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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen(2009)
The battle for Earth continues in this action-packed blockbuster. When college-bound Sam Witwicky learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformer robots, he must accept his destiny and join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in their epic battle against the Decepticons, who have returned stronger than ever with a plan to destroy our world.
For more about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray release, see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 13, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Ehren Kruger, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Peter Cullen
» See full cast & crew
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray Review
'Revenge of the Fallen' lays siege on the brain cells.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 13, 2009
The fallen shall rise again.
Transformers was a fun, entertaining, and altogether novel moviegoing experience. Though based on preexisting characters, Director Michael Bay reworked the look and feel of the world once only realized in the animated and physical toy realms, creating more robust, lifelike, and fluid robots and pitting them one against another in terrifically choreographed action scenes that perfectly blended the gritty tone of modern warfare with a Science Fiction edge. Though the film stirred controversy amongst longtime fans of the characters for the redesigned Autobots and Decepticons and suffered through a somewhat problematic script that relied a bit too heavily on comic relief which mostly fell flat against the mesmerizing power of the ultra-realistic action and special effects sequences, the movie worked thanks to the dazzling visuals, decent storyline, and serious tone to be found outside of the weaker comedy routines. Considering the smashing box office success of the film, Paramount was quick to green-light a sequel, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was born. The filmmakers and digital effects artists haven't missed a beat in keeping with the original's look and feel, but Fallen takes Transformers' problems, multiples them a hundred fold, and makes for a completely underwhelming and mostly disappointing experience.
While packing for college, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) finds a shard of the "All Spark," the previously-destoryed cube that has the ability to animate mechanical objects into transforming robots. The object soon fills his head with mysterious alien symbols, several times causing him to lose control of himself as he hurriedly scribbles his visions on any surface available. Meanwhile, a Decepticon known as Soundwave is in orbit around Earth. He intercepts a government transmission that reveals both the location of another shard of the All Spark and the resting place of the Decepticon's deceased leader, Megatron. Successfully rescued and resurrected, Megatron returns to Mars where he meets with The Fallen, an ancient Decepticon that once ruled over Earth centuries ago. Only the death of the Optimus Prime and acquisition of the Matrix of Leadership -- its resting place coded into the symbols Sam envisions -- will allow The Fallen to return to Earth and complete his task of destroying the planet once and for all.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen seems more interested in comic relief than exciting action sequences, awe-inspiring special effects, and most importantly, telling a good story. Though the effects are superb and the action scenes feature the obligatory barrage of gunfire and explosions, it seems the filmmakers are hell-bent on masking the uninteresting story with copious amounts of comic relief, and the result is a movie that quickly grows long in the tooth and becomes borderline unwatchable at several junctures throughout. Comic relief is taken to a whole new level here; there are very few instances where Revenge of the Fallen's drama or action aren't interrupted by pointless absurdities that not only slow the movie down, but greatly detract from the few things it does right. Whether a pair of fast-talking Autobots (Mudflap and Skids) disguised together as a rusty ice cream truck, both of whom eventually transform into their own vehicles and give Jar Jar Binks a run for his money as two of the most unlikable and annoying characters in modern movie history; zany and pint-sized Decepticons that act like small children rather than killer robots; or the worst offender of them all, Sam's mother; Revenge of the Fallen's "laughs" equate to far too much fat and are the primary culprits in the film's sloth-like 150 minute runtime. Trimming out most of the excess (the key word in "comic relief," after all, is "relief," meaning it comes occasionally and not repetitiously) and slimming the movie down to a leaner 115-120 minutes probably would have worked wonders for it, mediocre story and all. Though these same problems were evident in the far superior Transformers, the novelty of the experience and tighter story helped in masking them. However, they're far too overstated here to be overshadowed by the admittedly Oscar-worthy special effects.
