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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the sequel to 2007's Transformers. It's edgier and less kid-friendly than the first. Kids will want to see it because they're the ones who play with the toys the movie was inspired by, but it's packed with metal-on-metal mayhem and brutally violent action scenes that are too much for them. While most of the combatants are giant robots, the film's human characters are in constant peril, and the explosions never seem to stop. There are also eyebrow-raising amounts of sexualized and even racially insensitive material, as well as strong language (including one use of "f--k" and frequent uses of words like "bitch" and "p---y"). Plus, it's essentially a long commercial for both cars and toys.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky is off to college. But the long-simmering war between the noble Autobots and the villainous Decepticons is about to boil over again as Sam learns he's the receptacle for eons-old information that everyone wants -- information that includes the location of a weapon that could be used to destroy the sun, along with all life on Earth.
Is it any good?
The faults of the first Transformers movie are even worse here. Director Michael Bay brings in robot after robot after robot, making it impossible to tell the metal mega-warriors apart and resulting in action scenes where who's doing what to who is conveyed more by screaming bystanders than clear, comprehensible filmmaking. Whether you loved or hated the original Transformers, it made so much money that a sequel was inevitable. It was not, however, necessarily inevitable that said sequel would be good.
The human characters aren't much better -- the film bogs down in scenes where Sam's parents are concerned about him heading off to school, only to jettison all that in the name of globe-trotting action. The relationship between Sam and girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) is laughably thin, and the film's need to overdo everything results in either misshapen comic relief scenes or action scenes so loud and large and quickly cut that they're simply empty blurs. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is, at heart, the worst of everything that modern big-money moviemaking has to offer -- spectacle, sex, special effects, and sanitized violence -- without a single redeeming feature.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's robot-on-robot violence. Are brutal dismemberments, stabbings, and shootings easier to take when they involve large metal robots instead of flesh-and-blood humans? Even when the robots talk, think, and "die" like people?
Families can also talk about the consumerism side of things. What do kids make of the fact that this is a movie based on a line of toys? Is the movie's goal to sell more toys? If not, what is it?
You can also bring up the movie's stereotyping -- including the robot "Twins," one of whom has a gold tooth and later explains that he can't decipher hieroglyphics because "We don't do much readin'." Are those kinds of caricatures funny or offensive? Why?
And you can discuss whether the movie objectifies women. Why is more screen time devoted to the leading actresses' bodies than their characters? Why do male characters not get the same treatment?
- In theaters: June 24, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: October 20, 2009
- Cast: Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf
- Director: Michael Bay
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 147 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material