I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Transformers’s Dark of the Moon

tn_transformers3Bnote: this review is excessively long and convoluted and takes forever to get to the point, but only as a clever form-is-an-extension-of-content type reference to the movie it describes, in my opinion. Unfortunately I could never match the feel of the movie no matter how hard I tried. It’s like when some asshole reviews a Dr. Seuss movie in rhymes or some shit like that.

introductory remarks/overture

My friends, we have lost. Michael Bay has defeated us. First he invaded the shores of the genre we hold most dear. He brought us gifts of explosions, while behind our backs he robbed us of the very language of geography and context we use to communicate what is exploding and who or what is endangered by said explosion. Then he confiscated our property, buying up our favorite low budget horror classics to rebuild as slick, soul-less product – just to crush our spirits. And now he has completely subjugated us.

At first we sought to make peace. I tried to enjoy THE ROCK, but I couldn’t make it work. After ARMAGEDDON we resisted and openly rebelled. We stopped going to his movies, stopped paying for his remakes. But all these years later we’ve lost our fight. We’ve grown used to the occupation, learned to accept it as a fact of life. We’ve gotten curious, wanted a taste of the other side. So we gave them $12.50 for a ticket plus $2.00 for 3D plus $1.25 internet convenience surcharge. Right? Didn’t we guys?

Well, I did. I cracked. But they said the most horrible things. They threatened to remake my family.

I’ve said more than my piece about why these TRANSFORMERS movies are awful. This is the third one, there’s no surprise and nothing to prove here. Michael Bay movies haven’t changed, but I have. I can admit I’ve gone from hating them to loving to hate them. I might even watch ARMAGEDDON again some day. You never know.

Of course, if Platinum Dunes starts announcing more remakes I might get bitter again. And I definitely reserve the right to go off when people make that “it’s only entertainment, so you can’t criticize it for doing a shitty job of that” argument, or the “this is what action movies are meant to be: badly made action movies,” or the “if you haven’t personally directed a $200 million robot movie then you don’t have the right to point out that one could theoretically be made that was actually pretty good,” or the “I know it seems like it’s shitty when you watch it but actually it’s not, because here is the number of dollars it has made and it is a high number,” or of course the “what did you expect, it’s based on a toy commercial, of course it’s ineptly made, moronic horse shit designed by and for drooling, tasteless, subhuman imbeciles. That said, it was right up my alley! I loved it!”

If you claim he’s making the modern equivalent of TERMINATOR 2 then I’m gonna react on primal instinct like you just spit on my grandma. But I can appreciate him as a hilariously overblown and uniquely inept (but also talented in some superficial ways) weirdo. We can use a couple of those as long as they’re the exception to the rule. There have been great Summer Movies made since TRANSFORMERS, and there will be more of them some day I’m sure. (Maybe next summer.) Unlike Autobots and Decepticons I have come to believe that high quality Summer Movies and hilariously shitty ones can co-exist peacefully. After all, ALIENS came out the same summer that HOWARD THE DUCK did, and I don’t got a problem if some people get their jollies putting on the duck movie every once in a while and trying to figure out what the hell that was all about. We have the capacity to enjoy both. Humans are complicated machines.

So I cannot lie, I was really excited to see TRANSFORMERS’S DARK OF THE MOON. I come to it not as a so-called hater or as an insurgent, but as someone who has made peace with the terribleness of this series and now enjoys watching them to see just how far they will go, just what they will feel is a good thing to put on screen, just how intimate a portrait of Bay’s subconscious can be concocted within the confines of the budget, shooting schedule and needs of advertising partners (Hasbro, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, the U.S. military).

mp_transformers3the action

If somebody likes this movie they’ll say it’s because of the action. TRANSFORMERS sequels are more like software upgrades than sequels. They’re about advancements in computer technology, not in story or character. In each one they wreck more stuff than in the last and since that’s all most people care about each new sequel has to be by definition the best one.

To its credit part 3 does have some spectacular spectacle. It does seem more impressive than, to name one recent example, 2012, even though technically it doesn’t destroy nearly as much of the earth. Although the robots can barely count as characters they do get to smash lots of things and flip around and shoot lasers, occasionally saying moronic comedy dialogue in a variety of ethnic accents, like the dogs in Walt Disney’s LADY AND THE TRAMP. So by that definition there’s alot of action.

There’s a part where a building is slowly tipping over and a bunch of humans are (for some reason) running up it and climbing around in it. There’s some real footage of some guys base jumping. Chicago gets destroyed (in a short montage). PEARL HARBOR has better put-together action sequences in my opinion, but (despite intentionally evoking imagery from 9-11 and the Challenger explosion) this is more tasteful so it might be Bay’s most enjoyable action. And for reasons explained in the next section I was able to mostly follow what was going on.

So for once I know for sure that it’s not just fast editing that keeps me at a distance from Bay’s action. It’s that these characters are so stupid and unlikable, their predicament is so ridiculous and the specific goals of each sequence are so poorly explained that it’s hard to really give a shit about an hour straight of bang bang bang bang bang scream bang complain bang. There’s an impressive amount of “cool” stuff in there that’s nice to look at, but it’s all so hollow. When John McClane is so desperate to avoid an explosion he decides he has no choice but to tie a firehose around his waist and jump over the side you’re right there with him, you feel it in your gut. But the dickheads in this movie run around beneath an epic intergalactic war of massive destruction and you barely ever bother to think “oh shit, you better duck.”

I was thinking Tyrese was gonna return (he was in parts 1-2) and when he hadn’t shown for a good 2+ hours I thought “Tyrese was smart to choose FAST FIVE over this.” Then he shows up and brings some authentic-looking military hard-asses to fight the robots and I thought “Jesus, why has the movie been about whiny fucking Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) when these guys were around?” Then for some reason Witwicky gets to lead their team against the Decepticons. Every once in a while a good guy robot shows up to murder somebody or get murdered. There’s not that much interaction between the robots and humans except when the bad guys vaporize people leaving just skulls.

I guess you don’t always have to connect with the characters, but you do have to believe in them on some level for it to be effective. The opening kidnapping/car chase/shootout in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION is fucking exhilarating, and you have no idea who those people are when it happens. But there’s a story arc to the scenes, there’s escalation, there’s a climax, there’s a constant sense of danger. That’s the more important part of a great fight or chase: it’s not just bombast, it’s a story within the story. The much discussed last act of DARK OF THE MOON is like a white guy, it doesn’t have any rhythm. Optimus or Bumblee Bee will show up for a second and do something and then be gone for a while and you don’t know where they are. They aren’t really anywhere I guess, until they’re needed for a shot. As is traditional in the TRANSFORMERS series the villain just stands on a tall building for the last half hour or so, occasionally yelling something evil.

I really believe you could chop out almost any of the scenes and mix them up in any order at all and it wouldn’t make any more or less sense.

stereoscopics

The tone and style of DARK OF THE MOON is not all that different from the preposterous last installment. The one major difference is that it’s shot/animated in the 3D. There has been alot of hype and complaints from Bay that he was forced into shooting competent action scenes because the cameras are too heavy to jerk around like he normally does and the 3D is too hard to read if you edit it in his usual eyeball torture style. I was convinced that somebody would be blinded by this combination.

It doesn’t seem to me like he toned down his style much from the previous two, and the quick cuts in a few scenes actually did hurt my eyes (mostly the opening montage, which jarringly cuts between 3D and 2D and stock footage and grainy fake stock footage because the president JFK is featured so the style of the movie JFK has to be mimicked). But I have to admit that I assumed wrong, the 3D really is more helpful to a Bay movie than hurtful. In 2D the big-pile-of-garbage character design style of the robots blends together so you can’t tell where one ugly robot ends and the other begins. In 3D your eye can easily distinguish between the different piles of garbage because one is in the foreground and one is further back. You still don’t necessarily know who the different robots are or what they’re supposed to be doing, but you definitely have a better idea of where they’re situated within the smashed buildings, which is a major breakthrough for this series. I know I’m being condescending but I mean it honestly that for me anyway the 3D was a handy tool to understand what in fuck’s name was going on.

I guess Bay was right, there was no reason to learn how to stage clear, crisp action scenes. He was waiting for mankind to develop a system of cameras, projector lenses and glasses that would help people’s eyeballs to partly decipher the wiggly pile of bullshit he slops in front of them.

What’s new in Transformers 3.0?

So I agree with any praise people have for the 3D here, but not the other conventional wisdom that Bay toned down all the horrible parts of the previous TRANSFORMERSes, like how George Lucas had less Jar Jar Binks after everybody hated him in Star Wars part 1. It is different in a few respects:

1. Racism. As far as I noticed Bay made good on his promise that the jive talking gold-toothed “gangsta” robots with the monkey faces were not in this one. And you know what, how dare you imply that those racist caricatures that he created and publicly defended would be in this movie? What kind of person do you think he is, to continue doing that? You make me sick, smearing a good man’s name like that. Shame on you. Shame.

My prediction that Bay would have a WWII flashback featuring buck-toothed Zero-bots has not come to pass. The most racist stereotype in the movie is Ken Jeong as a guy named “Wang,” but that’s his usual shtick so I blame him as much as Bay.

note: Bay fills the hole left by the missing racism with a couple of his old standbys, the Gay Stereotype Character (Alan Tudyk) and The Scene Where Two Guys Are Doing Something That Is Misinterpreted As Them Buttfucking.

2. “”One thing we’re getting rid of is what I call the dorky comedy.” –Bay, to USA TODAY

That’s another one, I wonder how they got that “dorky comedy” into all of Bay’s previous movies. It’s weird that they could slip that past him so many times, but I’m glad he was finally able to put a stop to it. Except not really. This is not the gritty, serious version of talking car robots.

DARK OF THE MOON does show a small amount of restraint. He doesn’t undermine every attempt at drama with lame jokes, just some of them. It’s not the constant groaner-fest that the other two TRANSFORMERSes and BAD BOYS 2 are. But there’s still alot of the actors riffing and never connecting, plus wacky flashbacks and entire scenes to introduce “funny” tangental characters. (John Malkovich for example has a big scene where he’s kind of funny, and it seems like he’s gonna be a character in the movie, and then he disappears. Doesn’t even get his head bit off by a robot I don’t think.)

3. No peeing, farting or robo-balls. And John Turturro keeps his pants on. He’s still talking and acting like an idiot, but he wears a suit. Very professional. I guess the dick and butt stuff must’ve been all Bay meant when he said “dorky comedy,” but if he’s going to continue making comedies I think he might want to re-examine the dorkiness levels of the rest of his work.

I guess these fixes have made a difference for some people, but in my opinion that is not a drastic course correction. It’s like if Joel Schumacher had made another Batman movie and said “this one has less puns, and we got rid of those stupid nipples! Who put those fucking things in there?” Okay, I see you’re trying to please me, but that isn’t enough to make it into an actual good movie. Maybe you should’ve just kept following your heart.

I believe a good movie could be made about this subject matter. I don’t believe a good movie could be made about it by Michael Bay, so the fucker might as well just get naked and go buckwild like he did last time.

And he kind of did. It’s not that different. It kind of makes me sad that Bay and LaBeouf are distancing themselves from part 2 now. It’s a terrible movie, but it’s obviously Bay’s movie, so he should stand by it. You can’t convince me that that wasn’t the movie those guys wanted to make at the time. Back then they were so high on it that Bay wrote a letter to some dinky newspaper nobody ever heard of to imply the critic should be fired for writing a negative review of a movie that made lots of money. But after a couple years of hearing how it’s the worst fucking shit ever they started to get embarrassed and blame it on the writer’s strike. (Joel Schumacher wishes he had that excuse.)


the plot

Don’t worry though, the claims that the new script by Ehren Kruger (SCREAM 3, THE RING, BROTHERS GRIMM) is relatively sensible and well written are an utter fabrication. There is no evidence of that in the movie anyway. The convoluted plot involves an Autobot  or good guy robot (Leonard Nimoy) that was carrying a technology that “would’ve won the war” on the Transformer home planet of Cybertron, except he crash-landed on our moon and died so now Optimus Prime finds out about him decades later and brings him back to life but it turns out he was lured into doing that because actually the guy made a deal (hundreds of years ago?) with the bad guys, the Decepticons, to use the technology to transport the planet of Cybertron to Earth (?) and turn all humans into slaves or something. (I hope this means the humans would have to work as the robots’ household appliances, like the dinosaurs in The Flintstones.) Meanwhile sellout humans conspire to make it happen and a robotic bird is murdering NASA scientists and our hero Sam is worried that his new girlfriend is gonna fall for her handsome boss (Patrick Dempsey) and also he’s pissed because “it’s not fair” that the Autobots get to go on secret missions in the Middle East (I believe they are American citizens now) but he doesn’t get to go and the National Secretary of Intelligence (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) is finding out secrets even she didn’t know about and Optimus is really pissed that he didn’t know about it either. Also Sam goes on a bunch of job interviews and his dad is disappointed in him that he hasn’t found a job yet but he did get a medal from Obama but nobody’s impressed. This all ties in to the moon landing and the Chernobyl meltdown, and then Congress votes that the Autobots have to leave Earth so they fly away on a secret space shuttle they had and then Chicago is destroyed and taken over by the Decepticon party (in a brief montage, it’s worth repeating that) so Sam and Tyrese lead a team of badass Navy SEAL type dudes to climb around on destroyed buildings and try to shoot the one rocket they have at a space thing or whatever, and it turns out the Autobots were faking it they didn’t leave so Optimus kills some of the Decepticons and makes one of his little speeches, so everything should be okay now. God bless America.

I might have done a better job summarizing that than I did with part 2, but in my opinion it’s not a well constructed story. Fortunately that’s the charm of these movies, if you can call it that. While not as out-and-out insane as the last one this one has a respectable collection of incredulous laughs:

-Megatron (I didn’t realize it was him at first) drives through an African Savannah, scares the zebras, tells the elephants to hail him and feeds “my frag-ile ones,” baby Garbage Pail Kid robots

-an Autobot is described as “the Albert Einstein of his civilization” even though another Autobot is designed to look like a cartoony Albert Einstein type (with glasses)

-a weird Decepticon goblin/Slimer guy occasionally wobbles past the camera making odd noises and then disappears

-for some reason Sam lives with two gremlin-sized asshole robots, one that I’m pretty sure was a bad guy in the last episode and one with hair that I thought I forgot about but I am told he was new

-a printer, a TV monitor and various other devices turn into robots and murder people

-Megatron blows up the Lincoln Memorial statue and sits in its chair (probly my favorite part of the movie)

-Optimus Prime occasionally chimes in out of the blue with corny narration (I kinda wish it was Werner Herzog)

-there’s a mournful procession of Autobots driving to the secret giant Space Shuttle to abandon the Earth, and sad music plays but you can’t help but laugh because they’re all shiny candy-colored hot rods with flames painted on them and shit

-“The honor is all mine”: Optimus meets Buzz Aldrin (playing himself!) and melts with patriotic goo, as if a robot who can fly into space without a vehicle gives a shit which puny humans landed on their moon years after his personal friend Sentinel Prime already had

etc.

With no investment in the story or characters it’s these type of unexpected bits that you have to latch onto to be able to enjoy it. If the movie’s inane, you must have insane. And there’s enough of it to keep me amused through a good percentage of the film’s seven hour, forty-two minutes not including credits running time.

empowerment or exploitation?

The love of Sam’s life from parts 1 and 2 is gone (his mom says she dumped him, one of the little asshole robots says “She was mean!”). You probly read that the original piece-of-actress Megan Fox allegedly got fired and allegedly for saying in an interview that Bay “wants to be like Hitler on his sets.” In that recent piece in GQ Bay said that Spielberg told him to fire her, so in that sense he is like Hitler, because he blamed it on the Jew.

(that’s a joke, I don’t really believe that, don’t fire me. Also I looked it up and apparently he’s Jewish too. More importantly if I was gonna unfairly compare him to a dictator I’d say he’s more of a Muammar Gaddafi)

bay-gaddafi

The replacement model, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly, comes courtesy of Victoria Secret, where Bay has alot of connections. To her and Bay’s credit she’s fine, her acting performance is more natural than Fox in the other two movies. But her giant man-made lips (on her face) are more distracting. Seriously, it made me yearn for the down-to-earth girl-next-door looks of Megan Fox. Huntington-Whiteley is even more in the Playboy/Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue/Person You Would Never See Or Be Allowed To Talk To In Real Life neighborhood, which to be fair is where Bay has one of his summer homes.

Carly is introduced ass-first, walking up stairs in her panties holding a stuffed bunny. Later there’s a 3D upskirt shot as she gets out of her Mercedes (a new model that Sam looks up on the internet so it can show all the specs on screen).

She’s already Sam’s girlfriend at the beginning of the movie, but Sam is humiliated that he can’t find a job and has to live off of the money she gets from a high paying job organizing a valuable art collection for Patrick Dempsey. You’ll notice that Sam regains his manhood late in the movie when it turns out Dempsey is a Decepticon collaborator and explicitly states that he really gave Carly the job because of her connection to Sam and not based on her actual talents. So don’t worry everybody, she actually didn’t do a good job or achieve any success separate of her boyfriend. Women are still in their place. It’s kind of like if in part 1 it turned out that Megan Fox wasn’t actually good at fixing cars, Sam had actually done it all while sleepwalking.

Dempsey also waxes poetic about the curves of his prize car while the camera ogles Carla’s body, because your car and your women are pretty much the same thing. Yeah, he’s supposed to be kind of a sleazebag, but I think these movies share his point of view on that one.

Bay doesn’t seem like a political guy, but he’s trying so hard to be “politically incorrect” that his movies end up having subtext anyway. I just can’t figure a coherent world view from it. He tries to ridicule any government figure but lionize any soldier, astronaut, or robot that stands in front of a flag. There are some Obama references, but I think it’s up to debate whether they’re derogatory like in part 2. Maybe the worst is a mention that he has some kind of surveillance on members of Congress so he can get dirt on his political enemies. It doesn’t come across like the smear it ought to, though. I’m not sure Bay is against it.

But Bill O’Reilly does appear in the movie as himself. You don’t put Bill O’Reilly into a movie unless you’re into him.

There was another part that I took as an anti-so-called-socialism message, when the character Sentinel Prime sinisterly yells something about “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!” But then somebody explained to me that it was what Spock said in WRATH OF KHAN. Still kinda weird though that they would get Leonard Nimoy himself to portray Spock’s philosophy as evil. I bet it was scripted to be an understandable motivation for the character, but the way it’s delivered it might as well be “We evil robots will conquer your puny human world! HAHAHAHAHA!”

I’m scoffing at those parts because I disagree with them, but I think they belong in the movie. I think even big expensive bullshit like this should have an element of personal expression, so I encourage Bay to put whatever he believes in his movies. And you know how hard it is to be a conservative in liberal Hollywood, it’s obviously a huge struggle for him every single day. Never once given a fair shake in the business or allowed to do what he wants. It’s a crying shame.

the douchebag’s journey

I think the most interesting new development (and maybe the part that makes it a personal expression for Bay) is that Sam has transformed (get it?) from a likable, self-deprecating reluctant hero to a condescending asshole with an out-of-control sense of douchey entitlement. He spends the first 2/3 of the movie yelling at and sarcastically insulting people. It oughta be called TRANSFORMERS: DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!? For example he chews out some soldiers for the crime of not just letting him drive into the world’s most top secret military base. He insults his girlfriend, his parents, his robot friends, several potential employers, and even the National Secretary of Intelligence, who gets it for asking him who his girlfriend is that he has let into the world’s most top secret military base. There are heroes, and then there are pricks who throw a tantrum at the new security guard in their office building for not recognizing them without their required ID. I guess the idea is that Sam is supposed to be both.

I guarantee you this Sam Witwicky does not tip well, if at all.

Not only is he a prick, but as soon as he berates his way past national security procedures he proceeds to shit all over that trust. After complaining about being questioned and swearing to keep everything secret he goes straight to the fired/pissed-on-by-a-robot guy from the other two movies (John Turturro), that guy’s new gay stereotype assistant, and some Russians they never met before, and he tells all of them something that had been secret even from the intelligence community and the Transformers for 50 years. Later he has an evil robot watch attached to his wrist so the bad guys can find out the good guy’s plan, and if he tries to tell them about it it will kill him and his girlfriend. So he goes to another super top secret nobody-knows-about-it place and pumps his side for the details of their plan… meanwhile complaining some more about how nobody trusts him!

What makes it interesting is that I don’t think he’s supposed to be some kind of an anti-hero or even a funny asshole like an ’80s Bruce Willis role. That’s just what you do, right, you complain and insult everybody constantly? Everybody is stupider than you, and you always tell them that. Right? (if you say no you’re a loser, my friend Steven Spielberg knows a few things about movies, etc.)

Sam’s parents are annoying, but they don’t seem like they’d raise such a despicable little shit. I can only guess that he gets it from Optimus. Sure, Optimus makes some nice speeches and everything, but he’s a whiner in this one too. He also turns into a big baby and gives the humans the silent treatment, refusing to speak to them because he’s mad that they didn’t tell him about the moon landing. Maybe we should give him the silent treatment ’cause we’re mad at him for bringing his robot civil war to Earth and causing the deaths of probly hundreds of thousands of innocent people, not only indirectly but also through his numerous wreckless battles in populated cities.

Man, Autobots are the worst. Maybe they’re not as blatantly evil as the Decepticons, but they’re not doing us Organicons any favors. In the first movie all they had to do was fuckin leave and they would’ve saved us from getting killed. At this point it’s like Afghanistan, they’ve started this cycle of violence and they don’t know if it’s gonna get worse if they leave. Megatron might stay and keep trying to turn us into slaves. Like his little robot brain spiders and pet bird and shit aren’t good enough for him.

At one point in the movie Congress passes landmark Tell The Fucking Autobots To Leave Already legislation. Sam talks about it with them as if nobody understands how legislation works, which is too bad because it would be awesome if there was a scene where Optimus gives a speech to Congress urging them to vote no. Anyway the Autobots comply and fly into space, leaving the Decepticons to destroy Chicago, but it turns out the Autobots were just hiding (giggling the whole time, I bet) and waiting until everybody gets killed to “show your leaders why we’re needed here.”

Dear Optimus Prime,

Thanks for making such a good point.

signed,
dead Chicagoans

Then at the end he has the wrecking balls to tell Sam “We shall never forsake you.” A little late for that, one-arm. Why don’t you make like E.T. and leave. Land on that asteroid from part 2 and have your war with the robot babies.

Optimus isn’t as obnoxious as Sam, and he does still have that great voice, but it’s hard to remember what it is that’s supposed to be so good about him. He keeps complaining about how the spaceship that crashed on the moon contained the technology “that would’ve won the war.” Yeah, coulda woulda shoulda. He’s like Rambo complaining about how the bureaucrats wouldn’t let him win Vietnam. But here he is fighting and he’s doing a terrible job, getting humans and robots alike killed. He’s not a particularly good military leader and he makes huge mistakes like, to name one example, resurrecting the guy who’s trying to enslave all of humanity. Whoops.

He’s even more bloodthirsty than before. I’m surprised they didn’t throw in a secret Autobot prison where they enhanced-interrogate wacky comic relief Decepticons and disrespect their religious beliefs (didn’t they worship that guy “The Fallen”?). Or they could have him kidnap Megatron’s babies and use them against him. Optimus comes from a culture where you don’t try to give somebody a fair chance, you just chase them around and then when you catch them you say something mean and execute them on the spot. In this uncomfortably humorless interview with Drew McWeeny, LaBeouf explains that part 3 is the best because Optimus is “essentially a murdering monster.”


wrapup

If this sounds like a negative review it’s not really. I find all this stuff hilarious. I got what I wanted out of the movie and I keep thinking about it days later, suddenly remembering parts I had forgotten about. “Holy shit, I forgot about that part where the elephant opened his mouth and it seemed like he was talking!”

Do not go to this hoping for a legitimately good movie on any level, but if you like ludicrous bullshit (and I do) this is top shelf stuff. Not as charming as GI JOE: RISE OF THE COBRA, but even more head-scratchingly crazy and way more expensive looking, if that matters to you. And 3D. I’d feel better about the world if it had the August stupid-Rob-Cohen-type-movie slot instead of the July 4th “this is what this summer has to offer,” but I’ll take it.

Some day Bay’s kingdom will probly crumble. He wants to keep going bigger and more expensive, but he’s not James Cameron. The sun will eventually melt his wax wings. A couple of his movies in a row flop, the studios are gonna at least have to shrink his budgets a little.

“I don’t change my style for anybody. Pussies do that.” –Michael Bay on changing his mind about trying to hold shots longer on Pearl Harbor, to GQ

I know he’s saying he’s gonna do a $20 million “dark comedy like PULP FICTION” next, but I can’t imagine doing those for now on would keep him happy. I’m not sure he could persevere – more likely he’d just do commercials, or retire and live off the checks from the Lamborghini Collectors Union. Tastes will change, movies will evolve, interesting new people and styles will appear. Until that day Bay will sit on his throne and we can either stay out of his way or try to get in on the orgies.

See, Megan Fox? He’s not Hitler. He’s Caligula. (not sure if you got that metaphor there)

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bonus questions:

1. Were Megatron’s “frag-ile ones” the Deceptitot babies from part 2, and what was he feeding them? Do adult robots have to eat? What would happen if Megatron fucked Lightning McQueen’s girlfriend?

2. What the fuck was that robotic goblin dude?

3. Was it my imagination or did the two little asshole-bots die heroically in a crashing something or other? And if so why didn’t they get a dramatic slow motion death, because that would’ve been awesome?

4. Explain Sentinel Prime and Megatron’s plan. What were they trying to do and what is the chronology of their truce in relation to when they separately crash-landed, the whole thing with the pyramid that was gonna destroy the earth in part 2, etc. (seriously, if anybody feels they understand this clearly I would love to know)

answers: I honestly have no idea, that’s why I’m asking you guys

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 at 3:10 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

260 Responses to “Transformers’s Dark of the Moon”

  1. Outstanding work. You’ve topped yourself with this one, Vern.

    I’m sure no one has anything to add in the comments, as you’ve covered it all, but just in case someone feels the need to chime in, allow me to establish a respectful, perhaps even amicable tone here by quoting a better writer than myself:

    **This book is not a revenge-record. When I build a fire under a person in it, I do not do it merely because of the enjoyment I get out of seeing him fry, but because he is worth the trouble. It is then a compliment, a distinction; let him give thanks and keep quiet. I do not fry the small, the commonplace, the unworthy.**
    – Mark Twain, from his Autobiography, Volume I

    The sheer number of comments in the archives & still to come on this websight indicates that Michael fucking Bay is indeed “worth the trouble,” that he is not “small” or “commonplace” or “unworthy,” and I would like to extend such compliments to his apologists, er, his supporters. For though he earns mostly scorn and befuddlement, Michael fucking Bay has proven worthy of our lengthy analysis & interest, for we can disagree and ridicule each other’s points about TRANS3’s merits or lack thereof , yet this forum should and will always remain a civil place, a welcome web of ideas that is a respite from the world of the wider worldwideweb, where infantilism & fanboyism reigns. Michael fucking Bay isn’t a pussy, and there are no pussies here.

    The discussion here is fascinating, and not only because its origin, the merits of Michael fucking Bay, is so paradoxically uniquely off-putting to most thoughtful fans of cinema; I am thankful to all contributors, Prestwiches & Pauls alike, for allowing me to absorb these talkbacks freely, and I am amazed that I am accepted as a part of it. Thank you, Vern, for the excellent review, and thank you in advance, fellow commenters, for making this summer’s biggest post-FA5T movie release far more interesting than it should be.

  2. I bow to the master. Well done, Vern. I found the whole thing to be shitty garbage but you make good points. I also prefer part 2’s insane WTF moments over anything in this one. Michael Bay actually trying to do a good job is pretty sad.

  3. As per my comment from the previous thread, a Michael Bay movie is like having a one night stand with a chick with a great rack but a horrible personality. You have a mindblowing time in bed, but you hate yourself in the morning, and you can’t stand being around her.

    However, next Summer rolls around, you’ll happily have sex with the big titted wackjob again.

    The problem is not Michael Bay, the problem is US.

    You go back to school in the Fall, and, to steal Mouth’s phrase, meet a “small-titted movie.” The sex is good, and since she actually has a personality, you stick with her for months, years, and still appreciate her time and time again on multiple viewings. She becomes a part of your life. Your fondness for her knows no limits.

    Yet, for all small-titted movie does for you and your life, you still have a weakness for Michael Bay and his horrible grating personality. Because Michael Bay has great tits.

    WE SUCK. WE ARE THE PROBLEM.

  4. “They threatened to remake my family.” – brilliant Vern.

    Spot on about Sam. And the extended plot description. It really is like when a child tells you about their favorite movie, and they just list every scene, “And then he did this, and then they did this, and then this happened, and then he said this, and then she did this…” Only Kruger (and Orci/Kurtzman to some extent in 2) puts that version on screen!

    I wish I could have enjoyed it on the level of of misguided mess, but it’s not even quite that extreme this time. Revenge of the Fallen is more ridiculous with the roommates, the autobot codes in Sam’s head and Devestator fucking the pyramid. I wonder, could you go back and enjoy Transformers 1 on this level? I mean, I see Transformers 1 as a good movie, a wonderful expression of my childhood. I didn’t have trouble telling robots apart and their action impressed me. But if we’re going meta now, I wonder how you’d see it.

    And the spectacle, why am I still not impressed? That’s the level I’m willing to forgive it on, but it’s just so bland. Shouldn’t a building toppling over impress me? It doesn’t! Glad you liked the Lincoln Memorial scene, but to me that felt like, “Wow, we’re really running out of landmarks to destroy. What else we got? Uh, I guess Lincoln…”

    Excellent work though, and real progression in your trilogy of reviews.

  5. Here are some nice things I have to say about this movie:

    1. I thought it was funny that the first few seconds of DARK OF THE MOON features multiple lens flares. I enjoyed anticipating the complaints from the nerd world.

    2. Most of the parts that don’t have any humans or mini-bots in the shot are pretty good, and they would probably be awesome if I were a small child who cared about the toys & the toy mythology.

    3. Seeing John Turturro & Frances McDormand together pleasantly reminded me of various excellent Coen brothers films.

    4. There are few things more satisfying than watching a good action scene develop and thinking, “If that were me in this crazy situation, I’d . . . [do such & such action to get to safety or kill the bad guy],” and then seeing the characters do exactly what you just hypothesized was indeed the best course of action. This is the kind of rare moment in good action filmatism that elevates cinema from passive medium to active medium and elevates the viewer from consumer/spectator to active participant.
    — This happened for me during TRANS3 in the scene in the half-destroyed Chicago building that leans at an angle, and the nice feelings were augmented by memories of Jackie Chan doing something similar. I was like, oh man they’re all gonna slip out of the building or get blowed up while they cling for life, man if that were me I’d run and jump out the other side and use the angle of the building to cover myself & slide down, oh look at that that’s what they’re doing, sweet, that was pretty, now how do we stop, grab something bitch, gravity’s gonna kill you! oh shit he shot out the glass below his ass nicely done, not even Jackie Chan was able to do that in WHO AM I? Whew, that was fun. . .

    – So those are the nice things I have to say about this movie, and mom told me not to say anything unless I have something nice to say, so good day to you all.

  6. BR, as the man who declared Transformers “better than sex,” I object to the big titted analogy. The sequels are not satisfying like large natural racks. Large natural racks are soft and responsive to the touch. Transformers 2 and 3 invoke no thrill no matter how much destruction they add to the festivities. To quote my Transformers 2 review, “not even a handjob.”

  7. “Well, I did. I cracked. But they said the most horrible things. They threatened to remake my family.”
    You Fucking Traitor.

  8. Fred, I thought TRANS3 seemed too low-budget. Seriously. Fuck the script problems — it seemed like the filmmakers tragically cut corners (as Broddie’s recent YouTube link indicates as well) instead of spending time to improve the action scenes and action transitions. Glad I’m not the only one who was less than impressed, though that’s a relative statement because I *was* impressed but I swear I saw potential for action filmatism greatness that unfortunately passed by the wayside due to laziness/deadlines/climate on the set?/whatever.

    Good to see Vern raise many of the questions that troubled me, but there’s a bunch more unexplained or unshown stuff and/or stuff that bothered me b/c I was too dim or too distracted to figure it out in this movie, and I too wonder if anyone has answers. More bonus questions!

    Let’s start with: Why did the same filmmakers who print “Chicago, Illinois” over a high city skyline establishing shot of an easily recognizable major metropolis decide “the middle east” is a good enough onscreen description of another place, like I’m too stupid to know that Chicago is in Illinois and way too stupid to be trusted with the notion of being in the desert somewhere less abstract, like Syria/Iran/Ragheadistan

  9. I’ll wait for the blu-ray, so I can not enjoy it in the comfort of my home.

    And to think, some of the early reviews had me pretty close to considering shelling out $13 for the 3D.

  10. Vern(s), I mean this in the nicest possible way, but it’s time to admit there are multiple people writing reviews under the name “Vern” and they have no coherent point of view. And some of them are bona fide idiots. Just admit it so I don’t have to waste my time reading stuff like this when what I want to be reading is stuff like your original The Fast and the Furious review.

  11. chemical burn:

    Or maybe people are allowed to change over time.

    I don’t think the me of ten years ago would think the same thing, or write the same way.

  12. I fucking love this site, I really do.

  13. – On the Decepticon invasion of Chicago: They, like, proclaimed their evil plan, then the movie cut straight to a whole bunch of evil zeppelins and bots tearing shit up in downtown ShyTown. Did they teleport there? Was there any warning from NORAD’s tracking technology? Did they hitchhike there, unnoticed by all of America like that flying spybot Decepticon that lands in a suburban back yard in broad daylight but no one notices because he hunches his wings behind a tree trunk or some shit once he lands?
    – Why the fuck were we deprived of that shot (Think King Kong or maybe the janitor with the headphones in TRUE LIES.) where a naked hot girl is in her Chicago apartment brushing her hair, and she moves her mirror and looks freaked out and drops her brush and then the camera moves to reveal in the mirror the view through her window where we see a giant robo thing creeping in, lasering a bridge & some civilians to dust?

    – Where did all the Chicagoans go? The end battle sequence is very sparsely populated. They couldn’t afford extras on set? Even CGI extras?

  14. Wow, Shia really takes it seriously with his discussion of character arcs and growth in that interview. You wouldn’t think he was talking about films where robots fart a parachute pops open (related note: Did the toy of that character come with the parachute farting feature, the way that Bobba Fett figure had a rocket launching action?). There’s something creepy in his eyes when he talks about Bay, the same as when Tom Cruise talks about scientology. I think the poor guy got brainwashed.

    Funny though when Drew commended this latest film for giving the robots more personality and managing to keep a straight face. It’s always bad seeing critics have to ask questions they don’t mean. Vern, never interview Shia Labeouf.

  15. Interesting (or maybe not) fact: According to the magazine I’m currently looking at, the average render time for one single frame of CG in the last transformers movie was almost two days. For reference, the average videogame renders about 40-60 frames per second. When you consider the amount of work and technology it takes to realise Bay’s “vision” it boggles the mind.

  16. This review might be your masterpiece, Vern.

  17. Seriously though, when is that Thundercats movie out? I like Thundercats.

  18. Holy crap Vern! What a rant. I have to confess I stopped reading after my third scroll down. But I got the gist of it. Michael Bay is devil.

    All I can ever think of when Bay is brought up is Robot Chicken. Baysplosions!

    Ha, ha. I crack myself up.

  19. Excellent review, Vern!

    I’m excited for tomorrow. I have a 10:50AM date with the voluptuous Transformers 3 and then a 4PM date with the bean pole-sweet heart Tree of Life.

  20. More bonus questions!

    5. Why was the Pillar thing activated by a human’s touch after it had been knocked to the ground? (This didn’t make sense when it was the AllSpark in the 1st movie, either.)

    6. What happened with all the hundreds of other Pillar things worldwide? Why they were essential to start with?

  21. I was expecting Shakespeare

  22. Damn… I had to take multiple breaks to get through that review. At several points during that review I had to get up to get a cup of water, played with my cat, Watch Transformers 2 again, and then came back and finished it. I’m glad I did though, as it was an entertaining read, even if i had to work for it. Kinda like a Michael Bay film… in fact, I think this review is longer than the film, even though one is measured by number of words and the other by time duration. Still, I loved the insights from the other side, and there’s no other side further than Vern.

    I could try to explain the plot, but honestly… I don’t completely understand it either, and I’ve seen it twice, two days in a row. As far as I know, they planned to transport Cybertron to Earth and have Earthlings use our resources to rebuild Cybertron. It’s about as sensible as using Kryptonite to create a barren wasteland and try to sell it as expensive real estate. But people seemed to dig that plan. Anyhoo, many of your complaints about the film is understandable, even though highly disagreeable. You voiced your complaints in a very reasonable way, and raised some legitimate points. I could try to address your complaints, but that’s completely missing the point. The point to these reviews and talkbacks to for people to voice your insights of what you like and dislike about a film, and to share it with others for the purpose of trying to give perspectives to others unable to understand why you love/hate the film in the first place. Cool read. :-)

  23. Thanks, Mouth. Apparently, all the Chicagoans were in the building that was tipping over, since they felt like showing them sitting at their desks five minutes and 90 degrees into the fall.

    Mac, he doesn’t criticize Bay at all. In fact, he embraces him. You should read the rest of it.

  24. thanks guys, I appreciate you reading/skimming this monster.

    Fred: Part of what I thought was funny in the Lincoln scene was the way it was staged and edited. When it happened I laughed at the brazenness, taking it as a “Holy shit, Michael Bay really wanted to blow up Abraham Lincoln and send his head flying at us in 3D!” I felt bad that I laughed because most of the crowd didn’t and I didn’t want to be an asshole ruining anybody’s fun. Then a little bit later when Megatron is sitting in the chair like it’s a throne I figured it really was supposed to be a funny absurd thing to happen. I think it’s basically a MARS ATTACKS! type joke, but they didn’t know how to tell the joke properly.

    Tempurasan: The part that confuses me the most is, at the time Sentinel Prime crashlanded on moon and/or Megatron was frozen in ice, was there a reason to rebuild Cybertron?

    And to be clear, I liked the parts that I disliked. This was a really funny movie, I enjoyed it.

  25. 7. Why was Turturro not only suddenly allowed full access to sensitive operations but also suddenly regarded as the commander in the room with all the NSA computers & comms equipment?

    8. Scene missing? That is, how did Optimus Prime recover his trailer/flight deck? The other bots split off and made a diversion; I got that. But were we just supposed to accept that Optimus disappears for a few minutes after the collision that separates his engine from his trailer and then returns fully intact & flying?

    9. Optimus has giant Wolverine energy-blades as an extension of his robo-skeleton, more or less, right? And he can fly and jump around really well, more or less, right? Well, Optimus somehow gets tangled up in some cables; this immobilizes him for several minutes. Seriously?

    10. How did BumbleBee come to be captured by the Decepticons? (If he walked into an ambush that was visually established onscreen, somehow I missed it.)

    11. After a long series of fights and tactical movements and narrow escapes and destroyed buildings, how did the girl end up right next to Megatron just at the right time to convince him to double-betray Sentinel?

    12. Considering the number of times the word “Shockwave” is used in TRANS3, how come Vern doesn’t mention it once in the review? Surely it was important to something, someone, somewhere, somehow.

  26. Vern-You say you liked the parts you dis-liked, but it seems you didn’t enjoy the movie on it’s own terms. Like you make it out to be a “so-bad-it’s good” kind of a deal. Is that what you meant to imply or is this a legitimately enjoyable movie that a person who enjoys a well made action movie should make time to see? I thought I knew how you felt after reading your review but then you make that last post and it kind of undercuts the review.

  27. ThomasCrown442

    July 2nd, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Damn Tempura twice in two days? In 3d? Thats the movie equivalent of a 2 day bender. My eyes would be bleeding. Take Sunday and sleep it off my friend.

  28. All I can say folks is, “What a gorgeous box.” Seriously, that’s going to be my new catch phrase. Anyone else notice that?

  29. one guy from andromeda

    July 2nd, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Beautiful review, Vern! Michael Bay is to you what Nixon was to Hunter Thompson – he brings out the most beautiful antagonism in you and inspires your greatest hatred (in a good way).
    It’s hard for me to see the mindset of the people who make these movies and not see it as a sign of a civilization in decline. Watching that Drew McWeeny interview with Shia literally made my skin crawl. Imagine what it must be like to be among those fuckers – Shia, Bay, Spielberg, all coked out of their minds while they scheme how to milk the teen crowd for their parent’s cash.
    I have the inverted arc of Vern when it comes to Bay’s movies. When it was Armageddon and Bad Boys II i enjoyed them for how crazy and misguided they were, but these Tranformers films feel genuinely evil to me. It’s like watching a 2,5 hour supercut of terrorists slitting hostages’ necks or something.

  30. Where was that, Fred?

    I liked the part where one of the soldiers gave orders to “shorten the kill chain.” That’s going to be my response from now on whenever anyone asks me for advice. “Clearly the problem lies with your kill chain. It’s way too long. I suggest you trim it down.”

  31. Off camera, mom says “What a gorgeous box” while there’s a closeup of Rosie on screen. I don’t remember what she was actually talking about, but it was either the most awesome coincidence ever or there’s a whole other level on which to appreciate Transformers.

  32. Oh, yeah, the box the medal was in. I remember that now. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if that was an intentional joke given the car/Rosie description Dempsey gives later.

  33. Just gonna pile in on the love. Bravo, Vern.
    Another interesting bit of Bay-politik… the Autobots assist humans from destroying themselves or some such bullshit? Aren’t they just serving the whims of the US Administration? Not getting blindly anti American or anything here, but they’re still making their way into sovereign nations and fucking shit up.
    The couldn’t, I don’t know, transform into giant walls to stop mudslides in Bolivia or something???

  34. Or if it was completely accidental and no one had any idea they were talking about Rosie’s vagina!

  35. tempurasan:
    “Both read the bible day and night; but you read black where I read white.”
    –William Blake

  36. You know, Ive been saying some mean things about this movie and Michael Bay in the other comments section, but there is one thing I’d like to say which is nice and honestly surprised me:

    Alan Tudyk’s character, despite being pretty stereotypical, is actually treated with quite a bit of dignity and respect. Yes, I think Tudyk’s natural likeability might be stronger then Bay’s powers of douchebaggery, but even the script paints him as heroic and he gets at least two major heroic moments which Bay treats fairly seriously.

    The Ken Jeong stuff was, on the other hand, one of the most painful things Ive seen on screen in a long, long time. But still. I didn’t expect Bay to pleasantly surprise me in any way, let alone with unexpected respect for diversity.

    Vern — I’ll admit I laughed like hell when the whole Lincoln thing went down (I was also the only one in the theater who laughed at that, the patronizing Buzz Aldrin bit, the sad autobots leaving Earth, the bits where Optimus brutally murders people, and nothing else). The movie could have used way more of that, in my opinion. Unlike Part II, I thought this one was closer to just a regular badly made film and hence not as fun.

  37. Can somebody explain the John Malkovich character’s purpose? And kudos, Vern. Masterful stuff, genius even.

  38. Fred, I totally caught that line and laughed. But nobody else in the audience did. I whispered to my friend, “What’s in the boooooox!?”

  39. ahh, that was a pleasure to read! i have amazingly, believe it or not, managed to avoid all three films in this SAGA, and i see just about everything. this is thanks in part to vern’s reviews, all three of which are amongst the best things he’s written, in my opinion. since movies often come out much later where i am, i get a lengthy heads-up. if i was able to see them as soon as they were released, i might succumb to weakness and see them opening weekend or whatever. the first movie was the kind of thing that normally i would be interested in watching, but i lost almost all interest as soon as i saw the first released images of the design of the robots. it just looked so busy and ugly and misguided. i was never a big fan of the original cartoon (despite being exactly the generation that grew up with it), but i must admit that at least the original robot designs are iconic. the bay versions look like confusing eyesores. so there was that big strike one, and then vern’s hilarious review more or less sealed the deal. not that i follow his advice blindly but his description of the impossible to follow post-action sounded like exactly the kind of thing i would hate (and, really, why wouldn’t anyone hate it?). then he managed to outdo himself with the part 2 review, and i dare say he has outdone himself again. there is no way that these movies could provide me with even a tenth of the entertainment i get from reading one of these reviews.

    thanks, vern!

  40. Also… HOBO Megatron must be acknowledged. The guy just wants a truce and tries to appeal to Prime ending the movie on an Unbreakable note. “Where would you be without me?”

    And Prime’s all, “Fuck you.” FATALITY.

    Poor Megatron. The guy was so happy to see his home again.

    The 2nd and 3rd movies have had hilariously incompetent moments of painting their heroes and villains. Prime is a belligerent psychopath. Megatron is just a bum that wants to be a big shot again.

  41. Mcnooj, I say that whenever anyone presents anyone with a box in a movie, but I gues Transformers 3 beat me to it with a blatant vaj reference.

  42. btw, i could have sworn vern specifically mentioned the “box” line in the review, am i crazy? i just scanned to look for it but couldn’t find it, though it’s pretty hard to scan for something in that behemoth (don’t mean that as a criticism).

    also, vern, i know i and others have mentioned this ad nauseam, but i really think you oughta give THE ROCK another shot (assuming you haven’t checked it out recently). the action, for the most part, is comprehensible and very well staged, there is a lot of non-cringe-worthy humor, it’s got a pretty superb cast, nic cage is in top form (this might be the movie where he best strikes the balance between action leading man nic cage and quirky comedy nic cage), and whilst bay’s typical misanthropy is present, it’s not as out-and-out in your face as in some of his other works (i can only assume about the transformers pictures).

  43. oh did you guys also watch drew mcweeny’s interview with bay? it was sycophantic and depressing.

