Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review of Transformers 2


There's a certain cruelty to humanity that is evident in Michael Bay's movies, given his desire for wanton destruction. Prior to Transformers, Bay's movies featured destructions of entire cities via Hummer in "The Rock," via meteors in "Armageddon," and via car chase in "Bad Boys II." His most offensive, however, was "Pearl Harbor," a movie that recreated that tragic day in our world's history with an almost pornographic display of abject disregard for the real meaning of what that day was about. So, when the first live-action Transformers movie came out 2 years ago, I was hesitant to watch it.

Since then, it's become one of my favorite movies to watch, but not because of Michael Bay. All of what's wrong with Michael Bay is in that movie, and it can be summed up into one word: inane. The humor, the ad-libbed dialogue, the unnecessary slo-mo shots, and above all, the casual racism (Jazz: "What's crackin' little bitches?") But when it came time for the action, the players did their jobs without acting silly (i.e.: Jar Jar Binks). It was great to see the Air Force shown in an heroic way. And, after all, Transformers was a cartoon; it never aimed to be dark and brooding.

And that's where Transformers 2 succeeds and fails at the same time. Its successes are marked when the heroism of its characters outshine the silliness, and its failures are marked anytime someone opens their mouth. Humanity's intelligence is insulted every single time the "Twins" Skids and Mudflap are on the screen, and that's proven when the only people laughing in the theater are stupid people. We take a collective step backward when not only negative black stereotypes are seen as heroic in robots, but negative stereotypes are seen as a punchline in actual human beings (the little Egyptian border security guard and the snaggletoothed Muslim deli worker). And let's not forget the unnecessary swipe this movie takes at the Obama Doctrine and President Obama himself.

But I still enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching Optimus Prime fight Megatron and Starscream. I enjoyed seeing the military fight bravely against the Decepticons. I enjoyed the explosions and destruction. I enjoyed watching Devastator climbing up a pyramid even though the same pyramid is in the background untouched during a close up of John Turturro. I enjoyed watching the Autobots drive round trip from Cairo to Petra and back in a few hours, even though the two places are nearly 300 miles away from each other. I was in a constant flux or emotions, experiencing simultaneous outrage and anger with juvenile glee. My senses were fed with wonderful sights and sounds at the same time my intelligence was being insulted.

What do I tell my friends what I thought? I have more negative things to say about this movie than I do positive. I feel like if they enjoy watching giant robots fight each other with explosions and Megan Fox, then they should definitely see this movie. Yet, if they see this movie, they'll only be feeding the cancer that is Michael Bay.

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