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Transformers 2: Biggest hit of the decade

By Arthur J Pais
Last updated on: June 24, 2009 13:15 IST
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The first real summer popcorn film has finally arrived, and watching by the thunderous applause it received at the previews in New York, and going by $19 million it grossed in three days in Britain and Japan, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen could become the biggest hit of the summer, next only to the latest Harry Potter adventure which opens in July.

The giddy, overblown, super loud, Revenge of the Fallen which is filled with pathetic sex jokes, is visually stunning and exciting in its battle scenes. It could also become one of the biggest hits of the decade.

Revenge of the Fallen opens just after midnight Tuesday in regular theatres and IMAX across America. By the weekend, it would be playing across the globe.

You may say that Star Trek is one of the best films of the year so far, and certainly the best sci-fi film of summer. And you would be right. You may say the previous Transformers which was also directed by Michael Bay, was better than the sequel and you could be right too. You may also say that the new film is peopled by actors who are more robots than human beings (at least in this film), and you could not be wrong. If you say that the film, which tries to tug your heart by bringing in the parents of our secretive evil fighter (Shia LaBeouf ), fails to rouse real emotions, you won't be wrong at all.

But you will find it difficult to argue against the technical aspects of the film, its well-choreographed battle scenes and its expertise in demolishing mighty buildings including the pyramids.

In Revenge of the Fallen, two years have passed since Sam Witwicky ( LaBeouf) and the Autobots saved the human race from the invading Decepticons.

A scene from Transformers: Revenge of the FallenNow he's preparing for leaving home for college. Nobody seems to know him and his heroism could be known only to conspiracy theorists. The film takes some time, following a hectic action episode, in reminding us that Sam is still an average teenager with anxieties and excitement many teens face as they are stepping into adulthood, separating from their  parents (in the movie, Kevin Dunn and Julie White play the fidgety parents) for the first time. He is also keen to promise to be faithful to girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) whose legs are on display in many scenes. But how can he really explain his departure to his guardian robot, Bumblebee. Its reaction to his imminent departure is one of the few genuinely funny and endearing scenes in the film.

Meanwhile, the Autobots who have taken asylum on earth and leading a very secret life, find themselves unappreciated in some circles  But soon they will have to get ready for another big fight, and they will be fighting not only for their own survival but the survival of human kind.

Their biggest fear comes true when the National Security Advisor Theodore Galloway (John Benjamin Hickey) is driven to drive all Transformers from earth, convinced that the Autobots endanger the human race.

The leader of the Autobots, agrees to leave the planet if the governments of the world wish it... but he warns Galloway to consider what happens if he and his comrades the leave earth defenseless.

A scene from Transformers: Revenge of the FallenSam, who faces many challenges at school including adjusting with the egoistical roommate, Leo (Ramon Rodriguez), and an aggressive female temptress Alice (Isabel Lucas), takes time to realise the plan of Decepticons.

In between its frantic action, the film spends considerable time in showing the plot against human race, and how the fates of Sam and Leo are linked, and why Sam has to seek the help of a former adversary (John Tuturro).

All this before the final battler, which lasts more than 20 minutes on the screen, starts.

Despite all the excitement, the film seldom rises above a highly energetic and visually stunning action piece that has no soul. Though Tuturro and Rodriguez are fairly effective, Shia LaBeouf, who has emerged in recent years as one of Hollywood's most bankable young stars, gets little chance to show a side of serious talent. Megan Fox has little to do except look great in a tank top and tight jeans especially in the early scenes. But to those who want a film dominated by demolition squad, all these will not matter. And even the lewd jokes the young astronomy professor cracks at his female students may be welcome.

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Arthur J Pais