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Fri June 12, 2009
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Suprising nuggets of humor . . .
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is vintage Michael Bay (remember Armageddon and Pearl Harbor) with explosions every other second, dialogue lost under the noise, and a plot so derivative you'll wonder why you're in a showing of King Kong Meets Indiana Jones.
No matter, the audience loves the audacious pyrotechnics, vacuous plot, and Megan Fox in short shorts on top of a motorcycle?perfect for summer.
Though not intricate, the plot is varied from Sam (Shia LeBeouf) going to college leaving behind the foxy Mikaela (Megan Fox), the Autobots landing out of a job protecting earth, and the rising of the fallen. Not one thread is deftly or deeply handled, but surprisingly in between the explosions are nuggets of humor if not lost to the noise. For example, on the college campus Sam's parents quip:
Judy Witwicky: Look at this place! I feel smarter already! Can you smell that?
Ron Witwicky: Yeah, it's the smell of $40,000 a year...
Well, it's not great humor, but the moments of chuckles put it leagues ahead of this summer's Terminator Salvation for human interest if not depth of characterization.
In addition, fleeting reference to swine flu and Obama remind us that even such a superficial sci-fi as this has hopes of greater meaning than just action. If you feel good about cars morphing into monsters, you may be the critic to see this film as an allegory about the monster car industry eating up bailout money or girl friends looking like Megan Fox dutifully waiting for college-bound nerds like Shia LaBeouf. The possibilities are endless, as are Transformer flicks, I suspect.
Bay is Bay, a director who understands the taste of an action-lusting summer audience.
Hey, it's summer. Lighten up and enjoy.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, Cinema Classics, and On the Marquee, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml and on demand at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain