Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It ain't no Dark of the Sun, that's for muthafuckin' sure

Let me just say right now that I considered myself a Michael Bay fan, with the exception of Pearl Harbor (because really, who likes that shit, aside from the Japanese?), otherwise I considered the man a genuine Artist, in the same way Roy Lichtenstein was an artist. But it's just that somewhere during Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I started to wonder if all of these film critics had a point about his movies, or maybe I was simply growing out of them. Whatever the case, I decided that I would break my Watching Michael Bay Movies At A Movie Theater streak and I wouldn't go to see the third Transformers, because like my man Dubya says, "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me, I can't get fooled again."

Ah, but these goddamn people who aren't me, they went to see the fuckin' thing -- mostly because it's their jobs as film critics to see it -- and they horrified me by going on and on about the apparently awe-inspiring God Gave Me The Vision And I Can Walk Again final action-packed hour of this film, and how you'd have to be an absolute piece-of-shit jackass cocksucker douchebag who hates fun to not want to see this movie in 3D. You motherfuckers!

So what better day to watch an empty display of lights and smoke in the name of Entertainment than on the 4th of July; before spending the rest of the evening with the family, I would watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon at my local theater. That's an odd-sounding title, by the way. It's missing the word "Side", that's the problem. So rather than sounding cool and bringing up memories of that Pink Floyd album, the title gives you the impression that the person who wrote it was in a real hurry and accidentally skipped a word. Whatever. This is Hollywood, where you don't have to number all of your sequels and if you do, they don't even have to match in numerical format, like Death Wish II, Death Wish 3, Death Wish 4, Death Wish V

I didn't care -- nor did I intend to care -- if my fellow moviegoers acted like asses throughout the merciless 147-minute running time (counting trailers), because this joint (as well as every other Michael Bay joint) comes with Scotchgard protection against any type of Asshole Damage, because a Michael Bay joint is already fully asshole'd up as it is. So you can use your iPhone to post Twitter statuses on the movie ("Wow. Transformers 3 is AWSUM!!1"), you can text, you can talk, you can bring your colicky baby, and it would all be a futile redundancy because you can't asshole this movie out -- Bay's edits between shots make more noise and visual disturbance than anything you can dish out with your amateur ass, so don't even try. They didn't try, though. In fact, this was the most well-behaved audience I've watched a movie with in years. For a fuckin' Michael Bay movie.

Finding myself without an edible, I ended up smoking a few bowls in the parking lot and showed up absolutely fuckin' baked for this movie; see, in addition to reading about how great the last hour of the film is, I also read that there was still about 80-90 minutes of the usual Baytastic Komedy and "drama" that one has to sit through in order to get to it. I wanted to make that part of the movie relatively painless for me, so I made sure to arrive feeling no pain. A healthy amount of elevated paranoia crept in while I was at the concession stand, and I felt that EVERYONE around me knew I was fucked up (hence their smiles) and in my attempt to make it as quick and simple a transaction as possible, I probably made things worse. But at least I made it, stumbling into the auditorium with my arms wrapped around a large buttered popcorn and refillable cup of Cherry Coke, plopping down dead center in my seat, and finding the on-screen advertisements for Sprint and Coca-Cola and the local baby doctor establishment entertaining for the first time ever.

Hey, by the way -- I'm probably gonna spoil some shit here, in case you believe that a movie like this can be spoiled. I mean, people are seeing this movie despite the reviews pretty much telling them DON'T GO. So, even if I spoil something here, you're still gonna see it. So there. 

You know how most of us bitched about Wolverine not using his fuckin' claws or whatever those razor-things were in X-Men, and then I guess Bryan Singer heard the fans out because in X2 he started stabbing and slashing the shit out of everyone and the whole audience was all like FUCK YEAH, NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT MUTHAFUCKA? Well, I think Bay misunderstood the universal Booooo given to his last Transformers movie as a critique that his robots weren't Hard enough, so in this one, he makes Optimus Prime some kind of violent emo -- the Weston Cage of sentient alien robots, if you will -- in an attempt to give the audience someone to swoon over how badass he is, but he's not. I mean, Optimus Prime has a fuckin bitch-fit in this movie that ends with him transforming into a truck and not talking to anyone for a while. That's right, he turns into a 14-year-old boy who goes to his room and slams the door because his mom cut off World of Warcraft, but thankfully, Bay spares us the sight of Optimus shoving a remote control up his mecha-anus as an act of helpless rage.

