Sdtrk: ‘A lot of drugs’ by Venetian snares
As is our wont, on Friday eves, my good friend Marika stops round, and we watch several hours’ worth of Quality Entrétainment — we’re currently tearing our way through the second series of Ashes to ashes and the second half of Kamen rider Hibiki, for example. Last Friday, however, when I was confirming our plans via text, Mari indicated that she wanted to go see the new Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen. I nearly threw up all over my phone, which would’ve been an entirely appropriate response.
Getting this out of the way: I’m not what you might call a Transformers ‘fan’. I watched the show fervently when I was younger, as most Children Of The Eighties did. I didn’t see the feature film in theatres, but I did rent it — wept when Optimus Prime died, thought Arcee was clang clang sexy — but that’s the lot, really. Although I can quote numerous lines from the film without a second thought. On the other hand, Liann, goshou’s wife, is a walking Transformers encyclopaedia. She’s still got the Laserdisc boxsets for the never-aired-in-the-States Transformers 2010 series, among other paraphernalia. When the first live-action Transformers (hereby shortened to TF) movie debuted, I refused to see it cos I think Michael Bay should be dancing the Tyburn Jig for his crimes against film, and Liann refused as she’s a hardcore TF purist. Everyone in our Algonquin End Table was curious as to what went on in the film, cos they sure as fuck weren’t going to pay to see it. (In the interest of full disclosure, neither did I; as I was broke, Mari paid for my ticket.)
So: TF:ROTF! Two and a half hours of Nothing, at an elevated volume. It was literally an endurance test for me. Where does one start with this… steaming pile of shit, to put it charitably? Well, for one, I absolutely hate the mecha designs; they look like walking scrapyards. I understand that Bay reasoned that as they didn’t come from Earth, they’d have forms that were unfamiliar and otherworldly, which actually makes complete sense. However, it is possible to design mecha that don’t resemble Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending a staircase’. And the thing is, when in robot mode, they all look the same. Maybe it’s just me, but during battle, I couldn’t tell who was duking it out with whom. Coupled with the awful redesigns of familiar characters and the ADHD editing style, the fight scenes were genuinely tiresome — as a rule, epic battle scenes shouldn’t make the viewer yawn or check their watch, which is what I did, several times.
And how ’bout that mecha, huh? How ’bout Mudflap and Skids, the Autobot ‘twins’ who were the worst CG stereotypes since Jar-Jar Binks? I mean, honestly, when you have one character sporting a gold buck tooth, and the other’s crapping on about ‘bustin’ caps’, you have to wonder why they didn’t just name them Amos and Andy, and be done with it? Why halfass it?
Besides the whole racist bullshit, they were literally exhausting to look at. Later during the sixth or seventh hour of the movie, Devastator inhales one of the twins — the red one, whatever the fuck his name was — into his gaping maw, which naturally had me cheering. So then, you can imagine my immense disappointment when that twin ripped his way out of Devastator through his face, while yelling ‘I’M IN YO FACE!!’ It actually hurt to watch.
The plot, if you can call it that, has been detailed elsewhere, so I’ll not rehash it here. Heh, like there’s anything to rehash. io9’s got a fab review that’s negligibly more charitable than this one, so give that a look when you’re done here. But the plot — o, the plot! It had holes you could easily drive an Autobot through, har har.
One of the subplots has our ‘hero’, Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LeDouche (accurately described by Mark Kermode as a ‘charisma vacuum’) is at college, having left both his girlfriend Mikaela, portrayed by Megan Fox (who’s someone’s idea of sex on legs, but not mine — sorry, PB Shelley. Also, clubbed thumb) and Bumblebee, played by a shitty Camaro (who apparently damaged his vocal cords in the previous movie and hasn’t had them repaired, due to a plot contrivance), back home. Despite Sam and Mikaela being miles apart, they’ve promised to be faithful to each other. Whilst on campus, Sam is constantly being pursued by some blonde with a spray-on tan, who’s aggressively wet in the knickers for him. Eventually she corners him in his dormroom and pins him to the bed, which is exactly when Mikaela shows up for a surprise visit. O SO WACKY Mikaela leaves in a huff, but the blonde lass reveals her true nature — she’s actually a Decepticon Gynoid! She chases Sam, his roommate, and Mikaela for a while until some Autobot comes out of nowhere and crushes her or shoots her or whatever; it’s inconsequential. And whoops! Was that a spoiler I just gave away, there? It sure was! And you should thank me; that’s one less reason for you to waste your time and money on TF:ROTF.
Now, you lot are undoubtedly thinking, ‘but Davecat, you love Gynoids! Surely that was one redeeming thing in the movie?’ Nope! For one, she looked like a Generic Blonde Maxim Reject when she was disguised as an Organik, and in Synthetik mode, she looked like a mashup of a Ray Harryhausen Medusa and… a Ray Harryhausen skeleton warrior. Needless to say, to me, she lacked sex appeal on not one, but two fronts, which is pretty impressive, if you think about it. Now consider; if the Decepticons can effectively disguise themselves as humans, don’t you think that’d be a more effective method of infiltration than transforming into planes and helicopters and the like? Bay didn’t even bother with an ill-conceived excuse as to why they didn’t — he just let it drop, hoping the audience wouldn’t bring it up again. Good job with that storytelling.
Another plot hole, you ask? Okay! Sam’s in his room above his parents, fiddling round with his hooded sweatshirt from the previous movie, when a shard of the cube from that movie falls out of the pocket. He picks it up, it gives him a shock, and he drops it. It then burns its way through the floor, and lands on the kitchen table, whereupon it sends out sparks that change all the small appliances in the room into Decepticons. Subsequently, they make their way upstairs, and proceed to arbitrarily attack Sleepy LaBeef, firing their guns, launching missiles, wielding saws, etc.
Right; so these are appliances made on Earth, correct? That being the case, I severely doubt Braun, or Oster, or KitchenAid, would manufacture toasters and microwaves and Cuisinarts that were fully-stocked with ammo. Otherwise, where did their weapons come from? O, Michael Bay’s arse? Okay, that… that actually makes sense.
When TF:ROTF wasn’t making me sigh with exasperation, it was boring me rigid, or offending me, or just plain enraging me. Too much crap onscreen at once, too much slo-mo, Linkin fucking park being part of the soundtrack, Generic Black Dude spouting Bay dialogue (‘That guy is an ASS HOLE’), Steven Spielberg, another director I hate, as executive producer, and a bad ratio of human characters to TF characters — cos if I’m seeing a film called Transformers, I’m really not there to see humans… all of these factors made for a truly appalling movie. I honestly can’t remember the last film I saw that I hated this much! Kudos, Michael Bay! ‘Kudos’, of course, being Greek for ‘I will grind your skull into pulp with my bare and twitching hands’.
After the movie let out, we got back round to mine, where I made Mari watch excerpts from the only Transformers film that matters:
What are they shooting at? Unicron’s behind them,
and they’re firing ahead
Some might accuse me of constantly wearing Nostalgia Goggles; those people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Every day, I pop in my pair of Nostalgia Contact Lenses. Honestly, I don’t get out of bed without them