More Entertainment In Disguise
How to review a film such as this? Perhaps we should first list the expectations from the original. Action, adventure, fun. That's it, really. All packaged with just enough story and character so as not to be completely vapid and pointless. These films are what they are, nothing more, nothing less.
Transformers 2 picks up a couple of years after the first film, with the main character of Sam Witwicky played by Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Eagle Eye), on his way to college in an attempt to carry on his life in a more normal fashion after his robot infused adventures during the first instalment. Meanwhile, the 'Transformers' have teamed up with the U.S. Military to hunt down their evil counterparts, while simultaneously having drawn more of their kind to join them on their new home, our Earth.
The adventures soon revolve around the evil robots attempting to procure an ancient forgotten power source left by their ancestors millennia ago. Which of course, will destroy the world if used. Simultaneously, our hero must find a way to save the leader of the good robots, in order to help defeat the villains. It's all silly fun, no better or worse than the first film, and serves its purpose.
The character of Major Lennox, played by Josh Duhamel (TV's Las Vegas), is the second lead, though he feels under-used. He probably has as much screen time as the first film, yet seems to have been relegated to a supporting role around which to base the human involvement during the finale, and does precious little else.
Sam's parents make a welcome return as the supporting comic relief, and in many respects have a tendency to steal the show. A few other supporting characters (Both robotic and human) make their return, albeit for the most part in diminished roles. While we are also treated to a new character, Leo Spitz, played by Ramon Rodriguez (TV's The Wire), and two new comic-relief robot twins. Unfortunately, after an initially interesting introduction, the Spitz character becomes utterly pointless and superfluous. The robot twins are likewise just slightly too far into 'annoying' territory, rather than being genuinely amusing side-characters. If you remember Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace, just multiply him by two with (thankfully) slightly less screen.
A lot of complaints were levelled at the film's excess running time, and while this is a legitimate complaint, in most part it is down to adding a little more plot in between the action. It's unlikely with a budget such as this, that the action scenes would have been cut down. So to be honest, I actually welcomed that excess running time for a little more story and character, rather than have an endless stream of robot battles (Which the film is close to being anyway)
It's hard to complain about anything in this film, in relation to the first, given that the prior film was essentially enjoyable cinematic eye-candy. Yet in the end, this is just that little bit weaker than the first. The story isn't quite as involving, credibility is stretched slightly further, characters and situations are that little bit more stupid and/or predictable (The college 'seduction' scene stands out as a prime example).
After all is said and done, it's still great fun, and will easily provide an afternoon of humourous action and adventure. As with the first film, its saving grace is that it doesn't pretend to be anything more than it is, such as films like Terminator: Salvation, or Star Trek. In that respect, it works slightly better than its competition, because you can more easily forgive its flaws when it isn't attempting to be anything more than it is. It is bright noisy amusing explosive family fun, which is all it needed to be, or wanted to be.