Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

The Spark may have been destroyed but that won't keep the Decepticon forces from rising once again, especially now that Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull") has absorbed the truth about their origins. Good 'bot Optimus Prime is back to fight the good fight alongside Witwicky in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

Laura's Review: D+

Last year the documentary "Bigger Stronger Faster" told us about steroid use. Director Michael Bay produces movies on steroids, along with the attendant problems, so one could dub his "Transformers" sequel "Bigger Longer Louder." "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" has less charm and even less cohesion than the original. After 149 minutes, I felt like I had been sitting in an aluminum garbage can while someone drummed on the outside with a wrench. Working from a script by the "Transformers/Star Trek" team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman with "The Ring's" Ehren Kruger, Bay dumps us right into the dissolution of the Witwicky clan (Sam is off to college while dad Ron (Kevin Dunn) is consoling mom with a trip to France) and Sam's discovery of a piece of the Spark which had been stuck to his hoodie. It burns through a floor, landing in the kitchen where it proceeds to spark appliances into Gremlins (why it didn't burn through Sam's hoodie is but one of many unanswered questions). After Bumblebee saves the day, Sam tries to break up with him while promising to hang onto Mikaela (Megan Fox, introduced with her butt hanging out of a pair of shorts while draped over a motorcycle) via web 'dates.' Of course Sam's roommate will turn out to be Leo (Ramon Rodriguez, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3"), the guy who runs a conspiracy website devoted to the alien bots to provide some back story for those thoroughly lost by now (if you did not see the first "Transformers," the filmmakers haven't done much to get you up to speed). A Decepticon cyborg is introduced in the form of Mikaela's blonde counterpart Alice in Michael Bay's fantasy of the ultimate frat boy party, where all the babes look like strippers in a "Girls Gone Wild" video. Meanwhile, back home, Mikaela captures a small Decepticon and races to Sam when she realizes he is their target. As in the first film, Bay jumps back and forth between the military, again starring Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as the guys on the ground, the Decepticons and Autobots themselves and that wacky Witwicky tribe. Like many a spectacle before this, global monuments are destroyed, and, although the action begins in Shanghai, it ends in the Middle East, a reversal of the first film's desert/urban action. Megatron is 'saved' from the bottom of the ocean where he has been being 'guarded' by fleets of submarines and aircraft carriers instead of having been destroyed which would have made too much sense. As for the 'origins' we are promised, let's just say that The Fallen (voiced by Tony Todd) didn't follow the rules and so was banished, but he comes back to achieve his original goal via a device that looks and sounds a lot like the device that was going to destroy the world in "Star Trek." There are so many other films evoked here, even "Pulp Fiction's" adrenaline plunge crops up. A reference to 9/11's "Let's roll" is in poor taste. There is not much for the actors to work with here. LaBeouf does the wiseass Witwicky thing and I had to admire the amount of stunts he performed after pulverizing his hand in that Jeep rollover when even running must have hurt (his hand injury is injected into the plot midway through, although where the bandaging came from in the middle of the desert is not). Megan Fox has a closed mouth in perhaps one scene and always looks like she's just had lip gloss 1/4" thick applied and she tends to swallow the end of the few whole sentences she utters. Her character does actually 'tame' that little Decepticon by alternate uses of torture and baby talk until it humps her leg. Rodriguez is an annoying addition. Where oh where will this trilogy end? Seeing as how Sam and Mikaela deal with the 'L' word in this one, maybe she'll be the first housewife who is also mechanic to the family 'pet.'

Robin's Review: DNS