Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Posted on October 20, 2009 at 8:00 am

Oh, dear. #TransformerFail

I truly loved the first Transformers movie. It was everything you need in a big summer explosion movie, with stupendous special effects, shot through with heart-thumping adrenaline, with just enough character and storyline to allow us to catch our breath and keep us interested. Our hero, high school senior Sam (Shia LeBeouf), is befriended by a car that turns into a friendly robot called Bumblebee, one of a cadre of good-guy transforming robots who fight against the bad-guy robots, called Decepticons. He is aided by a beautiful girl who is very good with cars (Megan Fox) and an armed services division led by Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel).

This sequel has some great special effects, but the story and the characters are poorly handled and the pacing is a mess. When the robots give a better performance than the humans, we have a problem. When the action is so complicated we can’t figure out who is where and in some cases why they are there, we have a bigger problem. When the characters are so irritating we begin to consider rooting for the bad guys, well, you know what kind of a problem we have. And when the racial humor gets so completely out of hand that it becomes uncomfortable at best and genuinely disturbing at worst, it’s a serious problem.

LeBoeuf is always appealing, Fox looks good stretching over machinery, and the movie briefly takes an interesting turn when both human and transformer characters show that they can learn from their mistakes and switch over to the side of the good guys. A stop at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum leads to Jetfire, an engaging junkpile of an autobot.

But it is too loud and it all goes on much too long. The bloated running time is well over two hours, overstuffed with pointless and increasingly annoying attempts at comedy — Sam’s mother accidentally gets high and talks about his sex life, Sam’s father doesn’t get high but talks about his sex life, good guy robots talk like the end men on a minstrel show, and Sam’s college roommate is a loudmouth who wants to get with some ladies and shrieks like a little girl when he is scared, which happens a lot. There’s another series of confrontations between a clueless bureaucrat and our know-better heroes. But the last movie’s clueless bureaucrat somehow switches sides. I would complain that this is not adequately explained, but I don’t really care. By this point, I began to think the Decepticons might have a point about how they could do better with our planet than we could.

Related Tags:


Action/Adventure Based on a television show Fantasy Science-Fiction Series/Sequel

46 Replies to “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

  1. Can anyone let me know more explicitly what the “vulgar sexual humor” involves?

  2. A point of clarification requested:
    Your review of the first Transformers movie had ages 4th-6th grade, whereas this movie you’ve ranked as appropriate for High School. Is it for that much an older audience? This is obviously a problem if so, because a lot of children (e.g. my 10 yr old) who saw the first are going to be expecting to see the second. I’m already getting the impression I’m going to have to say no.

  3. The violence seems more intense in this one than the first but it was the crude humor that led me to shift the age recommendation — several very crude references to body parts, the mother “accidentally” ingesting marijuana, getting high, and making very vulgar remarks about her son’s sex life, some crude language including the p-word, etc. The first one had just a few moments I thought inappropriate for 4-6th graders, this one had more pervasive inappropriate material. Sorry!

  4. I was so looking forward to seeing this because the first movie was great. But now I see the sequel has gotten all these bad critics reviews. Why is that? In what ways do you think this movie had disappointed or wasn’t as good as the first. Thanks.

  5. Thanks, Nick! I tried to explain my reasons in my review. In essence, the script is poor, the jokes are lame and borderline racist, the action is poorly paced and choreographed, and the whole thing is much too long.

  6. Hi Nell! Long time no talk to!
    I hate to agree, I SOOOO wanted to love this movie. And I do LIKE it alot, but some of the sex, drug humor was just not needed and senseless. My 15 year old daughter was offended. The Sector 7 guy was not funny at all and a waste of time. However, I did enjoy the new bots, the CGI and the patriotic themes. When we left, I felt like I had been on a 150 minute rollar coaster ride and I was exhausted. My brain was tired.

  7. My 9 year old was beside herself to get to the movie. We own the first one and she just loves it. Actually, the whole family does. We packed up and went to the movies and I found that the profanity and sexual content exceeded, by great measures, the first movie. It was not appropriate or necessary. I really didn’t need to see sector 7 guys behind in a thong and neither did my daughter. My husband actually wanted to leave at one point because it was going to far. I was so bored by the end, I couldn’t wait to leave.

