Futuristic Movie Month: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (2009)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 150 minutes
Release Date: June 24, 2009
Directed by: Michael Bay
Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Sam Witwicky and the Autobots are back in this colorful, action-packed, explosion-filled sequel to 2007's "Transformers." Michael Bay is once again at the helm, bringing the characters of Hasbro's popular toy line from the 1980s to life. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster that delivers all the thrills, mayhem and stunning visual effects you expect from the franchise.

The movie takes places two years after the events in the original film. The Autobots' human liaison Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is now a college freshman, and the sentient robots have found place within the US military assisting with special operations to thwart a potentially hostile alien invasion. Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Epps (Tyrese Gibson) return to lead the special operations team working the Transformers. Meanwhile, the Decepticons regroup and attempt to resurrect their old leader and recruit a new one.

Sam begins experiencing strange visions after touching a shard of the Allspark leftover from the Autobots' first battle with the Decepticons. The visions are the result of the Allspark attempting to download its energy into Sam. This draws the attention Megatron. Megatron, who seemingly met his demise in the first film, is freshly resurrected and needs the Allspark to bring an evil entity known as The Fallen to earth. Megatron seeks to capture Sam so that he can have the cube's power. This sparks a manhunt for Sam and a fierce battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.

LeBeouf is once again charming, likable and relatable as slacker-turned-accidental-national-hero Sam Witwicky. Witwicky struggles with the conflicting desires to be a normal college student and remain loyal to his alien robot friends. In the end, he must again rely on grit, determination and a significant amount of faith to help the Autobots gain the upperhand in their attempt to defeat the Decepticons. Megan Fox plays supportive girlfriend Mikaela Banes who remains calm and steadfast as Sam's right-hand woman, even though she's grown impatient with Sam's reluctance to declare his love for her.

John Turturro reprises his role as Agent Simmons, the fast-talking special operative who had an instrumental role in the Autobots' first victory against the Decepticons. In this film, Simmons not only provides some much-need comic relief but also proves himself a worthy ally, displaying a willingness to sacrifice himself to foil Megatron's plans. Ramon Rodriguez plays Leo Spitz, Sam's would-be college roommate turned sidekick who crosses the globe with Sam and his motley crew to find an ancient relic that the Autobots desperately need. Leo is a welcome presence as the hunted, injured and vulnerable Sam needs all the help he can get.

Audiences get their money's worth out of the final battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron. Whereas the first film left viewers wanting for a more aggressive Prime, "Revenge of the Fallen" leaves no doubt as to the leader's pugilistic capabilities. As an added bonus, Prime dons some new, extra-high-tech gear that fans of the original animated "Transformers" television series will appreciate.

Bumblebee once again takes up his role as Sam's guardian. Bumblebee, perhaps moreso than any of the other robots, ties together the human and alien elements of the film by taking direct responsibility for the lead human character. This makes Bumblebee an audience favorite, and his charming antics and fiercely protective instincts in this sequel do not disappoint.

"Revenge of the Fallen" wins credibility by incorporating historical elements into the plot. This approach, also utilized in the first film where the Space Race of the 1960s was said to have played a key role in the discovery of the Transformers, helps ground what would otherwise seem and outlandish and unacceptable premise. By tying in decidedly new ideas about aliens and their origins with what the audience knows to be historical fact, it is easier to suspend disbelief and buy what Bay is selling – talking fighter jets and all. Also grounding the film are visual effects are so flawlessly executed they leave little doubt as to whether a jet, SUV or combat vehicle could transform into a sentient being.

Top-notch cinematography also adds to the visual appeal, showcasing gorgeous international locales such as Paris and Egypt. Bay plays to his strengths here in the form of well-shot, super-saturated visuals and explosions that will have you popping out of your seat.

Overall, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a fun popcorn flick that has everything audiences love about the action/sci-fi genre. It delights the eyes, tickles the imagination and has a simple, agreeable plot to hold it all together. This winning sequel has plenty to meet the eyes, and then some.