  44. @Greg: I suspect the purpose of John Malkovich’s character was to have a role for John Malkovich so he could strut his “assholish weird guy” stuff, and the audience could go “Hey, it’s… John Malkovich! And he’s being… weird!”. I would’ve liked it had Shia told him how great he was in “that movie where he played a jewel thief”, but alas, Bay’s not that clever.

    Ken Jeong’s role?— same thing. “Hey, look! It’s that guy from ‘The Hangover’, doing his wacky Asian guy thing!”. Bay made similar use of Eddie Griffin at the beginning of “Armageddon”.

    BTW— great rant/autopsy, Vern. After reading it, I’m almost ashamed to say I enjoyed this movie (I saw it Wednesday, in IMAX 3D). Having learned my lesson from the first and second TF movies, I checked my brain at the door, and approached it merely as eye candy and shit getting blown up. In that context, it succeeded bigtime.

    As several people have pointed out on recent AICN talkbacks about TF3: Bay isn’t so much as a filmmaker as he is an entertainment pimp. He gives the people what they want, and on the basest level.

  45. Gary, you remember the box line because I’ve been talking about it and probably posted it in the GQ thread

  46. I said it before, but this was the first TF movie, that really bored me. I think it might have been because of the 3D, which forced me to stare blankly at the middle of the screen until I didn’t really registered anymore what was happening. I’ll give it another chance on 2D DVD.

    But even before I fell into that trance, I had trouble with following the movie. And as you remember, I was the one who was able to make sense out of part 2! But by the time of the freeway chase, after they visited the russians, I had no idea what was happening and why.

    I did realize one thing though, when Malkovich wanted to see Bumblebee and started to play with him like with a huge dog: I somehow love the world of the Transformers movies, were at least 95% of the population are fucking goofballs! And I hated how restrained Turturro’s Agent Simms was in here, especially after he became an unlikely hero in part 2. Yes, he is my favourite character of the series.

    I also hated the Chicago scenes, because by that time it became very clear that they were just trying to pay fanservice to the nerds, who think “Dark 9/11 analogy + lots of people die = awesome, mature piece of film”. And just like with most other SciFi/Fantasy products that try something like that (BSG, TDK) they failed to deliver or come up with anything clever to say about it and just relied on re-enacting scenes that we saw on the news.

    I’m not sure what to think about this review. It’s entertaining as usual, but like pretty much always when Vern reviews something Bay-related, it’s too hateful and cynical to be really insightful. That’s okay though. It’s just human.

  47. As far as Optimus being a Psychopathic Murderer, I wonder if this was a conscious decision by the writers and Bay. I think of it this way. Optimus comes from a war torn planet on the brink of destruction. The dude has been engaged in warfare for a few hundred years, and is efficient enough to be made a leader of the Autobots. His entire race, everyone has weapons built in to them, so it’s pretty safe to assume that they are no stranger to killing. To be an efficient leader to a bunch of warrior bots fighting against millions of bloodthirsty Decepticons, you gotta be able to make the hard and cold decisions on a daily basis. You can’t let feelings get in the fucking way of winning a war. What’s more, of all the goddamn country to land in, he lands in USA, a war loving nation. As soon as he lands, he gets to fighting right away, and hasn’t stopped. He starts working with the US government to form a team and hunts down Decepticons. Reminds me of Superman in Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Once Supes has worked with the US long enough, he becomes like a USA boyscout, ready to do the President’s bidding. He became pretty fucking psychopathic too. That’s what working for the US government does to you. So anyway, with all these factors working together, no wonder when the guy is pushed to the edge, especially being betrayed by his respected mentor, he went a little overboard. Afterall, you gotta be able to make the hard decision to stay a leader.

    On a screen writing point of view, I’m tired of Hollywood’s faux nobility and mercy. In all these goddamn movies, the hero at the last minute would grow a fucking conscience and not kill the bad guy (which most of the time he does anyway because the bad guy would try to pull a fast one at the last minute and then suffers an even more horrible death). This is after the hero spends an entire movie mowing down faceless henchmen, who is simply following orders, only to decide “hey I’m better than this” and let the most evil bastard live. Tangent: I played through Uncharted 2 on the PS3. As expected, the protagonist ended up having mercy on the bad guy at the end. After the game ends, they were tallying up different stats on the game, and it shows that throughout the course of the game, I’ve murdered over 1000 bad guys. That’s Hollywood morality for you. SO when I finally get a guy like Optimus Prime in Bay’s films, the dude doesn’t monologue or have last minute sprout of conscience. The guy knows what he has to do, and what ultimately has to happen, and just goes out and do it. Ripping faces off and all. It’s a breath of fresh air I’d say.

  48. BTW, I loved that Bay elevated his idea of turning the TF series into Robo-splatter movies, by letting them even bleed this time!

  49. I´m sorry you had to watch this crap, Vern.

  50. I’ll be surprised if Bay makes his $20million (hey, that would only be enough to feed *one* small country!) PULP FICTION-esque film. Remember how when ROTF came out, he was saying critics had no idea how hard it was to make that kind of movie, he’d be taking some time off from TRANSFORMERS and make some small indie fare? Didn’t quite work out that way. Don’t be shocked if Bay gets going on TRANSFORMERS: PLANET OF THE EARTH pretty soon.

  51. BTW— I DO like what Tyrese Gibson brings to the TF movies (and the “Fast And Furious” series as well). While I don’t necessarily endorse the idea of a rapper/actor brought along just for box office cache… Tyrese does have a degree of fortitude and charisma that lends whatever he’s in some extra clout.

    The man’s a plus, plain and simple.

  52. I think the funny thing is, there is very little difference between a TRANSFORMERS 3 and PEARL HARBOR.

    People threw a hissy fit that Bay co-opted a traumatic national tragedy and turned it into an explosion filled summer blockbuster. But virtually the same thing is fine with TRANSFORMERS 3. I bet there are folks in Ukraine that aren’t really keen on him using the Chernobyl disaster as a setpiece in a robot war movie.

    Since I have zero emotional attachment to either historical event, I’m cool with both films. They are both expertly crafted films while not necessarily working well as a whole. Like said in the other thread, stunning looking movies with great actors and good individual scenes – but they don’t quite work in a larger context, with any emotional journeys and good storylines.

    Overall, I think they’re both fun in a pure barebones eyecandy level. And if the visuals are good enough, sometimes that’s enough for me.

    Still, I’m looking forward to Bay creating his magnum opus – an epic 9/11 film. Those towers will blow up real good (in 3D). Also, after the regular three hour film, you’ll get a bonus hour of America striking back and emerging victorious by seeing square jawed SEALs go into Pakistan and shooting Osama in the face. In slow motion, and with a golden sunset in the background.

  53. Vern, you are the best. People who think this is too long are wrong. It was just the right length (thats what she said). I enjoyed this so much I wish you could have found more to riff on. I love stupid “leave your brain at the door movies”, I really do. But something turns a little sour when they spend so much money on them (and no its not because I’m some PC “you could have saved the world with that money” kind of guy.) Maybe some day I’ll try to really figure out what it is, but for now I think you’re hitting pretty close to the reason in your reviews. Bay sucks. I couldn’t make it through the first film, never bothered with the second and have no desire to see this one. I do want to see the “Captain America” film, although I’m no fan of the director, the bland Joe Johnston so my hopes for good action aren’t very high. I enjoyed JP3 for the dino action and the fact that the human scenes were kept to the bare minimum, but the horribly boring “Rockateer” (which revisionist fanboys are now trying to claim was an overlooked classic) makes me angry at all the missed opportunities. Good I hope someone starts paying you good money to write this stuff. You deserve it.

  54. Vern – Funny enough, I think Bay channeled himself into that hero being part messiah/part douchebag.

    And “make a 20 million comedy”? I can’t see that prick make a movie for less than 50.

  55. That review was a thing of beauty. I’ve never gotten around to seeing any of this films, and I don’t think I’ll start now. Life is short and these movies are long. I have, however, seen a few of Bay’s movies so I pretty much know what to expect.

    Just the other day I read a weird story in the local free Metro paper about Bay visiting Russia for the premier of Transformers 3. He told the reporter that his grandfather came from Russia, and his grandfather told him that he will never do anything decent with his life and that he will end up as a gym teacher. For Bay, premiering a multimillion dollar film in Russia was kind of like a big “fuck you” to his grandpappy. If Bay’s grandfather really did say that he will do nothing with his life, then that’s a little harsh. But, come on, Bay, you have to let go of this stuff at some point. Besides, I think making shitty but really expensive movies probably wouldn’t impress you grandfather anyway.

  56. He’ll just shoot it somewhere where he could get a tax break. This review was worth the wait btw for this blurb alone

    “If you claim he’s making the modern equivalent of TERMINATOR 2 then I’m gonna react on primal instinct like you just spit on my grandma.”

    spot on Vern.

    I think this is what separates the post-action fan from a genuine action fan. Post-action fan would actually view elements of T2 as “dated” while the action fan could appreciate the pure craftmanship and heart that went into it’s set ups.

  57. LOL even Bay’s own grandfather thought he was a born loser.

  58. Bravo, Vern, bravo. All other reviews of this pale mightily in comparison to this.

    I like to think that Bay himself may read your review, as well as all the well-thought out comments on here from film fans who give a shit about movies and maybe, just maybe, have a tiny epithany.

    Well, no, of course not – obviously, he couldn’t give a good God damn but it’s a nice idea, isn’t it?

    I wonder with these films, what exactly is their legacy? Beyond making a shit ton of cash initially, will these be looked at favourably by future generations?

    In years to come, will proud fathers take down blu-rays of the TF trilogy from a shelf and watch misty-eyed with their offspring, the way people do now with STAR WARS and Disney flicks?

    I just can’t see it because, as you say, these are not films, they are tech demos; designed to show off what can be done with the latest hardware – and story, plot and character be damned.

  59. CJ:
    Are you saying it’s fan service to include 9-11 images in a movie, or am I just confused? I’m not sure I get what you mean by that…

  60. IO9’s got a review on the autobiographical elements of the film.

    http://io9.com/5816415/transformers-3-is-a-movie-about-how-wrong-you-were-to-hate-transformers-2

    I can’t wait to see what Bay does now. His CV is fairly inconsistent. The Rock and Armadegon are really of-their-era 90s period pieces, they genuinely don’t make films like them any more. Pearl Harbor’s an relic of the Titannic era – and its commercial success was because of the marketing rather than the quality of the film. The Island – his only non-Bruckheimer/Spielberg driven film – was a flop; and Transformers is a franchise he took to recover from that. Interesting he’s now going right back to his roots with a film on the same scale as Bad Boys.

    I also wonder what’s going to happen with the franchise? This won’t be as big as T2, but it’s still huge and they’ll want to keep it going without Bay and Shia.

  61. anthony: I learned during the last decade that nerds love for any reason SciFi/Fantasy films that are “dark and gritty” (as in “lots of people die”), because they can point at them and say; “Look! It’s not for kids! Isn’t that awesome?”. And when it’s full of 9/11 imagery it’s even better, because they can say: “It has something clever to say about 9/11. Can’t you see how Commander Adama torturing a Cylone/The Joker causing mayhem in Gotham City/The Decepticons blowing up Chicago is an allegory to the real world?!”
    So of course when the first two TF movies got wildly critisized for being too jokey, I think it’s very likely that the first memo for part 3 was: “Make it darker and maybe more 9/11”. And even though it has absolutely NOTHING clever to say about that topic and is still full of slapstick humor, the nerd critics who praised the movie, did it often by mentioning its 9/11-esque images and all the collateral damage the Decepticons cause, because hey, now it’s apparently a totally serious and mature drama!

  62. karlos: It’s not unlikely that another generation will cherish these movies as gems, because they saw them when they grew up. Look at all the shitty movies that we consider as awesome, just for nostalgic reasons!

  63. CJ:

    Hmm. Maybe it’s a generational thing, for those who were kids at that time I guess. I like a bit of the ol’ dark and gritty but I don’t tend to look for 9-11 images as an extra spice. Cloverfield was the only one where I was looking for such things, due to the obvious Godzilla background/reasons ect.

    I’m pretty excited to see what Bay does next, in a morbid way. I prob won’t go theater for it, either, much like TF3.

  64. CJ: Yeah, you’re probably right – nostalgia can be a very strong feeling.

    A buddy of mine swore up and down that he loved TF1 & (especially) TF2 as he “was a big fan of the cartoon growing up” and “TF’s are cool”.

    He’s fucking 30, dude!

  65. I fully admit that I might put certain movies on a pedestal because of nostalgia, but I never understood the way that people have treated a cartoon from the eighties as sacred. Sure, I remember watching Transformers as a kid. I even remember enjoying them. I even rewatched the cartoon movie some time in college, and it was hilariously terrible. But it’s not like Bay is adapting some religious text. Who cares if Bay puts flames on Optimus. What really matters is that the man cannot control the tone and the visuals of his film. He’s completely undisciplined. Bay isn’t raping our childhoods, he’s just making terrible movies (and the same goes for George Lucas).

  66. Wow! Vern, that was epic. I have been looking forward to the release of this film just so you can review it, and you did not disappoint. Your TRANS 2 review is one of my favorites, and this one is right up there with it. I hope I am able to enjoy this film for the mess you make it out to be, but I have a feeling I will just be bored. I struggled to sit through TRANS 2. It could only hold my attention for such short periods of time before I would give up on it and do something else that it took me 3 sittings to get through it. If it were not for Bay using 3D, I can’t say I would even bother to watch this film. I am just curious to see how Bay’s style plays in the format.

  67. james — thanks for the link. Shia’s character is so outlandishly unpleasant in the first half of the film it’s almost stunning, and I was sort of wondering how the fuck it slipped past even Bay that his lead character is the villain. But I guess it makes more sense if Bay made him that way on purpose and agrees with him. In truth, the whole movie feels like the kind of movie that douchebag Sam would make, it all kind of fits together.

    Maybe we ought to do a SUCKER PUNCH and try to imagine that maybe this whole thing is an extended metaphor for angry white male entitlement denial.

  68. I can’t complain too much about the themes & the douchebaggery of the characters because I’m still disappointed in the underwhelming action.

    The filmmakers missed a chance to do what might have been a great continuo-cam shot that followed the downed V-22 Osprey type aircraft underwater and shown some of the spec-ops guys escaping the carnage and resurfacing, though 1 or 2 of them wouldn’t make it so it’d be all dramatic and heroic and shit. Just use the same technology & set-up that gave us the bomb-dropping in PEARL HARBOR (which was a helluvan image in the trailer, I recall) or the opening of that awesome old Call of Duty videogame that starts on Normandy Beach.

    Don’t tell me they were worried about pacing or going too over the top or some nonsense. Don’t tell me they were trying to cut away from the collision & wreckage quickly in order to convey a sense of chaos on the battlefield, either. That’d be incorrect. The movie established some kind of forced human connection with at least that one soldier/airman who says, “Figure I’ll find my own ride home,” or something in that cheesy cliched pre-mission/pre-military bravery-sacrifice pep talk scene. They just plain missed a chance for a great shot, or they were too pussy to show a guy in uniform draw his last breath.

  69. Knew this was going to be a special review from Vern, been looking forward to it all week.

    I won’t be subjecting myself to this film, Bay films and I just don’t sit well with each other and that is fine.

    I will say something for the old Transformers cartoons: they were terrible 20 min weekly toy ads (stuffed with actual Transformers toy spots during commercial breaks). Even so, a child often uses something as vapid as that cartoon as a spring board for imaginary adventures with their toys. I certainly did.

    I wonder if my little nephew is doing the same with these awful movies. If so… well good for him. Still, it seems to me that just because a child can SURVIVE on twinkies doesn’t mean that Hostess desserts should be a major food group.

    What I mean by that is Bay= Deep Fried Twinkies.

  70. james, thanks for the link. That was a very interesting take on the film. Now I am going to have to read the interview with Shia that Vern posted the link to.

  71. Also, I forgot to mention how much I loved Vern’s Bay as Gaddafi comparison. I wish a wealthy, narcissistic, egomaniac dictator like Gaddafi would hire Bay to make a bio pic about him as told by him. You would have Bay’s crazy bombastic visual style mixed with the narrative of another mad man. It would be mind blowing.

  72. Well allegedly Sadaam hired Terrence Young (cf the ealy Bond pictures) to make an action film about his youth called LONG DAYS. If true this was just before he made INCHON for the Reverend Sun Myung Moon

  73. PacmanFever, who was going to play Sadaam? My pick would have been Ron Jeremy.

  74. As it happens, Ron Jeremy would also be my pick for the SUPER MARIO BROS reboot.

    Seriously, he was played by a guy called Saddam Kamel, who the other Sadaam supposedly later had killed. It’s a fascinating story, however true it may or may not be

  75. ThomasCrown442

    July 3rd, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Don’t forget Gadafi’s all female security squad. The more I think about a Gadafi/Bay pairing the more awesome it sounds.

  76. Charles – then they would have to re-name it SHLONG DAYS.

    i’m sorry…

  77. Isn’t Sasha Baron Cohen right now filming a movie, based on a book by Saddam Hussein?

  78. My choice to play Saddam Hussein: Dunkin’ Donut’s “Time to make the donuts” guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=petqFm94osQ

  79. 13. After wearing the following outfits: t-shirt & panties; form fitting little white dress; form fitting little white dress with open v-neck; and little cocktail dress, why does the Girl wear pants and a conservative top for the last hour of the movie, the parts where she does most of the running and climbing through rubble and standing in slow-motion while cars flip behind her?

    This was DARK OF THE MOON’s greatest crime.

  80. SHLONG DAYS: THE SODOMY HUSSEIN STORY starting Ron Jeremy.

  81. Diesel – yeah, “so bad it’s good” fits. Tempurasan was saying that I “disliked” things and I wanted to make sure people understood that I wasn’t trying to make a list of complaints, but a list of reasons why this movie is hilarious. Sorry to confuse the issue more.

  82. CJ, I think he is.

  83. Another hilarious moment by the way – and a prime example of the film being more about striving for individual “moments of cool” than any overarching narrative:

    The wingsuit sequence. Looks cool, it’s badass, it’s dangerous. Tons of soldiers die trying to get those wingsuit dudes to the drop zone. There’s death, sacrifice, explosions…

    And it’s all totally unnecessary. Moments later after they’re on the ground, the wingsuit dudes group up with a bunch of SEALs who just pop up from the water – and seemed to have arrived to the same place without any hassle. Would have been nice to hitch a ride with those guys instead of jumping off planes and getting a shitload of people killed. But I guess swimming is boring, so fuck that.

  84. Good catch, HT, though the hilarity of the ordeal is arguable.

    Also, SF guy says, “Get the 101st in there” or “We need the 101st Airborne,” at some point (Screamin’ Eagles patch on Nabroleon’s shoulder, what’s good?), then there’s the tactical insertion with the wingsuits & Tyrese’s crew, then 20 minutes later they turn a corner and hey whaddyaknow a company of Army guys in ACUs is posted up, taking a knee & doing nothing.

    How did they get there? What’s their task & purpose? Are they at least coordinating with the Autobots?

  85. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 3rd, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I liked the first Transformers even though it was bone-headed and overwrought. It still entertained me. I stayed away from the second, largely due to Vern. Think I’ll do the same here- even though Vern apparently got a kick out of the absurdity.
    Which I understand. I have paid to see every Uwe Boll movie that has gotten a wide release and have owned several as their ineptitude is extremely entertaining. They are also fun to pop on when you have a few folks over and a few drinks or puffs and want to show them something utterly ridiculous.

    I did see Green Lantern yesterday and it was not nearly the crap-kabob that most seem to think it is. Reynolds is solid and earnest, Mark Strong’s Sinestro is fucking perfect. They had the balls to do with the villain and the cosmic shit what they DIDN’T have the balls to do with the FF movies and I have a crush on Blake Lively now. I have never knowingly seen her in ANYTHING- I just knew she was on that tv show and was the younger sister of European Vacation’s Rusty Griswold. Everyone is saying she is awful and miscast, but I thought she was super solid and extremely appealing.
    Could have used one more major action setpiece- preferably one involving more members of the Corp- but that is really my only complaint. Oh, that and Tim Robbin’s high school play spray-grey.

  86. @GGC: Yeah, I saw “Green Lantern” as well. Liked it, and was mercifully unburdened by NOT knowing a damn thing about the comic book. That’s the pitiful thing about comic book adaptations— hardcore comic book geeks get all worked up if the movie that follows doesn’t flow verbatim from the source material. Plenty of pulsing forehead veins and gnarled fists over the last decade because of THAT [re. three X-Men movies, two Hulk movies, two FF movies, two Batman Redux movies, and so on and so forth].

    Back to GL: Is it just me, or does whenever Tim Robbins plays a character who’s an amoral dick (this one, “War Of The Worlds”, “Arlington Road”), he loses all impact he has as an actor? Go figure.

    IMO, there are two actors in “Green Lantern” who seem to be in an entirely different movie, and their respective effects are polar opposites:

    Peter Sarsgaard, whose acting “skills” (here, and in general) seem to be devolving into some hammy imitation of John Malkovich. God help us all if they ever appear in the same movie together. Vertigo is in no way amusing.

    Mark Strong, who nails the role of Sinestro SHUT, and I actually got the sense he was some peripheral character from a Shakespearean adaptation. He’s that focused, THAT utterly serious, and God bless him for giving the movie its flourish of gravitas.

    I kind of feel bad for Ryan Reynolds. Yes, he throws himself into the role. Yes, he tones down the jokey Van Wilderisms. But for whatever reason, it seems like he’ll never cross the barrier into A-List territory. It’s not for lack of good looks, or charisma, or (as “Buried” proved) lack of ability. If not those things, then… what? Puzzles the hell out of me.

  87. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

    The weird thing about Sentinal Prime saying that line (well, one weird thing) is that there are, what, a few hundred transformers vs 6 billion humans? I think humans are clearly the “many” in this case. So that philosophy should have placed Sentinal on the Autobots side.

    So, really that line is just in there because they could, and they never stopped to think if they should. Now they’ve patented it, packaged it slapped it on a plastic lunchbox and now they’re selling it!

    #JurassicParkQuotes

  88. I’m a big GREEN LANTERN fan, and only found the movie average. C+ at best. Loved the corps, didn’t think the CGI was that bad(though seeing it in 3D is pretty pointless), liked all the mythology they included and thought the changes they made were logical. There was a bit of a lack of scale though at times to things, some elements of the story are underdeveloped(they could have done more with Hal’s family. I mean, why wasn’t the kid he saves in the climax his nephew?) and the Corps should have been used more. It struck me that if they actually do more movies, it could get better now the origin stuff and explaining the Green Lanterns is out of the way, especially if the extra scene means what it appears to. Thought the way the ring powers were portrayed was good and liked the clever use of it at one point to make water. Totally agree about Mark Strong. My initial reaction to his casting was he was a good second choice to my wish for Hugo Weaving, but now I wouldn’t trade at all. I actually though Sarsgaard did well as Hammond. Especially considering how the character was actually TONED DOWN a bit from how he is in the comics.

