TRANSFORMERS 3 Hates You Back.

4 07 2011

Michael Bay’s two-hour-and-forty-minute TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON has two good minutes. Let me describe them for you. Chicago is under siege by robuts, and an Army platoon whooshes down by ‘wingsuit’ into the windy city to do battle, like so many enlisted flying squirrels. It’s cool – and it stands out from the rest of the film for one reason: these are the only two minutes in which human beings actually do something interesting. Yes, we’ve got humans running and hiding behind things in the foreground as robuts duke it out, and we’ve got humans looking at video-screens and saying ‘those other humans don’t stand a chance against the robuts,’ (I’m paraphrasing,) but this wingsuit sequence is the one time in this action movie that humans are engaged in unique physical action.

At approximately the 2hr 15min mark, I began taking cellphone photos to amuse myself.

The miscalculation of many genre films in the last 20 years is based in the wasteful notion that computer-generated effects actually make entertainment more entertaining. But as long as people can tell the difference between what’s real and what’s impossible by sight, (as of 2011 we still can,) CG in ‘action movies’ will remain antithetical to the intended effect of the genre. We know when a punch is landing – and when a punch has been painstakingly digitally rendered to resemble landing… The TRANSFORMERS series, with barely a frame untouched by CG, is this folly taken to the extreme. At least I hope it’s the extreme.

Ahead of his newest, director Bay has been trumpeting 3D technology, claiming that he made this TRANSFORMER ‘specially – specially for you, America, ‘cause he loves you girl, with his warm non-demon heart… But the summer of 2011 finds us in a 3D backlash. (Why? Because my ticket was $20, that’s why.)  So, Bay’s hard selling, because he’s really made nothing new here but a movie that costs $5 more than his last one. Content-wise, trucks killing other trucks may have struck a chord in 2007, but since then, it’s just been more dead trucks: four years, three TRANSFORMERS, deal with it. OK Bay, as long as you’re this cravenly transparent in your greed, I salute you. Asshole.

There's so little actual transforming in this movie I don't even wanna talk about it.

Unfortunately, now Bay says his next film is going to be a “dark comedy.” My god. He actually thinks he’s funny, doesn’t he? The first hour of TRANSFORMERS 3 is filled with wild stabs at ugly humor; be it sexist, racist, or homophobic – yes, whichever of the three known types of humor you prefer, this movie’s got it! The jokes are so manic and mean-spirited it all makes you ask, did screenwriter Ehren Kruger actually sit down and type this darkness? Or was it Bay, shouting “gimme ‘broad and racist,’ and riff, Malkovich! Go!” Either way, Michael Bay does not know funny, and will never make a funny comedy. On that you have my word.

Reprising the role of Sam Witwicky in TRANSFORMERS 3 is a Shia LaBeoueuf, who looks easily 75 years old. His biggest trait this time around is a newfound sense of entitlement – which, though it’s not a good choice for a hero character, is probably the closest Bay’s ever come to autobiography. As Sam’s love interest Carly, model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley resembles the most beautiful camel I’ve ever seen. But definitely a camel. The previous female lead, actress of our time Megan Fox, is absent, after speaking ill of her director. Bay fired her for her insolence, but is now claiming that it was executive producer-slash-cinematic-emperor-uncle-figure Steven Spielberg who demanded Fox be let go after she compared Bay to Adolf Hitler. See, these TRANSFORMERS films, they’re decent, moral films. But Megan Fox crossed a line… Regardless of the truth of this new talking point, Bay’s repulsive tactic is just the same as Sarah Palin and her ilk use, claiming victimization to mask their own hate-spew. Hey, speaking of hate-spew, did I mention Bill O’Reilly’s in TRANSFORMERS 3? It’s pleasant.

Run, Shia! Run from 'Even Stevens'!

Steven Spielberg has changed the summer season at least three times. He more or less created the ‘high concept tentpole,’ marrying impossible premises with technological advancements year after year – and taking everybody’s money. And though he himself has never made anything as bad as this, TRANSFORMERS is Spielberg product, a malignancy on his body commercial, but also a natural outgrowth of it. The guy who had E.T. snarfing down Reese’s pieces in ’82 continues to put his name on state-of-the-art movies about aliens, and product placement – but TRANSFORMERS is the Spielberg algorithm in the hands of the wrong people; it’s as if the Nazis got the Ark after all. (Oops, is that a Hitler comparison? Am I fired?) It’s all technology, and no point, except profit. Spielly, look upon what ye have wrought… And as for you, Michael Bay, at this point no one is asking greatness – only a little competency. Yet here we blockbuster hooligans are, wishing for the ball to be moved down the field, and instead watching something so generic that the action is literally interchangeable.

I’m tired of Bay’s defenders saying things like “he doesn’t care about emotion or characters or plot, but he’s just so great at blowing things up.” Because it’s not that Bay doesn’t care. It’s that he doesn’t get it. It’s not a choice, it’s a mistake. Bay mistakes excess for excitement. Big and loud and ready to be lanced, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON has no visceral effect whatsoever. Just – nothing. This movie is nothing.


Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood

Friday, July 1, 7:30pm showing