  8. Thanks very much, Nanci. I am sorry your family had a bad experience but I am grateful to you for sharing it with us so other parents can get the benefit of your guidance. I agree with you entirely and as you can see from my review I was terribly disappointed by the movie.

  9. No offense or anything but I honestly think you guys need to get a grip. There are way worse movies out there to complain about. Nanci, I really think it was your responsibility to check the movie out a little more before taking your 9 year old to go see it. I mean, it was PG-13. I’m 18 and I loved this movie and I’m confident in saying that others my age will love it also. I came on this site by accident while trying to look for a character list and I’m a little annoyed at the way you guys are bashing this movie.
    I know you’re probably thinking as you’re reading this what does this 18 year old know about parenting and being a mom? Nothing. But I do know this…when I was young my mother never let me see movies that were too old for me and always checked them out thoroughly first.
    I mean no offense to anyone by writing this comment, I am just trying to express my opinion. Thanks.

  10. Thanks for the reviews/comments. My 9yrold son wanted to see this movie and I wasn’t so sure. My husband and I watch movies before our kids do and I had no desire to see this one. Just watching previews made me leary, so with your review and comments as well as the review from ,we will not be taking him. You saved me $10 and the misery of having to sit through it myself. Thank you:)

  11. Thanks so much — this is exactly why I do what I do here and I am so glad it is helpful to you! Your son is lucky to have parents who care.

  12. Well – that’s that. I won’t waste my money on this one either. I was suspicious from seeing the overhyped previews (too much metal there too), but these reviews settle it. I’m staying away!

  13. Thanks for your great reviews Nell. I have been following you for years—all the back to yahoo. And, I have always found your assessments to be in complete alignment with my own values. I always check your reviews before taking my daughter to the movies—and today was no exception. Now my daughter is 12 and most of the time she knows her own limitations regarding movies—but there is still the desire to see what your friends are seeing (I guess they can’t watch High School Musical forever!)
    It is disappointing though, that Michael Bay took the dialogue and the content to a much older level than the first—because it leaves all these kids who loved the first, but are really too young for the second out in the cold. Adding insult to injury are the corporate sponsors (like Burger King) who continue to promote it to kids even younger than mine with their marketing and product placements! I fully recognize that the movie folks just want to make another buck—as do the product sponsors. I appreciate you reporting it like it is, and letting families know that if they are going to go—what to expect in advance and how to talk to their kids about it.

  14. Nancy, you made my day! I do this as a labor of love and parents like you make it all worthwhile. My best to you and your family and if you ever have any questions or comments, please post on the site or write to me at

  15. Nell,
    I don’t understand how you found this movie boring and confusing. I don’t think we saw the same movie. Where was the racial comments? The actions scenes were awesome. There was great humor. My husband and I loved this movie and so did everyone else in the theater. Also when you give reviews on the radio how about you don’t tell the whole movie and ruin it for people. Just a suggestion. Thanks.

  16. Tori, I am always happy when someone sees more in a movie than I do, and you had a lot of company. The movie made a mint at the box office this weekend. I’m so glad you had a good time and that you let me know — your comment will be a big help to those who are thinking about seeing the film.
    The racist humor I referred to concerned the twin robots and the roommate, as I explained in my review. And a movie critic’s biggest challenge is to provide enough information to give readers and listeners a good idea of what to expect without going overboard and spoiling the movie’s surprises.
    With only a couple ‘of minutes to cover the theatrical and DVD releases each week, I don’t have time to “tell the whole movie” but if you have a specific instance where you think I gave too much away, I’d be glad to hear about it. Thanks again and all best to you and your husband.

  17. Not nearly as bad as people say. Yes it’s long, so was “Dark Knight”. Is this oscar worthy? NO. It’s not trying to be. Theres rather weak humor, nothing as bad as the humor of the first but still (Although the Deceptacon with balls was a little much) but honestly, if you liked the first, you’ll love this. It’s the first, with better actions, an actual plotline, better acting (Not amazing, but better) and all of what made the original a hit. It’s length may turn off some, but it until ALOT of other films at the same length, is never boring, always keeping you interested. It’s the perfect summer blockbuster, and that’s all it’s trying to be.

