Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Release Date: June 24, 2009

This might be robot porn. We're not really sure.

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155/169 Max Braden Some cool effects, but it's all just noise. I actually left during the climax to go pick someone up at the airport.

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What more is there to say about the stupendous success of Transformers? BOP gushed about its box office performance to the point that we named it one of the three biggest film industry stories of 2007. That’s how dramatic a result the movie attained, garnering $319.2 million domestically as well as an additional $382 million overseas. For a $151 million production, this is a spectacular result. Its North American revenue made it the third most popular movie of 2007, but the Michael Bay film’s most impressive money-making came on the home video market. Transformers sold roughly 13.75 million DVDs in 2007 alone, making it the best selling title of the year. And, much to the chagrin of its director, the movie was also an HD-DVD exclusive that became the biggest selling next-gen release on either format up until that time. Transformers made a ton of money at home, abroad, on DVD and on next-gen DVD. The first movie was a juggernaut.

Clearly, the sequel has its work cut out for it. And I don’t just mean because of the inexplicably bad title of Revenge of the Fallen. The first question is who is back for the second film in the planned quadrilogy (that’s right, I just made up a word) and the answer is almost everyone. Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, and Tyrese Gibson all return as do Kevin Dunn and Julie White, whose names you may not know. They were memorable as the parents of LaBeouf’s character, Sam Witwicky. Most importantly, Peter Cullen will again voice Optimus Prime. The only featured players from the first film who are not returning are Rachael Taylor as Maggie Madsen, Anthony Anderson as her pal, Glen Whitmann, and Jon Voight as the Secretary of Defense.

In terms of storyline, Revenge of the Fallen has promised what most people wanted to see more in the original: Transformers. Roberto Orci, co-writer of the original as well as the sequel, has acknowledged this aspect of the franchise’s first title. As he has stated in interviews, the 2007 release played out as a mystery. That meant the alien robots were utilized in small doses in order to maintain an element of surprise. In future installments, there is no such onus in the storytelling. The audience knows who the Autobots are and who the Decepticons are. With them clearly identified as existing and with the battle lines of good versus evil clearly established, the war has been joined by the human race. There is no holding back now. For this reason, Orci is promising that the sequel will be much more focused on action. And there might even be some explanation about exactly what happened with Starscream at the end of the first film. That would be nice.

I joke about Starscream but producers have confirmed this is the key aspect of the second film. The de facto leader of the remaining Decepticons returns to Cybertron. Residing there is a Decepticon known as The Fallen, a big, big bad who is even badder than Megatron. He hates humans, it seems, and wants to destroy the Earth. And since Sam Witwicky has had some ancient symbols planted in his brain, the villains need to find him and get these codes from him so that their evil plans can proceed accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Autobots have been teaming with humans to protect the world from bad things, but a sudden onslaught of attacks by the Decepticons begins to make them worry. Is it possible that this is just a vendetta that is catching their human friends in the middle, or is there something much more deep at the root of the Decepticons' intentions?

In terms of which Transformers will make an appearance in the sequel, here is the confirmed list. Note that if you don’t want to know (or haven’t seen the first film yet and want to avoid spoilers), just skip down three paragraphs. Skip now. Don’t look any further. Okay, now that they’re gone (good riddance), here is what we know. In addition to Optimus Prime, other returning Autobots are Bumblebee, Ironhide and Ratchet. The big, new addition this time to make up for the loss of Jazz is Arcee, the first female Autobot. Her big transformation turns her into a sweet motorcycle. There's also a pair of jive-talking twins (you heard me) known as Skids and Mudflap (they transform into compact Chevys.)

On the Decepticon side, a much bigger makeover is needed since Blackout, Bonecrusher, Devastator, Frenzy and Megatron all died in the first film. Barricade, the nefarious police car that disappeared the same way Starscream did, will return, hopefully with an explanation of his unexcused absence during the desert highway rumble. Jetfire is the biggest new addition from a firepower perspective. This Decepticon transforms into an SR-71 Blackbird, meaning it should have as much firepower as Starscream in terms of practical applications.

The more important news for diehard Transformers fans is that Soundwave will be a part of the sequel. Some people thought he was in the first film, and this confusion was understandable since the Frenzy character appeared to be a take-off on the original theme for Soundwave. The hugely popular 1980s cartoon version transformed into a boom box and ejected cassette tapes, meaning Frenzy was a derivation of this idea. The producers eventually decided that while it was intended to be Soundwave-related, it was just too different in execution. So, we will get a true, updated version of the character in Revenge of the Fallen. Also, given how the first movie ended, we can probably guess that Megatron will somehow come back from the dead.

Generally speaking, whenever a producer starts using catchphrases such as “bigger and better with more action”, BOP gets nervous. These are generally warning signs that in lieu of good story ideas, a sequel is just going to see a lot more stuff get blown up. That does not seem to be the case here as Transformers was a movie that was conservative in its usage of hot bot-on-bot action, teasing the viewers into wanting more. The idea of special effects-laden out and out war among the Autobots and Decepticons should mean a dazzling amount of eye candy in this movie. Transformers was a $300 million movie, and Revenge of the Fallen seems like a title that should at least approach that title’s performance if not exceed it. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Main Cast Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel
Supporting Cast Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Isabel Lucas, Rainn Wilson, Jennifer Alden
Director Michael Bay
Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Ehren Kruger
Distributor DreamWorks Pictures
Official Site
Screen Count 4,234
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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