Whenever Shia LeBeouf isn't spending his time in interviews making everyone else who isn't him look like an asshole, he's making fat worthless bloggers like me look like douchebags for defending him; in my Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ramblings, I talked about how I thought he had a likable presence in movies or something like that, I'm not looking it up. I also remember him being relatively likable in the last two Transformers, yet here it appears that he's not so much playing Sam Witwicky as he's playing Shia LeBeouf; simultaneously callow, arrogant, whiny, prone to violent anger, quick to insult, and last but not least, a "fucking idiot" (to quote Mr. Harrison Ford). This is the hero of the film.

At first, I can understand why he's a bit upset; after kinda/sorta/not really saving the world twice, he got the medal and handshake by President Obama, which sounds awesome except he's also a recent Ivy League college graduate, and like most college grads from awesome schools, he can't find a job to save his fuckin' life; we're treated to a "funny" montage of him going on various job interviews and it's done to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion", a song that was once associated as the opening track to Richard Linklater's muthafuckin' masterpiece, Dazed and Confused. But Bay, he ain't having that shit, so not only did he use it in a "funny" montage during Armageddon, he now uses it again here in this flick. Either Bay's paying tribute to his own awesomeness, or he just wants to make it clear that Sweet Emotion is his and only his; I OWN YOU, SWEET EMOTION, I OWN YOU! YOUR KARATE IS A JOKE! YOUR KARATE IS SHIT!

Witwicky also feels threatened in the manhood department because his employed girlfriend has been supporting him, which I think is pretty fuckin' sweet if you can swing that. What's wrong with having the lady in your life be the primary/only breadwinner? I'm speaking for myself, of course. I mean, I have a small dick so there's not much manhood here you can threaten anyway, and as such, I'm not hung up on that kinda thing, the I'm A Man thing; I'd love to have a sugar mama, as long as she's cool with it (as well as my forced-by-my-anatomy "motion in the ocean" style of lovemaking) and doesn't bring that shit up during arguments (when all of a sudden my not having a job becomes a convenient issue/ammunition).

But soon, it becomes very clear that he's more than just upset by the cards dealt to him by that asshole called Life, he's obviously picked up a trendy coke problem between sequels (probably at one of those college parties) and he's now living life as a puffed-up, sniffly little bag of nerve endings. By the way, on a completely unrelated note, I think Michael Bay would be the perfect director for a movie based on Charlie Sheen's life -- a movie approved by Mr. Tiger Blood himself, or course.

Anyway, Witwicky needs a good ass-kicking to set him straight, but Bay isn't interested in giving him one because Bay probably sees a lot of himself in Witwicky, which is funny because the idea of a character like Sam Witwicky probably came from executive producer/Bay's new father surrogate Steven Spielberg, who probably demanded that the young nerdy kids in the audience have someone they can look up to, and by "young nerdy kids", he means Steven Spielberg. But somewhere during the filmmaking process, Bay looked down on Witwicky, probably found him "faggy" and demanded his slave screenwriters to make him cooler, which in the case of this movie, means DOOOOUUUUUCHE BAGGGGGAAAAAAA. 

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who would find the silver lining in the dark cloud coming from the local death camp's crematorium, but that's because you've never met Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who has about six million souls to thank for her being cast as Witwicky's Employed Girlfriend. She's attractive, but Megan Fox was more my speed (I like how Bay got the last word by having the robots in this movie refer to her character as being "mean"), and she's not as good as Fox was in the last couple films, which is pretty fucked up since Fox wasn't exactly Oscar-caliber in her performance, either. Speaking of Oscars, Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand is in this movie because big paychecks kick ass and while her performance isn't Oscar-caliber either, she's still fun to watch because even though her character is supposed to be this hardass Head Lady In Charge, watching her ordering people around only succeeded in making me go a little bit Awww (obviously displaying some leftover residual Adorableness from her Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day co-star, The Adorable Amy Adams); her scenes look/feel like something Albert Brooks and Bruno Kirby would be editing.

