July 5, 2011

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

In my Taki's Magazine column, I review Transformers: Dark of the Moon:
I had long wondered why critics loathe the Transformers movies about giant alien robots more than they hate any other summer blockbuster series. 
On the other hand, I’d never wondered enough to see one. Unlike reviewers who have to watch every movie that comes out, my policy is: If it sounds stupid, don’t go. 
The Transformers were a 1980s Hasbro line of toys for little boys: robots that convert into cars. That a lot of big boys are excited to see these films says more about 21st-century audiences than about the series. If the audience for childish subjects has grown, which it has, how much of that is the fault of director Michael Bay and how much of elites encouraging mass uneducated immigration? 
Last weekend, however, there wasn’t anything better opening, and I was looking forward to the robots demolishing Chicago, a city of which I’m quite fond. 
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third in Bay’s franchise, turns out to be ...

Read the whole thing there.

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ [no pun intended], you just wrote umpteen gazillion words about the Transformers movie franchise without pointing out that Shia LaBeouf can't act?

And that he [like Natalie Portman] gets his roles because of a certain, ah, "Affirmative Action" quota in Hollyweird?

Sheesh.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

I assume the critics hated the movies b/c the US military is on the clearly defined side of the good guys.

And, as much as I dislike Shia Lebeouf, he's not bad here.

bongo player said...

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/07/05/steve-jobs-bio-gets-a-new-title/

wren said...

My wife announced to me the other day that movies like this, Green Lantern, Battle: Los Angeles, etc. are actually prepping us for the coming alien invasion.

She seemed pretty serious about it.

Apparently, Spielberg et al are trying to give us some advanced warning.

Somehow or another this is all connected to the Rothschilds and Rockefellers, but that part wasn't really clear to me.

Wes member of the Illuminati said...

This line in the review is especially interesting:

As teenagers grow more diverse, their longings for order have grown more militaristic, more authoritarian. The attitude of today’s youth toward 1960s liberals is more or less: “Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost.”

Is this really true? If so, it certainly has implications for the future. If our increasingly diverse young people are pro-military and anti-hippy, well I may not be so pessimistic about the future of the country.

On the other hand, too much love of authority is not good. But, they hate hippies! That counts for a lot with me.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you'd shed some light on the German character. WTF?

Anonymous said...

And WTF is wrong with Hammerfall?

Andy said...

Megan Fox no less exciting

theslittyeye said...

I like the cartoon better. And never understand why Megan Fox should be in the series in the first place.

Rrrrrroger said...

Anonymous sure is picky.

beowulf said...

"Look, if you were ever a six-year-old boy, you would understand that the good robots fight the bad robots because the good robots are good."

That's kind of the point of every speech Winston Churchill ever gave. He even framed something as kumbaya as universal healthcare in martial terms:
"Dis­ease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poor­est or the rich­est man or woman sim­ply on the ground that it is the enemy".
http://kmareka.com/2009/08/17/winston-churchill-and-socialized-medicine/

Anonymous said...

Award-winning gains by Atlanta students were based on widespread cheating by 178 named teachers and principals, said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday. His office released a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that names 178 teachers and principals – 82 of whom confessed – in what's likely the biggest cheating scandal in US history. http://news.yahoo.com/americas-biggest-teacher-principal-cheating-scandal-unfolds-atlanta-213734183.html

TGGP said...

Malkovich isn't really a Coen regular, he was in just one of their movies.

Truth said...

That was a pretty lazy review, Steve.

Anonymous said...

By the way, check out this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/07/06/world/americas/immigration.html?hp

The kicker is buried halfway down the article: the Mexican illegal immigration count is dropping because our consular department is letting more Mexicans in legally. Go the section entitled 'Easing a Chaotic Process.' We're now accepting legally people who are known former illegal immigrants.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on guys, Lebeouf wasn't that bad in that movie with the Midnight Cowboy and Ripley. He was easy to believe as a juvenile delinquent. On the other hand, he is far too perma-baked to be believable as any kind of student-cum-world savior or action star. 'Do you want fries with that?' sure I believe that. Trying to out 'tough guy' some guy too old for Social Security while dressed like James Dean playing Brando? Not so much.

Megan Fox on the other hand has all the sex appeal of a lethal STD culture so the first two movies were just cringe making for me. Every time she posed 'seductively' on something, I wanted to yell, 'get your cootie infested tail off that before it melts!'

I don't know that she's contagious but I feel like taking a shower every time I hear her speak and not a 'fun time' kind of shower. I imagine if she attracted the kind of guys that Scarlett Johanson does we'd see a leprosy-like, genital disintegrating epidemic with all our leading men. As it is now she's only infecting that soap opera star she's married to and guys at the local 7-11 or gas station when she buys a pack of menthol kools.