  18. I loved the first movie and that is why I thought I would love this one. This movie was inappropraite for the kids that Hasbro is targeting to sell toys to. I have a 6, 8 and 11 year old. I do not want to have to explain (especaiily in the middle of the movie)why a dog is humping another dog (twice), or why a robot is humping Megan’s leg (I got it the first time), I especially did not want to explain why the beautiful girl climbs on top of Sam to have sex, or about why the brownies that Sam’s mom eats aren’t like to ones that I cook. The brownies she ate made her high and act like an idiot. There was so much more that was just not right for younger children to. I could have enjoyed it more if I was not trying so had to cover my kid’s eyes or haveing to explain what was happening or what was being said.

  19. Seriously, you people need to lighten up ALOT!! The Movie was NOT that bad. Perhaps you should actually take the time out to talk to your kids about the birds and the bees, rather than act all bashful and embarassed. You are ADULTS for crying out loud! If your kids ask a question about the situation, perhaps you could explain it to them, rather than immediately try to shelter them from it altogether. You can’t hold out that conversation forever, and unfortunately, just saying “Abstinence” is not going to cut it. It’s just really irritating when I see these reviews from people who are way too uptight. I mean, the movie Cars from Pixar was waaaay more racist than Transformers. Remember the latino low riders? or perhaps the tow truck that just had to be a ignorant obviously white redneck? How about the little european cars that were obsessed with Porsche? If you want to shelter your kids forever, thats your decision, but you are going to do more damage in the long run by sheltering them from the “cold, evil world”. Thank you Have a nice day!

  20. My hubby and I walked out on this movie half-way through it. I wish you had mentioned the teenage boy obsession with sex and the almost constant portrayal of women as sex kittens. Even the mom in this movie is slapped on the fanny by her hubby while they are talking about their sex life. But even more offensive than that was the sheer stupidity of this movie. It felt like an insult to my intelligence. I would have given it a D – only escaping an F because of the cool cars.

  21. Thanks, Danie. I believe the film-makers were wrong to include so much unnecessarily raunchy and offensive material when it could have been a lot of fun for kids. Unfortunately, the MPAA ratings board will allow a lot of leeway for a big studio film, which is why I try to give parents a better idea of what to expect.

  22. Chris, I appreciate your comment, but one of the biggest challenges for a parent is finding that balance between exposing children to the world and protecting them from what they are not ready for. I am sure you agree that some limits are appropriate; we may differ on where that line should be drawn. You have a nice day, too!

  23. I appreciate all the commentary and I am glad I looked up the sentiment before I took my son.
    I haven’t seen the movie and was debating whether to take my five year old who loves the first one, and the cartoons and the dozens of figures around the house. I was hoping that the second would be in the same theme as the first- action, effects, and good guys beating up bad guys. I guess I’ll wait for the DVD which should be out by september and then I can fast-forward through innuendos.

  24. Dad
    This movie is not for any child under the age of 10, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not targetted for them in the first place. So I’d suggest that those who are wondering if it’s appropiate for yonng ones, just to skip the movie. Believe me, it’s definately a teen age movie.

  25. Nell.(now I read the name right!.. soory!)
    I saw the film and I agree with your accessment that some of the material was not appropiate for yonng ones. I think the best way to put it is that th young ones would have too many questions to wonder about, since they would not understand the behavior of the mother in one of the scenes or even the fun one for the boys.. actually that scene might even give them nightmares (the one between the new girl and boy)!
    Parents, I’m not someone who has kids but I ask you to just trust what Nell and I are saying. We’ve seen a LOT of movies. If you have any doubt, use better judgement and don’t take the kids. Let them enjoy a similar type of film that’s more appopiate for them.

  26. Thank you so much, Andreas. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. It seemed to me that the raunchiness of this film was cynical and joyless as well.

