Based on 182 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an average 21%
overall approval rating. The film had a similar approval rating with the 32 critics in Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critic", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, where it received a 19%
approval rating. In contrast to the views of critics, audiences appear to have responded better, with exit surveys estimating that 91% of moviegoers consider it to be as good, or better, than the 2007 movie. CinemaScore polls reported that on a scale of A+ to F, the average grade cinemagoers gave the film was "B+".
According to The Washington Post, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is Bay's worst-reviewed movie, topping Pearl Harbor. Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter commented in his review that "for the uninitiated, it's loud, tedious, and at 147 minutes, way too long." Roger Ebert, who had given the first film three stars, gave Revenge of the Fallen only one star, calling it "...a horrible experience of unbearable length." He later wrote in his blog about the film, saying "The day will come when Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will be studied in film classes and shown at cult film festivals. It will be seen, in retrospect, as marking the end of an era. Of course there will be many more CGI-based action epics, but never again one this bloated, excessive, incomprehensible, long (149 minutes) or expensive (more than $200 million)." Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers did not give the movie any stars considering that "Transformers 2 has a shot at the title Worst Movie of the Decade." The A.V. Club gave the movie a C-.
There has also been considerable negative reaction to the characters Mudflap and Skids, who are alleged to embody racist stereotypes. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said that "the characters [...] indicate that minstrelsy remains as much in fashion in Hollywood as when, well, Jar Jar Binks was set loose by George Lucas." Critic Scott Mendelson said, "To say that these two are the most astonishingly racist caricatures that I've ever seen in a mainstream motion picture would be an understatement." Harry Knowles, founder of Ain't It Cool News, went further, asking his readers "not to support this film" because "you'll be taking [your children] to see a film with the lowest forms of humor, stereotypes and racism around." Director Bay has attempted to defend the film as "good clean fun" and insisted that "We're just putting more personality in." Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman responded to the controversy with "It’s really hard for us to sit here and try to justify it. I think that would be very foolish, and if someone wants to be offended by it, it’s their right. We were very surprised when we saw it, too, and it’s a choice that was made. If anything, it just shows you that we don’t control every aspect of the movie."