Tuesday, June 23, 2009
'Transformers:' revenge on the ear drums
If you can't make it better, make it so overwhelmingly chaotic, it will leave audiences speechless.
That seems to be the credo followed by director Michael Bay, who assembled "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," a sense-shattering sequel to the 2007 original. Less a movie than a clangorous mixture of heavy-metal sound and frantic visual effects, "Revenge" spans an agonizing two hours and 29 minutes. But, hey, there's a plus side of the ledger: The CIA finally may have found a replacement for the now-discredited practice of water boarding. Show this movie -- particularly its endless finale -- to suspected terrorists, and they're bound to reveal their deepest secrets. Anything to stop the noise.
The sound of clanging metal drowns out a confusing plot that begins in prehistoric times and leaps to the present, a time when Autobots and Decepticons -- it's not always easy to tell one transformer from another -- battle it out. The Autobots are on the side of the Earthlings, but humans pretty much serve as bystanders in a movie that probably will rake in enough coin to match its ungodly decibel levels.
In this installment, Shia LeBeouf's Sam Witwicky has enrolled in college, where he spends what seems like two seconds in pursuit of knowledge. Forget school, the movie quickly turns into a race to save the Earth from a Decepticon that wants to destroy the sun. To avert tragedy, Sam must bring Optimus Prime -- the transformer as savior-- back to life. Sam's helped in his task by the loyal Bumblebee and by Megan Fox, who plays Sam's mechanically inclined girlfriend. She's introduced in short shorts with the camera indelicately pointed toward her posterior.
You'll have to see the movie to understand what it means if you see people running from the theater screaming, "The Decepticons are coming! The Decepticons are coming!" The Decepticons, as you may have gathered, are bad transformers.
The supporting cast includes Ramon Rodriquez as Leo, Sam's college roommate. John Turturro returns as a former government agent who helps Sam on his quest to save the Earth, a task that struck me as less important than finding a way to bring the movie to a halt.
But here's the deal. As much as the movie can drive adults crazy, it may turn kids into an appreciative horde.
Consider a youngster at a preview screening whose unrestrained cry sounded as the opening credits rolled, "I've been waiting a year for this" he yelled. At the end of the movie, the same kid (I think it was the same kid) screamed out, "Go to hell Decepticons."
All I can tell you is that his voice had yet to change.
For me, the only thing transformed by this second helping was my already diminished hearing. My ear drums took a beating I wouldn't wish on anyone -- not even Michael Bay.