters, the plot is even dafter... but oh, those money shots.
It'd be churlish to write the film off as a complete loss as it does offer a grand spectacle, but given that the Transformers themselves are some of the most detailed and complex CGI characters ever created it's sometimes hard to see what's going on with any great clarity - there are so many small, intricate moving parts making up each character that the whole can be lost in a muddle. When the camera moves back to allow a wider shot the motion capture takes over and these behemoths move like athletes - Optimus Prime's battle in the forest is a highlight.
Eventually, though, things grind to a slow halt and you find yourself wishing for the credits as armies of identikit Decepticons take on Earth's Mightiest (American) Soldiers (well, with a token Brit) plus a handful of Autobots. Megan Fox's part is even thinner than in the original, although if there is a Best Naked Midriff Oscar next year she's a front runner - the camera caresses her like a lover and it's hard not think of it as almost voyeuristic. Like everything else about a movie that thinks more is better, it begins to grate.
A dissapointing sequel overall, but perhaps on DVD with the benefit of fast forward (and pause for the Fox lovers out there) it'll prove a better watch.