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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Transformers:Revenge/Fallen

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

They’re back, y’all.  Wise and benevolent machinery that walks, talks, drives you to school, aids the U.S. military and folds up neatly into a garage.  These would be the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime.  When teamed up with U.S. military forces, they comprise an operation known as NEST.

Of course there’s also bad machinery that likes nothing more than to harvest suns for energy so that worlds perish.  Those would be the Decepticons, one of whom is the titular “Fallen” who’s part of leader Megatron’s evil team.

Carrying on a time-honored tradition, the good guys (or gears, if you prefer) have blue eyes, while the evil ones glare through a hell-formed red.  The CGI works the best for the Autobots, who make majestic strides as opposed to the scuttling Decepticons.

There’s also the requisite government official, in this instance, National Security Advisor Galloway (John Benjamin Hickey) who understands nothing.  He believes that the Decepticons are on earth because of the Autobots and that they (the Autobots) must be sent away.  It’s none of Earth’s business – let the machines destroy each other.

NEST personnel Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and USAF Tech Sgt. Epps (Tyrese Gibson) understand that this mindset will jeopardize the human race.  As it turns out, it will take a college freshman to save it.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is off to Princeton.  His parents Ron (Kevin Dunn) and Judy (Julie White) plan to travel around the world.  Bumblebee, Sam’s faithful Autobot and handy yellow Camaro must stay home.  Girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) is determined to break up with him, but not really.

Things are relatively normal for the young man until he comes into possession of a piece of Allspark, the energy source upon which the machines’ home planet Cybertron thrives.  Upon contact it fills his mind with Cybertronian symbols, which contain a riddle that leads to location of the Matrix of Leadership, an important component and equivalent for machines to what evil men have always wanted to do:  have the power to rule the world (or worlds). Sam gives the AllSpark splinter to Mikaela for safe keeping, and leaves for college.

Sam’s roommate Leo (Ramon Rodriguez) runs a conspiracy theory-like website on aliens and is closer to the truth than Sam would like, which is how Leo gets sucked into Sam’s exploits.  Alice (Isabel Lucas) is a co-ed who has her sights set on Sam, but her kisses leave a metallic taste in his mouth.  I’ll say no more.

Sub-plots, important or not, are legion.  Suffice it to say that the Decepticons are after Sam for his knowledge (and splinter).  The Autobots want to foil and banish the Decepticons.  NEST wants to do battle but their hands are tied.  France and Egypt become battlegrounds. Bumblebee rushes to Sam’s aid.  Agent Simmins/Jetfire (John Turturro) is utilized.  Optimus Prime is killed.  Megatron is resurrected, as is The Fallen, and eventually, Optimus Prime.  The 10-story Devastator is unleashed.  Sam’s parents join the mix.  Things explode in slow motion.  People run for very long sequences in slow motion.  Machines fight machines – maybe we should call this scrapping.  Who do you think ulrimately wins?  And will there be a sequel?  Am I giving too much away?

Shia LaBeouf spends most of the film in an urgent frenzy.  John Turturro is quirky, much-needed comic relief.  Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson are stone-faced military types (as before).  Kevin Dunn is believable as the clueless dad.  Every college freshman who saves the world needs one.

The female characters, all three of them, (two sexpots and a dizzy mom) seem to be written by a seventh-grade boy.  Well, women aren’t really supposed to understand cars and machinery are they?  It doesn’t help that Mikaela’s ultra-lip-glossed character is supposed to be a mechanic, although she wears enough of the stuff to lube an engine.  Megan Fox is there to supply the T&A that magazines like Low Rider have featured for years.  Not crucial to the machinery, but simply a body-shop decoration.

Julie White is unreasonably hysterical and annoying as Sam’s mother.  Isabel Lucas’ co-ed seems like she’d be more at home in a “gentlemen’s club” than on a college campus.  These are men’s versions of women’s characters and they don’t work as fraction as well as those with metal chassis and gaskets.

Director Michael Bay (Transformers, Pearl Harbor) knows his way around action sequences, and the kinetic movement here is so constant you might think the film is called Trance-formers.  Motion of man and machine can get to be hypnotic, almost too non-stop to register properly.  The nano-second attention span of the video game generation will be content with the pace; many others will simply be exhausted.

Still, it’ll take you on an entertaining, fast-paced, ride if you’re so inclined.  No manual transmission needed; it’s all automatic.  This 2 ½ hour testosterone filled car show will either have you joining the race or driving madly away from it all.

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