Come to think of it, the most interesting characters are played by actors who've appeared in Coen Brothers films; in addition to John Turturro reprising his role as Some Dude Who Constantly Makes An Ass Of Himself, John Malkovich is here as well and I really hope those miniature white piano keys in his mouth are strictly for his character, rather than Malkovich trying to pass off overly-fake dental work as The Real Deal. He plays Witwicky's new boss (yeah, Sam eventually gets a job) and I guess he's funny, not that I or anyone else in the half-full theater laughed at the guy, but this movie got an "A" Cinemascore grade from audiences, so obviously someone's laughing out there. He does have one scene I genuinely liked, though; he makes a deal with Witwicky that would enable him to see an Autobot up close. He ends up completely geeking out upon meeting Bumblebee, and for the next minute or so, we're treated to this powerful guy reduced to acting like a little not-all-there kid; I swear he even ends up on the ground with all fours up, like a dog expecting a belly rub. It's just so fuckin' weird, man.

In fact, a lot of this fuckin' movie is fuckin' weird. It's possibly Bay's strangest movie yet, or maybe all of Bay's movies are this WTF if you simply added a lot of THC into the viewing experience. In one scene, a character in an office building is thrown to his death by Laserbeak (he hisses to his intended target that he's going to "suicide" him; perhaps another example of Baying tribute to a previous movie -- in this case, using a line Connery used in The Rock) and the sequence starts off kinda scary, then tries to be hilarious, then further embarrasses itself by dipping its toe into Hudsucker Proxy waters in the varying ways the employees react to this man's death; Bay must be a HUGE Coen Brothers fan, considering the actors and situations he's biting from them. He must especially be a fan of their early work, back when Barry Sonnenfeld was their cinematographer and used to move that camera all crazy, like if that shit was Chev Fuckin' Chelios.

Ken Jeong used to be a doctor; he made a good living treating the sick and helping them feel better and generally being a great representative of not only his people, but of human beings in general. But he wasn't happy with that; what he really wanted to do with his life is play the Wacky Oriental in movies and making all the non-Asians in the audience go HAW HAW HAW, AIN'T DAT CHINK FUNNEH?! while the Asians in the audience look away in embarrassment and that's why he's now the go-to Komedic Chinaman in the cinematic arts. OK, I'm being unfair, that's not at all the case with him, I take it back, he's pretty awesome in Community and as long as he's making bank, who am I to talk this cowardly shit behind closed cyberdoors? I'm an anonymous coward, that's who I am. Anyway, in this movie he plays some guy who knows about what the Decepticons are up to and it all ends with him buttfucking Shia LeBeouf in the men's bathroom. If it was the women's bathroom, I'd object, but it's not, so pump away, my man.

I have to be honest with you and tell you that I'm not totally sure what this movie was about; my interest was only in the reportedly mind-fuckingly Baytastic final hour. There was a lot of talking between the characters and it all sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher to me, and whenever the Autobots and the Decepticons spoke, it just sounded like a bunch of metallic rumbling and unfunny circa-1960's ethnic voices. I did not decipher what anyone was saying, nor did I care to know -- with the exception of the character of Sentinel Prime; I remember most of his dialogue because Leonard Nimoy did the voicework, which meant that I was watching a giant sentient robot speaking with an old man denture voice.

Otherwise, all I knew during the first half was that the 1969 moon landing was really a cover-up so Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin can look for a crashed spaceship; later on, the real Buzz Aldrin shows up in the movie so Optimus Prime can get all gooey over him, even though I suspect Optimus was being disingenuous, because Optimus Prime is an asshole who doesn't give a shit about humans in general, let alone one who walked on the moon. It's an interesting scene, but when it comes to recent narrative scenes involving Buzz Aldrin talking to a fictional character, let's just say Optimus Prime is no Liz Lemon. I mean, Liz Lemon is capable of some evil shit, but I like to think that overall she's a good person with an average amount of flaws, like most of us, whereas Optimus is really just a piece of metallic shit. Robot ain't got no humanity!