Since she's not in this one, I'll probably watch it with my kids.

K(yle) said...

Shia LaBeouf is ok. He was pretty funny on that Disney Kid's show back in the day.

The reason he's had this bump in his career is because he reminds Stephen Spielberg of himself (he even looks a little bit like Spielberg). So, yeah it is basically ethnic nepotism in action.

Shia can act, but he doesn't have the gravitas to pull off a lot of the roles he's been handed and they seem written for an older, or maybe just older looking actor. I'm not sure that the college-aged Sam from Transformers is one of those roles though. That seems right up his alley.

Anonymous said...

Hollywood has a Cajun quota?

Anonymous said...

Wow, even a movie about giant battling robots makes you think about immigration. A tad obsessed?

The Antifan said...

Apparently, Shia LaBeouf has a significant hate following.

Sideways said...

This might be the closest to a normal movie review I've ever seen Steve come.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the plot of the Transformers cartoon from the 80s and the cartoon Transformers movie from the 80s are both infinitely more complex and intelligent than anything in the new Hollywood franchise. And the Transformers looked cooler too. These monstrosities are unappealing, probably a result of the affirmative action in hollyweird. The whole franchise is like a platform to market Shia Laboef by means of the Transformers name. it's cool that Steve likes scifi, but he doesn't always have much discrimination within scifi.

Get Off My Lawn! said...

Mass immigration doesn't explain why theaters in my Philadelphia suburban neighborhood, where there are almost no Hispanic immigrants, were packed with Transformers fans this past weekend.

"If the audience for childish subjects has grown, which it has ...," it's because audiences, especially young men, are more childish than they used to be. Or, at any rate, their innate childishness is indulged more by society. We live in the age of the perpetual adolescent.

Truth said...

"My wife announced to me the other day that movies like this, Green Lantern, Battle: Los Angeles, etc. are actually prepping us for the coming alien invasion."

That's actually a fairly well respected theory in the "conspiracy" community. It's called 'Predictive Programing.' It is the same thing with Morgan Freeman playing president in a movie, female presidents on TV now, and this from 3/01.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26g18Dg7db4

Marlowe said...

If only we could have sophisticated films such as Smokey and the Bandit or Star Wars today.

Thrasymachus said...

Hey! Wingsuits are cool!

I would think Shia LeBouef and Michael Cera get roles because they remind Hollywood executives of when they were nerds in high school. Except I have trouble believing many Hollywood executives were nerds in high school.

regular joe said...

OK
A- if you think he can't act, its more Legacy program than pro-Jew affirmative action. Jeesh. And he's only half jew, shouldn't he get half the Isteve hatin'?
B- How can Steve possibly try to blame the market for Movies based on 80's cartoons, a White Guy Nerd living in Mom's basement phenomena, on 4 foot tall peasant maids and lettuce pickers? There's enough bad to say about mass 3rd world immigration without trying to blame bad pop culture on them, that just makes you sound dumb and opportunistic and a bit one track minded.

Anonymous said...

"I had long wondered why critics loathe the Transformers movies about giant alien robots more than they hate any other summer blockbuster series."

Uhhh, maybe because Michael Bay was involved and the idea behind the movie is so stupid?

"On the other hand, I’d never wondered enough to see one. Unlike reviewers who have to watch every movie that comes out, my policy is: If it sounds stupid, don’t go."

Uhhh, you mean X-Men sequels sounded unstupid?

"Last weekend, however, there wasn’t anything better opening, and I was looking forward to the robots demolishing Chicago, a city of which I’m quite fond."

Why does one have to review a movie that opens in that week, especially for an online mag? Why not a movie that opened a month ago that worthier of attention?
Surely there's indie or foreign release that is better.

”Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third in Bay’s franchise, turns out to be fine."

Fine for wasting time.

"Why the hate for the three Transformers movies? For one thing, most critics are frustrated fiction writers, so they normally love writing plot summaries."

This is not the main reason. Guys like Spielberg, Fincher, Greengrass, and Lucas/Cameron at their best understand the rhythms, angles, contours, corners, and the flow of visual language. The really great ones even understand visuals as music. Michael Bay has no such understanding. His visuals aren't sentences but exclamations such as BAM!!! POW!!! GAZOOM!!! BIG BIG CAR!!! NOW BIG ROBOT!!! BOOM!!! BIGGER ROBOT!!! DESCEND FROM AIR!!! SMASH!! @#$*&%$$!!!! It's visuals as monster car smashup. It's cliche piled atop cliche. It's like the worst of big hair rock bands of the 80s. It's pots and pans cinema. Cheesy effects than meaningful expression. INDIANA JONES/CRYSTAL SKULL isn't profound, but there is a kind of meaning to Spielberg's masterly command of film form. The meaning is found in the pride of expression and pleasure of appreciation. If he were a musician, we'd say 'he sure can play!' A great musician never mistakes volume for quality. Bay, lacking in talent, ramps up the volume.