Even the action can't really find its stride. In true Michael Bay fashion, there's lots of fast cuts, swirling cameras, and some slow motion shots thrown in, perhaps, to try and add some kind of balance to the mayhem. Complicating matters are the complexly-assembled Transformers that have so many moving parts that viewers often simply can't get a grasp on what's transforming, what's an arm, what's a leg, or what's a mouth (not that the mouth really matters, because most all of them do is spew pointless, overly dramatic, or otherwise nonsensical or even incomprehensible lines). The Autobots -- as annoying as they can be outside of Optimus Prime -- are at least colorful and fairly easy to recognize (including "Jetfire" who looks more like Davy Jones than a Transformer). On the other hand, all of the Decepticons look virtually identical; Starscream, Megatron, and The Fallen all share the same design cues and a bland gray color scheme. Only Devastator -- the most poorly translated of all Transformers from the original character to the "thing" that's in this movie -- features a colorful body, but since the character looks like the contents of a scrapyard were randomly glued together in the vaguest of shapes resembling some sort of creature, it really doesn't matter, anyway. Though the characters are wonderfully rendered and inserted seamlessly into the real-world environments, it's difficult to appreciate the artistry of the special effects when they either share similar design cues, lack color, fall victim to a camera that moves too fast, or as the case often is, all of the above. The human characters, too, are uniformly lame and, for the most part, pointless. Most are around only for more comic relief; only Shia LaBeouf delivers a somewhat genuine performance, probably because his character is given minimal comic relief duty. It's funny how that works.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray, Video Quality
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen transforms home theaters into the local multiplex with a dazzling 1080p, 2.39:1-framed transfer that perfectly reproduces a flawless and film-like image for home viewing. The video quality seems almost transparent to that found on the Blu-ray release of Transformers; flesh tones take on a decidedly red tint, but otherwise, there's nothing to complain about. Fine detail is exceptional, particularly when the camera slows down long enough to allow viewers to take it all in. Many such scenes occur in or around the Witwicky house or Sam's dorm room: small lines in leather furniture; scuffs and scratches in hardwood floors; the grass, shrubs, and flowers of Sam's father's prized landscaping; or creases in posters on the wall; all feature fabulous texture and crystal-clear clarity that allows viewers to absorb every square inch of information that zooms across the display. Even some of the darker locales -- the inside of an abandoned warehouse as seen in chapter nine, for instance -- reveal small dents, rust, grime, and other signs of desertion wonderfully. Even so, the Transformers themselves are the true stars of the show. Megatron's body appears appropriately beaten and rusted; Prime's windshield shows grime smeared across the glass; and each scrape, dent, and chip on Bumblebee's body is beautifully rendered and plainly visible, again though only when the camera slows down enough to catch a glimpse. Colors are rich and natural; bright green foliage, the red of a fire engine, Bumblee's yellow paint job, or any other number of hues are exceptionally translated to Blu-ray. Black levels are superb, and the Blu-ray retains a fine layer of film grain that completes a breathtaking visual experience.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Does this section really require analysis? Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is terrific, quite possibly the best currently available on Blu-ray. The studio logo sequence alone is of reference quality; the Paramount stars sweep through the soundstage from front to back with a digitized, robotic sound, accompanied by a nice low-end presence and fully-engaged rear-channel activity. Bass is positively tight and robust throughout; the entire theater shakes with every heavy robotic footstep, gunshot and explosion, and percussion beat of the score. Gunshots zip across the soundstage, explosions push objects from side to side through the listening area, and voices echo about a tomb in chapter 14, all to startlingly realistic effect. Distant explosions and sound effects, particularly in the film's Egyptian combat sequence in the final act, do a superb job of placing the listener in the midst of the desert and the action. What's so amazing about this soundtrack isn't just that it features room-shaking bass and fully-realized surround activity. Instead, it's the seamlessness of it, its ability to draw listeners in and create a virtual world of sound where the home theater transforms into a space hosting a running gun battle, a bustling college campus, a wooded area engulfed by the destructive power of stories-tall robots, or an Egyptian desert devastated by brutal warfare. The faultless dialogue reproduction seems a mere afterthought, but it's the final piece to a perfect soundtrack.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen features plenty of extras, the bulk of which are found on a second bonus disc. The lone supplement to be found on the first disc is a feature-length commentary track with Director Michael Bay and Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Recorded separately, Bay leads the discussion, sharing a few anecdotes from the set and speaking on the film's established tone, his thoughts on the cast, general filmmaking techniques and procedures, Ben Seresin's cinematography and Bay's own background in the field, and much more. Meanwhile, the writers discuss their initial hesitation to pen the sequel and the challenge of assembling a story, their influences, the story's dichotomy of Sam's role in the alien war and his desire to lead a normal life, the evolution of the script, tying various themes together, and more.
