Sunday, July 10, 2011
No Transformation for the Transformers Franchise
Things begin in the past: we learn that mankind's mission to the moon was actually a secret plot to investigate an alien crash landing that occurred on the "dark side" (hence the film's title). We get a lot of old and real news clips intersected with the alternate version of what really happened on the moon. This alternate history plot starts off cool enough, but things go quickly downhill from there: this crashed ship was carrying the "good" transformers away from their home planet so they could continue their struggle against the evil bots. The human beings, led as always by the annoying Sam Witwicky (a role that Shia Ladoof must be dead tired of playing by now) are as disposable as ever: there's his new supermodel girlfriend (forget the Transformers, to watch these films your biggest suspension of disbelief has to be this little shit getting chicks this hot), the hard-ass government agent played by Frances McDormand (clearly just waiting for a call from the Coen brothers), a couple of elite warriors portrayed by Tyrese and Raylan Givens' twin brother, and Patrick Dempsey in a villainous role. Actin' class this ain't.
Enough about the humans. Clearly, they are not what these films are about. They are about millions of special effects dollars spent on intricate transformations of robots and the big metal battles that ensue. Unfortunately, these battles are as emotionless as Sam's new girlfriend's Botoxed face. (Sometimes I wonder why these films make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, but then I remember that millions of people watch Fox News on a daily basis.) Obviously, a lot of the problems with the huge Transformer fights fall right into the lap of director Michael Bay. This dude, who used to make entertaining action films such as The Rock, has clearly got an enormous ego to match his rock-hard erection for gigantic explosions, bangs and clangs. His trilogy of Transformers films are as predictable as his tiring and head-scratching fight scenes. Step 1: show hot girl or Sam with his cringe-inducing parents, usually with a terrible rock ballad playing in the background. Step 2: have important people or government agents talk about the fate of Earth and how it is in peril for one reason or another, usually reasons that don't make much sense. Step 3: Show a loud action set piece showing any combination of humans, good and bad Transformers, and exploding cars and buildings. Repeat.
These movies actually had potential to be entertaining. With a little more narrative coherency, a more emotional and original way to portray each machine's plight and battle, and actual, real humor, the Transformers franchise could have been taken in a much more rewarding direction. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, like its predecessors, left me feeling empty. Lately, internet rumors have stated that this will be Michael Bay's last journey into the Transformers universe and that Jason Statham may take over the lead actor role, two sparks that might ignite a fire into this franchise (we can hope). But for Bay, his trilogy involving Transformers was a massive success. He's wiping his ass with $100 bills, and I'm stuck in the theater's public restroom using one-ply. (D+)