If Bay made B-movies, something like TRANSFORMERS might have a certain charm, like RESIDENT EVIL is fun for what it is: cheapie action horror. But mega-A production values for saturday morning cartoon material really boggles the mind.
And what does it say about our culture that even a lot of grownups wanna see a 200 million dollar version of a saturday cartoon material? But who am I kidding? What was AVATAR but smurfs on steroids with a budget of $400 million?
This is bombasm and gargantuanism.

Most blockbuster movies are dumb but TRANS is dumber than dumb. A movie with trucks turning into 100 ft toys? Do movie theaters pass out joysticks at least?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the most interesting--though not the best--movie series is the one started by ALIEN, at least from the vantage point of filmmaking.
Most big action series are made by one hack or a bunch of hacks. Or the first is made by an ace director but the rest is followed up by hacks. On occasion, the master-director directs all of them: Leone with the Dollars Trilogy or Spielberg with Indy movies(though I'm not to keen on TEMPLE or CRUSADE).

ALIEN series is notable in that each of the film was made by a notable director who made a mark on cinema since the 80s: Scott, Cameron, Fincher, Besson.
Through them, we can see both the evolution of and distinct personalites in action filmmaking. Scott, as in BLADE RUNNER, loves design. Cameron loves machines and hard action. Fincher loves shadows and angles; even if ALIEN 3 isn't the best of the series--I think it is by far--, it is the most impressive as filmmaking feat. Besson has a certain elasticity, a rubbery quality that keeps his movies bouncing along. I never much liked Besson(his MESSENGER was awful! and I'm not one of the fans of NIKITA), but FIFTH ELEMENT was enjoyable as Sci-fi Looneytunes. And ALIEN RESURRECTION is creepy in a goofy way, which can't be said for earlier ones. Just imagine if Bay were to make part 5!!

(I'm not sure ALIEN vs PREDATOR should be counted as part of the series or a gimmick. Its director PW Anderson seems, as yet, a superior ahack than an 'auteur'.)

Another interesting thing about the ALIEN SERIES is the writing. Instead of just recycling the same material, each offers a different angle and variation, not just plot-wise but theme-wise.
It's like one movie incubates an idea which hatches and runs wild in the next one, which then incubates another idea which haunts the next one.

Anonymous said...

I saw one TRANS movie for the hell of it. I think it was part 2. It was so mindnumbingly awful on just about every leve that it made me feel sick. It ends in the MIDDLE EAST, which means it's about AIPAC war porn.

Anonymous said...

"My wife announced to me the other day that movies like this, Green Lantern, Battle: Los Angeles, etc. are actually prepping us for the coming alien invasion."

But won't aliens watch these movies as training films on the dos and donts in the invasion of earth?

#1 don't: DO NOT piss off a white suburban teenager cuz once he gets riled up, he'll lead the victorious battle for Earth.
White teen is a sleeping giant. Let him sleep.

Anonymous said...

Because of the recent wars, today's young kids are more anti-war than ever. But since there's no draft and since obam's president, you won't see big marches.

People just like big action movies. Even people who like Oliver Stone's vietnam trilogy also like ALIENS, RAMBO, TERMINATOR, ROBOCOP, etc.

And 007 movies and spaghettis were big in the 60s. And the GREEN BERET was the Duke's second highest grossing movie. And PATTON was a megahit with critics and fans in 1970. PATTON/PLATOON complex. We know war is hell and don't wanna serve but we like to see stuff blow up real good.

Anonymous said...

None of the links in your Taki's Magazine columns work

David said...

The Transformers movies are more popular than the toys ever were, yet the movies were created to advertise those toys. Talk about adding value.

It's like those commercials that are so popular but no one remembers or cares what they're selling.

In the old days, kids had their own imaginations and were encouraged (by default, perhaps) to be more self-directed with them. In today's world of media oversaturation, kids sit in front of a screen and have their inner life handed to them. They don't play with toys, they watch toys being played with.

Occasionally a kid will get the bright idea: "I want to be a content provider myself." Most, however, are content to remain passive. Thus we now have a culture consisting more of a tiny minority of tastemakers and dictators on top and slothful millions below than we ever seem to have had in the past.

In the days of kids' chemistry sets or dolls, the kid's exploration of the world (through the plaything) was the focus and the point. Nowadays, the media has replaced the plaything, and its manipulation of the kid is the focus instead. To borrow a figure from a paragraph or so ago, the kid doesn't play, he is played. This is entertainment today.

