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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Few sequels this summer have generated as much anticipation as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This should come as no surprise given the first installment of the franchise grossed well over $300 million, pleased legions of transformer geeks, and was relatively well received by critics. This is a tough act to follow and while Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen doesnít fail, it stumbles more than a few times.

Itís been a couple years since Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) first encountered robots in disguise (aka-Transformers) and his life has changed irrevocably. On the cusp of heading off to college, Sam really just wants a normal life which is no easy feat when you have a yellow Camaro that transforms into a robot (this would be an "Autobot" for the uninitiated) acting as your constant companion/guardian.

Naturally, Samís attempts at leading a normal life are quickly foiled when Decepticons (these are the "bad" robots that transform into various things including really hot co-eds) come looking for him. Apparently, Sam somehow holds the key to a device that will destroy earthís Sun and save the Decepticonís home planet. Or at least, thatís the thrust of it.

The convoluted story is the one of the biggest challenges Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen faces. The plot is riddled with inconsistencies and requires complete suspension of disbelief. The mere idea that automobiles that transform into giant robots live among us requires an enormous leap of faith.

But, director Michael Bay also asks us to accept the idea that they can somehow live among us in secret and undetected despite the fact that they always seem to be in the middle of huge robot battles in public places where everything blows up.

Setting aside the near impossibility of suspending disbelief, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen offers some staggeringly beautiful special effects that actually do transcend the impressive work done in the first film. Undoubtedly, this will appeal to the legions of geeked out Transformer fans.

Admittedly, I enjoyed this too. Watching a bunch of construction vehicles transform into a "mega" transformer that has the ability to inhale (and destroy) anything it is path is fundamentally cool in a shallow, juvenile way.

While director Michael Bay (along with producer Steven Spielberg) upped the ante on the Transformer front with tons of new transformers (some of which are painfully reminiscent of the offensive Jar-Jar Binks from the new Star Wars films), more staggering action sequences, and awesome special effects, the human element in this sequel was completely glossed over.

Shia is decent as Sam, but unremarkable. Megan Fox is unbelievably hot as Samís girlfriend, Mikaela. But, this is about all you can say about the two presumed leads. Samís parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) nearly steal the film with a few of the lighter, more comedic moments. Rainn Wilson also adds a few good laughs as an astronomy professor.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen falls well short of the first film in every department except for the special effects and action set pieces. Michael Bay deserves some credit for the aforementioned. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will make a ton of money this summer, but the film will (and already has been) largely be skewered by film critics. My nostalgia for Transformers and my juvenile tendency to enjoy watching things get blown up on the big screen is pretty much the only reason I give Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen a passable rating.