See, Optimus is the leader of the Autobots, and they -- like everyone else in this movie -- are completely unlikable assholes and their ultimate plan is just as assholish with a touch of Borderline Evil. What happens is that the U.N. eventually tells the Autobots to get the fuck out of Earth because it's the only way to avoid a war with the slightly-more-assholish Decepticons, and the Autobots are like "Yeah, sure, OK", getting on a space shuttle and blasting off to who knows where. Well, sure enough, the Decepticons blow the shuttle up (there's a really cool shot where a shocked Witwicky watches this from a distance) and Boo-Hoo, the Autobots are dead and now the Decepticons are in Chicago, vaporizing thousands of innocent people and destroying many families and expensive property in the process, but I'm not crying because these are the same assholes who refuse to stock ketchup at their hot dog stands (not that I like ketchup on my hot dog, but I believe in having the freedom to choose to fuck up my hot dog with that bullshit if I want to).

It's some pretty cold/scary shit; all these people running for their lives, but it's all for naught because the Decepticons eventually catch up with them and murder them all, leaving behind a destroyed and empty city with only skulls, charred clothing, and ashes left behind as a sad reminder that human beings once populated this great metropolis. So in a way, I guess Megan Fox was right about Michael Bay being like Hitler. 

Except, it turns out that the Autobots are still alive! They faked that shit so the humans can understand how much the Autobots are needed. Now I want you to think about that for a second; the Autobots faked their death and chilled out for about 24 hours while thousands of innocent people were being murdered, that way we can be all appreciative about these assholes when they come back. Lady and gentleman, I wanted to applaud Michael Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger for not only serving us that cold-blooded plate of heroics, but for insisting that we would happily accept that bullshit and ask for seconds. The only other asshole that I know of who would pull some shit like that -- kill an astonishing number of motherfuckers just to make sure that the rest respect you, fear you, and depend on you -- is that one guy, what's his name? Oh yeah, GOD.

This finally culminates in an hour-long throwdown between the humans, Autobots, Decepticons, Michael Bay, and the audience; shit gets blown up and tossed around in Chi-town, probably pissing off that fuckin' Leonard Maltin-looking motherfucker John Landis in the process, because until now, that guy was the master in fuckin' up Chicago proper. Bay found a pretty cool loophole in having graphic violence in a PG-13 movie too; the robots own each other by ripping off heads, arms, legs, and as a result we see red-colored liquid spew out that's obviously supposed to be something that isn't blood, like oil or whatever the fuck these alien robots run on, but it looks enough like blood to satisfy the audience's lust for it. OK, my lust for it. At least it looked like blood -- could be the fucked-up loss of brightness due to the 3D glasses. I paid extra for that shit.

The action was decent for the most part, it really didn't make that big of an impression with the exception of one awesome setpiece involving a building; for whatever reason, a group of the good guys run up to one of the top floors of this office building, and eventually the Decepticons show up and start trying to timber that shit down. That was pretty fuckin' insane, and it's also very telling that the majority of it showcased the humans, rather than the robots. I wonder if that has something to do with the fact that even after 3 movies, I can't tell where a fuckin' Transformers face is; every time one of them decides to speak, it takes me a couple of seconds to make out where the mouth is. Same goes for the action scenes; more often than not, when these dudes throw down, it looks like someone is splattering fruitcake all over the frame, and I can't get excited over fruitcake filling the screen, I just can't. I'm sorry, I can't. I don't even like fruitcake, stop it.

What else can I say about this movie? Oh, I liked the more-than-usual amount of ADR work used in this movie, for all the scenes and shots the filmmakers thought the audience would be too stupid to understand unless they had someone practically narrate the meaning behind them. My fave would be when Witwicky and The Chick Jason Statham's Banging are getting all I Love You with each other and Bumblebee shoots out a few circular sprockets and gears onto the ground. He then plays a wedding march through his speakers. But because we're all so fucking stupid, the close-up shot of the metallic rings is accompanied by the girlfriend's off-screen voice exclaming "Rings!" Ah, thank you very much for clearing that up, lady.

I was entertained, more so than with the last two movies, but I think being stoned for the first two hours had more than a little something to do with it. I can see sneaking in and watching the last hour again, but that's about it as far as repeat viewings go. If you're gonna see it, then yes, try to find the biggest screen you can find to check it out. Get drunk or stoned, if you can. The 3D is pretty cool, but not necessary. Yeah, that's right, I said that shit. Anyway, it took him 3 tries, but I'd like to congratulate Michael Bay on finally making a half-decent Transformers movie. Way to be on top of your game there, chief.