Friday, July 8, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon *

Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
John Malkovich, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Frances McDormand

Condemning a Transformers movie for its lacking qualities has become as expected as having the very same movies squeeze every penny from the entire world population when they are released. What is it about Michael Bay's destruction extravaganzas that results so appealing and entertaining to people from China to Chile?
In theory it could be our everlasting desire to see our world being blown to pieces but perhaps when it comes to a Bay movie, it might be something else, perhaps all we want to see is how deeper will he sink cinema as an art form.
This is of course a rather snobbish theory and probably has nothing to do with what actually goes inside audiences minds as they watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a movie so preposterously bad that it can only be described as an exercise in extreme bad taste. From its historical revision premise that attributes the entire space race to a mysterious lunar landing caused by the Autobots, to its waste of perfectly good thespian talent (Frances McDormand, the bills must be raking up if you're in this), the film constantly pushes buttons in just how mediocre and shamelessly inefficient a movie can be.
Most of the story centers once again on the charmless Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) who has been dumped by Megan Fox's character and is on the rebound with British import Carly, played by the oh-so-stunningly-beautiful Huntington-Whiteley.
How the average looking Sam gets these beauties? One can never say and this is even alluded to in a cringe worthy scene where his own mother (Julie White) asks him if it's because he has a big dick.
However, the more clever the movie thinks it's getting, the more perversely putrid it gets. By casting Dempsey as a villain for example Bay assumes he's bending some sort of genre conventions and pushing the boundaries of summer movie magic, when the truth is that he doesn't know how to design a character, much less direct an actor with enough subtlety and nuance to make us believe their back stories and emotional motives.
You may say, we don't go for Transformers for the emotional content but even as a spectacle, the movie remains derivative and rather ugly looking.
For all its fanfare about state-of-the-art CGI and 3D, the film looks like more of what we got in the first installments, with the robots' transformation only being slightly more impressive than the lust with which Bay shoots them in their car incarnation. Crap, after all, looks the same in two or more dimensions.
Worst of all might be the ideological content of the film, because for all its talks of alien forces and non-country specific references, Transformers are essentially a reactionary representation of the United States of America. Bay, who isn't the cleverest cookie in the political cinema jar, tries to turn his robotic giants into saviors of the planet, when all they really do is provide him with an easy way out of saying things like he thinks them.
In this one, the outrageous imperialism of the robots is obvious when after pretending to leave the planet (Bay tries to make them both saviors and migrant martyrs) they return and Optimus Prime declares how they will go against the law in order to defend freedom.
This idea isn't only disgusting because in the previous installment Bay gleefully destroyed the entire history of the Middle East but because in this, of all years, the idea of military invasion and the perpetuation of military colonies results completely tacky.
But fear not, Bay doesn't only offend the international community. In the film's centerpiece he uses the city of Chicago as a playground for destruction. With some scenes disturbingly recalling the attacks of September 11, you can't hep but wonder where exactly does this man fail to see how much he crosses the line.
Bay is like the conservative teenager who decides to join the army because a videogame taught him how cool it would be to kill people. Then again, what can you expect from a man who in one moment has an octopus-like robot performing something that resembles bukkake on poor Huntington-Whiteley's character?


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Every time I see bukkake, I think of The Big C and Basso now. Which is wrong on so many levels. Gabriel Basso is, what, 12? said...

To my mind one and all ought to look at this.