To be fair, spectator entertainment has always existed; what is worrying is that is has replaced self-directed entertainment.

Anonymous said...

How did Steve Sailer become a "film critic,"?

Anonymous said...

OT: "shy middle-class" Dirk Nowitzki speaks of the importance of diversity in the NBA:


"Of course not. American basketball needs players like James and Wade, but the NBA also needs down-to-earth people like me. We players are all part of a show, and it only works in the long term if there is variety, when there is something there for everybody."

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,772189,00.html

Polichinello said...

I don't know about the critics, but I hate the series just because it involves spending so much money and technical talent (there's not much artistic talent involved, apparently) to no lasting purpose. Moreover, it's all based on a cheesy 80s cartoon that no kid ever took all that seriously. That the series is a financial success is no kind comment on the society we've built these days.

Anonymous said...

Bay is, of course, guilty of turning a national tragedy(Pearl Harbor)into a theme park movie. In terms of style and sensibility, there's no difference between PEARL HARBOR and TRANSFORMERS. In a way, the concept of the 'tranformer' is a fitting metaphor for our age when Hollywood recycles and morphs everything into everything. Truck into robot? Why not tragedy into thrill-ride? What happens when Michael Bay makes a movie about 9/11? Paul Greengrass and Stone did a decent job with UNITED 93 and WTC, but what would Bay do?

Japanese shouldn't have bombed Pearl Habor, but I pray space aliens bomb Michael Bay.

Anonymous said...

Michael Bay is the professional wrestler of cinema. Lots of noise and gestures but fake athleticism.

greenrivervalleyman said...

Steve,

Have you ever stopped to think about the the crypto-"conservative" stylings of Michael Bay? In all Bay's dumb, shoot-em-up/blow-em-up movies there seems to be genuine respect for the U.S. armed forces and therefore an implied patriotism for the U.S. Yet there are also these bizarre Minstrel show antics that I haven't seen this side of a 1940's Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Bay just seems to find loud-mouthed, jive-talkin' black folk HILARIOUS! There was controversy over two such characterizations in the last Transformers movie (yes, Ebonics-spouting robots), but even as far back as The Rock Bay was indulging in such gross stereotyping- remember the black guy on the trolley car in the opening car chase? Even I found that blatant and offensive.

The question, though, is why the hell does politically correct Hollywood allow him to indulge in these vices? Is his whole career supposed to be some kind of performance art meta-joke, an attempt to demonstrate how dumb, offensive, and awful a "conservative" director's career would be?

Anonymous said...

"it involves spending so much money and technical talent (there's not much artistic talent involved, apparently) to no lasting purpose."

Otoh, you gotta spend money to make money, and it seems to work.
PT Barnum was wrong. There are a THOUSAND suckers born every SECOND.

Anonymous said...

William Wyler and Franklin Schaffner were derided by many critics as Michael Bay is today. They were highly successful directors not held in high esteem by by serious people. But looking back, there's much to recommend about BIG COUNTRY, BEN HUR, PLANET OF THE APES, PATTON, PAPILLON, etc. But Bay really is the bottom of the barrel. He has to be the worst director with the greatest box office success. A dubious kind of record but a record nevertheless. He's like the musical band JOURNEY or STYX, godawful acts that raked in tons of dough.

And just think of the cultural sea change. When Peckinpah was offered KING KONG and SUPERMAN, he turned them down cuz he found them too silly. And serious actors once sought roles worthy of their talent.
Today, even art directors like Nolan line up to make BATMAN movies and A-actors wanna play superhero comicbook roles.
Porn has gone mainstream and so has comicbook juvenilia.

David said...

>How did Steve Sailer become a "film critic,"?<

By writing regularly published film reviews and being read.

Shouldn't you be studying, kiddo? That's what summer school is for, you know.

Anonymous said...

Pop music has Lady Gaga, and Hollywood has Boy Bambam.

Londoner said...

As a small boy in the 1980s I adored the Transformers. The comic, whose heyday was 1984-1987, was superb, with ingenious and sophisticated storylines. The British version was distinct from the American version, and superior. It was mostly written by a guy called Simon Furman who was IMO a master storyteller and scriptwriter. He should have been recruited to work on Bay's films.

The original, animated film from 1986 (which is forgotten today but actually attracted far bigger movie stars than the current franchise) was far better than Bay's slugfests, which have none of the spirit or elan of the original stories. One of his bigger mistakes was not setting the films in the mid-1980s, which is the Transformers' natural and only viable habitat.

What I will say is that the new Transformers films are visually *awesome*, especially the battle scenes. Some of the best special effects I've ever seen.

Londoner said...