  89. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 3rd, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Larry- Yeah, Saarsgard was giving off some MAJOR Malkovich, I saw that as well. And Robbins, well… Let’s just say that it was good he had such a minor role. Fantastic actor, total nutball and possibly just no bead on how to play this kind of movie. I think it is an interesting contrast that so many of the fantastical characters (the Guardians, Sinestro, the other Corps members, even Parrallax, were played so very very serious (not overly so- just “this shit is real and it means something” serious) where the earthbound villains were so hammy and over the top. Not enough of a tonal shift to hurt the overall movie for me, just an observation.
    I like Reynolds. I admit to a mancrush on him. I remember him going back to when he was on Fifteen. I enjoyed his smartass and smarmy Van Wilder- but of all things, it was his part in the Amityville Horror remake that made me say “this guy really is going to be a major major star” and it just has never happened. He gets consistent, if not mindblowing, work and I think most people know who he is- he’s just never broken through. Maybe because even though he had had a string of celebrity relationships, but has still never been tabloid fodder, he’s never really entered the general public consiousness as a true “star”. Either way, he did not make, nor did he kill the movie for me. He just “worked”. Oa, Parrallax, Sinestro and Blake Lively are what made the movie for me, really.

    To Transformers. I agree with whoever was saying above that fanboys and geeks always want to see these near unattainable gritty and “serious” versions of properties they were fans of as kids, to somehow justify that they are not total nerd for liking a robot cartoon (or whatever) and that is the big fuck up. Some of these properties are simply not suited for gritty and serious adaptations… and others flat out don’t deserve it. I think a fun as hell Transformers movie could be made, but it needs to understand not only itself and its roots, but its audience and the inherent goofiness of the concept and just fucking go with it (much like why Vern, and I, prefer the GI Joe movie to the Transformers movies- totally unapologetic and much more in tune with their their sources roots and true tone)- I’m not saying this series needed to be a total parody, but look at something like GALAXY QUEST- it is a hilarious comedy, a smart genre send up AND an excellent space adventure that is a solid example on its own of the genre that it is sending up in the first place. I’d love to have seen a live action Transformers movie in that vein.

  90. I still don’t get where the eye candy is coming from. I’m with Mouth, nothing in this movie was impressive. The biggest spectacle was boring. I really wish I could see the glorious eye candy in this, but that’s the film’s biggest fault, failing at it’s main (and maybe sole?) purpose?

    I was nostalgic for Scooby-Doo and I’ll be nostalgic for The Smurfs. If the movie sucks I won’t care one way or another, and I may or may not get a kick out of seeing 3D live-action smurfs. There’s a notable difference between Transformers and the sequels. Any nostalgia you had could be appreciated in Transformers, and it is totally gone in the sequels. I say this not to diminish anyone’s enjoyment, but to defend the nostalgic against dismissive criticism.

  91. Only fitting I follow the REAL man himself. . .I am, right? Anyway.

    I haven’t seen this, haven’t seen the second. I saw the first and did enjoy it in a “so bad it’s good way.” But I didn’t feel the need to see it again, like. . .ever.

    The main reason I didn’t see part 2 is because of what Vern and other writers I respect told me to expect. So I said fuck that noise.

    But my God, do I love this site. The comments and discussion. All stand up individuals who may not always agree but can express themselves in a way that doesn’t devolve into “fuck u total gaywad prick I thot this movie kicked MUCH ASS and all of you can suck it” bullshit.

    It’s refreshing. I love it. All of you rock. None more than you, Big Vern. Thank you, honestly and for true. This is the shit right here.

  92. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 3rd, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Stu. Seems like we both enjoyed the same things about GL and both would have liked the movie a lot more with one more big action setpiece involving the Corps (that would solve the underuse of the Corps and the scale issues both). Granted, I totally see the point of *spoilers* Hal needing to defeat Parrallax largely on his own, so I am not exactly sure WHERE in the story/movie they would/could have gotten another good space battle in there involving the Corps- other than maybe one more attempt on their part to defeat Parrallax with group force earlier on- though I think that would have kept them away for Hal for too long. Damnit, see I know roughly what I want in the movie, but have not idea how it could have actually worked- that’s why I do not write screenplays. Ha.
    And yes, the water trick to break that fall was clever as hell and my favorite use of the ring in the movie.

  93. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 3rd, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Let me say this:

    You don’t see girls that grew up in the 80s running around saying:

    “I want to see a balls to the wall, hard-R MY LITTLE PONY movie with a violent climax in a glue factory!”

  94. I have just returned from my Transformers 3 / Tree of Life double feature and I think I am a better person for it.

    I even have proof!
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hR96umEXW54/ThDv1_PwV1I/AAAAAAAAAIk/96QJa7APygY/s320/tix.jpg

    I went into Transformers 3 expecting to hate it. I was even really and truly embarrassed by going to see it because I feel like I’m an adult and I shouldn’t be going to see a 3 hour long toy commercial. I didn’t hate it, though. It’s not a good film and I’m not going to try to forgive it for anything but it is ridiculous in so many ways that they had to know how the movie comes off and it can’t be serious. The movie is never really exciting but it’s also never boring.

    First, I want to say that it does some things well. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the first two so I don’t know how well they do this but this one has a pretty decent action scene where humans plausibly destroy some enemy giant robots. I kind of figured that they painted the one guy as being a collaborator to give the good humans someone to fight while they tried to survive what amounts to a disaster movie. But instead they give the good humans something to do and it works and its a decent scene. I mean, the geography and scale of that scene and fight is off but the individuals shots tie together decently enough so I get what happened and take it on faith that it makes sense. I bought it.

    The screen was bright! That’s a plus! I’ve heard so many horror stories about dark and dingy 3D that it was nice to see a bright screen.

    I think a lot of the actors were aware of how ridiculous all of this was. I’m not saying any brought Nic Cage levels of mega acting but some of it was close. Almost all of the jokes fell flat but I can’t think of any that were obnoxiously bad. I think all of the actors brought a good sense of fun and ridiculousness to their roles that made the movie not awful.

    I agree with Vern that the 3D really helps discern who is what and where since there are layers to each shot. One of the reasons why I never sat down and watched the first two is that the bits and pieces I had seen from them left me totally confused about what was going on. In part 3, at least, I could tell what was going on and the action scenes were pretty okay for what they were.

    The girlfriend in this was OK. I thought she would be awful but she wasn’t. I don’t find her attractive, I like my girls more everyday and proletariat looking, but she was kind of distractingly attractive. She looks like someone you would never bump into in real life.

    Also, why did they insist on having most of the movie take place in DC and film it all in Chicago? Seriously, even the scene on the highway has signs for Peoria. Also, DC does not really have a skyline to speak of outside of the monuments and a person wouldn’t really drive around in DC since it is easier to just take the Metro.

    I could nitpick this movie to death but I don’t think it should be (like why did they send those slow moving VTOLs in full of guys when minutes before we saw jets get blown up and people talk about how the city was impenetrable from the air or why did Sentinel Prime not accept that leadership crystal thing when he was just going to *SPOILER*betray*SPOILER* them later anyhow?). It’s a ridiculous movie, but I think everyone in on it knew it was ridiculous.

    In Fast Five the final action sequence is ridiculous but everyone plays it earnest. We accept it because the series, and that movie especially, has shown that cars are magical and are able to do whatever is required of them by our heroes. I think that movie manages to sell such impossible physics without it being a big deal and I still come away caring about the characters and what happens to them. Transformers is even more ridiculous but everyone in that world is a ridiculous person so it all came off like a comedy to me.

    Basically, I think this movie was OK. It’s not great. It’s not really defensible. It also never bored me, either, and it was ridiculous and silly enough that I can forgive its fetishism and fascism. Seriously, Optimus Prime is a major asshole and a total fascist. At the end, though, I don’t think this movie deserves hatred or contempt but nor do I think I’ll be bothered enough to see a sequel or go back and watch the first two.

    Like Transformers 3, I think Tree of Life is the unbridled work of an auteur that deliberately crafted what I saw. Both of these movies are incredibly self indulgent.

    I can’t even begin to describe Tree of Life or explain if I liked it or not. I really need to see how I feel about it over the next few days. I will either forget about it or I will end up thinking about it and dwelling on it and coming to love it.

    Not that I agree or disagree but I think Tree of Life will be what many point to and say is wrong with independent cinema. It’s incredibly long, edited to be impenetrable, has long stretches of nothing but shots of nature and narrators asking questions, and will require people to seek out a plot synopsis online to just decipher what it is they just saw. I think this movie is going to need to be appreciated on the emotional response it elicits. For me, personally, it just reminds me of how I have no relationship with any of my family and that once my wife gets tired of me and leaves me that I’ll be totally alone as I walk around in the mudflats of the afterlife. Thanks, Malick!

    Since I’m still trying to decipher my emotional response to the film I’ll just give some stream of conscious reactions. The sequence of the beginning of the world was interesting and I think there’s a sequence towards the end of the ending of the world. That was interesting to watch.

    The theatre was full for this movie but by the time it ended I would say that there was 10% to 15% of the audience that had left early. I know I personally counted 11 people.

    Man, Brad Pitt is kind of a dick to his family this was like that Troy movie where Brad Pitt played Achilles and Hector was played by his family.

    Why did they even have Sean Penn in the movie? His role could have literally been played by anyone.

    I don’t know, I need to think on this some more. I feel like there’s something I’m missing about this movie. Maybe I didn’t notice it when it happened and it will surface over time? I don’t know. I’m just really unsure about this movie. I’m afraid it might be an instance where the emperor has no clothes but I’m holding out hope that an epiphany will hit me about the meaning of this movie.

    Fast Five is still the best movie I have seen this summer. Valhalla Rising is still Malick’s best film and I would not reflexively hate a Justin Lin directed Fastformers and the Transfurious movie where Vin Diesel and The Rock ride around in cars that transform.

    Oh! and that one scene from Transformers 3 where they are on the highway and the yellow car transforms into a robot and the kid is in there and he’s flying in the air screaming and the robot transforms back into a car around the kid so he’s back in the seat was kind of cool.

  95. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 3rd, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Reused footage/effects rendering from THE ISLAND in T3 (not that I am using this as a knock on the movie, Disney used to do this a lot in their leaner times just after Walt’s death, I just thought it was interesting):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7kcqB3thJM

  96. @A.J.: Amen, brother. Civility is not necessarily the rule here, nor does it need to be. It’s understood.

    On a lighter(?) note: “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon” is currently tracking at $372 million worldwide; WOW, who’da thunk it? I love how Shia LeBeouf and Michael Bay both stated earlier this week that they were done with the Transformers movies. Rrrrrrright.

    And a month from now, some topdog suit at Paramount will call them in and say “Hey, fellas… we got two new checks for you to cash! C’mon, give ’em a little sniff!”.

    And the backpedaling begins, and then it’s hello “Transformers 4: Optimus Gets His Groove On” in 2013. Done deal.

  97. So, chatting with my wife and I think I realized something.

    Some movies, like The Dark Knight (and no, I don’t want to discuss it right now), can be critiqued and talked about. Like, I think I would love The Dark Knight if it did certain things differently. I’m not talking about huge changes or anything but changes all the same.

    I don’t even know where to begin with Transformers 3 and Tree of Life. They are both so pure in their reflection of their makers that I don’t think I could break them down to component parts. I’m not trying to favorably compare Bay to Malick but it’s obvious that both have managed to achieve the ability to put onto film what they purely want and it becomes as much an extension of their personality as anything else.

    It just so happens that Malick cares about family and existential questions whereas Bay cares about helicopters and explosions.

    Also, Vern talked about how the guy’s girlfriend only had that job because they wanted to keep tabs on the guy. That’s true! I also saw that when they were leaving that bar or restaurant or whatever when the guy tries to make up with the girl that he gets into the driver’s side of the girlfriend’s car and starts to drive. Like, maybe I’m weird but whenever my wife and I go out we decide on who drives based on what car we’re going to take. It just seems weird to me that he would automatically take the driver’s seat in her car.

  98. CrustaceanHate

    July 3rd, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    It surprises me to hear you say that, Vern, because typically you avoid expressions like “so bad it’s good”. Would you consider the enjoyment of TF3 similar to the enjoyment you get from, say, a poorly made DTV Seagal movie? And if so, does it bother you that in one case these hilarious moments of weirdness come from a lack of time and resources and languish in DTV obscurity, and in the other case cost hundreds of millions of dollars and will make that money back several times over? Or does that make it even more perversely entertaining?

  99. @Casey: The problem (if it is, in fact, a problem) that I have with Malick, and Kubrick as well, is that IMO they seem more like directors of photography who mugged the actual director, and stole his chair, and then had their way. Their films aren’t so much about establishing a coherent narrative, or getting the best from their actors… but rather a figurative tour of the Louvre Museum or the architecture of Ancient Rome, and that played across the expanse of a movie screen. Its purpose seems less to make sense on any level other than visceral, than to be admired for its aesthetic value.

  100. CrustaceanHate

    July 3rd, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I really don’t get it when people say it would be “impossible” to make a serious movie about giant alien robots coming to Earth and wrecking shit up. What about 2005’s WAR OF THE WORLDS? I don’t want a gritty reboot, I just want someone to treat the source material (which I’m not even attached to) like it isn’t stupid bullshit they feel is beneath them. I don’t get this obsession with movies “not taking themselves too seriously”. I have much more respect for a movie that aims for sincerity and fails rather than undermining itself every five minutes so save you the trouble.

  101. Mr Amazing, I see where you are coming from but I think Kubrick has more to offer. Sure, 2001 is self indulgent and not too different from most of what Malick has done but I think Dr Strangelove and The Shining have a lot more going on.

    I do think, however, that Malick would do great if he had a trusted collaborator. His films leave me cold and if it wasn’t for people like Mouth thinking so highly of Tree of Life I might be tempted to reflexively dismiss it. It is gorgeously shot and has a lot of positive aspects to it but I’m really afraid that there’s nothing more to it than what it seems.

  102. Casey, the reason it looks like Chicago is because the last hour is actually set in Chicago, and the film says as much, repeatedly. You must have not watched the film closely enough. In fact, if you missed that detail, I have trouble believing anything else you said since you clearly you were giving the film its due attention. Just kidding lol, about the second part, not the part about the film set in Chicago. Interesting insights though, glad you didn’t have too terrible of a time. I’m planning to see it a couple more times at least, and at least once in IMAX 3D. I loved the hell out of it.

  103. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 3rd, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Crustacean…
    It’s about reasonable suspension of disbelief. And the ultimate crux of the concept.
    Aliens invading earth. Okay. If there ARE aliens with advanced technology, then its not out of the question that they may at some point get designs on our planet and attack. And that concept CAN be presented seriously.

    But aliens that turn into cars and dinosaurs and boomboxes and helicopters and (at one point in TF history, um… boulders?) whilst attacking and/or defending our planet… well that is REALLY pushing it and inherently silly, any way you look at it.

  104. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 3rd, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    And I do understand that near every genre picture can be stripped to its core and exposed as inherently silly- be it comic book, fantasy, scifi, horror, whatever… but the concept of Transformers, specifically, is really really corny.
    That is not to say it is STUPID, but it is still too corny to ever make a totally serious movie about, that actually works.

  105. @Casey: I hear you, bro. A Renaissance painting, or a fine piece of architecture (old or new), is to be admired for its visual beauty, but… does it leave you with anything other than that sense of admiration?

    A truly powerful (and thus, accomplished) film MUST resonate on visual, emotional, and intellectual levels. Only then is greatness achieved.

    Sorry if I seem a bit didactic here, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

    A few examples (IMO) pertaining to the above mini-rant:

    “Citizen Kane”
    “From Here To Eternity”
    “The Godfather”
    “Goodfellas”
    “Braveheart”

    Obvious choices, yes, but it’s a small pantheon.

  106. Casey, I really enjoyed your post. I like your positive, holding back judgement in favor of further contemplation take on both the films you watched. I’ve gotta tell you, though, that Terrance Malick did not direct VALHALLA RISING. It was directed by an up and comer named Nicolas Refn. I can see why you might make that mistake though. In terms of pacing and trippy imagery it has a lot in common with a Malick picture. Perhaps you meant to type THE NEW WORLD.

    Refn’s next picture is DRIVE with Ryan Gosling and it looks like it’s gonna be a humdinger.

  107. Why is it assholes like Bay and Zach Snyder (blasphemy!) love to repeatedly slow-mo action sequences?

    Its like teenagers who just discover masturbation. They can’t help themselves.

  108. @AmazingLarry: There is a lot of room for individual taste in there though. I mean Braveheart… really? On what intellectual level does that film succeed? The the characters, conflict, and setting as presented in the film have about as much to do with history or reality as Lord of the Rings. And on a technical level? It is a continuously filled with continuity errors and many poor effects.

    I am not saying it is a bad film (it isn’t!), only that for most people the emotional response is paramount for a judgement of quality. A film can lack intellectual depth and be technically inept, yet if the themes and characters stir up the viewer’s emotions the movie will still be loved and treasured.

    I would say the pantheon you refer to is actually quiet huge. If movies stopped being made tomorrow, most of us would still die with truly great films yet unseen and undiscovered.

  109. gingersoll – BRAVEHEART exists as making the Scots for 2-3 hours believe they aren’t the bitches of the English.

  110. Fred, anyone, would you also agree that TRANS3 seems low budget in parts? I detected apathy, or maybe the unfortunate consequences of a constrained shooting schedule, and so the action was merely passable-to-good when it could have been great.

    Now nobody wants to get into yet another fucking discussion about Batman and nerd shit, but I’ll echo what someone else mentioned here recently about the TDK tunnel scene; I’ll use this part of the 2008 Nolan film for the narrow, specific purpose of an example of superior action filmatism. Let’s compare the big awesome convoy chase scene in THE DARK KNIGHT and the big sort of partially limitedly awesome freeway scene in TRANS3.

    TDK establishes it (not even gonna get into the overall plot superiority considerations) by saying “This guy needs to make it to the other side of the borough and be secured, and there’s gonna be some armored cars and guys with guns involved” and we’re all like, oh shit, that might be dangerous since Joker’s minions have their eyes on everything, and sure enough the film cuts to the beginning of the transport convoy and we feel a little shift in tone^ as the music goes all minimal and the camera gives us a cool bird’s eye view and we’re like, oh shit, why are they showing us this mundane shot of these trucks driving through an uneventful Gotham commerce district and showing us this driver character who hasn’t meant anything before now and now he’s got dialogue? and then we’re like, oh shit, did the music just get drowned out, they should be driving faster, oh shit, these guys are about to get fucked up by some bad guys but we don’t know how or where, all’s quiet, no worries, oh shit there’s a hunk of flames diverting them off their planned route, oh fuck, Sadr City flashback, this is some scary shit, lock & load, tell the gunner to stay frosty, call higher & report now, cuz we’re about to be engaged in a motherfucking firefight –

    See? Now, that’s some good suspense; that’s great moody filmatism, with or without the added emotions from the plot up to that point or whether you give a damn about a superhero story. And it’s followed by some great, perfectly timed action, as a bad guy’s truck shows up and all hell breaks loose and it’s all very exciting and satisfying and visually fucking outstanding.

    See, Bay & the TRANS3 team got that last part down pretty good, and there’s nothing wrong with the music in the Transformers movies either, in my opinion. But in comparison to the TDK scene, the TRANS3 freeway scene got tragically little to set it up for the greatness it should have achieved.

    What happened? Some guy mumbles some exposition that we don’t remember or have any reason to care about, then it cuts to an NSA computer hub, and someone, iIrc, says into a phone on loudspeaker, “There, 3 black Suburbans,” and then it cuts straight from meaningless, ridiculously convenient satellite imagery to ground level where the Suburbans creep up on the convoy and the Robots in Disguise do some cool shit. After that cut to street level, it looks great, but it’s not satisfying. It’s barely exciting.

    (Not even with all the military shit on display in this Transformers sequel did I once think back on combat mission tactics or get the ‘bad feeling’ tingle/flashback that I got during the TDK scene, which has no Army guys. The 2007 TRANSFORMERS had some good Army-Air Force shit that made me nod my head in approval, like when they properly call in a “Danger Close” mission, but in DARK OF THE MOON the only thing I remember registering in terms of my professional experience was 1. thinking that a DNI like Frances McDormand’s obnoxious character would never get anything accomplished in the Pentagon and 2. laughing at the asshole who’s probably supposed to be a Green Beret wearing a ‘RANGER’ t-shirt. Cool Guys don’t do that. Ever. In my unit, we’d never stop ridiculing a guy who wore that.)

    It seems someone storyboarded this thing and said, “Here, car chase. Oh, I bet we can re-use some of the footage from THE ISLAND. Hey, I just saved the budget a day & a half of shooting; maybe I’ll have champagne with my brunch. Good. Next?” The scene almost possesses that empty music video sense of all style over substance, but for the fact that there is *some* substance there, just enough substance so that this in turn makes it all the more frustrating for the viewer because we know there are supposed to be reasons that this stylish segment of action filmatism matters and we know that the movie’s not gonna fade out with Hype Williams’s name printed in little white letters in the lower left corner of the screen after 4 minutes.

    In fact, the transitions^ from scene to scene are even worse, even more jarring & dishonest than how most music videos end! If this befuddling herky-jerkiness^ was somehow intentional, as the author of James’s IO9 link snarkily suggests in his 3-movies-in-one understanding of TRANS3, then I guess I’m the clueless one, but it sure seems like all the visual effects talent in the filmmaking crew is unbalanced, like they’re a bunch of baseball players who can be a DH/1B and smack home runs every 15th at-bat but will never bat over .230 and never win a Gold Glove.

    ^^^ I wanted to mention that I’ve discovered a great artist to whom one could inoffensively compare Michael Bay. Tchaikovsky somewhat famously described the problems he had with putting together the most inspired elements of his major works into a more perfect whole when he remarked, “My seams always show.”
    And in a letter to a friend, he wrote, “If I cannot complain of poverty of fantasy and inventiveness, I have, on the other hand, always suffered from an inability to produce a finished form. Only by dogged labour have I managed to make the form of my compositions correspond more or less to the content. In the past I have been too casual, insufficiently aware of the full importance of a critical scrutiny of the sketches. Because of this the seams were always noticeable in my work, there was a lack of organic continuity in the sequence of the separate episodes. This was a major defect, and only with the years have I begun little by little to put this right. But my works will never be models of form, for I can only improve, not completely eradicate, the essential characteristics of my musical organism.”
    Also, “What I write has always a mountain of padding: An experienced eye can detect the thread in my seams and I can do nothing about it.”

    Here’s one contemporary critic, on Tchaikovsky: “Your Fatum has been performed [in St. Petersburg] reasonably well … There wasn’t much applause, probably because of the appalling cacophony at the end of the piece, which I don’t like at all. It is not properly gestated, and seems to have been written in a very slapdash manner. The seams show, as does all your clumsy stitching. Above all, the form itself just does not work. The whole thing is completely uncoordinated…. I am writing to you with complete frankness, being fully convinced that you won’t go back on your intention of dedicating Fatum to me. Your dedication is precious to me as a sign of your sympathy towards me—and I feel a great weakness for you.
    M. Balakirev—who sincerely loves you.”

