Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, and Hugo Weaving
Distributor: Independent
Runtime: 147 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Action violence

This film is the science fiction sequel to the popular 2007 movie, “Transformers”, which was directed by the same director, Michael Bay. The film is executively co-produced by Stephen Spielberg, and Shia LaBeouf again takes on the role of Sam Witwicky, who is caught in the conflict between the guardian Autobots and the evil Decepticons. They are two types of alien robots, who have the ability to transform themselves into ordinary-looking machinery, like cars, trucks, motor-bikes, aeroplanes, and even mobile phones. Thousands of mechanical pieces are transformed into recognizable objects, and the Decepticons have inhabited the earth for some time as “machines” to pursue their evil intent. This film is much more ambitious than the one before. More robots are involved, and the war climaxes in Egypt, where the major battle between good and evil takes place.

Sam Witwicky has taken time off to do ordinary things like learning astronomy at East Coast College, USA. While at college, he begins to have mental images or visions of Cybertronian symbols which are the key to finding a source of Energon on Earth. From the symbols, he learns something about the past of the Transformers, which depicts their history on Earth and traces them back to the dawn of civilization. That knowledge is very useful to the Decepticons, who want to find Energon, the hidden energy power they need to conquer the Earth. The Decepticons try to capture Sam to get access to his information. Government has tried to keep awareness of the Transformers hidden, and human soldiers have joined the Autobots’ ranks in an international task force called NEST that has its headquarters in Diego Garcia. The task force takes part in a climatic battle among the pyramids involving the Autobots and the Decepticons, which is the key special effects scene for the movie. The forces of evil and good are pitted against each other in the final battle, and Sam learns at last that he is the real key to resolving the struggle that decides the fate of the earth, nearly losing his life to save Optimus Prime, the Leader of the Autobots.

The action sequences in this film are frenetic in their pace and the movie pulls the stops out to maximize their impact. The movie is loose with its plot-line to the point where one has to throw all credibility to the wind. The tone is dark, which seems to be the way that most sequels go, particularly when they have their origin in a comic book or cartoon series. The Decepticons are a nasty lot, and the robots all round (including the Autobots), generally have a very aggressive nature. Not even a final patriotic appeal to US ideals can make up for the war-like displays that precede.

The strength of the film lies mainly in its animation and in this respect the movie doesn’t disappoint. Scott Farrar is the visual effects supervisor for the film and he does an excellent job. The transformation of the robots into earth machinery is realistic, and virtually seamless, but a little repetitive.

The acting back-up to the movie is good. Shia LaBouef maintains his hero status well. Megan Fox continues to play Michaela Barnes, Sam’s girlfriend, who cannot afford to attend college with him; and Josh Dubanel plays Captain William Lennox, a US Army ally of the Autobots. Peter Cullen, Mark Ryan and Jess Harnell, voice the Autobots, and Australia’s own Hugo Weaving voices Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons.

This is a fast-paced, science fiction thriller that maintains its suspense and energy through excellent animation, and it should thoroughly engage Transformer fans. The plot-line is more than a little complex, over-detailed and confusing, and people are moved from one place to another with literally no explanation. However, amidst all the explosions, the animated sequences carry the day, and the constant programming of robots into machines is very impressive. This is a robotic film that is marketed mostly for males, with their assumed love of cars and other machinery. In the one sequence that is an exception to this observation, the film has obvious difficulty in knowing how to handle robotic gender.

This film is special-effects territory, and it lives up well to its expectations. As for other movies of its kind, it might be best to try to see it in its VMAX or IMAX form, if one happens to be near the right kind of cinema.

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