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Now or Then – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen or Terminator Salvation?

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Now: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)Then: Terminator Salvation (2009)

The world just can’t get enough of angry robots, can it? While their overpriced real-life counterparts struggle mightily just to vacuum our floors properly, the sentient machines of Hollywood’s imagination come from the far reaches of the cosmos to kick, blast, and pummel their way across the screen — leaving in their wake devastated cities, smoldering piles of humanity, and mountains of moviegoer cash. As Michael Bay’s sequel to his 2007 hit about cheap Japanese toys — sorry, rock ’em, sock ’em robots from outer space! — hits theaters, what better movie to pit it against than this summer’s other killer-robot movie, Terminator Salvation? So which of these scifi blockbusters pitches the bigger tent pole?

And a Human Shall Lead Them!
Transformers 2: After a brief interlude with his new college roommates and a bizarre slapstick pot-brownie episode involving his mother, it becomes clear that helping good alien robots isn’t just Sam’s duty, it is… (cue deep voice) “his destiny.”
Terminator Salvation: We’ve known since the first movie that John Connor (Christian Bale) is destined to lead the human resistance against Skynet. Luckily, there are no colleges left in this post-nuclear age to allow for detours into audience-appeasing juvenilia. Poor us.
Winner: Terminator Salvation. This iteration of John Connor is a fairly lifeless and bland one, but we’ll take lifeless and bland over shrill and annoying any day.

Robots of All Shapes and Sizes
Transformers 2: The sequel ups the ante with an even vaster array of alien robots, including a spiderlike one who turns into a microscope, a female transformer who turns into three separate motorcycles, and a “pretender” who turns into something resembling a buxom co-ed who won’t take no for an answer.
Terminator Salvation: While the earlier sequels gave us a muscle-bound Terminator from the future facing off against superior robot technology from the future, the new film tries to make up for Arnie’s absence with giant humanoid Harvesters, smaller motorcycle bots, eel-like Hydrobots, and more.
Winner: Transformers 2. For its veritable cornucopia of churning futuristic metal. Also, lots of things get blown up.

A Fallen Hero Saved by a Former Villain’s Sacrifice
Transformers 2: After Autobot leader Optimus Prime is brought back from the dead (don’t ask), Jetfire, an aging Decepticon gone good, sacrifices his own parts to save him.
Terminator Salvation: John Connor is about to die from a fatal wound when Marcus (Sam Worthington), an infiltration droid turned resistance fighter, sacrifices his superstrong human heart to save him.

Winner: A draw. Optimus Prime’s absence through much of the film drains the life out of Transformers 2, so his return is a real jolt of energy. But Marcus’s sacrifice in Salvation is surprisingly touching.

Verdict
Winner: The Dark Knight. In an upset! Seriously, just rent Dark Knight instead. You won’t be sorry.

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