Anonymous - I agree that the first three "Alien" instalments are fascinating for their directors' very (very) different approaches, but shared respect for and fascination with Giger's demon. The fourth one, however, is a lurid car crash of a film, "Alien" as dreary product. Weaver looks like she would rather be anywhere else, if only to get away from the wet lettuce a.k.a. Wynona Ryder. And much of the film is stolen straight from Jurassic Park and its malevolent raptors.

Anonymous said...

Best TRANSFORMER-like stuff is the original GUNBUSTER: AIM FOR THE TOP, though its main character Noriko is a real pain in the arse. But Jung-Freud is badass.

Marlowe said...

An interesting point was made concerning Bay's tin ear for racial issues, a characteristic he shares with his mentor Spielberg and his best film making pal & cohort George Lucas. I recall watching 1941 (unfortunately) and gaping disbelievingly at the incorporation of the LA Zoot Suit riots into a slapstick farce street brawl. Temple of Doom upset quite a few people on its original release with its portrayal of wide eyed Indian religious fanatics. Spielberg did seem to wise up and figure out that if he stuck to caricaturing Germans as Nazis he wouldn't upset anyone. Lucas had similar problems in the Star Wars prequels with the 'Jewish' alien slave trader as the most egregious and salient example.

Quite possibly, these men regard themselves as so liberal in their outlook that it becomes inconceivable for them to treat racial issues in an insensitive fashion and of course no one can tell them off during production.

Whiskey said...

La Boeuf gets his roles because Steven Spielberg has a man-crush on him, figuring La Boeuf or however you write his name is Spielberg at that age. Sometimes that happens, various producer/directors get entranced with actors as proxies and push them beyond all purpose. La Boeuf is one of them.

Anonymous said...

That King Kong from 80's w/ Jeff bridges & What's her name is a great b-movie. With a bigger fx budget it would've been a classic update. Well written and the cast was spot on still makes for great late nite cheez. The scene where Kong is seen by the audience for the first time is memorable.

It is this version that the primitive tribe is presented as a sick society and Kong is depicted as a nasty vindictive insane rage head. Mostly not a PC presentation.

Having said that there still is nohollywood ape on film that instills terror like real raging ape footage

Glaivester said...

The problem is that Transformers WASN'T just about "Good robots fight bad robots." The robots had personalities, established relationships, they were characters.

Optimus Prime was the good leader, Bumblebee was sort of like the probie, Wheeljack was the slightly daffy inventor, Ironhide was the "old guy." Perceptor was the prissy nerdy scientist, etc.

With the Decepticons, there was the Megatron-Starscream-Soundwave trio, with Starscream always scheming to usurp Megatron and Soundwave fiercely loyal.

And almost all of the robots (in the cartoon, anyway) looked human enough that you could relate to them.

In the movie, the Autobots formed the plot around the human characters rather than being characters themselves. That's what ticks people off.

TGGP said...

Anonymous ALL CAPS titles, David Fincher didn't direct any movies in the 80s, just music videos.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

And 007 movies and spaghettis were big in the 60s. And the GREEN BERET was the Duke's second highest grossing movie. And PATTON was a megahit with critics and fans in 1970. PATTON/PLATOON complex. We know war is hell and don't wanna serve but we like to see stuff blow up real good."

My family went to see "Patton" at a drive-in theater not too long after it first came out (this was in 1970 or 1971). It was on a double bill with "M.A.S.H." (they used to have such things back then). Strange combination.

Mr. Anon said...

I did like "The Island", which is the only Michael Bay movie that I did not find childishly stupid. As for the rest of his "ouvre", I concur with what appears to be the majority opinion here - that his movies are loud obnoxious crap.

Mr. Anon said...

"wren said...

My wife announced to me the other day that movies like this, Green Lantern, Battle: Los Angeles, etc. are actually prepping us for the coming alien invasion."

Myself, I have toyed with the idea that zombie movies are being used to prepare us for mass murder by death squads. When government operatives start hosing down crowds of people with machineguns, they will offer the excuse: "It's okay. We had to do it. They were zombies."

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

That's actually a fairly well respected theory in the "conspiracy" community."

A well respected theory in a community with no respect. That's rather like saying "There's a popular saying among fools", or "This is a popular love-song among hookers".

Truth said...

"A well respected theory in a community with no respect. That's rather like saying "There's a popular saying among fools", or "This is a popular love-song among hookers".

I take it you didn't watch the link.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous ALL CAPS titles, David Fincher didn't direct any movies in the 80s, just music videos."

I said he made Alien 3.

Anonymous said...

"Decepticons"

This is what establishment conservatives should be called. And Romney sure transforms from one thing to the next.

Anonymous said...

