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DVD Review: Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

It’s been de rigueur to moan about director Michael Bay and his behemoth blockbusters, ripping his work to shreds faster than a summer movie season. But a reexamination of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, now out on DVD, reveals that the master of blowing stuff up might actually be on something.

Revenge picks up soon after Transformers left off. The dust has settled since the last epic battle between good-guy Autobots and bad-guy Decepticons, and our human hero Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is getting ready to go to college. He’s still with his unreasonably hot girlfriend Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), whose styling this time around is overtly titillating, starting she appears straddling a shiny chopper. Sam’s parents are also still around, and they’re stuck with painfully stereotypical parent lines, an oddly over-the-top antics, like nibbling pot brownies and crying over their son’s departure.

Of course, Sam’s attempt at a normal life doesn’t last long. His mind starts going haywire with alien crazy-talk, while — surprise! — the Decepticons are back for more. Soon Sam, his hyper roommate and his smoldering GF are on a new mission, acquiring an old pal along the way and hitting the desert for some old-fashioned outrun-the-bad-guy tactics. Government special ops get involved (Josh Duhamel’s back as Major Lennox, looking fine in fatigues), and now everyone’s running around the sand and pyramids are getting smashed to bits while humans and robots drop bombs and everything is exploding. Mikaela’s lust-factor jumps, too, because she manages to keep her lipstick perfect while running through a hail of grenades.

Suddenly, its beginning to feel a lot like summer. The difference between Bay’s summer box-office-buster and Bay’s fall DVD release, though, is that there have been enough art-house films and little indie gems in the intervening months to tide audiences over through a long, cold winter. Now that we’ve recouped a few brain cells, Revenge of the Fallen can get some respect as pure spectacle. Not only are some of the movie’s massive, noisy explosion scenes impressive for their sheer scale and ambition (one can only wonder how many government agencies had to sign off on the gargantuan bomb sequences in the Egyptian desert), but the film’s aural details, like new sound effects for specific robot movements, are considerable.

In addition to seasonal advantages, Revenge’s DVD also benefits from a handful of extras that simultaneously flaunt the film’s mind-boggling technical achievements and the director’s embrace of his glitzy flick. In one of the segments, Bay happily admits that the film wasn’t done yet when he arrived in Tokyo for the premiere, and later hits the red carpet, soaking up the adulation. It’s apparent that Bay is unapologetic for his bomb-happy, plot-wary flick. With intellectual nourishment aplenty in theaters, it’s time audiences cut him some slack, too, and enjoy autumn — with a side of popcorn.

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