The Transformers Rant
“It’s really amazing that a lot of people liked the movie. Some dude from my college who is on Myspace asked me to explain why I didnt like it. I was like, how can I even begin to explain that this movie is bad to someone who likes it. It’s like someone walking over to you and asking you why you don’t like to eat dog shit” – email I received
I have seen several movies lately, the most recent being Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was notable for three reasons: 1) it is an astoundingly creepy movie, commendably so; 2) Harry looks like he should be playing striker in the English Premier League at this point, he’s so old; 3) we used our tickets to get 10 percent off our post-movie meal at a local diner.*
Previous to Harry Potter, I saw Transformers, a trauma into which I have delved slightly on this blog.** I will attempt to discuss this experience further, but I’m not sure the scars have completely healed, so you must forgive me if I falter. This was the single worst piece of film-making I have ever seen, without question. Though I stayed until the conclusion of the 2 and a half hour a[xxx]tion of the ideals of humanity and the good of the civilized world, I would rather watch the only film on which I have walked out — Problem Child 2 — on loop, with my eyes jammed open, than revisit Transformers in the theater. I would rather find a time machine, travel to the instant before I was to buy my ticket and break my kneecaps—both of them—to prevent me from seeing this film, and then stab myself in the eyes just to be sure I got the point across. I would rather watch NASCAR with Bill O’Reilly or date Ann Coulter. If Hillary Clinton ran for president on a “No Transformers sequel” platform, I would vote for her. Twice. In each election.
With its pornographic, incomprehensible violence; its mosaic of plagiarized scenes from Top Gun, Batman, The Matrix, Armageddon and Independence Day, to name, oh, about half; to its jerkoff message of American greatness brought to you by the U.S. military, Hasbro, about 15 people who should be/are supermodels, Autobots and Ford, the movie might as well be entitled An Open Letter to al Qaeda.*** Or, better yet, why not just call it Bullseye? This is the low point in American/western “culture” as I know it, edging out George W. Bush’s re-election, in which less than .5 percent of the world’s population decided that the remaining 99.5+ percent deserved to be miserable because they preferred a President who was “like them” instead of one who was “qualified to lead the world.” Unfortunately, the Transformers phenomenon cuts across party lines, meaning something closer to 1 percent of the world’s population has decided they’d rather sit in a movie theater and masturbate to explosions, Megan Fox the American flag than develop a cogent thought on, well, anything. We can’t save us from ourselves—that much is clear—so maybe toys can do it! Whoopee!
We are literally worshiping toys. Not ideas. Not greatness. Not even goodness or averageness or mediocrity or Kansas City Royals-like futility. Toys. Things of play. The Transformers movie isn’t the start of this; my friends remember individual Transformers episodes and characters from the 1980s, and I have no idea how they do this. Crap like that was supposed to be amusing and disposable (I watched the cartoon religiously), but it’s the trash on which we’ve built our society. Sometimes I think I’m the crazy one, and then I see Transformers, and I realize that it’s not that everyone has lost their goddamn mind: it’s that they don’t work anymore. This is normal. It’s normal to go to a movie theater and watch controlled detonations on sound sets with pretty people running, all slowed down so that you can take in every inch of it in the most overwhelming sensory manner possible. Harry Potter is the world of one woman’s incredible imagination, and stimulates the brain as much as the eyes; Transformers was dreamed up by Hasbro executives who wanted you to spend money on their toys instead of, you know, buying healthier food or something. Not that health food was all the rage in the 1980s, but it’s not like we’re getting smarter. We’ve just stopped acting like idiots in a very small way, but we still destroy the planet (and argue about it?!?!) and give millions of dollars to an asshole like Michael Bay, a man whose defining feature is his ability to hold a giant mirror up to us and show us, exactly how vapid and soulless we are.
* Had I done this with Transformers, I would feel the absolutely tiniest bit better.
** I also saw Rashomon, and it was excellent.
*** It is worth noting that the entire movie would have been redeemed if John Turturro had been dressed as “The Jesus” from The Big Lebowski in his role as a bizarro over-acting FBI agent. Transformers would have been instead been exposed as a critique of our society, and a brilliant one at that. Alas.
go back to first causes – the OG transformer’s movie was also an extended commercial as well. transformers, in fact, was always a ploy to sell more toys.
what really makes you, im guessing, uncomfortable is the marriage between consumerism and politics. yet should this surprise you? what did rudy say a week after September 11th? “go buy shit”. Our greatest national tragedy in recent memory and my mayor is saying i might need a new pair of kicks.
also, to expect hollywood to save us from the race to the bottom is absurd. call me an elitist ( you already have ) but I don’t spend money on shit, overproduced movies like this.
“Autobots wage their battle to, destroy the evil forces of, the Deceptacons”.
Have you, in fact, become a Deceptacon? Engaging in the idea that the entertainment industry has to hold itself to some political ideal? i name thee Fantasitron.
But, Bryan, it’s a Michael Bay movie, there is no “point.” Nor perhaps is there a “what” or an “it or a “was.” Your whole line of questioning needs to be blown up.
I realize that it was a Michael Bay movie, but at what point is enough enough?
Your whole line of logic was destroyed when you said I was “a smart man.”
A few comments:
1. Daniel Radcliff was 17 playing a 15 year old – not really “so old” as you put it or too old.
2. Besides you feeling they plagiarized scenes and I may need you to give examples because nothing stuck out to me besides the fact that there was action in all the films you mentioned. Most action movies have fights and chases and shooting and crashing or flying and shooting etc. Maybe not an original concept but not a stolen one.
3. The fact that you see this movie as a message of American greatness shows you missed the point or you are too grown up for your own good. It’s based on a cartoon and a silly concept of robot aliens, you are looking for the message – stop looking. Enjoy the senseless violence and the agreed overacting of John Tururro. Its 2+ hours of entertainment. Plus its a Michael Bay movie. I don’t expect a message I expect an explosion.
4. You are a smart man, you show you know and have opinions on politics, national policy etc. What you don’t show is why this movie wasn’t good.
5. You mention we are worshipping toys not ideas, greatness etc but a movie based on 24 minute hasbro commercials of our youth (thank you Mr. Regan) but I don’t recall worshipping anything or looking for our toys or movies to save us or even looking for a message in this kind of movie advertised as an action movie with a tagline reminiscent of Alien vs Predator.
6. oh and by the way it was a human who saved us from our toys in the movie.
It’s late, Im tired, Mets are winning – nothing else in this message may make sense but I think I got some point across.
damn right i remember characters and episodes, just like you remember sox/pats players and games. however, rant well done.
“When Orson Welles loaded all those cinematic tricks into one movie, they hated him for it.”–Michael Bay, responding to critics who say he uses too many special effects
I watched roper get skewered over his “thumb up” for this movie by a reporter for entertainment weekly. roper was very defensive and went straight to personal attacks that he kept up through the rest of the show. i too rank problem child 2 as the worst movie i have ever seen. worse than goblins 2.
No seriously, tell us how you really feel.
I was going to see this movie, because a lot of people have been glowing about it–even people who I would expect to hate it–but no way I’m watching it now. Thanks for saving me $10.
Greatest rant ever. Long live Unicron!
Amazing! you should win a prize for this – seriously! YAYAYYAYAYAYAYYAYAAY!!!