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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.

On the first two elements, the transformers give us size. The scale of the effects and the dynamics of the clashes between the friendly Autobots and their treacherous enemies, the Decepticons, are horrendously loud, big, and emphasized by the basso profundo register of their mechanized voices. Counteraction methods involve all manner of military weaponry and hardware which, if it explodes, is super good.

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.

He finds a remnant of the Allspark and leaves it with Mikaela to care for, retaining her involvement with what's to come. With his doltish parents in tow, Sam finds his dormitory room and welcoming roommate Leo Spitz (Ramon Rodriguez, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3") who is going to become his sudden sidekick. It isn't long, either, before he gets a taste of the local nymph Alice (gorgeous, blond Isabel Lucas)--just as Mikaela makes an appearance at the dorm door.

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.

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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.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
I've seen the movie and agree with the review
Site rating: 10

This movies is a waste of money and life,complete and utter s**t.

                                                           ~~ Moishe 
Off base
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
Site rating: 6

I disagree with this review because I'm 46 yrs. old,my wife's 34,and we saw the movie with our 16,15,and 8yr. old boys,and can't wait to see the next installment...We viewed it in IMAX,and it's the type of movie that does'nt really need a major script to follow it...We are African American and were not offended by the twin Autobots...Hell, they were Kool and funny to us,and it seems as if everytime a character in a movie these days use sreet slang a critic crys racism...Get over it already and give Michael Bay credit for giving kids and adults alike a BlockBuster once again to sit around the dinner table and discuss!!!*****Peaceout!!!***

                                                           ~~ Mic W. 
I've seen the movie and agree with the review

What a disappointing and awful movie. I have to argue with your contention that video game and comic book fans will enjoy the movie. I've been one all of my life, as well as a fan of the original Transformers cartoon in the 80s, and I HATED this movie. That said, there definitely are some people out there who enjoyed the movie. At the theatre I went to the audience actually broke out into applause at the end of the movie. I almost felt like yelling and screaming at them, but considering their reaction to the movie they would probably enjoy that as well.

                                                           ~~ Tony D. 
[Ed. note: Thanks. I amend my statement about video game and comic book fans to say that they are more likely to enjoy the movie on its own, limited merits--not that they necessarily will. One other note: applause at the end of the movie would be understandable--if it was to praise the choreography, the visual artistry and technical achievement of the prolongued action and combat sequences. The story may stink because of the overuse of them, but you can't argue the CGI work.]

Very well written
This review will influence me to read more by this reviewer
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 9

I totally agree. With films like transformers, twilight, etc. most reviewers don't take into account that teenagers (like myself) usually don't go to see a movie because of a deep, well written plot, but rather to have a fun time watching stuff get blown up, people shooting each other, giant things fighting each other, etc. Although I do love films with a deep plot, this one was a great step away from those movies, and was just enjoyable the whole way through.

                                                           ~~ Luke A. 
This review will influence me to read more by this reviewer, recommend this reviewer and skip this movie.

fine review, perhaps i should find something else to do with those 150 minutes of my life, I'd earmarked for this movie.

                                                           ~~ aj cheema 
[Ed. note: Yeah. Go see "Moon" and/or "The Hurt Locker."]

Well written
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site rating: 6

why can;t any one just make a sensible and simple review

                                                           ~~ Tommy N. 

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Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, facing the Decepticon
"I've seen uglier than you!"

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