Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Video review: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"

Director Michael Bay is the king of the big, dumb summer action movie, and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is as big and dumb as they come.

Surprisingly, though, it actually manages to improve on 2007's "Transformers" by stirring up a dramatic moment or two centered around robot hero Optimus Prime. In a summer wasteland of disappointing movies, Optimus (emphatically voiced by Peter Cullens) was the best cinematic hero of the season.

The action scenes are still an exercise in migraine-inducing computer-generated special effects, as heroic Autobots and villainous Decepticons tangle in a blur of metal pieces and widgets. Since both can transform into other things, it's virtually impossible to tell where one robot begins and another ends.

The story is a mishmash of gobbledygook about a secret Decepticon overlord named the Fallen who wants to set off an ancient weapon hidden long ago on Earth, but first he needs a special key.

Human protagonist Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is somehow involved once again, mainly as an excuse for him to do a lot of running from the bad guys, with Megan Fox tagging along as the obligatory -- and totally unnecessary -- eye candy.

The movie attempts to make up for its lack of sense with an inundation of extra material.

Both DVD and Blu-ray versions come with a feature-length commentary by Bay and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman; an extensive making-of documentary; a featurette accompanying Bay to the film's Tokyo premiere; a look at the "Transformer" franchise's 25-year history; extended scenes; pre-visualization renderings of robots and action sequences; and the "New Divide" music video by Linkin Park.

The Blu-ray also comes with an interactive "Allspark" game; data files on individual robots including personal timeline; and featurettes on the marketing of the movie.

Movie: 2 stars
Extras: 3.5 stars

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