  27. Sounds like a conspiracy to me. The movie industry is probably plotting against you!!!

  28. As a 20 year old, fan of the first film, who saw this film twice, I have to say I both agree and disagree on several points. For instance, was the film really long? Yes. Too long for young children? Definitely, my 10-year old sister was squirming halfway through and she claimed to like it. But would the movie have explained itself even halfway decently if it were shorter? I don’t believe so. There were a lot of puzzle pieces to fit together in this plot.
    It is unfortunate that Hasbro, Burger King, etc. markets this movie toward such a young age group, because really, it isn’t a movie meant for that age group. It’s PG-13 for a reason. I work at a theatre box office, and you can ask any box office employee why a movie is rated the way it is, and they will tell you the exact list of reasons the MPAA gives us. Heck, most of us will have seen a big movie like this before most folks, so we can give a more specific analysis if you request it of us. Why then, some people take their very young children to see the movie, and then come back to us and want to return their tickets because the show is “inappropriate” I will never understand.
    That being said, the thing that struck me more about this movie (the sexual humor was an afterthought for me and didn’t pick up so much on the racism as the fact those particular Autobots are just plain annoying) was how graphic the robot-violence was compared to the last film. As a friend of mine stated, “if we were a planet of robots, that would have been rated R.” Worse was that several of the more brutal killings that stick in my mind were committed by the movie heroes, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee! That for me was a bit of a shocker.
    Nell, you’re doing a great thing letting parents know what to expect from a film before they get to the theatre. It saves us box office employees a lot of hassle, I’m sure. But readers don’t forget that we aren’t just paid to sell tickets, we box office employees are able to answer your questions on everything from movie content to seat availability, theatre size, and release dates.

  29. Thanks so much for an exceptionally thoughtful comment! I’m glad you liked the film and I am glad you share my concern about the marketing of the film to kids who are too young for it.
    Thanks for the insight from the box office! I do hope movie audiences will follow your advice and take advantage of the insights and information you make available. Thanks again and I hope you will return and comment often.

  30. It was as overbearing and joyless as “Babe: Pig in the City”.
    There weren’t any fun new characters, and the old ones were boring. My kids wonder why the Autobots aren’t better color-coded so you can them apart. And they hated Skids and Mudflap.
    Even when Devastator assembled himself, it was hard to tell what was happening. And why did he just sit in a quarry and suck in air and sand for 10 minutes?
    Too many plot holes to mention*. My kids loved that in Michael Bay world, you can smash thru the rear of the Air and Space Museum and be standing in an airplane graveyard in Nebraska.
    I liked that the airbags in Megan Fox’s car don’t deploy when she rams a light post, but they will deploy when her car plummets 100 feet into the pavement. Lucky!
    My son noticed that the audience only laughed at the vulgarity or sex humor (the hash brownie business was childish and stupid). When I left the movie, I realized that there weren’t any cool action set pieces, or even cool shots that I remembered (rare in a Michael Bay film). And worst of all, there was no fun tease for a 3rd movie at the end… just internationally wanted man Sam Witwicki returning to college as if nothing had happened.
    *Well, okay. What college forbids freshmen to own a car? The submarine noticed 5 Decepticons diving into the abyss, and then noticed 6 returning to the surface…yet Megatron cannibalized one of them, meaning there should again be only 5 returning to the surface. Why don’t Autobots bridge time and space more often, opting instead to spend 18 hours in a military aircraft? Why does a sliver of the cube make Sam so smart, yet having 99% of the cube jammed into his chest left Megatron with no knowledge? Why did the US military consider the Autobots a secret, despite the hundreds if not thousands of people who witnessed their climactic battle in the first movie? Ugh!
    If the Lorentian Abyss was supposed to “crush” all the Decepticons, why were 5 of them able to swim down there and rescue Megatron… especially a little bitty Decepticon? Even my kids picked up on that.
    I would have expected a Decepticon submersible to do it, like an Alvin explorer or something.
    It’s like they say – you can make any fantasy believable if you adhere to whatever rules you’ve created.
    To say in TF2 that the “Cube” wasn’t all that important makes “TF1” seem silly.

  31. This movie is in every sense of the word a sequel to the first movie. It is also aimed at fans of the Transformers universe. I felt this movie did better than the first in that there was MORE attention to the Transformers.
    That being said, I am disappointed that the MPAA allowed this movie to have a PG-13 rating. If it was truly meant to be for the age group for which it was marketed, more should have been edited out.
    I fully believe the movie was too violent, had too many sexual and drug references. It should have been rated R.