"That King Kong from 80's w/ Jeff bridges & What's her name is a great b-movie."

No, the first is a great B movie. The remake is a ridiculous A production of B-movie material.

Strangely though, I thought I would hate Jackson's version cuz I hated LOR but it was wondrous. Gone was all that silly sexual innuendo stuff,and instead it was a movie about a friendship between a girl and a sensitive animal. Great special effects too.

Anonymous said...

"Lucas had similar problems in the Star Wars prequels with the 'Jewish' alien slave trader as the most egregious and salient example."

And an allusion to TRIUMPH OF THE WILL at the end, which made one critic say, 'so it's about good nazis vs bad nazis'.

Anonymous said...

>How did Steve Sailer become a "film critic,"?<


How does anyone become a film critic? It's one field of criticism where EVERYBODY is an expert. That's why it's great.

Anonymous said...

"There was controversy over two such characterizations in the last Transformers movie (yes, Ebonics-spouting robots), but even as far back as The Rock Bay was indulging in such gross stereotyping- remember the black guy on the trolley car in the opening car chase? Even I found that blatant and offensive."

Rotfl. That's like finding foul language offensive in porn.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous - I agree that the first three "Alien" instalments are fascinating for their directors' very (very) different approaches, but shared respect for and fascination with Giger's demon. The fourth one, however, is a lurid car crash of a film, "Alien" as dreary product."

The fourth one(by Besson)is like a car crash but with cars made of rubber. I find Besson vapid, but he's the master of plasticity. Things in his movies don't just crash and burn. They bump and set off a whole series of motions which can be fun when he's at the top of his game. He was with FIFTH ELEMENT and ALIEN 4. If you know how to glide, water doesn't have to be deep.

Anonymous said...

The first movie was actually pretty good and got pretty good reviews overall. The next two, just stunk and was much to focused on Shia LeBeoufs character and not on the robots themselves.

Anonymous said...

I just watched WATERWORLD the extended cut and am convinced it is one of the most underappreciated and neglected movies in the last 20 yrs.

But I can understand why it was panned by nearly all critics and flopped at the box office. It is one of the most eccentric, weird, quirky big budget spectacles ever made. Some have compared it with other disasters such as 1941 and LAST ACTION HERO, but the comparision is unfair. 1941 and LAH fail because of their belabored humor. Humor may be elaborate but should never feel elaborate. Like a well-lubricated machine, it has to hum. But you can see the cranks and gears turning and winding in 1941 and LAH.

Jokes in WATERWORLD are slippery as a banana peel and come and go from all angles.
WW is like a cross between Gilliamism and George Millerism but without Gilliam's strained artsiness and Miller's sadism. Maybe it was too many things for too many people.
Or maybe the audience found it ugly and unpleasant, with Costner with ponytail and gills and whole lots of grubby people. But much of the 'ugliness' is actually quite inventive and oddball. I love the details as both sci-fi and parody. Costner goes to an 'atoll' with a priceless bottle of dirt and then shops at a 'store' with shelves empty of everything but a tomato plant. It's fascinating and hilarious. Few action films are so steeped in details and eccentricities.

The movie teeters between awesomeness and ridiculousness, but that is the charm. And what skillful and smooth sailing among various modes and winds. Costner's ship perfectly encapsulates the whole movie: magnificent piece of machinery and a gimcrack pile of junk, a hero's vessel and a circus toy. A kind of marine Millennium Falcon.

Reynolds at his best has natural film sense and masterful control of form. WW has some of the most ingenious action scenes incorporating machine, acrobatics, expertise, wind and water. Few directors have such rapport with nature. This is filmmaking on par with best of Spielberg and Kurosawa, at least technically. There is however a sense of ease, a laidback confidence. He's like a pothead Spielberg, with the same gifts but too cool to stamp every frame with his signature. He'd rather sail than splash.

Reynolds has great fun with the bad guys, and WW features maybe Hopper's greatest role: a kind of cross between Col Kilgore and Col Kurtz via Mad Magazine. Some of the lines are classic. The little girl is cute and scrappy. The woman beautiful and natural. And what personalities, even among the minor characters.
In a way, WW is like an expansion of the scene with the potsmoking pilot in FANDANGO, another terribly neglected movies of the 80s--one of the best in my opinion and one with Costner's best role(before he became Mr. goody goody).

It has big laughs, fabulous action, wonderment, magic. It's zany but not too zany like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. It is what movies are all about. It isn't generic but proudly pecuiliar, kinda like a counterculture Hollywood spectacle. How unjust that this one sunk at the box office while PEARL HARBOR rose like a blimp.

wren said...

That was an interesting film, Truth.

