Optimus Primo

Transformers sequel long on action, effects, enjoyment

PUNY HUMANS<br>Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf find themselves in the middle of another explosive battle between good and evil robots.

Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf find themselves in the middle of another explosive battle between good and evil robots.

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox and Josh Duhamel. Directed by Michael Bay. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown.
Rated 4.0

If there’s more than meets the eye to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I’m glad it didn’t make it to the big screen. The sequel to Michael Bay’s remake of the TV cartoon runs 150 minutes—2-1/2 hours—and feels that long by the time the final credits roll.

Fortunately, it’s well worth sitting through. There’s a ton of action, great special effects, cool new characters (mechanical as well as humanoid) and an overall sense of fun. Both my wife and I like it better than the first film, even if it seems like it was 2007 when we first sat down in the theater.

After a 2001-like opening, with primitive tribesmen and their alien encounter, Revenge of the Fallen picks up not too far from where Transformers left off. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has graduated from high school and is packing up for college back east. He’s still seeing Michaela (Megan Fox), whom he plans to date via WebCam. He’s got an Autobot in the garage and a shard of the All Spark cube in his beat-up old jacket, which takes a toll on the home front when appliances suddenly animate.

That shard is a valuable commodity. Only one other exists, and the government has it under serious security at the secret base for an Autobot/Army task force battling the Decepticons who remain on Earth. A piece of the All Spark is all the baddies need to bring Megatron back to life … so you can see where this is going.

Soon enough, Optimus Prime and the Autobots have their hands—wheels?—full, as do their human friends: Sam, Michaela, Sam’s roommate Leo (Ramon Rodriguez), Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel), Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson), plus a blast from the past whose surprise I won’t spoil.

There’s a new archvillain, the titular Fallen, voiced with baritone menace by veteran sci-fi/horror actor Tony Todd (Candyman). There are a handful of new Autobots, too—most amusingly “the twins,” Mudflap and Skids, who masquerade together as an ice cream truck and separately as compact hotrods.

Even with all the screen time devoted to letting the story unfold, a few logic leaps and a continuity error crop up. Better editing would have made this a better movie. Still, it’s very good. Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t just repackage original material; it builds on it, sustaining momentum all the way.

Another Transformers sequel was in the works well before this one’s $200 million opening week. It’s one of six projects Bay has in development. I have no idea what he’ll do to try and top this one, but I look forward to finding out.