Planet Earth is now aware of the threat of the Decepticons, a race of shape-changing robots, thanks to them bringing their millennia-long war with their counterparts the Autobots, to our world. But it looks as if the threat may be over, and the shard which offers life to machinery such as those constructions is lost forever - except it is not, as there is one human who unwittingly owns it, and it has taken a part of his mind with its complex equations. He is Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), and he has experience of these machines, hell, he even has one in his garage...
Although many react with dismay to these films, holding them up as the end of civilisation as we know it and willing to place their director Michael Bay on some kind of trial for cultural crimes against humanity, the fact remained that no matter how many people complained about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen after the fact, there were literally millions of moviegoers who went to see it in the cinemas of the world. So they only had themselves to blame when this type of in one eye and out the other spectacle for spectacle's sake was the dominant form of entertainment coming out of Hollywood, because if nobody was interested, then they wouldn't be made.
Or "manufactured" might be a better word to use, as they did have the production line feel of a bright new gadget to be used for a while then disposed of when something shinier came along. Of course, for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that Bay's work elicited, there were plenty of people who simply didn't take them that seriously and viewed them as a way of killing a couple of hours without any thought, which suggests it was they for whom this was created. It didn't matter whether it was good or bad, or perhaps more relevantly how bad it actually was, as long as you could see the money spent up there on the screen then who really cared about any other quality?
Bay, for one, described this sequel as "crap" in not so many words, but it made him and the studio and the companies which poured in all the product placement (and there was plenty of that, not simply for the line of toys) a lot of money. The curious result of that was that they were so ephemeral as pop culture artefacts that very quickly after their release they were looking like yesterday's bauble, and with special effects heavy on the detail but not attractive to look at, or even enjoy, predominating you would probably be better off with the Saturday morning cartoon instead for all the emotional resonance and humour they contained. At least they were more upfront about flogging their wares to impressionable young minds.
So the story here saw Sam going to college, but being dragged back into the Transformers war for flimsy reasons, and the goodies led by Optimus Prime being rejected by the U.S. government just when they needed them most, a bit of politics which had little relevance to anything in the real world, but had the appearance of pandering to audiences' views. Take the role of women: there were but three females of any importance, Sam's girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) for barely interesting romance, Sam's mother (Julie White) who acts as if in the throes of some mental breakdown, and a robot girl for the heroes to beat up. Not exactly progressive, and with less depth to their personality than the machines, which included a pair of racial stereotypes for comic relief, as if the Autobots needed their own minstrel show for those times spent not smashing Decepticons. Throw in sub-Stargate Erich Von Daniken garbage for the excuse to wantonly destroy the Pyramids, and you had a noisy vulgarity easily ignored soon after it afflicted the media with its blitz of advertising. Music by Steve Jablonsky.