My wife seems to have emigrated to the "conspiracy community," so I now have to invest a lot of time looking into it all. Big headache, but interesting stuff in there, too.

I doubt I'll join her though.

Anonymous said...

Bay is a mega-capitalist twist on cultural stalinism. Soviet Union had its share of great artists, but they tended to have their own ideas and eccentricism(and penchant for experimentalism and originality). They were often condemned as 'bourgeois' or 'formalistic' by Stalin. To be sure, Stalin vacillated between courting genuine artists and persecuting them, which is why genuinely great films, music, and books did great produced in his time--something you can't say for Mao and art.
But Stalin thought the masses needed a different kind of art. Masses, tired and under-educated(or just plain dumb), were better off with the kind of People's Art that would be easily accessible to their emotions and intellect.

In this sense, Hollywood mass-culture and Soviet mass-culture weren't all that different. Movie producers wanted THE PRODUCT that would be popular and rake in the bucks(and keep them mindless consumerist). Stalin wanted THE MESSAGE that would inspire the masses and win their hearts(and keep them mindlessly loyal). Neither had much use for ART.

Even so, there were some people in Hollywood who, even while working within the system, aspired toward unique and original expression. There was an element of
'subversive' resistance in their collaboration with the powers-that-be.
Same with Soviet artists. They played the party tune but tried to sneak in some of their own notes.
But then, there were shameless toady hacks. These hacks in the USSR mindless spouted and embraced the official line and rose up the ranks and gained power and privilege by giving the authorities exactly what they wanted. They even willingly served as attack dogs, denouncing other artists to further their own career. Since they lacked genuine artistic talent and resented real artists, they hid behind officialdom and used its ladder to success. There were Soviet Michael Bays in music who gained great favor and success by producing flatuluent hackworks while taunting Shostakovich and Prokofiev as 'decadent' and 'traitorous'.

Though we don't have purges and political murder in Hollywood(which is no small matter, so God Bless America), same kind of dynamic operates in our entertainment industry.
If some directors make the pact with the devil(cuz the must) but try to attain a piece of artistic heaven, some filmmakers are nothing but shameless hacks who never wanted anything but cash, fame, and power. Michael Bay is the prime example of such toadying gutlessness.
And Hollywood bosses love him cuz he's easy to handle and always sticks to formula unlike real talents with their own ideas and ambitions. Everyone has whored himself out in Hollywood, but some have tried to do something other than play the game.
Bay has no such qualms. He is to filmmaking what Neil Rosen was to film reviewing. Nothing but an industry hack and toady.

Anonymous said...

Rise of Bay is like rise of hiphop, a huge boon for the music industry. There were musical genres before hiphop, but every song was different. There was Yesterday, Whole Lotta Love, Staying Alive, Right Down the Line, Born to Run, California Girls, etc. A wide range. Songs were different cuz of different personalities and the legal matter of plagiarism. Since rap and hiphop are considered a musical form, every other guy can legally plagiarize the same grooves and hooks with impunity. No ballad can be like Yesterday or Don't Worry Baby, but you can take the 'melody' of any rap song and use it over and over with differnt lyrics. This was a huge boon to the music industry. They now had a pat formula.

At one time, creative personality became a core feature of youth entertainment, esp with rise of people like Dylan, Lennon, Young, Townshend, Bowie, Garcia, Morrison, etc. But artistic personalites were not easy to handle, nor could they be relied on to crank out good songs indefinitely. So, the industry favored idols over artist. Idols could be replaced one after another, hyped and then dispensed with. And they could be fed stuff by a hack song-writing machine. But until the late 80s, genuine personalities produced better songs than the idol-music machine.
Also, prior to rise of hiphop and dance music, every song had to be sufficiently different to avoid being sued for plagiarism, which is why the industry had to find genuine songwriting talents, which wasn't easy. Neil Diamond may have ben hack, but he did write some memorable tunes for the Monkees, something most of us couldn't do. But your average hack can write a rap song or a dance song with a bit of practice.

Hiphop was a formula that could be repackaged over and over and over with only slight variation. When it became THE hot thing, the music industry no longer needed songwriting personalities. It now owned the formula and could crank out one idol after another. If Madonna had some personality, same could not be said for Britney Spears and her ilk. 99% of hiphop was interchangeable. Same with dance music. And then the DJ craze favored clever pomo splicing of other music than creation of new music.
In cinema, Michael Bay is the hiphop American Idol--all volume, no personality--and Quentin Tarantino is the DJ--pomo clowning around without originality of his own. It's the tyranny of the marketplace.

This isn't to say men like Ford, Hitchcock, and Wyler didn't make popular movies. They of course did. But they were not concerned ONLY with making hits based on popular surveys and poll data of what the masses want. They had something to say.

