Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

With this cash-cow sequel to his widely derided, hugely successful 2007 film, Michael Bay comes closer than any director in history to boiling the blockbuster down to its most basic components: PG-13-appropriate violence, safe sex and special effects. While it would be hard to make a case for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen being “good” in any normal sense of the word, the movie possesses such brute force that the viewer is left with two options: surrender, or suffer in silence.

Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) heads to college, only to find himself suffering spasmodic, brain-scrambling visions connected to the ongoing Transformer war. Throughout, a total absence of narrative logic doesn’t feel like an insult to viewers’ intelligence: It’s not that screenwriters Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman think the audience is too stupid to notice gaping plot holes so much as they know no one gives a damn. Bay’s direction offers sparks of genuine invention, including a stunning break-in involving a metallic cougar, though the first hour is mostly sweaty denim and product placements, punctuated by eardrum-rupturing action.

Then a smash-and-plunder forest battle ups the ante, and the return of John Turturro adds a lightness of tone totally lacking in both LaBeouf and Megan Fox’s performances. The sheer volume and ferocity of this popcorn flick becomes impossible to resist; by the climactic desert conflict, in which the entire Valley of the Kings is razed, the film has become so breathtakingly, boneheadedly brazen that it’s easier just to give in.—Tom Huddleston

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