|INTERACTIVE (Rate the Review)|
|Cinema Signal: It's got numerous flaws & weaknesses which will be forgiven or ignored by a limited audience.|
Sing Like an American Idol, Women's Edition
Everything You Need to Sing the Hits!
(Discounted Paperback (with CD) from Amazon)
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"
Director Michael Bay sure knows something the rest of us above the age of 19 don't. It's what to give his targetted audience, to carry it to extremes, and offer nothing that'll dilute it. Like with plot or character depth. He's figured out that such things are thankless time-consuming details that divert from what the paying customers are coming for. It's like, you don't offer filet mignon at Carl's Jr. You don't offer Chateau Rothschild at your local bar. You don't play "Gone With the Wind" at your video arcade. You stick to the nitty gritty that people open their wallets for. That, here, is metal, noise, and a babe.
It's as though Bay looked at what his CGI team was able to deliver and said, "We can do that?! Let's do 147 minutes of it!" For sure, Bay and his CGI teams have taken the fights and the transformations from metallic monsters to high-speed automobiles as far as the state of the art allows and with as much detail and faithfulness to the source material as a fanboy can absorb.
The third element, the babe, isn't wasted as just something the male audience can leer at. The kissy, kissy, smooch, smooch content between nerdly Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela Banes (so appropriately named Megan Fox) is a romance that gives the adventure to save the world from the evil forces a human dimension. Their story arc here is about him not being able to say the three magic words, "I love you," even if he's okay with "I adore you," which he does say before taking off for college. She's not the only one left behind. With Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) leading NEST forces, a military affiliation with American and British troops, to keep Decepticons at bay (no pun intended) he's so intent on leading a normal life, he says "bye, bye" to his Autobot guardian Bumblebee. Heavy stuff, but the romantic thread accounts for this action adventure's attraction to fan girls.
Meanwhile, things aren't shaping up so well for the Autobots since the first installment. The Decepticons have found another piece of the AllSpark and resurrect Megatron (Hugo Weaving voice), who is then instructed by Starscream (Charles Adler) and his master, the original betrayer of the Primes now known as the Fallen (Tony Todd), to capture Sam because of his knowledge and connection to the AllSpark and its source. Megatron unleashes a massive attack on the life-bearing world called Earth, engaging NEST in such places as Shanghai and China and leading to various victories against Decepticons.
Sam's mission now is to escape and find the ancient Matrix of Leadership, the key to the Sun Harvester and the power of the AllSpark before Megatron's mob does. If they get their hands on it first, the earth is toast. To avoid that, Sam must beat them to it, but his mind has derailed as he involuntarily draws symbols on his astronomy class blackboard. Somehow, he realizes these unintelligible symbols are the key to his quarry. Sam, however, is killed by Megatron.
Without getting into all the details, it all leads to a final battle which is joined on an Egyptian Desert between the machine forces and NEST, a confrontation that only a CGI team can deliver and do justice to. With what they provide, the director is so unconstrained that he renders the entire adventure for non-followers of the strip overwrought and tiresome. The comic strip and video game crowd, on the other hand, will scream with delight and pay for the privilege.
We begin to recognizable a familiar theme here, one that threads through such ancient demon awakening material as "The Mummy" series, the "Lord of the Ring" cycle, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" in which a human (or humanoid) hero prevents locked up nasty spirits whose only wish is to destroy or dominate Earth for vengeance, supremacy or kicks. In "The Mummy" it was Egyptian prince Im-Ho-Tep. Here's it's Megatron.
The idea is to invest the threat to humanity with a patina of Deep Meaning through Ancient Destiny, an approach used to elevate the fascination quotient for comic strips and video games. But, while Bay hits this target with the teens of the world by stroking their imaginations to benefit the effect of the vicious, clanging battles that provide the action, he is so relentless about it, he divides the audience for his fare between those familiar with the story and its characters, and those who aren't. He beats the rest of us, and the drama, into submission with far too much gunpowder.
~~ Jules Brenner