    Many critics and serious musicians refuse to acknowledge Tchaikovsky’s status among the greats, dismissing his work for its “visible seams,” its unevenness, its inability to develop cohesively within the form he so obviously strived to achieve or fit into. But, like Bay, critics be damned, the man’s work is extremely popular and profitable, even if he’s not good friends with Steve Spielberg like Michael fucking Bay is.

  111. Mouth – what you mean low budget? I didn’t see it personally. Can you clarify that for me?

    Bay’s basic action philosophy is simply this: Rape.

    If you slam your hand, its hurts like a mother fucker. After ten more times, your numb digits feel less pain. Bay hammers your skull to the point that you submit, forces your compliance or makes you completely indifferent.

    You know, boring.

    (Bay found a way to make giant robot fighting boring. Way to go Mike. Here’s a cookie.)

  112. Mr Tempurasan, I apologize for not being clear. I was aware that the last hour took place in Chicago but the first hour was supposed to take place in DC. They talk about it taking place in DC a lot. They even show a map of the highway where that highway sequence is taking place outside of DC but when the action scene takes place there are road signs for Peoria. Also, all of the non-action scenes that are supposed to take place in DC (because they say as much) can’t possibly take place in DC because DC does not have that skyline. I should know as I live inside the Beltway. It’s a nitpick but I found it weird that they made such a big deal of it taking place in DC but can’t be bothered to film it there.

    Mr Amazing, I agree! You’re not being didactic!

    I think I feel a little insecure about Malick. I’ve not really loved any of his films and I have not seen any of the “there” that’s supposed to be there about his films. I’m afraid I’m missing out on something and that something is wrong with me. I’m tempted to, when talking about Malick, to rattle off “respectable” films that I adore as proof of my bona fides as someone who is at least not a total moron.

    Here are some films that are respectable that I love:
    Unforgiven
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Koyaanisqatsi
    The Assassination of Jesse James
    Once Upon a Time in the West
    Dancer in the Dark
    City of G-d

    I would argue all of those have a strong visual style and a deliberate, sometimes ponderous, pace that still manage to enthrall me and be about something.

    Mr Darryll, I apologize but I was trying to make a joke! I’m fully aware that Valhalla Rising was done by Refn but its style and pace would easily be mistaken for a Malick film. I think it’s a brilliant film that is hypnotic and utterly surprising.

    I hope Drive is great! He is one of those directors that I’m eager to see. I agree with Vern on Bronson but Valhalla Rising is just something special to me.

    Thank you for the compliment, though! I remember when I first emailed Vern a while back and he noted by confrontational tone and after some events in my life I have been trying to be much more positive and optimistic. Maybe optimistic is the wrong word but I think I’m trying to be more sincere and am trying to interact with people and life as though they are also sincere and acting in good faith.

    Mr RRA, I did not see much slowing down or fast forwarding or the like in Transformers 3. I think it happened in one scene but I could be wrong as I was not looking out for it. It doesn’t bother me, though, and I like Snyder so it may have happened a lot and it didn’t affect me.

    The more I think about Transformers 3 the more I think it was intended to be a comedy. It’s not a good comedy or anything but I think Bay has come to terms with his limitations and instead of trying to be very serious he backs down to something more quirky. Take Frances McDormand’s assistant: she’s always on her phone texting and is so prim and serious that it has to be a joke.

    I might be in the minority but I like it when a film or a director realizes their limitation and backs off from being too grim or serious. I think my problems with several very famous and very popular movies in the last few years is that they tried to be very serious but they fell short and come off as worse than they otherwise might.

    I also agree with those that say nerdy or dorky genre movies and shows and how they try so hard to be grim and relevant that it becomes painful. Again, I know I’m in the minority but Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galaxy feel like they try so hard to emphasize its adult content to overcome the fact that they are shows about dragons and robots.

  113. Mouth, one thing that really surprised me about Transformers 3 and Tree of Life was the amount of music. I’m not used to movies having a near constant sound track. Or maybe I’ve not noticed it as much.

    I also really appreciate your analysis of TDK and Transformers 3 in terms of their action scenes. I totally agree! I could be snide and say that is the only good action scene in TDK, but I won’t!

    One thing I liked about Transformers 3, and it is something I brought to the movie, is that the bad guy truck robot reminded me of the truck in The Road Warrior and that makes me happy. I love that movie.

  114. Casey – One should treat a Malick movie as like talking a walk in the woods or sitting by the beach: A time to think over the ideas presented, about life, all that shit. He’s not an “entertainment” guy, as we usually accept that idea. I think people love Malick because he makes people step back and take the movie canvas and use it on their lives.

    There’s no Movie Police saying you have to like Malick. I like to think he’s great at provoking the moviegoer. Not simply a cheap, temporary scare ot jolt or laugh, but you know re-examine life and shit.

    “I like Snyder so it may have happened a lot and it didn’t affect me.”

    Again why is Bay the villain and Snyder given the pardon? I’ve never understood certain locals who’ll defend Snyder to the death at the Thunderdome, but Bay is given the chop block appointment for some of the same crimes and mentality.

    I wonder if its like in national politics and the Culture War, where issues themselves don’t matter or are necessarily relevant, but just about people’s self-identity and their cultural associations fighting each other.

    Bay is right or not, fair or not, a symbol of everything wrong in Hollywood, the blockbuster field. To hate him is to hate stupid, worthless disposable movies this side of Kleenix. Stick it to the greedy suits!

    Snyder is a victim of Nerd Chic run amok, who’s pardoned because he isn’t as Bay-rific as Bay. Or something. I don’t get it.

  115. fuuuuuuuck.

    Outlaw Vern, where dudes compare detailed accounts of Tchaikovsky’s compositional shortcomings with Bay’s cinematic ones.

    I’ve always thought Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory was pretty much a blue print for the summer blockbuster: Heroic battle agaisnt Evil, patriotism, idiotically simple narrative, big over the top effects, Romatic victory… Nothing new under the sun and all that I guess.

  116. gingersoll – Now that’s a provocative idea. I like it.

  117. @gingersoll: Ecclesiastes, all up in this bandwidth mug. These things happen.

  118. Well said, gingersoll & Amazing Larry.

    Fuck the stuff under the sun. We’re after what’s above & beyond the sun.

    We strive for excellence.

  119. RRA, Snyder shoots clear well staged action sequences. Bay shoots flashy, cluttered, and incoherent blurs of action. I get you are not a fan of the use of slow motion, and they both use slow mo but there is really no comparing the two. Snyder has directed some of the most effective big budget action sequences over the past few years. Bay has directed some of the most confusing and disorienting big budget action sequences over the past few years. Compare any of the action sequences in SUCKER PUNCH or WATCHMEN to any of the action sequences in TRANS 1 or 2 and you will see exactly what I mean. I understand if you don’t like Snyder’s style, but your comparison to Bay is way off the mark.

  120. I definitely agree with you on Malick, RRA. I know I reflected a lot on The Thin Red Line and I think Tree of Life will similarly prompt a lot of self reflection and thought.

    I think if a work of art can elicit self reflection or an emotional response than it was successful on some level. I think Malick is successful here for that reason. I do think, however, that he could have prompted the same emotional reaction and demand for self reflection AND make a more accessible film at the same time.

    I think in a film like Unforgiven or No Country for Old Men the pacing and deliberate cinematography really add to the themes and prompting for for an emotional reaction. I just think that Malick goes a few steps too far and it becomes a little bit of self parody. I might be missing something but I really think that a lot of how Tree of Life was edited and put together makes it needlessly impenetrable.

    Maybe I’m totally missing the point and it is less Guernica and more a Rothko no. 14 or Lavender Mist.

    I don’t reflexively hate Bay. I liked The Rock and don’t find anything to hate in Armageddon. Bad Boys II was insane but in a hateful sort of way so I didn’t like it. I have only seen parts of the first two Transformers but what I saw was incomprehensible or offensive. I could tell what was going on in Transformers 3 and I think in the end it is not a terrible film. I didn’t hate it and I think it’s inoffensive enough. I was never excited by it but I was never bored, either. So, yeah, I’m not a reflexive Bay hater.

    I think Snyder is a better director than Bay. He managed to remake Dawn of the Dead, one of my favorite movies growing up, without pissing me off. It stands well on its own and is a fun enough movie that moves along quickly and never bores me. 300 is stylistic and besides its racism and promotion of fascism is a decent enough film. I really enjoyed Watchmen and am excited to see his owl movie and Sucker Punch sometime soon.

    I think he is better at filming an action scene, gets better performances out of his actors, manages to have dialogue scenes that don’t make me feel embarrassed, and just seems more interested in telling actual stories. I like stories and characters and the drama between them. I can’t explain to you the stories or characters of Bay’s films and his action is oftentimes incomprehensible.

    It’s totally fair to dislike both Snyder and Bay but I think it is incorrect to assume that they are equal in terms of quality or that they have the same strengths and weaknesses.

    I’m tired and if I said anything here that came off as rude I apologize as I have nothing but respect for you, RRA.

  121. Also, I would say Nolan knows how to shoot big scale and/or complicated action sequences very well, but drops the ball when shooting more intimate close quarters or hand to hand combat sequences.

  122. **Maybe I’m totally missing the point and it is less Guernica and more a Rothko no. 14. . .**

    That’s it exactly, Casey. THE TREE OF LIFE looks like a movie, but it’s not a movie. It’s something else. It has the trappings of the presentation of cinema, but the same might be said when comparing water & vinegar.

    When Mrs. O’Brien (Jessica Chastain) floats, it is not witchcraft, not special effects, not an important plot point. We see a woman float, elevated by grace, by memory. We do not need to figure out how it advances a narrative or how it applies to the auteur whose vision is before us. It is a true thing that happens because it happens and because we experience it. To regard the moment in any other way is to become a mere spectator of a mere movie, to toil again under the sun.

    But this may occur to you someday soon. Or it may not. And either way you probably won’t be wrong or right. When I say Malick is the most rewarding filmmaker today, I refer to the organic, unforced process of revelation he facilitates, a journey to an understanding of his work. (I’ve traveled a somewhat similar path with the films of Wong Kar Wai, who has almost the same effect on me, but for now there remains a distance between the experience and the understanding. With time, I may have the breakthrough that is revelation & reward, but the journey is fun for now nonetheless.)

    No words I string together will explain why I enjoy the stuff. If I can’t articulate it for myself, how absurd & arrogant it would be to attempt to use words here to guide another to the same level of enjoyment & fulfillment. You must make this journey yourself, and it sounds like you intend to go about it the right way, the way of patience. Perhaps your destination will be quite different from mine. If we meet someday in the collective ether of the audience of a Malickian mutual memory, we will silently nod to signal our mutual understanding, and there won’t be any comment thread jibber-jabber here worthy of the sensation.

    I’ve quoted Rothko here before, and I’ll do it again: Silence is so accurate.

  123. So let me get this straight: Snyder is a good filmmaker because he’s better than Bay? OK thanks for the clarification. My bad. The Internet definately needs to quit bashing him so hard.

    (oh jeez, I think I stirred up a hornet’s nest by bringing up Snyder. I gave steroids to this comments section, that’s for sure. By Wednesday, I’m owed residuals for my efforts. Your welcome.)

  124. To try to provide some insights into how I find Bay’s action scenes enjoyable, I’ll briefly explain. Back in the other thread about GQ’s article about Bay, I mentioned that the difference between Japanese Manga and a Marvel Comic book may be the key to explain how one person can look at a Michael Bay’s action scene and go “What the fudge…?!” and another sees the pattern in the chaos. Basically it comes down to how Momentum is portrayed. This is my favorite manga growing up in the early 90’s. Here’s a page from it.

    http://i19.mangareader.net/captain-tsubasa/60/captain-tsubasa-488684.jpg

    This is a pretty ordinary action shot from this manga, and not even the craziest that it’d get. I look at it and I see “it”, but others have read the same manga and gave me a blank stare like I was a crazy person. I can’t say the same thing about anime, since the last time I saw one I just graduated HS. (27 now). For me, the excitement comes in the way he preserves the energy and momentum of an action scene. Not in the balletic way that Woo does it, although that is also an excellent way of shooting an action scene, but in a let loose gung ho maddening kinda way. I like the way he frames his action scene, the way he directs your eyes to the different subjects in his shot. You guys say that his action scenes have no rhythm, I just don’t think you see it, as well as hear it. The beat is more complex and spans over several different shots, sometimes scenes, but I feel it there. But then again, I’ve always been a form over content kinda guy. Not that I don’t appreciate content to give the form context, I do, I just find form interesting, in the way that most people study classical music forms.

  125. Never once during the Transformers movies did I think about Zack Snyder or wonder at possible similarities between Bay & Snyder. Never once during 300, WATCHMEN, Owl 300, or Girl 300 did I think about Michael Bay or wonder at the similarities between Snyder & Bay.

    And you know I’m an overthinking, hyperthoughtful, crazyanalyticalgraspingatstrawssometimestocomparecrazyshit kind of guy, yet I don’t see much of a comparison here.

  126. So I just got back from the Bayhem Xformers 3: Pink Floyd Album.

    But I did something crucially different and inherently radical to every single commentator here on this entire forum:

    I saw it with a 5 year old.

    And he loved it.

    There’s nothing to argue with.

    I don’t think we have looked yet at a Michael Bay movie from the one perspective that makes everything about Michael Bay make sense:

    He makes kids movies.

    We are forgetting our source material here folks!

    I mean, the whole movie is pure ADD. It matches the mind of a 5 year old child perfectly. There is no coherence or attempt at movement or feeling. That’s an adult world. This is the scatter shot imagery of a 5 year old rambling about car robots.

    In this regard, the movie is perfect.

    And so I won’t consider the movie in any other light except as kid’s movie. And this is the only way I will process, the only way I can process, the phenomenon of Michael Bay from here on out:

    The world’s most successful children’s movie director ever in the entire history of cinema.

  127. RRA, it is clear you don’t like Snyder. I am not trying to change your mind. I am just calling into question your comparison of Snyder to Bay. I don’t see how you can compare the two.

  128. Mouth – There is a pattern. I don’t like either.

    Charles – You’re right. There is no point to stretch this out any further. We’re at an impasse. We’re speaking English, but somehow its all been lost in translation.

    “I saw it with a 5 year old.

    And he loved it.

    There’s nothing to argue with.”

    BR B – Best statement/opinion expressed in these entire comments, save for Mouth’s postings. and that Beethoeven hypothesis.

    This is a decent toy ad, after all. I’m sure at that age, I would be whining to get my Optimus Prime doll. If only SUCKER PUNCH had been made for the action figure market.

  129. oh and off-topic, but the fourth (and dull) PIRATES movie made a billion dollars.

    That movie should’ve been made to walk the plank for wasting Ian McShane.

    (Fun Fact: Depp is the first star of two movies to make a billion each. Now its three pictures. Is he the world’s biggest movie star?)

  130. BR Baraka, all three of my nephews (at that time they were 6, 8, and 11) saw TRANS 2 in the theater with their mother, so I was not there for my reaction to in anyway influence them, and they all hated it. My 8 year old nephews said it was “dumb and boring”. Those are his words. Actually their feedback is a big reason I never even considered seeing TRANS 2 in theaters, because if it was so bad 3 little boys could not find anything redeeming about it I most definitely was not going to enjoy it. I am not trying say my nephews have better taste or anything like that or that they are real cinema aficionados. They may like part three, but I don’t buy that Bay is a good director for adults or children. Children might be more easily entertained and more forgiving, but I don’t think it is a given they will like Bay’s work.

  131. Yeah, Baraka, the kids’ movie angle is what I considered at first in my struggle to understand the movie beast of the summer, but I dismissed it, probably wrongly, for the following reasons:
    -the opening shot of the girl’s panties
    -the gay sex “jokes”
    -the girl=car objectification business
    -It’s 2 hour, 37 minutes long.
    -I enjoy many movies intended for kids.

    I wish I were 5 years old. I really do.

  132. RRA, If I missed something or misunderstood what you were getting at then my bad, but anyway moving on……. I found the first PIRATES film surprisingly tolerable for a film based on an amusement park ride, but what I saw of the sequels was pretty bad. I am surprised the franchise has made it to number 4.

  133. Mouth, I’m sorry I can’t say I felt it was low budget. I never doubted the level of money spent.

    Also, Tree of Life hasn’t made me reflect on anything in the months since I’ve seen it. I liked the floating shot. I liked the images. I still think it’s about a father who was unsuccessful at work so lashed out at his family and the son grew up with violent tendencies. And one of them died and they were sad about it, and Sean Penn found his inner child. Enjoyed the experience, but nothing changes upon further reflection. On the other hand, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly changed my life, and it wasn’t even my number one movie of that year.

    I find the “a child likes it so it’s great” argument to be dismissive. I got it from the Cars 2 lovers too. You know, I’m not taking anything away from the kids, but they will outgrow it. It is also entirely possible to make a movie children love and continue to love throughout their lives and adults love too. Also, if kids love Transformers 3 as much as they love Toy Story, which is the better movie? See, comparitive analysis kind of falls apart there. However, I did see Hannah Montana: The Movie in a theater full of cooing children and it was fantastic.

  134. In a world where WALL-E, UP, TOY STORY etc exist, “it’s a kids’ movie” is not a valid defense.

  135. Crustacean: I hadn’t thought of comparing and contrasting the ineptitude of, say, OUT OF REACH vs. a giant movie like this. It’s an interesting point. I think sometimes the fact that a movie is so expensive makes me more bitter toward it if I consider it bad. You’re right, there’s less of an excuse.

    But sometimes a movie that goes above and beyond the call of duty in brain damaged lunacy and tastelessness, like these movies or GI JOE or the Schumacher Batmans, I can switch over from being insulted that think I would like this crap to fascinated that somebody thought I would like this crap.

    Also, I agree with you about wishing more movies had the balls to take themselves more seriously. The example I always think of is NATIONAL TREASURE, where they have this ridiculous premise but instead of going for it they repeatedly have the characters themselves scoffing at the premise of the movie. “Next thing you’re gonna be telling me there’s Bigfoot!” Fuck you. I paid money to see this.

    Transformers does take the robot part mostly seriously, which to me ends up being much funnier than all the stuff that’s actually supposed to be funny.

  136. In a world where Labyrinth, Neverending Story, Spy Kids, The Lion King, Babe, The Muppet Movie or The Wizard of Oz existed, kids movies can be better.

  137. I think “perversely entertaining” is more accurate than “so bad it’s good.” I like that, I think I’m going to start using it. I think I found Drive Angry perversely entertaining.

  138. Here’s a pretty funny audio review of Transformers 2 from British film critic Mark Kermode that attacks the notion that it works as a “kid’s movie” for reasons similar to the ones Mouth talks about above:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g__bQ-Y7D8Q

  139. One more thing before I gotta run to the airport: The “stereotypical gay character”…was he even gay? I agree that he acted like a gay stereotype, except that I can’t remember one moment where he mentioned his sexuality or seemed to be attracted to men.

  140. CJ, I was going to bring that up too, but I assumed I missed something. I didn’t think he was gay, I just thought he had a “funny” accent. There was that one part where he pretended to have a girlfriend (named India?) but I took it as him being insecure, not gay.

  141. @CJ and RJ (kinda like the way that rolled out): Are we talking about the Alan Tudyk character? There’s been speculation that he’s gay IRL, much less in this movie.

    Frankly, I could care less. The man’s a top-notch actor. Everything he’s in, he makes better. Bay didn’t cast him by accident.

  142. Great review, Vern, but I kinda cringe when you compare G.I.JOE to Transformers. I really enjoy G.I.Joe, but because I think it`s a movie that`s suppossed to be tounge-in-cheek (and deliver awesome action-scenes). It is in some ways the opposite of Transformers, a naive and lighthearted throwback to the silly actionmovies of the eighties. I`m pretty sure that you`re suppossed to laugh with it and it`s silliness (like Charlies Angels, Danger Diabolik etc), not AT it (Transformers 2, etc)

  143. “the whole movie is pure ADD. It matches the mind of a 5 year old child perfectly.”

    People think your average child has no attention span but this isn’t true. Miyazaki movies are deliberately paced and kids love them. Heck I think I had a better attention span when I was a kid than I do now. I loved The Twilight Zone back then but I don’t really have the patience for it now.

    So I wouldn’t say Transformers is good for your attention span-challenged child, but rather good for eroding your child’s attention span.

  144. Great review, Vern!

    Rob’s Topless Robot FAQ brings out a lot of the same point you guys did. A must read as well.

    http://www.toplessrobot.com/2011/06/topless_robots_transformers_3_faq.php

  145. It sounds like we all agree: Baraka’s five year old friend is a stupid person.

  146. I think you’re right, Mouth. There isn’t much to talk about with Tree of Life. It’s not because there’s nothing there, and I’m starting to feel that there is, but that it is difficult to put it into words and I feel inadequate to the task of talking about it. I will say this, though, that I think this is Malick’s best film because he took a story with no real narrative or story and that gives him the freedom to do what he would like. Or, it might be more accurate to say that it gives me the freedom to not care about the structure and narrative of the film so that I am better able to appreciate what Malick is doing.

    The one theme of the movie I do feel able to talk about is the dichotomy between the way of grace and the way of nature. The way of grace sounds nice and romantic in a perfect and just world but until we live in one I feel that I must forever live in the way of nature so as to better shape the world for my fellow person. For myself and my personal dealings I think the way of grace makes sense but when it comes to the world at large, in as much as it does not interfere with myself, I think the way of nature is the way I will take. I’m still a young man with more piss and vinegar than I care to admit, though.

    RRA, I apologize if I got too caught up in comparing Bay and Snyder. That was not my intention. I like Snyder while acknowledging his weaknesses. I apologize if it makes me a simpleton to enjoy his films. I figure we live in a world where there are fewer and fewer good action directors and I think Snyder is one of those few.

    My nephew is 7 and loved Transformers 3. I think the barrage of iconic images and heroic characters is appealing for a child. When I was his age I loved The Road Warrior, Star Trek, and Robocop for much the same reasons (and no, I’m not trying to compare these to Transformers 3). Before he liked Transformers he loved Cars. I tried to get him to watch Speed Racer, a movie I really and truly love, and he did not like it at all.

    I think there are many movies that are nominally for children but are better for adults. I would put The Iron Giant into that category. I think part of the appeal of Transformers 3, and Total Recall when I was an 8 year old boy, is that these movies are not children’s movies but are more adult and exciting. Young boys don’t want to be reminded about their childhood and instead want to be pandered to with themes of hypermasculinity.

    Mr wandering, that’s a real shame about the Twilight Zone. My wife and I watched a few hours of it yesterday and the few times a year I sit down to watch it are always some of my favorite times. Having each episode only be a half hour means that they move along fast and you get lots of interesting ideas thrown at you.

  147. I apologize, above I gave the impression that I felt there was nothing there in Tree of Life. I think there is. It’s taking me some time to feel it but the movie does have meat to it.