Disc two begins with The Human Factor: Exacting 'Revenge of the Fallen' (1080p, 2:14:31), a seven-part making-of documentary. The first segment, entitled Seeds of Vengeance (30:03), features cast and crew recalling the success of the first film, the structure of Revenge of the Fallen's script, the impact of the looming writer's strike, and the tone and themes of the story. The piece moves on to examine how the characters are drawn and designed, ideas gleaned from "Transformers" mythology, and the development of new characters for the film. The second segment, Domestic Destruction (24:27), takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the shoot for several of the key sequences filmed in the United States. The piece also looks at Michael Bay's demanding style and dedication, creating some of the special effects, on-set accidents, and the grind of shooting the more action-oriented scenes. Joint Operations (9:59) looks at the U.S. military's cooperation in making Revenge of the Fallen. Wonders of the World (13:19) takes viewers to the various shooting locations in the Middle East and examines the challenges of filming in foreign lands. Start Making Sense (9:24) is an all-too-brief look at the editing process. Under the Gun (29:00) looks at the intense work that went into getting the finished product completed, and completed on time. The piece examines the complexity of the effects shots, the design of the characters, Michael Bay's involvement in the effects process, the technologies used to create the effects, and more. Finally, Running the Gauntlet (16:36) looks at the finishing touches applied in post-production -- including the sound design and the last few effects shots -- and the film's premiere.
A Day with Bay: Tokyo (1080p, 13:23) looks at the hectic day of the film's Tokyo premiere as Bay deals with the stress of finishing the film and handling his first major press interviews. 25 Years of Transformers (1080p, 10:44) is next. The piece looks at the evolution of the product, Hasbro's designs, creating a toy line based on the movie, the evolution of the toys between films, and more. NEST: Transformer Data-Hub (1080p) is an interactive features that allows users to select from a list of Transformers robots; read their bios; learn about their history in the "Transformers" animated series, the Marvel comics, and the IDW comics; and view concept art, still galleries, and where applicable, the evolution of the character in the toy lines. Robots included are Optimus Prime, Jetfire, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Skids & Mudflap, Megatron, Starscream, Devastator, Soundwave, Ravage, and The Fallen. The Allspark Experiment allows users to customize a selection of vehicles and watch what happens when the Allspark is unleashed on the creation.
Deconstructing Visual Bayhem (1080p, 22:46) looks at the importance of computerized previsualization sequences to the filmmaking process. Viewers are presented with the option of viewing the 15 previsualization sequences either by themselves or side-by-side with the finished product. The sequences are accompanied by commentary from Michael Bay and Pre-Vis Supervisor Steve Yamamoto. Next up is a collection of three deleted and alternate scenes: Sam and Alice at the Dorms (1080p, 2:10), The Witwickys in Paris (1080p, 2:54), and Leo Refuses to Go to Egypt (1080p, 0:56). Giant Effing Movie (1080p, 24:03) is an extended montage of various moments from the set, most of which are played with a humorous overtone. Linkin Park - New Divide (1080p, 4:40) is a music video tie-in with the film. The Matrix of Marketing contains a pair of Revenge of the Fallen theatrical trailers (1080p, 2:18 & 2:32), six TV spots (1080p, 2:12 combined runtime), and two still galleries, one each for theatrical posters and promo/marketing. Finally, users may "unlock an exclusive augmented reality experience" by placing the Blu-ray packaging in front of an active webcam.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Excessively bloated, lacking in focus, far too kinetic, and hedging its bets on inane comic relief, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a borderline disaster of a movie. Though it retains a similar look and feel to its vastly superior predecessor, Fallen accentuates the negatives in an effort to mask the weak plot, and worst of all, the movie just isn't much fun. With a third installment supposedly in the works, one can only hope that it will forego the bad comedy in favor of a leaner, meaner, more aggressive picture that also returns the sense of wonder and fun found in the first film. Still, there's an artistry here that transcends the bad script and excessive runtime; Michael Bay's style might be a bit too much when taking into account all that's going on in most every frame, but there is no denying that the man is a talented filmmaker and knows how to put together a movie that people want to see. Though the movie may not be up to par, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen arrives on Blu-ray as a two-disc package that represents the pinnacle of the format. Featuring a brilliant film-like picture quality, one of the best lossless soundtracks yet, and a plethora of bonus materials that truly convey the grand scope of the Herculean effort that goes into making a movie like this, the technical specifications make this package a winner, even if the movie could have been better.
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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - October 20th - October 20, 2009
Director Michael Bay makes films for only one person: Michael Bay. For critics, his films provoke philosophical discussions on whether an excess of entertainment value can outweigh a lack of artistic value. But for fans who share his love for over-the-top ...
• Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray Announced - August 20, 2009
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' to Blu-ray on October 20th, day-and-date with the DVD release. For this two-disc release, video will be presented in 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 DTS-HD Master ...
• Retailer Leaks October Release Date for Transformers 2 BD - August 18, 2009
'Transfomers: Revenge of the Fallen' might be closer than we thought. One of our eagle-eyed forum members walked into his local FYE store and spotted a poster informing that the movie would be out on DVD and Blu-ray on October 20. Of course, this must be ...
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