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Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
Bigger, louder, stupider and insanely entertaining.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
A Sequel to "Transformers."
OPENING WEEKEND: $90,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $350,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

March 23rd, 2009: Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots return for the live action follow up to Michael Bay's 2007 blockbuster "Transformers."

What to Expect: So. Transformers. I hear they're more than meets the eye.

And here's the sequel to the mind-bogglingly successful first installment. But it isn't "Transformers 2!" Oh no, no no no. That would be...you know, sequel-like. It's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." This isn't a new strategy. Hopeful franchise-bearing studios have had the idea to keep those pesky numerics out of their sequels and threequels and whateverquels for awhile, as if leaving off the numbers would make us all forget that there have been about eleventybillion "Fast and Furious" movies.

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But I digress. The first "Transformers" was a popcorn surprise in the summer of 2007. The film industry's obsession with preying on our childhood/teen nostalgia by turning our hoary old chestnuts into films has led us to this, a mainstay of the thirtysomething set from before we had hair in private places, the toy/cartoon (and I honestly can't remember which came first for this particular example) known as Transformers. Who are, say it with me now, more than meets the eye. It was hard to imagine how this could become a movie and not be ridiculous. Especially given explosion-happy director Michael Bay. But somehow, it kinda worked. I was pleasantly surprised. The film's quirky humor (Kevin Dunn and Julie White as the protagonist's parents provided some needed levity), the aw-shucks realism that Shia LaBeouf brought to the movie and the sheer jaw-dropping awesomeness that was the CGI work done on the robots kinda got it a pass.

A pass that it won't get again. Now we've seen all that. For a sequel to work, it'll have to be that and more, and I don't just mean MORE more, as in turned up to eleven and cranked to ludicrous levels. Sadly that's so often the strategy with sequels of action movies that I fear its deployment here. For a sequel to be better than its progenitor it has to take things in a new direction, be surprising, reinvent itself.

So far from what I'm seeing for "Revenge of the Fallen," their idea of "reinvention" amounts to...more robots. No wait, I'm sorry. Different robots. You would not believe how much of the press on this film, not to mention the fan chatter, has been fixated on the robots. Which robots, how many robots, what are their names, what's their vehicle form, how big will they be, will so-and-so be back from the first film, what about whoever, wouldn't it be great to have Robot Whatshisname? You know what? I could barely tell any of them apart in the first movie. I know there was Optimus Prime. Everybody knows Optimus Prime. And there was one that didn't talk that was yellow. That's about all I can tell you. The others kind of blur into a clicking whirring spinning crashing rolling flying melange of robotitude. So I can't work up much enthusiasm for which robots will be in this sequel or not. Don't care, not so much. I know there is a community of fanboys (and fangirls) who are slavering over every last detail, every piece of concept art, every alteration from "the canon" (genuflect when you say that, please), every new robot and its corresponding vehicle. My suspicion is that for 99% of the viewing audience, the level of interest in these details of robots amounts to two words: cool robots. And yet the directors and writers seem hell-bent on discussing the various robots and their various dispositions ad nauseum.

We get it. Cool robots. Shut up about it.

Michael Bay is so damned attached to his big cool robots that he got all butthurt when footage from "Terminator Salvation" surfaced and he saw that McG had the nerve to include in his film...big robots. He immediately stated publicly that his big robots are the coolest big robots and McG was just jealous of Bay's cool big robots and so had obviously inserted big robots into his movie in an effort to be more like "Transformers." But we should not be fooled! The coolest big robots in town are going to be in "Transformers!"

I'm paraphrasing. But not much. McG didn't really rise to this bait, calmly stating the obvious, namely that Bay did not invent the concept of having big robots in one's film, and the Terminator was a movie robot while the Transformers were still being hand-drawn on acetate cells for Saturday morning consumption. That isn't the only thing Bay is being pissy about, either. He's reportedly dissatisfied with the Transformers theme-park ride being developed for the Universal Studios parks. He's been quoted as being unhappy with "the story of the ride." Seriously? The director best known for storytelling-by-explosion is complaining about the storyline for a theme park ride? There's being invested in one's projects and then there's just being a pissy little bitch.

I'm even less impressed with Michael Bay's pique over Terminator having the temerity to feature robots after hearing about one of the plot points of Revenge of the Fallen. Newcomer Isabel Lucas plays a lissome young woman who is (rumor has it) a Pretender, a kind of Transformer who hides within the shell of a human but retains robotic insides. Hmm. A robot that looks human on the outside. Gosh, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard that before?

But Michael Bay's ruffled tailfeathers weren't the only misfortune to befall the film set. Star Shia LaBeouf has had himself a bit of an annus horribilis himself. He used to be such a nice young man, as my grandmother would say, or at least he seemed like one, but then the inevitable It-Boy downslide of smoking/drinking/DUI/girls seemed to overtake him. On July 27 of last year, LaBeouf was involved in a pretty bad car crash during which his hand was smashed and two fingers broken. This kept him off the set for a month, forcing the production to reshuffle the schedule to shoot other scenes that didn't involve him. Rumors were that the shoot even had to shut down for a short time, but no confirmation on that. LaBeouf's injury was also more serious than was initially thought, in fact he's been seen wearing splints and bandages recently, and Bay eventually decided to write his star's injury into the film, which wouldn't seem like too difficult a task for a movie in which LaBeouf will probably be enduring plenty of physical, explosion-related punishment.