  148. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 4th, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Vern,
    But there is a difference between a movie making fun of itself and its own premise and a movie not “taking itself too seriously”.
    You illustrated this beautifully in your GI Joe review. It’s never once winking at the audience or implying that it is above itself… It is just gleefully stupid and ridiculous and fun. Whereas (at least the first) TF movie tries DESPERATELY to make us take it seriously as action and as sci-fi, while at the same time refusing to stand on its own feet as such (there is really no way it could) and then bombarding us with “hey, we know this is retarded, isn’t it, but you sure did pay to see it, dumbass” moments.

    As to those discussing Snyder. Yeah, I do not see the Bay comparison for a second. There just isn’t one to be made. Love or hate both or either, they’re on completely different wavelengths and their shortcomings AND merits are too far removed from one another to even bring them up in the same conversation. The only tenuous connection that I can see is that one directed a horror remake and the other produced a bunch. Behind the camera comparisons are pointless.
    That said, I am a fan of Snyder. I am not a fan of Bay. I don’t hate Bay- I like The Rock, I like The Island, I even like Armageddon. I do not like Pearl Harbor, Transformers or Bay Boys, but I could never hate a director that gave me three movies that I genuinely enjoy watching along with some great Meatloaf clips. I just hate some of his movies. Snyder has yet to give me a movie that I haven’t enjoyed immensely(though I am behind and have still not seen Owl City or Succotash).

  149. LMAO @ Mouth’s last comment.

    I mean when I was 5 I was watching ALIENS, STAR WARS trilogy, ROBOCOP, THE TERMINATOR, HALLOWEEN, EVIL DEAD II, BEETLEJUICE, PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, GREMLINS, GOONIES, RAIDERS, HEATHERS (seriously!) and Burton’s BATMAN. Along with COMMANDO and THE LITTLE MERMAID. We had all these distinct VHS tapes at home and I’d watch them all. I’ve been a cinephile my entire life because of that circumstance. My tastes were all over the place back when I was growing up too but one thing I never tolerated was downright stupid.

    There was a movie I used to have called THE DIRT BIKE KID and I used to hate the hell out of it cause I found most of it terribly retarded even as a child. The spectacle of a flying dirt bike wasn’t enough to convince me otherwise. Once again I was 5.

    If this was me a kid born in ’83; I can’t even imagine how it is for most kids now a days when kids are even MORE precocious thanks to the net and other factors that didn’t exist when I was 5. So I’d say I’d give kids a lot more credit like wandering alluded to when he mentioned the Miyazaki movies. Not every kid is the type to lap up anything hollywood aims at their direction. Some kids are smart enough to notice when the emperor indeed has no clothes. They’re not all stuck in some type of ADD dimension that prevents them from recognizing bullshit when they see it.

  150. Beware the Stockholm Syndrome, Vern!

  151. I was an 80s kid, and i hated crap like Mac and Me and Superman IV.

  152. RRA, Charles, Mouth, Crustacean, Fred, wandering, etc…

    ok, ok, i screwed up my argument:

    xformers 3 is not a kid’s movie, it is a movie made by a kid

    i think that fits better

    this is further bolstered by all of the attitudes here that Mouth says are not of a kid’s movie, but very much would be from the mind of the child: the way the woman is treated as an object rather than a person, the gay sex jokes: this is a middle school or elementary school thinker’s mind at work here. there’s a reason we call these attitudes immature

    there is a whole branch of pscyhology that deals with “theory of mind.” that is, we reach maturity when we begin to process the world not as a bunch empty vessels out there, but as other minds with independent point of views. we are mature when we understand, and change our behavior as children, because we begin to grok “theory of mind”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind

    the immature mind, the Michael Bay mind, has no hang ups completely and utterly dismissing other POVs. well, not dismissing them, simply not even seeing them. there are no other points of view save that of this child Michael Bay. this is consistent with the entire world of the Michael Bay cinematic output

    so wandering: yes, some children are mature beyond their years, and love miyazake films. good for them

    we’re talking about the INVERSE person here: my thesis is that some adults are immature beyond their years, and are basically kid’s minds in adult’s bodies. that person is Michael Bay. he never grew up. the ultimate peter pan

    this is the source of all the fear, loathing, and yet morbid fascination we have here: we see a child’s mind at work with $200 million at it’s disposal to vomit its ADD up on the screen. it is morbidly fascinating. Michael Bay is an autisitic savant: he has channeled the 5 year old id perfectly. and we can’t help staring at it, the same way we can’t turn away from a violent accident on the highway. we are all rubbernecking at the raw unadulterated mental shunt right into the id of a 5 year old

  153. Well said. Then I retract my statement about your idiot 5 year old friend.

    Happy Independence Day, all [fellow Americans]!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOxJ6ytC7-E

  154. mouth: all 5 year olds are idiots. but some of them are charming ;-)

    and happy july 4th y’all!

    cj, macready: i agree, dutch wasn’t gay. he was just a quirky german dude. the flower suit, the “canadian girlfriend” called india: this is childlike sexual innocence, not flaming village person

    and i thought it was odd he’s even called “dutch” in the old american habit of calling german people dutch. like the amish are called “pennsylvania dutch”: we asked who they were, they said “deutsche”, as in german, because they were anapbaptist religious persecution refugees from alsace lorraine, and us american yokels thought they meant dutch

    to be fair, the amish call us “english,” as if we’re still subjects of the king, so the amish are yokels too

  155. See, I thought it was funny he was called Dutch because when he becomes a badass it made me think of Predator.

    The idea that Transformers 3 was made by a child is one that has some merit. It does make me think of this, though:

    http://www.theonion.com/video/today-now-interviews-the-5yearold-screenwriter-of,20188/

  156. Happy 4th guys. Time to go see what’s good with the BBQ’s.

  157. I just want to chime in on Shia LaBeouf’s interview with Drew McWeeny. I get the feeling that he really hates these movies. I’ve seen him be interviewed enough that I think that comment about Optimus was actually sarcasm. He repeatedly talks about how this is the best script of the all 3. Since he’s constantly told anyone who will listen that part 2 was terrible, that’s not saying much. My guess is that he didn’t want to bite the hands that feed him, but he’s happy for his Michael Bay experience to be over with.

  158. I find it interesting that Michael Bay, Zach Snyder and Tarsem Singh where classmates at Art Center College of Designe in Pasadena, California. I wonder who teached them, because they are all known for their visual style. It could be interesting to compare there styles, Singh has got a lot more praise for his style then Bay and Singh, but he also never have gotten praise for great characters or story.

  159. @Ghost, that’s really interesting to know that all three went to the same school. It makes it even stranger when you consider that Tarsem’s movie The Fall is basically a better version of Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch before Sucker Punch existed.

  160. Yeah, even though I made the comparison I agree that GI JOE and TRANSFORMERS are really different. I do think that Stephen Sommers has some sense of trying to be true to something that’s silly, while Bay believes he’s taking something silly and making it macho and awesome and America. And with the first one I think he genuinely believed that he was making a touching E.T. type movie.

    GI JOE doesn’t have the same pretensions, but I’m not sure we’re supposed to be laughing when Duke reveals that the evil terrorist is his ex-girlfriend or every time some jetpack ninja jumps out or at the hilariously shitty special effects or Joseph Gordon Levvitt’s voice or many other things. If that was all supposed to be tongue in cheek like CHARLIE’S ANGELS then why is there a comic relief Wayans brother? I can see a little C’s As in there, but I think of it more as a bigger budget MORTAL KOMBAT type deal. But that’s my sense of it, I don’t really know what Sommers was going for.

    GI JOE is more charming because it doesn’t seem as mean (I don’t remember any blatant racism, homophobia or macho belittling of anybody) and because it’s so shitty it never feels like it’s succeeding in passing itself off as a state-of-the-art blockbuster. I think I looked it up and it was actually way more expensive than it looked, but it gets away with feeling like the underdog. Depending on your tastes though the last two Transformerses are potentially funnier because they’re at least as stupid but with more sense that they believe they were completely deluded about what they were making.

    In conclusion, I understand why you cringe DNA, I did not mean to insult GI JOE.

  161. Since you brought it up in the review, Vern, will we ever get a WRATH OF KHAN review from you? If for nothing else than some of the mega acting Montalban brings to his performance. But it is actually a great movie in it’s own write, full of tension, some humour and exploring the Eastwoodian themes of getting older and whether you can still get things done or not.

  162. ^own right

  163. Bonus essay question: Compare and contrast the shot after the title card of Rosie’s posterior to the fictional film “ASS: The Movie” from the non-fictional film “Idiocracy”.

  164. BR, well said. That also illustrates my point that most kids in the audience will outgrow it, yet the movie will remain a product of a child’s mind.

    Guys, I hate to admit, but morbidly I watched Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, last night and… it’s not that bad. In light of Darkness of the Moon, it’s fast paced and, at least on a 50″ TV, easy to see what’s going on. Shia and the college roommate are downright subtle compared to Ken Jeong and Shia’s bitter job hunt and jealousy of McDreamy. I think I now appreciate it like vern appreciates TF3, but I find TF3 the most devoid of entertaining ideas. Maybe when TF3 comes to Cinemax on Demand I’ll like it better.

    Tempurasan, is that kind of the level you’re seeing it on? Kind of an expressionistic mashup of ideas?

    Grim Grinning Chris, that’s kind of an amazing clip. The fact is, without seeing them side by side, I would never have known the footage came from another movie. That is the magic of film, they can make it look like a new sequence. So that illustrates some skill on Bay’s part to me.

  165. RJ_MacReady:

    I would absolutely buy a ticket to Ass: the movie if it starred Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and wasn’t about farting. I’d even spring for the 3D surcharge.

  166. Fred, on some level, yeah that’s exactly how I see it. If you permit a terrible metaphor, it’s like a chef taking Caviar, lobster, Kobe steak, and whip up a meal with ketchup and MSG. It’ll look gross to some folks, and it may even taste revolting to the same people, but for me it strikes a delicate (and I use it loosely) balance. I’m not saying that it only works on a superficial level, but for me I find that it works on a deeper level as well. It doesn’t mean that Bay intended these deeper levels, I just see it.

    Plus, it’s fucking transforming robots smashing the shit out of each other… sometimes that in and of itself works.

  167. one guy from andromeda

    July 4th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I don’t understand what you guys are all about with this enjoying Trandformers 1 and 2 now for what they are. I have only seen those and not the new one (and never will if i can help it) and thus i think i can competently say that there is no way in hell it is acceptable to call them “not that bad”. These movies are the lowest combination of incomprehensibility, gung-ho war mongering recruitation device and impotent misogyny. And most of all they are fucking boring, disposable vapid “entertainment”. To go easy on them is on par with going easy on Pol Pot.

  168. What I don’t get is people comparing a Hollywood director who makes action movies to genocidal bastards. One makes movies that give people some entertainment for a few hours, and just because you don’t like his movies, he’s immediately equaling to somebody that goes out of their way to systematically murder an entire race. Yeah hyperboles are fun, but it stops being fun when you actually start to believe them.

  169. one guy from andromeda

    July 4th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    i don’t compare bay to pol pot, i compare transformers 1 and especially 2 to pol pot, both have the same cynical, soul crushing effect on me.

  170. ThomasCrown442

    July 4th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    So Bay is Hitler/Gaddafi and Transformers is Pol Pot. Anyway we can get Josef Stalin in the mix?

  171. Psst! Ixnay on the enocidejay eferencesray!

  172. Fred — I completely agree. TRANS 3 may have a few amusingly baffling concepts, but mostly its badness is just too conventional to be particularly interesting. Its sort of the most competent of the three, but that actually hurts it more than helps.

  173. “I agree with whoever was saying above that fanboys and geeks always want to see these near unattainable gritty and “serious” versions of properties they were fans of as kids, to somehow justify that they are not total nerd for liking a robot cartoon (or whatever) and that is the big fuck up.”

    Here’s a mock example of that taken to the absurd extreme…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDX1m0Y2Vkg

  174. I agree with the points about what are distracting in the movie. Sam being an unlikable self-centered douche is one. The one I had to howl at was having Optimus basically allow the Decpticons to slaughter thousands if not millions of people in Chicago just to prove a point. I also laughed at the entire jumping out of the planes sequence, especially when a whole bunch of soldiers made it in without any trouble by land and sea. I guess those weren’t very exciting to watch. If people get shot up and shot down, that’s where the camera is.

    I get that Sentinel’s quote was from Spock in the Star Trek… but it made absolutely no sense in the context of what was going on. I find it hard to believe that when Nimoy was given the script to read and record, he saw that line and didn’t question why it was in there.

    And seriously… Was Patrick Dempsey’s character that much of a delusional ass that he had to go doom the entire human race? I can understand why he was continuing to do the Decepticon’s bidding at the start and middle of the movie. He wanted to survive. His father basically set him up to do it and he didn’t have a choice since the evil robots would have destroyed him. So now that the shit has hit the metphorical fan and all he has to do is hide, let Sam save the day, keep his hands clean and allow the planet not to become a slave labor camp, what does he do? He actually activates the stupid McGuffin device that supposedly could only be operated by Sentinel.

    And speaking of Deus Ex Machinas… How convenient is it that Sam’s girlfriend who has a name but I can’t remember is there to whisper like Iago to Megatron and how stupid is he that he actually listens to her before his planet is fully transported? It’s just plain lazy.

    I believe Michael Bay has ADD. That is the only explanation as to why he has to have rapid fire shouting asshole comments through the entire movie that serves the way of supposedly conferring information rather than the usual process of using dialogue and in a proper scene. It’s almost schizophrenic how he jumps from one thing to another in desperation to get through all the “story” parts of the movie and boil them down to smart ass remarks, in some delusion that that is somehow more entertaining.

  175. – vern

    I agree, but I guess that being raised on Bond-movies makes me appriciate it`s campy silliness even more. I don`t think it`s suppossed to be laugh-out-funny like Charlies Angels, it`s suppossed to be amusing tounge-in-cheek escapism, like You Only Live Twice.

    I think G.I.JOE is one of the rare recent examples of a blockbuster that really sincerely wants to entertain you, not just grab your money and run off. (and I know that`s not entirely true either, but that is the vibe I get from the movie…)

  176. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 5th, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Great review Vern. I have little chance of ever watching this. The only thing of interest is can anyone fill me in on the “weird Decepticon goblin/Slimer guy occasionally wobbles past the camera making odd noises and then disappears” Which Decepticon is that supposed to be?

  177. In all, not as flat-out brilliant as your evisceration of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” but that’s probably because you set the bar so high and I was so giddy with anticipation that there’s really no way you could do better. I still laughed out loud a couple of times.

    Saying this review isn’t quite as good is like saying Michael Jordan’s 56-point performance wasn’t as great as his 63-pointer.

  178. I’ve read this review, and clicked through to the comments three or four times in the past few days, but only just now did I notice the apostrophe in “Transformer’s.” Brilliant!

  179. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 5th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    To do or not to do… I have a chance to go spend a day on the set of Leatherface 3-D in Shreveport at the end of the month.
    I missed a chance to go to the set of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 2 weeks ago (where my roommate got to meet Alan Tudyk… see, on topic… ha).
    It would be a no-brainer if this wasn’t going to be my only chance for several months to go over there again. So do I go, or wait for something that’s not destined to be a turdburger?

  180. copy and paste of my “review” from another forum. the “bay apologists” bit is directed at them, not you guys…

    —————————–

    i pirated transformers 3 because i make a point of stealing money from that racist douche every time he releases a film.

    it’s hard to know where to start. it’s literally difficult to comprehend that they allowed a film to be released that pays so little attention to the basics of storytelling and getting an audience involved.

    fucking film doesnt even end, it just stops. its time for the baddies to die so they die. no sense of hero overcoming anything, no macguffin device activated, no riddle solved, no sacrifices, no being clever, nothing. its like he could have killed them whenever but he just chose then. EVEN THE UNDERPAID KOREANS WHO DREW THE SHITTY 80S TOY AD CARTOONS COULD TELL A BETTER STORY

    and as for making a film where there are no real good guys because shia is a fucking selfish dick and optimous is a mass murderer and its a film for 8 YEAR OLDS. what, do you actually openly hate children? it’s the storytelling equivalent of looking after your sister’s kids for a week and taking them to Denny’s for every meal. not even the slightest attempt to get anything good or worthwhile into them. no thought for what the shit you do shovel in them might do in the long run.

    recipe for good popcorn movie:

    1. make audience give a fuck about some characters
    2. imperil said characters in visually interesting fashion
    3. save characters in way that affirms the stuff you came to like about characters in step 1

    recipe for michael bay movie:

    1. splosions
    2. tits
    3. dick jokes
    4. linkin park

    you see the difference, bay apologists?

  181. ThomasCrown442

    July 5th, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Tits and splosions I’m down with. Linkin Park and dick jokes? Ehhh (especially Linkin Park).

  182. I love College Humours every Michael Bay film in under a minute: http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6552528/every-michael-bay-movie-in-under-a-minute.

    To sum it up a Michael Bay film most contain all these things:

    Young Male Protagonist
    The World is threatened
    Exploding Moument
    Hot Actress
    Car Chase
    Clumsy Exposition
    The millitary is involved
    Racial and/or homophobic joke
    Product Placement
    Clunky comedic relief scene
    Love Scene
    Incomprihensel Action Sequence
    Real Explosions
    CGI Explosions
    Shaky Camera

    I don’t really think there is that much shaky camera (unless it’s inside cars and Michael Bay tries to make you believe that the characters are driving real fast.)

  183. Well, after somehow enjoying Revenge of the Fallen in retrospect, I decided to try my new approach to Dark of the Moon. My friends wanted to see it (again) so I took one for the team. And it still sucks. No post-meta-expressionistic reflection. Just bore.

    Part of it is that I don’t see 3D. I’m one of those folks whose eyes don’t make the image come out of the screen. So I am missing the entire construction of these action sequences if I can only see left to right, not in and out.

    I actually feel really bad for Megan Fox’s character now. She was there for her ichat date, she forgave Shia for making out with a Decepticon and even teleported to Egypt for him. Now they just call her mean. Poor Megan, now I may watch Passion Play out of compassion.

  184. caruso_stalker217

    July 5th, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Megan Fox was one of the better parts of the first film. I realized, having watched it recently.

  185. Oh, One guy from Andromeda, you better not compare Michael Bay to Hitler, because then Steven Spielberg will make him fire you from the sequel. Oh yeah, I went there. Boom! I said it!

  186. Jareth Cutestory

    July 6th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Leatherface 3-D? Are they making another TEXAS CHAINSAW movie? And by “they” I mean Platium Goons. God help us.

    Also, am I the only one who thinks Alan Tudyk was genetically engineered to provide the world with a male Edie Falco? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, if it turns out to be the case, I say keep up the good work.

  187. Every quote from the filmmakers in the press release for the new CHAINSAW made me never want to see another studio horror picture again as long as I live.

  188. Jareth Cutestory

    July 6th, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Well, since you put it that way I just HAD to go and look.

    “I’m excited to re-conceive this iconic horror classic in a contemporary setting for a new generation of horror fans to enjoy … Our story picks up where the original left off. Both John Luessenhop and I intend to deliver a new chapter derived from Tobe Hooper’s 1973 [sic] masterpiece with the goal of making it as horrifying as the original — in 3D!”

    So a different company seems intent on pretending the Platinum Dunes films never happened. And they’ll go about rectifying the problems of the remakes by producing a film that adheres to the same blueprint as the remakes.

    If I’m reading that statement correctly, they plan to make their film a direct sequel to the original film, yet make it somehow “contemporary.” Which could mean that they feel the need to add a bunch of pointless modern “style” to the production of the film.

    Or it could mean that they’re crafting a time-travel epic in which Junior becomes some sort of Encino Man.

  189. The new chainsaw movie is not from Platinum Dunes, it’s the company that produced Saw I believe and the director of TAKERS. Bill Moseley will be in it, it sounds like he’s graduating to Cook now (his character is named Drayton). I’m keeping an open mind because by making it it relegates the Platinum Dunes ones to the same relevance as part 4 with Renee Zelweger.

    But let’s continue this discussion in the potpourri 3d thread, there are probly still ridiculous parts from Transformers 3 that I forgot about that are worth bringing up.

  190. I’d like to take a moment to say that I was happy that this film offers further evidence that Micahel Bay does not actually know what a robot is. In the last films, we had robots peeing, having live babies, going to robot heaven, sporting testicles, having genders, and growing old. This one introduces us to robots who have hair, glasses, drool, and blood, fly vehicles (even though they are vehicles) and express patriotism through the medium of blowing up non-Americans.

  191. I was just thinking about the vehicle thing. Was The Ark another transformer like the rest of them, or just a spaceship? And if it’s just a spaceship, don’t the transformers find that all a little weird? It would be like if our space shuttles were made out of skin and human organs. Downright Cronenbergian.

    Also, Robo-Valhalla was the best part of TRANSFORMERS 2. Such a delightfully stupid conceit, I wish there was more of it.

  192. Here is an article where a writer at EW.com bitch slaps Optimus Prime. It has spoilers but at this point does it matter?
    —–
    Even by the surprisingly flimsy standards of ’80s action cartoons, Transformers was not a good show. The toys were fun — this was back in more innocent days, when talking cars didn’t have tongues — but the cartoon was a parade of random robots with colorful names and zero personality. The one exception — really, the only reason why Transformers has become so iconic — was Optimus Prime. Designed like a cross between a medieval knight and a robo-Captain America, Prime had a surprising amount of character depth, especially considering that he was a tall robot machine that transforms into a truck. For one thing, he seemed to be the only Transformer who actually cared that they were, you know, the last of their race. There was a weird streak of melancholy in Prime — imagine Jack on Lost, except without the ability to cry all the time. He had compassion. He was not, in short, a homicidal war junkie who seems to get a delicious thrill from forcefully tearing his enemies in half.

    So of all the various offenses of Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy, one in particular sticks out: The slow devolution of Optimus Prime from a caring leader to a homicidal ninja douche rocket. In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Prime pays lip service to noble causes, saving humanity, etc., etc. But his actions don’t bear that out: If you read between the lines, Prime is actually something like the ultimate Michael Bay protagonist, a character who uses the cause of Goodness to justify every conceivable violent atrocity. Really, he’s a sociopath. He’s also a complete idiot.

    Let me explain (Spoilers ahead, for anyone who still cares about plot, in which case you’re adorable): The final act of Transformers: Dark of the Moon begins when the Autobots are forced to leave Earth by the sniveling diplomats in the United Nations, who for some reason always think it makes sense to negotiate with gigantic evil robots who are called Decepticons, which would sort of be like negotiating with a terrorist group called “People Who Lie To the United Nations.” The Autobots’ rocket is then shot out of the sky by Patrick Dempsey, a sniveling corporate guy. And then the Great Chicago Massacre begins. We see buildings brought to the ground, Decepticons firing laser beams that explode civilians into ambient bloodfog, and because this is a PG-13 movie, we don’t see any grieving mothers or children with their faces burnt off, but predictably that is what would happen if giant evil robots purged a city of all living beings.

