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Michael Bay
Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Peter Cullen
Writing Credits:
Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman

Revenge Is Coming

One of the most popular, thrill-packed, franchises of all time is back with even more action and more Autobots and Decepticons! In the highly anticipated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Decepticon forces return to Earth on a mission to take Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) prisoner, after the young hero learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers. Joining the mission to product humankind is Optimus Prime, who forms an alliance with international armies for a second epic battle.

Box Office:
$200 million
Opening Weekend
$108,966,307 on 4,234 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 150 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 9/13/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Michael Bay and Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 23, 2014)

After 2007’s Transformers made $319 million, it surprised no one that the 2009 sequel fared well at the box office. However, I must admit I didn’t expect it to do as well as it did. Yes, sequels routinely outperform original flicks these days, but I didn’t think that Transformers was particularly well-received, so I figured its sequel would fall short of the first movie’s gross.

Nope. As it happens, Revenge of the Fallen easily surpassed the original’s take. It ended up with a final gross of $402 million, a figure that placed it second among 2009’s releases; only the mega-smash Avatar topped it, and there’s no shame losing to the highest-grossing film of all-time.

As he prepares to leave for college, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) finds a shard of the “AllSpark”, the powerful cube around which the first movie’s story revolved. This infects him with its knowledge and makes him the target of the evil Decepticons; led by a nasty dude named the Fallen, they need to harvest the information so they can activate a doomsday device and absorb all the energy of the sun. The good guy Autobots work with Sam to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

I guess. Movies like Fallen make me hate the fact that I usually write my own plot synopses. As I watched it theatrically, about halfway through I thought to myself, “I have no idea what this movie’s about”.

And even though I managed to sum up its “story” in the paragraph above, I still am not sure I actually covered it well. Actually, I’m really not sure there’s a plot here to synopsize. Fallen comes across as one vaguely-connected action scene after another, with a little slapstick comedy thrown in between those set pieces.

Fallen seems to enjoy a much crummier reputation when compared with the first movie. The 2007 flick gets a 7.1/10 from IMDB readers, while Fallen dips to 5.9/10. In addition, on Rotten Tomatoes, Transformers gets a 57% but Fallen drops all the way to a miserable 20%.

Which I don’t get. These flicks seem like the proverbial two peas, so I can’t quite figure out why someone would enjoy one and hate the other. As someone who didn’t care for the original, I can’t find anything additional to dislike in the sequel, as it seems like a virtual continuation of its predecessor.

Though I will admit Fallen escalates the style of the first movie and occasionally feels like self-parody. Every Michael Bay cliché appears in spades here. His tendency toward broad comedy goes way over the top – usually via the obnoxious portrayal of Sam’s mother – and Bay’s signature cinematic techniques go crazy. The stinking camera spins so much that I started to get dizzy – can’t Bay keep the image stable for even a brief period?

Apparently not, so perhaps it’s the “Bay on steroids” feel that makes viewers rank it so much below the original. I don’t see a substantial difference, though; while Fallen might go to greater extremes, it’s not like the first flick exhibited any form of restraint. Transformers cranked its stylistic conceits to the proverbial “11”, while Fallen ups it to “12”. Potato, potahto.

Truthfully, I think I enjoyed Fallen a little more than the original, perhaps because of altered expectations. As I relate in my review of Transformers, I went into it with high hopes and felt disappointed by its generally poor quality. Given that I thought so little of the 2007 movie, I didn’t figure to get much out of the sequel, so perhaps I was better able to semi-enjoy it for what it was and not what it could have been.

That’s pretty much the only explanation I can offer for why I preferred Fallen, as it really doesn’t have anything about it to make it superior to Transformers. Both squander their potential with incoherent story elements, one-dimensional characters and loud but lackluster action.

I was tempted to simply cut and paste my comments about the first film, as they remain generally true here. Actually, I like LaBeouf less this time, but he’s still fine; he does about as well as could be expected from his role. Fox continues to be hot, and the effects work well.

Everything else? A mess. I think Bay can make good action movies – heck, I still like the much-derided Armageddon - but the robot-on-robot focus of much Fallen fighting makes the results less than exciting. I find it tough to care about those characters or worry what happens to them. I guess we’re supposed to be impressed by the sight of giant beings who beat the crud out of each other, but those moments seem like lots of noise without much impact.

I also think that the series should’ve left out all of the military characters. They seem anonymous and add next to nothing to the franchise. If the films stayed with Sam’s civilian perspective, they’d be more satisfying.

And shorter, presumably. Transformers ran a bloated 143 minutes, and Fallen ups that to 150 minutes. Action flicks can survive at those lengths, but not with such thin characters and such a muddled narrative.

Without the meat to back up the mayhem, I think films of this sort should be much shorter. Would a 115-minute Fallen fare better? Probably. Lose the padding and focus on the positives to make this a tighter affair. It might not fix the mistakes, but it’d probably improve the product.

Can 50 million Elvis fans be wrong? I guess not – clearly the Transformers films satisfy their intended audience. I continue to find them to disappoint, though. Fallen isn’t worse than its predecessor, but it fails to improve on that model.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus C+

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The first movie looked great on Blu-ray, and that trend continued with the initial sequel.

At all times, sharpness appeared positive. Despite some mild edge haloes at times, I thought the image seemed accurate and well-defined. I noticed no signs of shimmering or jaggies, and the movie lacked any print flaws.

Like most other Michael Bay flicks, Fallen favored stylized colors – all two of them! Teal and orange heavily dominated, and that could make the hues look goofy at times; the image favored so much orange that actors occasionally resembled Oompa-Loompas. Still, I couldn’t fault the transfer for Bay’s excesses, so this was an accurate representation of the source.

Blacks were always deep and tight, and I saw good contrast as well. Shadows seemed clear and appropriately opaque. The Blu-ray became a strong reproduction of the film.

I felt even more pleased with the movie’s impressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. A movie packed with mayhem and action, the mix used all five channels in a lively, involving manner. Vehicles, weapon-fire, robots and similar elements popped up from all around the room and delivered a smooth, engrossing soundscape.

This meant nearly constant material from the surrounds. The back speakers delivered a high level of information and created a great sense of place in that domain. All of this melded together in a vivid, satisfying manner.

Audio quality was also strong. Music seemed full and bold, while speech was consistently natural and crisp. Effects became the most prominent component, of course, and packed a solid punch, with positive clarity and range. People invest major bucks in home theaters for flicks like this, and Fallen delivered the goods.

Only one extra appears on this single-disc Fallen: an audio commentary from director Michael Bay and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. It combines two separate tracks; Bay sits alone, while the writers chat together. We learn about cast, characters and performances, challenges related to creating a sequel, story elements and influences, stunts and effects, sets and locations, and related topics.

As always, Bay offers a good look at his movie – along with plenty of dollops of his ego. He tends to talk about his own skills and achievements without much modesty, and that attitude gets a bit tedious. Nonetheless, Bay covers an awful lot of useful subjects and does so in an efficient manner. If you can take his self-aggrandizement, you’ll find plenty of worthwhile material along the way.

The writers help flesh out their side of things as well. They lack the same level of ego as Bay and can be funny and entertaining. All aspects of the track mesh together to create a solid commentary.

With 2009’s Revenge of the Fallen, the second Transformers film offers an experience much like that of its predecessor. That’s great if you liked the 2007 flick but not so good if – like me – you didn’t care for it. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and audio along with an informative audio commentary. Expect a highly stylized, incoherent and generally lackluster action film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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