TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (Michael Bay, 2009)
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and the altruistic Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), may have defeated the Decepticons at the end of TRANSFORMERS, but you can't keep evil alien robots down for long.
In TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN college-bound Sam discovers that he still has a shard of the Allspark, the powerful cube battled over and thought to be destroyed in the first film. Even a small piece of the Allspark can turn ordinary machines into malevolent transformers. Naturally, the Decepticons want this sliver so they can revive their ocean-entombed leader Megatron (Hugo Weaving).
Sam gives the fragment to his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) for safe keeping but not before he accidentally touches it and has his brain imprinted with visions of alien symbols. This robot language holds clues to the location of an ancient machine that Megatron and his master The Fallen (Tony Todd) want to find so they can harvest the sun's energy.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN'S state-of-the-art special effects and humongous scale often make it a sight to behold, but the technical achievements are serving to prop up an ungainly and incomprehensible assault on the senses.
REVENGE OF THE FALLEN isn't significantly different than its predecessor. In fact, the two films are virtually the same. Both of director Michael Bay's franchise behemoths are orgies of robot violence interrupted by exposition payloads delivered through clunky dialogue and goofy, sometimes ill-advised humor. Bay has been criticized before for employing offensive minority stereotypes for laughs, and he's likely to come under fire again, not the least of which is for the shucking and jiving twin Autobots.
The sequel improves the Transformers' character designs, most notably through more distinct facial features, but these changes are often for naught because the robots look like indistinguishable trash-compacted heaps, especially when engaged in combat. Ascertaining which robot is which, let alone what parts of them we're seeing, is a mostly hopeless task.
Whether it's piling up extended action scenes or attempting to spell out the befuddling story's intricacies, TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN is the cinema of overkill. In addition to the main plot points the distended first half crosscuts among the origins of Transformers on earth, an Autobot-military alliance and bureaucratic conflict, Sam's initiation to college life, and his parents' empty nest escapades. The second half is devoted to a thankfully less scattered but ultimately monotonous battle in the Egyptian desert.
With plenty of gigantic, shape-shifting robots ripping it up, the film isn't always a drag, but in this instance, as is usually the case with Bay, more is not for the best. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN'S 150 minutes is something to endure rather than enjoy.