    After 24 hours of this, the Autobots show up, and Prime reveals his brilliant stratagem: They faked their death to prove to those sniveling U.N. bureaucrats why they need the Autobots. Hold on this for a second. The Autobots have been on Earth this whole time, and they let Chicago burn to the ground… just to prove a point? Oh, thanks so much, Optimus Prime! My cousin in Chicago is dead because you had to be the biggest douche in the universe and wait for us humans to beg you for your help! What a hero!

    Anyways, at this point, Prime kickstarts the last hour of the movie with a line that had everyone in my theater gasping: “We will kill them all.” That’s not an empty boast — the Autobots fight their way through Chicago killing every Decepticon in their way. I don’t want to sound like a wet blanket. A lot of this is pretty awesome. But the Prime that I remember was a real hero: He didn’t want to kill anyone. Compare that to Movie-Prime, who, in one eye-popping shot, flies down into the middle of a Decepticon squad and kills nine of them: He slices, he dices, he shoots, he punches through robo-hearts, and he grabs the last one by the throat and performs a fatal tracheotomy. All that’s missing is a scene where Prime bathes in the blood of the fallen Decepticons and screams, “I am become Death!”

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I love bloodthirsty action heroes, which is why Conan the Barbarian is basically my favorite action movie ever. But Conan has code of honor, and a grisly sense of humor. Prime is a just a self-righteous douchebag. The big twist of Dark of the Moon is that Prime’s mentor, Sentinel, is actually a bad guy — and, since Prime brought him back to life, he’s indirectly responsible for the complete destruction of Chicago, which you will remember he could have also stopped at any point, but he had to teach the U.N. a lesson. (At one point, Shia LaBeouf tells Prime, “It’s not your fault.” YES IT IS. TAKE SOME FREAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF, YOU HIPPIE.)

    At the end of the battle, Sentinel lies wounded, completely defeated. This is the point at which a real hero, say someone like Batman, would say something really clever and assert his moral superiority by taking Sentinel in custody.

    Instead, Prime shoots him in the back of the head.

    And when that doesn’t do the trick, he shoots him again.

    So, in short, by the end of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Optimus Prime has become a bloodthirsty idiot douche rocket with no moral code, who gladly sacrifices millions of lives in order to prove that humans can’t last long without his awesomeness. Who’s ready for a fourquel?

  193. Personally, the idea of Jason Statham taking over Transformers sounds awesome.

  194. @ Fred,

    The only reason that mainstream middle of the road corn fed Americans buy up Transformers hand over hammy hand is precisely because the main (human) character is a douche. That same argument could be made for the main (non-human) character. This series kills precisely because we live in an age wherein a bunch of has-beens, never will-bes, and general dipshits populate our little flickering box that used to be in the corner of the room but suddenly needed to be mounted over the fireplace (supplanting whatever family portrait hung there) or demands and achieves a reconfiguring of the living room to make the boob tube front and center.

    The rest of the world watches to basically admire the Bay one-shots – (he would have a helluva career as a photographer, but I guess he’s already having a once in a life time career as a director whose films are comprised of mostly one-offs supported by emotional music.) Then the rest of the world laughs at how preposterous Americans act. Humvees against Transformers (Decepticons, Autobots – all Transformers). I’d like to see some badass NEST unit roll up in a Prius. Why not?

    So that being said, Statham could not work in these movies because he would totally throw off the dynamic. Here is a guy that the world likes to think is badass (and I do not disagree), but in the realm of non-badasses that seem to populate the Transformers universe…things would quickly become askew. People would fucking hate it if Statham just actually threw a punch instead of talking ninety to nothing.

    This movie had more capshots than a four hour best of Vivid dvd. But most of ’em had no contextual relationship with the the shot preceding or following. It’s like someone bought Girls Gone Wild, cut it with Shaving Ryan’s Privates and then added some hardcore interracial shit just for fun. (By the by, interracial is completed outdated even in porn terms. Might I suggest multi-cultural as a substitute for now?)

    Why can’t quality cinematography equal great movies? Because a guy (Bay) doesn’t know how to explain why or how Bumblebee was captured and almost gets his head blown off. Except that in the flag waving propaganda of the movie, the Decepticons are doing a version of the Iraqi war. It’s a stretch, but let’s see what the next frame brings. Divine intervention and then we realize that Bumblebee got to keep his gun firing arms (metal plates, side fenders?) and he suddenly wages war. Of course, not like a sentient robot with gun firing arms that was about to be executed would, but more in tune with the emotional music. Guess Bumblebee only reacted to the swells of the violin.

    I agree with Vern, you could cut and re-cut the final fifty minute segment in any order and it would make no more or less sense than any other combination. So why should I care? I care because those shots that occur every other eye blink during the Chicago moment are so obviously expensive that I cannot help but ponder what a filmmaker that cared about story or character might do with a fraction of the budget.

  195. I apologize for the double post, but I typed the first one to quickly and had to bail. But as for the final fifty minutes, crescendo was what a guy like Peckinpah, Carpenter, Ford, Hitch, and Kurosawa built towards. I apologize if that seems like an obvious list, but it is. Bay, I felt like once built toward crescendo and then fumbled the musical beats. With Dark of the Moon, it seems as if Bay aspired to cacaphony. Considering the critical (beat Larry Crowne) and monetary (records all around) response so far – what does that say about the viewers and what does that say about Bay? Maybe we have become accustomed to the noise and cannot remember true music? Maybe.

  196. MDM, realistically I imagine they’ll get Shia and even Bay back again. I did love the idea that Statham was rumored though.

  197. I honestly do not think they will get Bay back. Shia…maybe. Maybe not.

  198. I predict that Bay will do BAD BOYS 3 next, and that I will lose respect for Will Smith when I realize that he turned down a Tarantino movie because he’d promised to keep his schedule open for that. And I was just defending I AM LEGEND and SEVEN POUNDS a couple days ago.

    Also I predict that I will go see BAD BOYS 3 out of morbid fascination, and then feel bad about it.

    As for TRANFORMERS, I think they should wait a couple years and then do a ro-boot.

  199. You wouldn’t want to see the transporter kick robots in the head?

  200. “Aspire to cacophony. . .” I like that.

    Statham already has experience in the oily art of transforming into a wheeled vehicle hybrid. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkpOZaRBldo Perfect fit.

    I’d be interested in a Transformers sequel or “ro-boot” as well, if the next one had a plot gimmick that results in Decepticons somehow fighting a battalion of ladies, like because we discover that estrogen confuses the “energon” levels & allows them a stealth advantage or some stupid shit or because a Decepticon device neutralized all the earth’s males somehow and our only hope is Vanessa Hudgens with a plasma rifle & a tiny skirt that wavers & taunts us with her tan legs in slow motion.

    Zack Snyder should do a movie like that.

  201. They will definitely need to reboot transformers because there are no decepticons left

  202. @ Mouth,

    I could get on board with that. Kinda like that cheesy DOA that Corey Yuen directed a few years back. That movie went from Velveeta to an aged extra sharp cheddar just because of the fetishistic devotion to the female physique.

    And I read somewhere that Bay is still going forward with that Pain & Gain (or something like that) script he has been talking about for a decade or so about the Florida bodybuilders heist gone wrong or something. I guess the world will have to wait for bated breath for the official announcement.

    Also, Bill Simmons wrote a fascinating article that pulled a lot of information together about Will Smith and I guess I thought it seemed to fit with Smith passing on what could have been some serious acting love.

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6716942/the-movie-star

  203. “with bated breath”. Damn early mornings.

  204. I just thought something that’s probably wrong, but whatever: remaking goofy properties into grim and gritty ones is kind of like embedding badass juxtaposition into them. The Batman TV show makes The Dark Knight Returns more badass much like Chow Yun Fat playing tenor sax before mowing down a tearoom full of triads. Or something. This is all just theoretical for the time being.

  205. Jareth Cutestory

    July 7th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    For the love of god someone please make HOMOCIDAL NINJA DOUCHE ROCKET starring Eihi Shiina.

  206. FWIW the second time I saw this, there was a dad with his kid in the theater. The dad sat bored with his arms folded. I do believe I heard the kid say, “That’s not funny” at one point.

  207. I hated the first TRANSFORMERS and fast forwarded through the awful sequel, but I really enjoyed TF: DARK OF THE MOON. Bay balanced the different elements of the TRANSFORMERS movies way better in this film. There still was the goofy humour, but he added the sense of awe and wonder so that I could care more about what’s happening. The screenplay was streamlined and focused on the protagonists. In this one the protagonists are involved in the action scenes and everyone has a comprehensible goal. Some of the action scenes are really memorable, especially the part with the skyscraper. I think it shows that Bay cared about this movie. There are flaws and plot holes, but there is more talent and ambition in this film than in the mediocre IRON MAN movies or the latest Pixar cash grab. They also reduced or eliminated many elements that I loathed in the first movies. The robots don’t talk as much (I hated this especially in the action scenes of the precedessors). Not every second sentence is a platitude. The military is involved organically and not like in a recruitment video. I liked the goofy humour in the SPIDERMAN films and I liked it in this one. As I said, I think it’s a matter of balance. Many scenes (the opening on cybertron, the moon landing and the battle in chicago for example) are shot beautifully – and not in a “sleazy car commercial” way. I enjoyed the grumpy protagonist and don’t think he acted like a real douchebag. His anger was as understandable as the cynicism of Tony Stark. They really enhanced the role of Turturro so that I liked him the first time in a TRANSFORMERS movie. I enjoyed the performances of Frances McDormand and Alan Tudyk. I also enjoyed the great 3D, one of the few positive 3D experiences i had. Sure, there are flaws and for many people it still is too much goofy humour and overblown action. But I really don’t think it has the same flaws as is precedessors, especially the screenplay and the direction (even in the action scenes) are way better.

  208. Good one, Andreas

  209. Just saw this today and I feel like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. They just threw everything humanly possible on the screen without making a lick of sense. I have no clue how anyone can defend this movie as anything more then one big cash grab. Nothing in this movie made any type of sense. The theater I was in was completely silent during all of the “comedy” moments. I wonder who laughed at the hoochie mama joke? I’m not sensitive at all to racial humor but I doubt Latinos where rolling in the aisle at that one. Ken Jeong was so out of left field it seemed like he walked in from a different movie. I’m also now 100% sure that Shia Lebouf hates these movie but loves the checks. He made his character so unlikable it seemed like he wanted to make sure the producers didn’t want him back. All he did was scream and act like a complete ass for at least 3/4 of the movie. I’ve never seen him give a performance this bad before.

    Why the fuck was this movie over 2:30 hours? They could have cut at least 40 minutes and had a tighter and faster moving movie. It still wouldn’t have made a lick of sense, but at least you wouldn’t think about how dumb it was every time it slowed down to show Sam’s job search or relationship issues. Who the fuck goes to a Transformers movie to see the main character looking for a job? It’s fucking amazing that this movie will make a ton of cash and Hollywood will once again churn out more bullshit like this. I don’t blame this shit on Michael Bay, I blame it on Spielberg for enabling him to make this garbage. Spielberg knows Bay is just Uwe Boll with a bigger budget , but his bank account says he’s Stanley Kubrick so he keeps enabling him.

  210. @Anaru It’s a strange feeling to really enjoy a Michael Bay movie. Not because it was “entertainingly awful” and not because I lowered my standards. But I’m afraid my English isn’t good enough to discuss this on the sophisticated level you guys achieve in this talkback.

    I love it that many of you in this talkback adhere to high standards. But sometimes I think some of these standards are inconsistent.

    My girlfriend fell asleep during IRON MAN 2 and I didn’t find a reason to wake her up. This is a prima example for a soulless product without any ambitions. Terribly staged action scenes, no build up, no tension, no fun. I’m bored by the mediocre, by-the-numbers storylines of IRON MAN and THOR. I laugh about the pseudo-badasses in FAST FIVE and their hilarious “tough talk”. And G.I. JOE? Really? This movie is better than TF: DARK OF THE MOON? Because it’s tongue-in-cheek?

    I think Michael Bay was striving for excellence with TF: DARK OF THE MOON. And despite its flaws I think he created a highly entertaining movie with memorable action scenes. Does anybody think that the creators of IRON MAN, THOR or G.I. JOE were striving for excellence?

  211. I contemplated seeing this, but the two and a half hour running time was what killed it for me, why the fuck does this shit need to be that long?

    although I am saddened to hear that I missed out on a 3D upskirt shot, I can totally respect Bay’s desire to point a camera up a woman’s skirt and then show the results to millions of people (in 3D no less)

    and a 3D ass shot, Bay’s perverted desire to molest his actresses with his camera is not one of my complaints against him

  212. I just love how we, and this goes for all of us I think, kick in wide open doors and go after huge successes like ninjas on speed, while simultaneously plugging some obscure action movie we hope nobody’s ever heard of. “I hate everything Michael Bay has ever done, but I just love the Swedish action thriller Min Farbror är en banan”. This is what the internet was invented for!

  213. I agree with you more than I disagree, Andreas. I might be a simpleton but I was never bored in Transformers 3 and I never got annoyed at how long it was. The humor never bothered me and the action scenes were well done.

    I don’t know, I just can’t be bothered to hate it and I fully expected to. It’s an OK film. It is streets ahead Iron Man 2 and a bunch of other really mediocre films.

    Just don’t pretend like it is a tenth the film that Fast Five was.

  214. @Casey I have nothing against FAST FIVE. It was entertaining. But if I read Vern’s reviews of FAST FIVE and TF: DARK OF THE MOON as well as the talkbacks I don’t think they are both examined within the same standards.

    It seems many people think that FAST FIVE is better crafted than they expected while TF: DARK OF THE MOON is a missed opportunity from a director as bad as Uwe Boll. I can’t see that.

    FAST FIVE isn’t as good as RONIN or FRENCH CONNECTION. And I don’t think it tries. I’ve seen every element of it better in other movies, some of them decades older. Except the overblown action sequences. (In my opinion they are better in TF: DARK OF THE MOON.) So I don’t think they’re striving for excellence. Maybe in their own film series, where they succeeded. But that wasn’t much of a goal.

    So why is FAST FIVE such a revelation and TF: DARK OF THE MOON only “entertainingly awful”? Why isn’t there a discussion about the sociopaths in FAST FIVE? Or the plot holes? Or the bad dialogue? When is ridiculous good and when is it laughable? And how are women portrayed in the FAST & FURIOUS series?

  215. I really like the characters in the Fast and the Furious series. I care about them. I appreciate their love of family and that they have managed to forge a family bound by something they love. I think all of the actors manage to bring something to their characters so that even cheesy or ridiculous dialogue comes across as heart felt.

    Because I adore the characters the action scenes have a lot more weight to them. Even without that weight I think the action scene on the train in Fast Five surpasses anything in Transformers 3 and I’m on record as more or less liking Transformers 3.

    It isn’t that Fast Five was better than I expected (it was and I went in with high expectations) that makes it so good and Transformers 3 is worse than I thought it should be (I went in expecting to hate it and it kind of won me over). It’s just that Fast Five just worked for me.

    Also, as one of Uwe Bolls fans I have to say I almost always enjoy an Uwe Boll film more than a Bay film. Uwe Boll is always kind of insane. House of the Dead is on YouTube and is worth a watch. It is so inept and ridiculous that I can’t but love it and find it entertaining.

    I think Fast Five shouldn’t be compared to Ronin or The French Connection. Not because it would look worse in comparison, I would still enjoy it, but because it isn’t a fair comparison. Outside of the car sequences I don’t know where to begin comparing them. I think the areas where the film tries to succeed, marrying a likable family of outcasts with compelling action, it succeeds greatly.

    I don’t think the characters in Fast Five are sociopaths. They might think through the larger ramifications of their actions but at no point do I get the same feeling I got from Bad Boys II.

    I don’t know, I’m in the camp that kind of liked Transformers 3. Even still, I think if you compare it to other films with a similar vision I think it falls short. I can’t even begin to critique things in Transformers 3 since it is so clearly the reflection of an auteur and to change anything would be to take away from Bay’s vision.

    tldr response: I find Fast Five to be earnest and for whatever reason I buy the characters and their relationships. Transformers 3 doesn’t have characters I care about and its action scenes, which is why the movie exists in the first place, are worse off because of that.

    I hope that makes sense, Andreas! I mean no disrespect and hope my words do not convey any. I know I have been where you are in that I have been totally baffled why some films are loved and others are not. Even still, so much of this is very subjective and if I did not go in wanting to like Fast Five I might picked it apart and found the whole thing ridiculously bad.

  216. Andreas:
    I don’t have much of an argument for the treatment of women angle, but I’ll try to address why a comparison between FAST 5 & TRANS3 shows the former to be better in every way, on separate terms or on equal terms.

    In FAST 5, right after a good chase/action scene, iIrc, there’s a really stupid, tonally out of place scene in which Jordana/Mia reveals she’s pregnant. It’s awkward & unrealistic, and everyone in the shot smiles for some reason after they had just barely escaped death and probably still have cops & bad guys after them, but it adds something to the motivations of the characters and adds a dash of extra danger to every decision we see the characters make from that point. When she jumps from rooftop to rooftop, we wonder about the poor baby in her uterus. It’s not well written or executed compared to the action scenes (though the first reveal scene concerning her pregnancy *is* subtle & well done), but this seems to be because the filmmakers are just not good at meeting our standards of non-action, dialogue/exposition scenes.
    It’s not that they’re not interested or that they’re not trying. They have a strong motif and clear values in their characters (trust, family), and they develop the script based on the theme and based on an honest attempt to convey what it means to the characters, but they stumble sometimes because they don’t have great timing or a good enough vocabulary to make it perfect or totally believable within an action movie. It’s just not their forte, and the pace & tone of the film confirms this.
    The FA5T writers/director are poets who strive for excellence, or at least for adequacy within the framework of their action movie, but they never refined their craft at the MFA level and probably never excelled at English in high school/college. Their literary skill set & ear for dialogue is not so great, with the notable exception of many awesome badass lines for The Rock, and they sacrifice in favor of awesome action & slo-mo beach sunset walking toward the camera shots because they recognize their weaknesses & strengths.

    In the TRANSFORMERS movies, the reason the non-action moments are beyond awkward & unrealistic, the reason they are disgusting & offensive & grating & detrimental, is because the filmmakers constructed & inserted them as such in the first place. The “jokes” are subsections of a bad, big blockbuster movie narrative’s outline, the rigid script skeleton for the actual script. The jokes are not organic, sometimes not even pertinent to the narrative, and so they stand as offerings from filmmakers who are saying,
    “Here, audience, watch this shit for a few minutes because something we saw a standup comedian do once was similar and people laughed so we know it’s focus group approved damn wasn’t Bernie Mac available for another hilarious cameo oh well get me that obnoxious Asian guy he’s hot right now now here’s Comedy Relief moment 3-A and then we’ll get to the robots again with Action Sequence 2-B in a moment and hopefully the editors will overcome cognitive dissonance and ignore how absurd & terrible this all is and they’ll make us not look like idiots but we’re laughing all the way to the bank anyway so piss off see you in 2013 for the sequel bitch oh Malkovitch has a dark tan isn’t that hilarious this is a happy funny movie isn’t it but don’t laugh too much because we can make BumbleBee’s eyes look really puppy dog sad and that means it’s a sad part oh man doesn’t this movie have it all wow this is easy.”
    We don’t care about Sam’s parents, for example, because they are more annoying than and just as poorly fleshed out as any stock character from a middle school play; and they have false, meaningless motivations & narrative contributions from the very start. Even 3 movies in, they offer nothing to the story, embarrassing themselves and the adult audience by their mere existence.
    The TRANSFORMERS writers/director are technicians who think poets are useless pussies if they can’t find a way to add something to the trailer that will sell more tickets.

    Also, the FAST 5 guys never would have let the 2 mini-Autobot dudes hero-suicide-crash-land that giant Decepticon aircraft without letting us see what happened to them.

  217. Also, I forgive the careless violence, a.k.a. sociopathy, of FAST 5 because the violence is exhilarating & well filmed and puts me in a better mood when I see it. (See also: RAMBO (2008).)
    I will not forgive the obnoxiousness of Sam Witwicky because he puts me in a worse mood and the action is not impressive enough to suppress his terribleness.

  218. I love how reboot mentality has totally sunk in. Of course, they HAVE to reboot Transformers now. How on earth could they continue the story now that the bad guys are dead? Nothing personal, Anaru, I just think it’s funny that reboot has become more than condoned, now practically necessary. It never used to be a problem to think, “Yeah, he’ll come back to life in part four.”

    Having now rewatched The Island, and still hating it, I realized another thing about Bay’s action scenes. He seems to think just destroying lots of stuff is awesome. The destruction alone is not awesome. The Terminator tearing up a police station or factory is awesome because it’s about his power. The Blues Brothers crashing 50+ cars is awesome because it has some drive (no pun intended.)

    Just having stuff break and fall down is boring because you’re not really looking at anything. No matter how much 3D debris they throw at you, it’s just stuff. And I like movies where things blow up, but I think I’m onto something with the difference between a Transformers/Island/Bad Boys II and a Rambo/Terminator/Road Warrior.

  219. @Mouth and Casey: Thanks for your posts. As I said I’m afraid my English isn’t good enough to discuss on your level, but I’ll try.

    I can understand your point of view. I didn’t want to compare TF: DARK OF THE MOON with FAST FIVE or FAST FIVE with RONIN and FRENCH CONNECTION, I tried to make a point about the standards we use to evaluate a movie.

    I can fully understand why somebody loves/likes FAST FIVE and hates TF: DARK OF THE MOON.

    But I think many of the arguments that people make against Michael Bay can also be attributed to Justin Lin (or Rob Cohen). I know they are presented in a different context and in a much more straightforward narrative, but I think they still count.

    With the exception of Michelle Rodriguez the female characters of the FAST & FURIOUS films are not more than trophies. They are filmed in way that I can’t distinguish from Michael Bay’s style.

    The male bonding and “family” aspects of the FAST & FURIOUS movies are a genre requirement. I don’t think they tried hard to tell a really great story about friendship and family. To me it seems much more manipulative and cynical than to you, but maybe I’m wrong.

    The direction of the last FAST & FURIOUS movies is ambitioned, but it’s also drawn to the shallow and spectacular. The action scenes are way to overblown and unrealistic to work in this kind of story. I can enjoy it, but it’s the reason I love DIE HARD and I only like LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. The action scenes are integrated to the story on a basic level, but in reality the drama stops and the spectacle starts.

    I really don’t think the action scenes in FAST FIVE are staged or filmed in way that surpasses the mediocre competition or are in any way better than Michael Bays direction in THE ROCK.

    The protagonists are criminals that don’t have a problem with the death of many innocent bystanders or any police officer that tries to get them because they are the bad guys. I know I’m supposed to enjoy the scene where they crash with their stolen tresor through a city. In my logic that isn’t much different than a very similar scene everyone luaghs or get’s angry about in BAD BOYS II. But here it’s okay because they are a “family”?

    I could go on, but I think you understand my point and I don’t want to bore you.

