Honestly, the expectations bar is set pretty damn low now. I just want to be entertained. I just wanted to see something cool. Is that too much to ask?
I went to see the biggest piece of bubblegum the summer has to offer yesterday. I unwrapped it and popped that thing into my mouth waiting for the sweet sensation to overtake me and send me on my happy movie-going way. But the bubblegum was hard to chew. And my taste buds were taken aback to find out that this was not raspberry, my favorite flavor. It was sour apple. I don't care for sour apple. Not one bit.
Alright, enough with the cute analogies. Transformers was not good. I had been warned by several of you, but I walked into that dark theater anyways hoping for the best. And I got the worst. So shame on me. The Michael Bay dog has bitten me several times now and I keep going back to try to pet it. But now it makes sense to me. After all his movies, it finally makes sense to me. Michael Bay should not be directing features. I know that sounds a bit obvious to those of you who hate him most. But it's true.
I'm in advertising so I had heard of Michael Bay long before his ambiguously gay action partnership with Jerry Bruckheimer. Michael Bay was one hell of a commercial director. One of the best. His eye for entertainment in a 30 or 60 second time frame was unbelievable. He could cast just the right kind of character. The hero with the square jaw that looks good dirty and casts a nice silhouette against a bright red burning sun. The quirky guy with the buggy eyes, the silly hair or the crazy glasses that you would recall in the 15 seconds he was on your TV screen. And the girl. The beautiful girl with the perfect belly and the hint of peach fuzz around the belly button that with a little misting, and the light just right, you had one heck of a sexy shot. There is no depth to these characters in his commercials because you have no time to establish them. So you have to make them big, boisterous and completely on the surface. That, my friends is Transformers to a tee. All style and no substance. And although it was Michael Bay, I was hoping for a bit more.
Shia LaBeouf plays Sam Witwicky (everyone in the movie mispronounces his last name. Isn't that cute?) His performance is simply perfect if you have the attention span of about five seconds. Everything this kid does is quick, loud and anxious. Every line is delivered as if he's on the verge of screaming. I wanted to smack him. His dog is a cute little something or other that looks interesting enough to be in a movie. The dog has a broken front leg. We don't know why it's broken and the fact that it's broken has no bearing on any of the story. Again, it's just an interesting visual device to spice up an otherwise played story. In a 30 second commercial, a little dog with a cast on his front leg would be very funny. In a two hour and thirty minute action movie, it's stupid. Megan Fox plays Mikaela Banes. She was cast because her stomach was perfect. There's a scene where she helps Sam restart his car. She lifts the hood and we get a good gander at that stomach and suddenly I thought I was watching a Diet Pepsi commercial and instead of Megan Fox, I was looking at Cindy Crawford. The rest of the characters are about as deep and completely forgettable. I know this is a science fiction movie, but please make some attempt to create a somewhat real character. Why spend all that money to make the special effects look real if you're going to have the real people be so fake?
So what of the robots? Of course they look incredible. Was there ever any doubt? But they get lost in all the fast-paced hoopla and I often found myself wondering who were the Autobots and who were the Decepticons. I will say that despite my confusion, the fighting at the end was pretty incredible.
The rest of the movie is composed of slow motion shots and helicopters against red suns and soldiers walking down tarmacs getting ready for the fight. Everything that looks good in five second increments. Everything that would look great in a commercial, but looks disjointed and pasted together in a full-length feature. I often found myself asking why some of these scenes were even included of course knowing that they were included for no other reason other than they looked cool. But unfortunately, Transformers was not cool. And for $145 Million dollars, my robot better be frickin' cool.