  32. Thanks for putting all this together.
    Ny 11 year old son is so glued to MPAA ratings that he won’t go see a PG-13 movie! If there is one that my 12 year old daughter want to see, I check here to see why it is rated what it is. You help me weigh the violence, sex and drugs.
    I am trying to let them grow up slowly- tough to do in this age.
    We will not see Transformers- ye!
    Thanks again.

  33. Thanks to you, Mom! You made my day — that’s exactly why I do what I do. I love to hear from parents who care about what their kids see. If I can ever be of any help, or if you have questions or comments, let me know here or by email at

  34. Just want to say to “Chris” about explaining all the “bad” parts of the movie. Do you want me to be sitting next to you in the theatre whilst I explain to my kids why Sam’s mom is stoned from brownies and why the robot is humping Megan Fox’s leg? Really?
    I hope that when you are a parent that you don’t bring your kids to a movie and have them talk, ask questions, disturb all the other folks that paid admission and then you just go ahead and answer all their questions oblivious to those around you. That would be just peachy.

  35. This movie just sucked the life out of me and I left the theatre feeling drained and depressed. To be fair I never really wanted to see it but was dragged by my three sons, aged 16, 12 and 8. I know it’s a PG-13 but I was comfortable with Star Trek’s PG-13 and the very mild bad language and sexual innuendo there that I had naively assumed it would be the same here and therefore appropriate for my younger sons, since IT’S A MOVIE ABOUT TOY TRANSFORMING ROBOTS.
    Why do directors like Michael Bay have to get their hands on everything and make them crude and vulgar? The dogs and robots humping, the stoned mom shrieking and cursing like a fishmonger’s wife, the machinery coming out of a woman’s panties, John Turturro in a thong…I mean really just completely unnecessary and just not funny. Not to mention the onslaught of bad language. In what is supposed to be a movie inclusive of kids. This is not like films in the ’80s which had an edge with some mild language and innuendo like Ghostbusters, this was just annoying and depressing.
    Also the continuous destruction of everything in sight and no sense of permanence or loss, the way Beijing was torn up in the beginning or the destruction in the desert and how the military was unrepentant about it all…it just felt so much like Michael Bay’s own private philosophy and playground and what depresses me is how popular this thing is which means millions of people feel the same way as he does. It just depressed me to my core.

  36. Movie Mom: Please explain (explicitly) what you mean by “racial humor” and please point out specific references in the movie of this “racial humor”.
    I would suggest in the future, to be more explicit in your review if you are going to reference controversial topics, such as “racial humor”.
    I look forward to your response.

  37. Thanks for the comment, LC. When I say “racial humor” or “gender humor” or “ethnic humor” it means comedy based on exaggerated or sterotypical racial, ethnic, or gender characteristics often associated with bias. In this film, I found he portrayal of the “gangsta” robots who could not/did not read and the portrayal of the Latino roommate as offensive and based on racial and ethnic stereotypes. What did you think of these portrayals?

  38. The bad: The script was generally mediocre, most obviously pretty much every scene with Sam’s parents (I don’t know who thought the dogs would be a good idea.) For me, the single worst line of the film was when Optimus asks Galloway what happens if the Autobots leave and he’s wrong and Lennox redundantly replies “That’s a good question.”
    Also, I would have liked to see more of Isabel Lucas, who I know from the Australian soap opera Home and Away – the same one Chris Hemsworth (Kirk’s father in the new Star Trek) was on, and around the same time. It would have been cool if they’d done something with her natural resemblance to Rachel Taylor, the analyst from the first one.
    The good: It was a decent, generally coherent exploration of the Transformers mythos (speaking as a very casual fan of the first one), with more Transformer action than the first, which didn’t start to get boring until the Egypt scenes. The Sam-Mikaela chemistry was still there and I liked the new characters Jetfire and Wheelie. I also didn’t mind Leo, although I can see your point about the stereotypes in his and the Twins’ portrayal (although I don’t know that Jazz in the first one was much better).

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