    All I wanted to say is that I think many of the points you criticize are understandable. They don’t have the same effect on me and in this context I’m surprised about the love other movies get that I think aren’t that different if you evaluate them with the same standards.

    Thanks for the time you invested in answering to my post.

  220. And I know I should visit a doctor for enjoying TF: DARK OF THE MOON so much. I hate part 1 and 2 for all the reasons VERN has written about in his sensational reviews. But I I said, I don’t like it for being a bad movie, I like it because I really had a great time in the cinema.

  221. Andreas, your English is fine and you are not boring at all. It’s nice to see a different viewpoint that is well stated and respectful.

    I can definitely see where you are coming from but I think a lot of our differences are purely subjective. The family aspect of the Fast and the Furious movies works for me and seems truthful. It comes off differently to you. I also really enjoy death metal and would not expect everyone else to agree that Immolation’s Unholy Cult is amazing album and outside of waving my arms and yelling about how amazing it is there’s nothing I can do to actually argue the point.

    I don’t hate Transformers 3, or even hate Michael Bay, but I don’t love it, either. I try to be open minded towards things and I think my default position is to be neutral until experiences alter it. Michael Bay has done some things I like (The Rock and Armageddon) and a few things I don’t like and on the whole I’m pretty neutral on the guy. Transformers 3 had some good parts but didn’t do enough for me to get excited by Bay or his movies.

    I hope you post more, though! Your English is fine and I really appreciate reading your viewpoint.

    I gotta run, I’m going to see that X Men movie!

  222. Okay, I forgot one thing that i thought was great in FAST FIVE: the way they filmed Rio de Janeiro and used the location for their scenes.

  223. Oh man, Andreas, I wish I could agree with you but a lot of it was filmed in San Juan.

  224. I liked a Transformers movie AND I trusted in the subtitles of Fast Five. As I said, I should turn to a doctor.

  225. I haven’t seen this yet, although I’m kinda interested. I thought the action scenes in the two previous films were kinda meh, as they were mostly just montages of a lot of debris flying around, with no sense of story, choreography, tactics, or any kind of purpose. It’s hard to be involved in action like that. And even the effects had no impact, because it was all shot in a shaky-cam, quick-cutting style.

    But apparently this has better cinematography and editing? Perhaps some of the action scenes even serve some kind of purpose in the story?

    For me a rather big problem with the previous two films is that I can’t make any sense of them. Half of the time I can’t figure out what the characters are trying to do. And when I do know what they are trying to do, I don’t understand *why* they are trying to do it. The films are just filled with “huh?” moments that don’t seem to make any sense on a very basic level of story or character motivation.

    That’s really the main difference between Transformers and almost every other event movie out there. I can watch Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Prince Of Persia, etc… And while the films might be deeply flawed, at least I can understand them. I know what the characters are doing, and they they are doing it. This helps me to be somewhat immersed in the story.

    But with Transformers movies there is a complete emotional disconnect, as nothing seems to make sense on any level.

  226. So I did see this film and I have to admit I kind of liked it. It still had a number of the problems that I have with much of Bay’s work (dumb forced comedy, bloated and convoluted plot), but the spectacle of the action sequences in 3D were pretty amazing. I would say that it is Bay’s best work since THE ROCK, but that is not really saying much. I know many of you saw it in 3D and were unhappy with the format, but I saw it at the multiplex closest to my house and thought the 3D was stunning. As a side note I saw it with my 61 year old mother who thought it was great. She loved it, but she had also never seen a film in the new 3D format and was really blown away by it.

  227. Finally saw it, I actually think it was only slightly better than the last one. I’m sure most of my points have been said already, but here goes:

    Disappointed how generic Chicago looked. I literally walked through the streets where it was filmed on the way to the theatre, and it didn’t really utilize the location well. It looked just like the end of the first movie in LA(?), kinda like how I swear the end of TF2 looked like they just went back to the same desert village they were fighting the scorpion thing in, in part 1. When I saw The Dark Knight, I literally thought “whoa! That place! I’ve been there!” constantly. But I never did that once in this movie. And yes, I don’t understand why they warped all the Decepticons buried on the moon(?) to DC and then travelled to Chicago to set up a base.

    Was that Starscream that Shia Leboeuf killed in the alley? I’ve never been able to tell anyone apart, but I’d like to know when a sorta major character dies. And who was it that Sentinel shot in the back? Was that the same autobot James Remar supposedly voiced?

    Why was Megatron just chilling in an alleyway at the end? And who were “the fragile ones”? Or those weird parasite things crawling on him? Why was John Malkovich in this movie? Are overly tanned wacky billionaires still funny to anyone? Couldn’t he just have been condensed w/ Patrick Dempsey’s character? Why did Dempsey say he had connections and could hook Sam up with a job with Malkovich’s company AFTER Sam already interviewed and got the job, even though he acted like a prick during the interview?

    Speaking of, why was Sam so weirdly unlikable? He spends the whole movie yelling at his parents, yelling at his girlfriend (really surprised by that one), yelling at Bumblebee, being Against The Troops, giving away huge government secrets to his foreign girlfriend and people he didn’t like in the last film, then complaining about how nobody trusts him. It’s kind of crazy that Shia Leboeuf has embodied one of the most unlikable characters in history now, as he’s also played one of the most likable (in Holes).

    They established that there are only nine autobots on Earth, so does that mean Mudflap and Skids died between parts 2 and 3? For some reason, I thought Autobots could leave/return to Earth at will, but I guess this movie retconned that for the spaceship scene, so we can trick really dumb people in the audience to think the autobots died and to conjure up bad memories of the Challenger.

    Multiple people complained that there’s no explanation for how Bumblebee was captured, but I think it’s made even worse that he LITERALLY just showed up 30 seconds prior, to catch Sam and Josh Duhamel from falling about 15 feet and then disappears. Why couldn’t they have just fallen to the ground and then it wouldn’t be so jarring when the next scene has Bumblebee captured? (And btw, why do they act like it’s so shocking that the Decepticons decided to execute their prisoners, and the “old man” Autobot is like “What? What are you doing? We surrendered!!” when Optimus has been brutally executing Decepticons the entire series (and does it again 10 minutes later)

    Final thought – let’s discuss the scene where Jeong pulls out two guns and acts really gangsta, then for some reason doesn’t shoot the Decepticon threatening his life. It pushes him out the window to make it seem like a suicide, and it seems the characters think that for the next 2 minutes. Which is why I figured he didn’t shoot it, plotwise, so nobody would hear gunshots and they’d think it’s a suicide. Then the Decepticon just figures “Fuck it” and starts trashing the place and blowing everything up and chasing Shia and then he loses it by turning a corner or something. I think that scene kinda sums up the care and thought put into this fucking movie.

  228. Malkovich said that he gives Sam the job because of the very good references that someone from the management gave him. Sam even was a little bit puzzled about it either, since he had no idea who gave those to him. And then later we find out that it was his girlfriend’s boss who did all that.
    So it was not like the guy from ENCHANTED decided to intervene, after Sam was already hired, it was him all along who put him into this position and then later bragged about it.

  229. Mr 2Zod, if you were disappointed by Chicago you have to realize it could have been worse! They tried to pass off Chicago as DC and it was awful. Seriously, if Sam were interviewing for jobs in the city he would have been taking the Metro. No one drives in DC.

  230. Casey – oh yeah! I totally forgot that after the movie me and my friend went to Gold Coast Dogs and we walked right by the alleyway where Rosie Huntington-Whitely’s DC Apartment was supposed to be (Where Sam’s parents park their tour bus that I’m not quite sure how they got) It’s literally right across the street from where Shia later blows up Starscream or somebody.

    CJ – Good point, I totally forgot about that. So I guess they actually set up a plot point and paid it off later on! (Unlike the two mini-autobots who may or may not have died)

    Oh and I second the guy above who pointed out that Sentinel’s use of “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” makes no fucking sense in context other than to give Star Trek nerds a boner. I did, however, like that Star Trek was on TV and they actually say “isn’t this the one where Spock turns bad?” and I still didn’t expect Sentinel’s heel turn later on. His unexpected turn is probably the thing I liked most about the movie!

  231. Yeah, neal2zod, CJ corrects the only thing I can tell in your list of complaints/questions where you may have not given the movie credit for doing it in a way that isn’t wrong & stupid, but I think the problem with that plot point is even deeper than that. Not only, as Vern points out, does it all cheapen the girlfriend’s role & her ability to get the job as ENCHANTED dude’s assistant on merit, but how does the guy know ahead of time that Shia is going to fail at every other job interview? Wouldn’t his recommendation and 90% of the plot of the whole movie have failed if Shia had had one good interview before he became Malkovich’s mail room boy?

    Maybe not, I dunno. Sorry, I’m overthinking this.

  232. Damn Mouth, that’s a good point! The more I think about it, the more TF3 is like Ehren Kruger’s other movie Reindeer Games. Dear God, have ANY of his friends proof-reading his scripts ever tried to talk sense into him?

    Here’s what I think – just like they could have added one line, any line of dialogue to explain why the fuck the Decepticons took over Chicago, they could have quickly added a Mamet-ian twist where the other Illuminati-type people at Dempsey’s party were the bosses of the other companies that Shia interviewed for. It would have a) explained your plot hole, b) showed that LeBoeuf was actually competent and deserved a job at the other places but was manipulated into Dempsey/Malkovich’s company. Because as is, it’s kind of weird that we’re supposed to sympathize with him for not getting a job when he acts like an asshole and NOBODY IN THE AUDIENCE would want to work with this twat either.

    But this raises even more questions – such as what exactly was the point of the bad guys getting close to Shia anyway? (Other than twists/economy of characters) Was the plan to get Lebeouf close to Jeong via the job because they knew Jeong would rat and give him all that exposition he kept in his pants? Because if not it’s a pretty huge coincidence Jeong worked there, and Dempsey would probably be better off placing Shia at another company. I’m pretty sure the plot to secretly get the Autobots to revive Sentinel was put in motion way before Jeong when Duhamel and his team found that MacGuffin in Chernobyl. (I totally forgot this movie retconned Chernobyl to say it was due to humans fucking around with Transformer Technology, can’t wait 15 years from now where 9/11 is somehow retconned in TF7). And if THAT was a setup, why did the big worm thing try to kill Duhamel and his team? (The bird tries to kill LeBoeuf as well even though they supposedly need him.) It really IS like Reindeer Games/ pro wrestling, especially the whole “Sentinel refuses The Matrix of Leadership even though he’s secretly a bad guy” thing which is straight out of NWO-era WCW.

    So I GUESS they wanted to get close to Shia just so they could eventually bug him with the watch thing, and find out Optimus’ plan to “fight back”. And Shia surprisingly goes along with this betrayal of all his friends, even though I think ANY OTHER HERO IN ANY OTHER MOVIE would try to fight it and signal them, at the risk of his life, since the WHOLE PLANET is at stake and all. (He also stands by and does nothing as they’re about to execute Bumblebee, where I feel any other character would have tried SOMETHING) But Optimus didn’t trust Shia anyway and even if he did and told him the plan was to hide, would the Decepticons not have taken over Chicago? I don’t get it.

    And yeah, I did like this one better than the 2nd one, but I can’t believe this one might possibly have a worse script.

  233. neal2zod — you’re completely right about everything. The key difference I feel is that this script is closer to a regular bad movie script, while the one for TRANS2 was more like some sort of weird parody absurdist play. Which was maybe worse in terms of structure, but more fun than this regular shittiness that TRANS3 brings so enthusiastically. I’m glad yo upoint out what an awful person Shia plays in this one, I think its so stunningly bizarre to create such an outrageously uhnlikable hero that I felt this went undercommented on.

  234. Maybe Shia shoulda shut up, bucked up, rucked up, and joined the motherfucking Army after some of his shitty job interviews.

    He’d learn to not be such a mouthrunning asshole real quick, he’d get a steady paycheck & good benefits, he’d travel to “fun” places, he’d earn the respect of his sugarmama girlfriend, and he might’ve even gotten to be part of the action he so desperately wanted in on. And he woulda treated those strapped-up HHS/black-site guards with proper respect.

    God knows the endless degrading nicknames & trash-talking points a cadre of drill sergeants would have bestowed upon a poor, shaved-headed Shia. I’d never let the little puke out of the front leaning rest.

  235. Mouth – I couldn’t tell if you were joking or not, but I think if the movie ended as you suggested, with him applying for a job in the army, it would have actually made complete sense as both a cap to the story and his character arc. Everyone already jokes that Bay shoots every movie like a recruitment ad, so it would have worked on so many fucking levels it’d be genius.

    As it stands though, why is it that Bay seems to have a fetish for the US Military, has so much cooperation from them with all his movies, yet has that scene where his hero disrespects a low-level sodlier for DOING HIS FUCKING JOB? And gets mad that Bumblebee doesn’t want to “hang out” anymore, when he knows Bumblebee is off arresting (yeah right!) nuclear terrorists. Plus the whole “sugar mama” thing – he gets to bang a Victoria’s Secret model who pays for all his shit, but yells at her repeatedly, has temper tantrums, and has this “why me?” attitude.

    I’m wondering, Mr. Subtlety – if this is one of those intentional-but-hidden choices like making The Jedi act like assholes in the prequels. In retrospect it does seem like they’re building Sam up to a character change that never happens.

  236. God damn us for giving Bay’s people ideas for another military recruitment commercial/sequel.

    Summer 2013: Be all that you can be. . . in 3D!

  237. Neal — thats a good point, actually; have Shia be an obnoxious prick and then grow out of it. Thats what a normal movie would do. This one seems to just think he’s justified. I’ve heard it argued that Shia is actually a Michael Bay stand-in, and its an extention of the unfair persecution Bay thought he took from everyone in the world except Vern and Mr. M who hated TRANS 2 so much. Anyway, definitely nothing comes of it, he’s just an awful person and gets what he wants in the end even though he didn’t deserve it at all. I love that the movie ends with him promising his girlfriend he won’t leave her dramatically, as if that had been a plot point sometime before.

  238. But was it any good?

    (Seriously… kidding. Once again, I expect Vern’s review to be a lot more fun than the actual film.)

  239. Personnally i thought the movie was rubbish, almost as bad as the second one. Given the fact that the first movie was only slightly better than those 2 i am hoping that they give up and stop ruining a fantastic series.

    thanks

    Mark

  240. So I’m probably bumping a thread nobody particularly wants to see again, but I’ve seen DARK OF THE MOON twice now. When I saw it in the theatres I was a little tipsy (if you’ll forgive me for using such an un-badass phrase). Admittedly that’s not really a good excuse for this not hitting the spot, but I didn’t feel like I’d really taken it all in, but felt somehow that it was at least an improvement on the previous films.

    Having seen it on DVD now I have no problem saying two things; 1) I think it’s easily the best of the TRANSFORMERS movies 2) I still don’t think it’s a good movie. I enjoyed it, without at any point ever really thinking this series has evolved beyond being symptomatic of everything wrong with contemporary blockbuster cinema. I even find it kind of hard to really explain why I enjoyed it more. I’d say it’s more restrained with its jokes, but then I remember the first hour or so is mostly “comedy”, including a scene where Sam’s boss thinks he’s having sex with the comedy relief Asian stereotype. I’d say it has a bit more structure to it, but then I’d probably struggle to think of more than ten big budget movies in the last decade outside of this franchise which had less structure (even Hasbro’s own BATTLESHIP felt like a top price screenwriter’s class in comparison). I’d say it’s a little more restrained in its editing, but then I remember it’s also probably the closest Bay has come to making a feature length Trailer since ARMAGEDDON.

    The one bit of really sincere praise I can offer is that the collapsing building setpiece, while it would obviously be better in a film in which I gave a shit about the people inside it, is for me definitely the high point of Bay’s career, and while it’s a far better film I’m not sure there’s a setpiece anywhere near as memorable as that in THE AVENGERS. And if I’m honest, I did feel the comedy was a little more organic than in the previous films, and I did smile at some of it, which I certainly never did in the first.

    But it’s notable that I’m not discussing the Transformers themselves here. They’ve almost become side characters in their own movies. The worms and alien ships attacking the tower could have come from any number of series. The Sentinel dude borders on being an interesting character, but it’s certainly true that it’s hard to remember why exactly Optimus is meant to be a likable or inspiring character, besides that he likes to use the word “freedom” a lot and was a big deal in the 80s (sort of like Gordon Gekko then).

    Having said all that I would be interested in knowing why people do genuinely believe the first film is much better. When REVENGE OF THE FALLEN came out I pretty much assumed it was mostly a case of the novelty of the first film wearing off, but to this day I still see a lot of smart people saying that the first is a great film which was let down by the sequels, and I assume a lot of these people have seen the movie since the sequels came out, or at least since 2007. But I haven’t ever read anything which really convinced me. The closest I’ve seen is our own Mr. Topel’s assertion that the sequels actually have _too much_ plot that gets in the way. That kind of makes sense. But outside of that I really can’t see how it’s a better film, certainly not in excess of more than one deviation point. I suppose the only thing I can think is that the first is a “feelgood” film, where DARK OF THE MOON tries to be gritty and is laced with imagery from real life disasters, and I suppose if you want this kind of stuff it might as well be genial if it’s inept at being substantial.

    I will say one nice thing about Bay; I didn’t believe he’d follow through on his plans for a “smaller” film, as I indicated (somewhere!) above, but he actually is filming a $25million movie as we speak. So fair play to him, and I while I’m not really expecting it to be great, I suppose it would be churlish not to wish him luck. Also, I’ve heard that the US DVD or Blu-Ray or whatever includes a money-off voucher for the subsequent special edition re-release with extras. As the need to double dip is apparently necessary because they don’t have time to provide extras and get the picture up to scratch or some shit, this strikes me as a somewhat classy move, don’t know if Bay had anything to do with it.

  241. I agree that TRANSFORMERS: DARKEST MOON is probably the best movie in the series, which is also probably why it’s my least favorite. If you can’t be legitimately good (which at this point I think it’s safe to assume that the series can’t) at least be completely insane. In that department, TRANSFORMERS: JIMMY FALLEN’S REVENGE takes the cake, eats it, pukes it on its own metal balls, pees robot piss all over it, and blows it up from 16 different angles, all of them swirling, swirling, swirling into eternity.

  242. I think this is the right place to post this: TRANSFORMERS IN A NUTSHELL
    http://youtu.be/mRkyfm1TC6g

  243. So…………. Vern’s going to review the new one, right? If not, then there’s literally no reason for me to watch it.

  244. Just saw AGE OF EXTINCTION. It’s crap. There’s a mean spiritness in the proceedings that makes this 165 mins film difficult to watch.

  245. As opposed to the gentle humanism of the rest of Bay’s work?

  246. The Original... Paul

    June 28th, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Felix – what masochistic urge drove you to do a thing like that?

    Majestyk – the weird thing I find about Bay, given how similar in style most of his films are, is that there are two completely separate and incompatible ways that he fails in them. There are films in which I feel he fails because he’s doing something naturally and by rote that he’s fundamentally been doing wrong his entire career – namely, making big dumb action movies. And there are films in which he fails because he actually tries to be more ambitious, but just… can’t. Because he’s held back by the same problems that plague all of his movies. (“The Island” has to be the greatest example of this, even beating out “Pearl Harbour”. Just look at that film, which should be a celebration of the resilience of humankind, and tell me how the hell Steve Buscemi’s character fits into it at all.)

    It’s almost as though you can pinpoint the same flaws throughout his filmography – the unlikeable characters, the schizophrenic editing, the ultimate emphasis of bombast over subtlety and style over substance – but they seem to affect different movies of his in exactly opposite ways. Either he’s basically unapologetically using these things as a crutch throughout the DNA of his films; or he’s trying to be genuinely ambitious, but when he is, the exact same things that he’s been relying on previously are the things that now drag him down.

  247. Isn’t going to a TRANSFORMERS movie and expecting anything other than crap kind of like getting punched in the face and not expecting it to hurt?

  248. I saw it this morning expecting exactly what I got: overblown, tonally confused misanthropic weirdness and destruction. At this point, if you don’t like what Bay is selling and you buy it anyway, that’s your problem.

  249. exactly, which is why you’ll never see my ass watching those flicks, the first was bad enough

  250. You guys are so right.

  251. The Original... Paul

    June 29th, 2014 at 4:43 am

    Felix – don’t worry about it, we all make film choices that we regret occasionally. I saw the first “Transformers” movie myself y’know. I can find it in my wilted little heart to feel some sympathy for you.

    Does that mean that I’ll be sharing your pain and going to see this latest one…? HELL NO.

  252. Majestyk- I heard this one finally did away with the excessive attempts at comic relief, with there only being one character dedicated to that, and uh, things don’t smoothly for him.

  253. Stanley Tucci becomes the comic relief in the third (or possibly fifth–this movie is long) act, and there are little comic interludes here and there, usually involving Wahlberg being an aggressive dick, but it’s definitely got less of that kind of thing than the others. Which is why on the one hand it’s a better movie than the first three, but it’s also kind of the worst of the series because it’s not as absurd. It feels like a lateral step for the franchise, not an upward one. Maybe the next one (which seems like it has Optimus fighting robo-gods in space?) will transition into something weirder.

  254. I decided to see Snowpiercer instead. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I highly recommend Snowpiercer to anybody with eyeballs. Really weird film with a handful of amazing performances and some super badass moments. Can’t wait to watch it again!

  255. All I needed to see was that piece of shit original movie to know that none of the sequels would be for me. Good to see that 7 years later my gut instinct has still been validated. Fuck Michael Bay.

  256. Bay has aged a lot, and in the interview I saw he seems to be promoting the movie mostly by saying nice things about the people he worked with. I’m a bit worried about him.

  257. Seeing T4 tomorrow. I will admit there remains in me a certain fascination in what will likely unfold before my eyes up on that screen. All the chaotic, bombastic, stupendous glory of a M Bay film. Surely he is a god of some sort, to be esteemed* in such a manner by movie-lovers everywhere, that we anticipate soaking in his radiance for 3 hours, for better or (more likely)worse.

    *Esteem can be of the high kind, or the low kind. Either way, only Bay can generate the kind of enthusiasm that drives us to see this in spite of our preference for good filmatism and coherent narratives.

  258. The Original... Paul

    June 30th, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Darren – don’t do it! It will liquify your brain!

    I know this, for I have watched the horror that is “Bad Boys 2”. To this day I think that movie has left mental scars on me.

  259. Paul – I’m ok with BAD BOYS 2. It’s a carnival ride that I have to be in the right mood for (brain switched off, no food to be consumed prior to taking ride, expectations lowered, dignity thrown out window), but hell, it’s high quality trash that I would choose to watch again before any other Bay Brain-Farts. Except for THE ROCK. Cage and Harris add value to that one.

  260. Bay’s filmatism has dramatically improved with T4. Fuck. I can’t believe I just wrote that. I was impressed with the normal speed of the editing and the clearer than you’d expect comprehensibility in the action. I’ve spent the afternoon questioning if my eyes played tricks on me but I think I’m right about what I saw. Fuck.

    Fuck.

    Fuck.

    Once more….

    Fuck.

    The universe seems to be at peace right now. I will cherish this moment.

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