An interesting tidbit involves the passenger in LaBeouf's car at the time of the accident...it was his costar, Isabel Lucas, who at the time was dating "Entourage" star Adrien Grenier. Who broke up with her right after the accident after having seen her out with LaBeouf. Hmmmmm. Although the accident was eventually determined not to be LaBeouf's fault, it certainly threw the production and at least one relationship for a loop. Shia's injury has not yet fully healed, either. Upcoming surgery has forced him to drop out of his film "Dark Fields" with Neil Burger, director of "The Illusionist." His hand is described as "shattered" and there were rumors, eventually denied, that he might have to have at least one finger amputated. After various other law-related troubles, and another accident on the set of "Revenge of the Fallen" that required stitches under his left eye, I'm thinking that LaBeouf might want to hang up his jock and hit the showers for awhile until Mercury goes out of alignment or whatever it is that has been cursing him passes on by.

But back to the movie.

What's it about? I'm guessing there'll be big robots. But from what anyone can discern, the film pits the heroic Autobots against a new villain called The Fallen (a term from the title that does not, apparently, just refer to deposed Decepticons but to a specific villain) to the point that they must join forces with their former foes to defeat it. Oh, and the US military. And all our old friends from the first film including LaBeouf and Megan Fox, who had this profound and erudite statement to offer about her role in the film: "In this one I transform from a girl into a woman." Thanks for that. Also returning are Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson, as well as John Turturro, who is not only playing the same character from the first but also voicing one of the Autobots, Jetfire. Rainn Wilson has also joined up as one of Sam's college professors. As for The Fallen, he is reportedly one of the original 13 Transformers, a sort of robotic missing link ancestor, and the one who caused the rift between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Not sure where it's coming from or how it gets to Earth, but the art of this character is pretty darn scary, like the bastard robotic love child of Species 8472 from "Star Trek: Voyager" and the Queen alien from "Aliens."

The film was written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the same team from the first (and also the scribes of this summer's J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" film) with the addition of "The Ring" screenwriter Ehren Kruger, who was reportedly brought in to help out Alex and Bob given their other commitments...or perhaps to help bolster weaknesses in the script. At least one public figure wasn't happy with the writing. Alex and Bob had specifically written in a part for "Superbad" star Jonah Hill. He was to play Sam Witwicky's college roommate, who was imaginatively named Jonah, but after reading twenty pages of the script, Hill was bowing out. Thumbs down from the Apatow peanut gallery, apparently. Another reason for Kruger's involvement was the 2007 WGA writer's strike, which hit about two weeks after Alex and Bob started breaking stories for the sequel.

One point of contention has centered around Megatron, the supposedly-defeated villain of the first film, but then again they're never really defeated, are they? Initially the word around the campfire was that Megatron would be back, but that his vehicle form would now be a tank instead of the jet-like vehicle he sported originally. Images of a proposed toy seemed to support this idea, but then Michael Bay said in Empire magazine that Megatron was most certainly not in the film, and that those images were just toy ideas and didn't reflect the film. He kept maintaining this even after mention of Megatron returning began appearing on the packaging for tie-in toys. Then it was reported that Hugo Weaving, who voiced Megatron in the first film, had just returned home after completing his voice work. Eventually Orci himself confirmed that Megatron did appear in the film but that we should all keep it quiet. Yeah, that'll happen. I don't know what Bay was trying to accomplish. Did he want us all to stay unspoiled? Next to such as this the quest for the Holy Grail looks like a hunt for your car keys.

What is certain is that there is a new baddie making its debut, namely the 120 foot tall Devastator, a Decepticon made up of seven individual Constructicons to make one super Transformer (and am I crazy, or wasn't it Voltron that pulled that trick on Saturday mornings?). The scale of this robot makes Optimus Prime look like a tiny little pebble and it ought to be pretty impressive.

Which only brings me back to the original point. More, more, more. Bigger, louder, stupider. That's the usual rule of sequels and that goes double for Michael Bay, who probably spikes his espresso with Red Bull and washes it all down with some habanero peppers. The bitch part is that it works. Usually. But it only works the first time and then the law of diminishing returns, also known as audience boredom, sets in. You can only make things so big and loud and stupid. There's no limit to how interesting you can make things. Christopher Nolan and Pixar are proving that you don't have to be like Michael Bay to make a profitable, exciting movie of high quality.

But none of this really matters. It'll make a bojillion dollars, and they've already announced the third film's coming out in the summer of 2011 (Bay wants 2012). I could probably write the preview for that one right now. It's not like I don't know what's going to happen.

In Conclusion: Transformers are back. What more needs to be said?

Similar Titles: Transformers, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon
June 24th, 2009 (wide)
October 20th, 2009 (DVD)


Michael Bay

Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Isabel Lucas, Rainn Wilson, Matthew Marsden, Ramon Rodriguez, Hugo Weaving

Total: 731 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Science Fiction

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.

150 min





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