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Posted: June 24, 2009

Dave on film: I never trusted my blender anyway

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"

Dave Taylor

This week, I’m just going to talk about one film that’s coming out this week because it has had such a marketing push and so much buzz that it’s going to be the big topic of the weekend anyway. The film?  “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

This is a classic Michael Bay film. Bay directs big, loud, action-filled films, and when he gets the formula right, he produces such great works as "The Rock" and "The Island." When he gets it wrong, however, you end up with dreck like "Armageddon," which was painful to watch.

The first Transformers film was undeniably exciting and visually amazing. No punches were pulled, and if the story didn’t always work, you didn’t mind too much because there was some amazing transformation or effect happening on screen. However, it wasn't a great film. The story didn’t make much sense to me -- but I also never liked the 80’s TV show and never owned any of the toys.

According to the backstory, Transformers come from the planet "Cybertron" and are split into two factions: the Autobots, who are good, led by Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, who are evil, led by Megatron. They're able to "transform" themselves from, say, a Chevy Camaro into a 20-foot mech robot in a few seconds. The show launched on TV in 1984 and also spun off a very successful line of toys.

In "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBoeuf) finds a sliver of "The Cube" as he packs for college and touching it transmits secret ancient data into his brain. The Decepticons are aware of the information he's unlocked and seek to obtain it so that they can find the "Matrix of Leadership," a key that will unlock an all-powerful machine and let them, well, do all sorts of evil things.

The Autobots have established an alliance with the U.S. military called “NEST,” and they’re soon busy fighting Decepticons that are wreaking damage throughout the world. Meanwhile, Sam’s trying to figure out the long-distance relationship thing with girlfriend Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox, whose clothes miraculously never get dirty even as she crawls through ruins). Things come to a head when the rather dorky Sam is assaulted by gorgeous college coed Alice (played by Isabel Lucas).

There are a number of other actors involved, including a stand-out performance by John Turturro as the paranoid but heroic Agent Simmons, but it's the computer graphics and the Transformers themselves that are center stage.

Michael Bay has also created an homage to many of the great films of the past. I caught references to "2001," "Mimic," "Night at the Museum," "Star Wars," (even two Transformers reminded me of the hated Jar-Jar Binks), "Pearl Harbor" (another Bay movie), "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Jumper" and more.

The visual effects were great and the sound in particular was amazing. Even the first few seconds when the Paramount stars are flying into the logo, you are immediately pulled into the film through the sound effects, brilliant use of deep bass and the movie theater multi-speaker audio.

If you like big, loud movies, go see this while it’s in the theater. Your home theater will not do it justice. Just don’t pay too much attention to the plot.

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Dave Taylor has been watching movies for as long as he can remember. Along the way he’s become a nationally recognized expert on technology, an accomplished writer, and award-winning public speaker and blogger. You can find his film writing at  www.DaveOnFilm.com and follow his film commentary on Twitter at @FilmBuzz or just email him at taylor@intuitive.com.

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