Londoner said...

Most recent anonymous - it's unfair to impugn 'dance' music and DJing in the same breath as corporate hip-hop and commercial pop (which do unquestionably stink). House music is actually a conservative and highly melody-oriented genre in which large volumes of objectively good songs are produced each year. DJing is not some gimmick - it requires a lot of skill, practice and hard work. And making music for people to dance to for hours at a time is a completely different proposition from traditional songcraft.

Essentially, I think it is the synthetic percussion of electronic dance music that alienates many of those who have grown up on guitar rock. Which I did too, by the way - but I explored EDM and found it hugely to my liking. Let a thousand musical flowers bloom, I say (apart from hip-hop, and these hideous new pre-teen 'stars' with their googolplexes of youtube hits).

And oh yes, Bay is a butcher, and Tarantino an old fraud.

Truth said...

"Most recent anonymous - it's unfair to impugn 'dance' music and DJing in the same breath as corporate hip-hop and commercial pop"

OK turn out the lights, thread's over.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

"I take it you didn't watch the link."

I've seen it before. I guess for you, a scenario from an X-files spin-off is iron-clad proof.

Anonymous said...

"a characteristic he shares with his mentor Spielberg and his best film making pal & cohort George Lucas"

Is it true that Bay is close to Spielberg and Lucas? This may seem odd since he's a competitor and event current box office king, even over Spielberg and Lucas(though maybe the other two rake in from Bay's films as producers or collaborators or whatever).

Anyway, maybe it's reassuring to Lucas and Spielberg that Michael Bay is the biggest 'star' in Hollywood since he poses no real threat. Sure, Bay knows the formula, but he has no personality, no vision, no nothing really. All Bay can do is follow in the footsteps of real visionaries. Though I'm not a fan of Cameron(except for TERMINATOR and first 1/3 of pt II)and Peter Jackson(though I was surprised by KING KONG), they are clearly men with BIG IDEAS. As such, they do pose a real threat to Lucas and Spielberg. They have the power to great something different, a counter- or alternate-vision to the one created by Spielberg and Lucas.
Bay, even as he makes hit after hit, is utterly dependent on the formula created by others. He's just an imitator, a hollow shell with no creative core.

As such, Spielberg and Lucas may not feel threatened by Bay in a fatal way. In a way, Bay may even serve as a kind of shield. His movies are so vapid and awful that they make Spielberg and Lucas seem like real artists by contrast. And with so much Hollywood financing going to Bay movies, there's less money for projects proposed by people with real ideas. Bay crowds everyone out, and such reduces the competition for Lucas and Spielberg. Suppose there's WBA heavyweight champ and WBC heavyweight champ. Suppose they're both the genuine article. But suppose IBF champ is some over-hyped palooka who holds that position by certain 'arrangements'. The WBA and WBC champs may prefer it that way cuz if the bogus IBF champ is usurped by a real tough guy, the latter may pose a real threat to the other two champs.

In terms of cultural legacy, no one's gonna give a damn about TRANSFORMERS 20 yrs from--in the way that people still remember Spielberg and Lucas movies made decades ago. And Bay may still make hits but he's utterly dependent on others for ideas.

The kind of people Lucas and Spielberg really fear are the Wachowskis, Jackson, and Cameron who have big big ideas of their own, some of them quite original(even if stupid). I hated AVATAR, but Bay couldn't have come up with something so ambitious on his own in a 1000 yrs. Cameron, Jackson, and Wachowkis are doing now what Spielberg and Lucas did in the late 70s and 80s.

It's like in the 60s, the Beatles didn't fear bands like HERMAN'S HERMITS and THE MONKEES. Sure, HH and MONKEES had some decent songs(actually MONKEES had some terrific songs), but they were imitators and marketing gimmicks, here today and gone tomorrow. Even though HH had the biggest hit in 65 and though MONKEES outsold Beatles in 66, Beatles knew they were real and their music would last whereas HH and MONKEES were just a fad. Beatles really felt threatened by the Stones and the Who. Stones were for real and had the power to change the course of music history.

So, Bay, as successful as he is, probably is prolly seen as a sort of Peter Noone figure by Spielberg/Lucas. Or what Rick Springfield was to Springsteen in the 80s.
It's like Dylan felt threatened by Neil Young, not by Barry MacGuire and Donovon.

Anonymous said...

This looks like a variation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v4pWshsQ1U&feature=related

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, maybe it's reassuring to Lucas and Spielberg that Michael Bay is the biggest 'star' in Hollywood since he poses no real threat."

It's like Bay can, for awhile, eclipse Lucas and Spielberg, but he cannot outshine them. He's the double in Kagemusha. A shadow warrior or director, not the real thing.