Friday, July 10, 2009
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro
Director: Michael Bay
Runtime: 150 min.
Rating: Not Applicable
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
To review a film like Revenge of the Fallen is like attempting a contradiction. Now, at a glance my previous sentence might seem harmless, but look closer and it actually is an exercise in negation, for this second installment of the Transformers franchise by no means qualifies to being a film. To films, one might argue with one’s viewpoints, and claim if was well-made or not. Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t even qualify for that argument. It merely clangs metal against metal against metal against a backdrop of explosions and foreground full of explosions and somebody running somewhere in between and you staring at the screen in utter disbelief trying to hold on to any thread offered that might help make sense of it all. And it clangs more metal against metal. To call it a mess is to claim that it is indeed something. Something that is at least describable, something that has been witnessed previously at the movies, and something you can maybe point your finger at and complain. Maybe something is a good word. Maybe Revenge of the Fallen is some kind of a something, and one can only choose to look in its general direction and bark – Nonsense!! – and then be disappointed with the choice of word. It doesn’t even merit complaining.
This is not a film that is going to annoy you, though it might compel you to pull your tooth and hurl it on the screen. As for me, I wouldn’t say this is bad, or terrible, or some kind of an abomination. No, no, not at all. I am not sure I was angry at it at any point of time. It seems the local multiplex was aware it was a Michael Bay film, had the general idea of the decibel quotient, and turned down the volume. Either way I didn’t hate it, I don’t think it breached the line of comfort and assaulted me, and I was too busy trying to make sense, any kind of sense, rein in any kind of logic, and not just to the plot. Plot, I had long given up on it. Instead, I chose to concentrate only on the action sequences, and at least gather some sort of information. But I cannot seem to recount what happened for two and a one-half hours. Michael Bay has a made something that runs in frequencies beyond the limits of our senses. One might suggest that I look in the general direction of his film and bark – Vomit!! But I don’t seem to have any kind of strong feelings within me. I just feel empty. This just feels like a 500 m high wall that makes hell of a lot of noise. Speaking of which, the car deck that usually keeps playing music enjoyed a rare drive of silence while we returned to our homes.
I was unable to decipher Revenge of the Fallen at the very basic visual level. Story and plot is a concern of a different universe altogether. I was unable to make out who was fighting whom. I was unable to make out where the heads were. When two Transformers wrestled each other I was unable to make out where one ended and the other begun. Someone didn’t pay attention to color scheming. I was unable to make out what garble came out of some of the Decepticons. I was unable to comprehend the geography of the terrain in the climactic showdown, for at one moment it was supposed to be in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the middle of the Egyptian deserts, yet it was visible from the seas to aircraft carriers. Geography be damned. While I was driving my car out of the parking, I was unable to remember even a single frame. At the moment, unable seems like one of the great words in the English language. Never have I seen so much money spent to make something so enormous in scale that ends up being, well, such a complete and incoherent mess. It numbs your senses. It numbs you. Yeah yeah, I am aware, my attempts at adjectives to conceal my utter failure to come with a apt enough word have fallen flat. And I accept defeat. What other option do I have? Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t qualify for a feature length film. At its best it makes a great deal less sense than a five hour video shot on a 360 degree-spinning mobile camera. Shot by you, I mean. That much I can assure you.
There is no beginning to it. There’s no end to it either. There’s no build-up. It all feels like one big scene. But only now, only in hindsight. In there, I was worried if parts of the film were being omitted. I was worried, at one point, why scenes weren’t being completed. Revenge of the Fallen traverses freely, often leaving fights right in the middle to scenes of crude adolescent humor and you are left wondering what happened on the other side. And we never returned. If I had remembered any of it, I would have still been wondering. The credits claim the presence of three writers. Rather than collaborating on a single plotline, I have a sneaking feeling they all wrote different scripts, and Bay and co. just messed up with the pages. Or maybe, I’m being too hopeful. There never was a plot, and Bay and co. made it all up as they went along. A fellow viewer of mine, absolutely numbed and sunk deep into the recesses of his chair, suddenly jumped up and remarked – This is a cake-fight. This is all a cake-fight. Only on a bigger scale. Everybody is smacking everybody. I believe that would be quite a fair description of what we saw. I assure you, even a hundred viewings of Revenge of the Fallen would have you in no better position than someone who was wise enough to skip it altogether. If a whole hour was chopped from the film, it still wouldn’t make much difference. If it were doubled, it still wouldn’t add up to much. It just runs randomly for 150 min., and the credits start rolling. Remember little kids, when we give them blanks sheets and a few color pencils for the first time, and the kind of fun they have scribbling all kinds of random garbage with color and lines and all sorts of geometric and non-geometric figures spewing every which where. This seems to be Bay’s version of that fun, and probably at our expense. I have a sneaking feeling that the final scenes, which boast of at least a million explosions, and a lot of them featuring Ms. Fox, were shot when Michael Bay was having an orgasm. Of some kind. I think David Cronenberg’s Crash is profound.
Strange it is, that this is where I stop to look at what is it I’ve written, and I get a sense that I’ve scribbled a lot with nothing exactly making any particular sense. I could’ve gone on for a few more pages, and still I wouldn’t have added anything worthwhile. Still I’m satisfied for that is how Revenge of the Fallen feels like. It is the kind of movie where you feel absolute freedom to exchange text messages on what a bore it all is. It is the kind of movie where you can feel free to walk out, have a smoke, and come back and still miss nothing at all. That leads me to say with some conviction that this is a film you shouldn’t watch. Or rather needn’t watch. You could instead spin your mobile around for six hours, or maybe even seven, and then spend time making sense of it for the rest of the weekend. Wiser choice, I would say.
Posted by Satish Naidu at 8:06 AM