Transformers still grinding its gears

July 11, 2011

Director Michael Bay has said in interviews that his latest film “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon" was his indirect apology to fans after the car crash that was “Transformers: Rise of the Fallen.”

He was quoted as saying of his latest: “I think our 3D works really well with the robots, the size, the girth, the weight of it…it’s spectacular.”

It seems Mr. Bay maybe confusing the word “spectacular” with “spectacle.”

“Fallen” is wall-to-wall fetishizing of twisted metal, tawny babes and ear-bleeding explosions, but it’s merely more of the same “more-ess” the hack has been peddling off to the masses for the better part of his career. You can argue that, technically, this is the most accomplished of the franchise, but that’s like picking the “cat’s paw” over the “Judas chair” (if you are not familiar with either, look ‘em up - after your meal has digested).

Add to this the use of 3-D technology, and it just means one more dimension in which this franchise can suck.

Good luck with following the plot of “Moon,” which has been made unmercifully confusing, apparently in order to hide its multitudinous other faults. It all boils down to a decades-old NASA cover-up of an Autobot moon landing that is now coming to a head in modern-day U.S.A., where our young hero, Sam Witwicky (played by Shia LaBeouf, sprinting through his lines), happens to be dwelling. Despite having saved the world a couple times before, Sam is jobless, but shacking up with his latest Michael-Bay-approved slide of vapid hotness, Carly (played by model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).

I would like to take this moment to point out one of the most frustrating aspects of the entire series. While I am sure Huntington-Whiteley is a lovely lady who’s nice to animals and the elderly, and loves her parents, she was hired for one reason only, which is on proud display in the film’s opening scene. As her PG-13-underwear-clad bum serves as a metronome for the first few minutes, I began to wonder just what age group this film is made for? Every female cast in the film is meant for ogling. Of course, Bay tosses in a few average women, too. All for comic relief.

This aspect of the flick is clearly aimed at the 20-30-year-old Maxim-magazine-loving lads, hungry for Autobot headlights and female “headlights,” but while it soaks in sexuality, it remains chaste, just leading that demographic on before sending them home for a strategically placed pack of ice.

A large portion of time is spent on jokes and slapstick that are targeted at the elementary school crowd (hell, I’m not convinced the entire script was not written as a fifth-grade class project) who flock to the flick solely for its shiny shifting robots.

This abrupt shift between audiences is par for the course throughout the film, with a cast of esteemed actors (John Turturro, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand) tarnishing any acting statuettes they’ve earned thus far.

When we finally get to the climactic robot carnage (about 100 minutes in, if you cannot sit through all 2 hours and 37 minutes), there are some moments of genuine awe, but after an hour of it, your senses have been adequately pulverized into a state of dulled submission, craving any organic, non-metal-based stimuli to ground you back into reality.

It’s a wonder why Bay does not just create a film without human characters. Clearly this is why audiences are forking over the cash (I can’t see anyone in line anxiously awaiting what wildly inappropriate comments Sam’s obnoxious parents will make in this installment). Just shed the humans, and create an entirely digital world and play to your base.

With the humans involved on screen, “Tranformers” will only continue grinding its gears.

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