Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Transformers: The Dark of the Moon": The rewrite of history seems lame, the action exciting

To a “serious” person, the previews of Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (Paramount, and I guess Dreamworks), where Apollo 11 makes a quickie jaunt to the “dark [side] of the Moon (always hidden from view, a likelihood explainable by Newtonian physics), to find a crashed spaceship filled with blown-up robo-creatures, is intriguing. But the “revisionist history” is less interesting here than it was in a comparable effort in “X-Men”.  Nevertheless, both Kennedy and Nixon get their cameos. 

As to the "premise" -- Sure, the astronauts would have been sworn to secrecy. But in the modern world of Sam Witwicky (aka Kale, aka Hiya Shia LaBeouf), the jig is up already. After all, Sam keeps small Autobots in his Washington apartment as “pets”, and even his girl friend is used to them. I prefer cats.

Sam, despite a presidential medal, has to look for a job, where he encounters someone “Being John Malkovich” saying “Impress me.”  Ask job coach Tory Johnson on ABC about an interview like this! He is practically drafted into the job, whereupon he meets security chief Mearing (Frances mcDormand, from “Fargo”), who threatens him with treason charges if he talks or blogs or tweets anything. (Maybe his employer has a “prepublication review” policy.)  None of it hangs together.

The battle between the Autobots and Decepticons (downloaded to Earth) has some political meaning: freedom v. authoritarianism, as if Bay wants to challenge the idea that most extraterrestrials are tyrannical.  And a Type III civilization could have advanced to the point of living machines, but the concept doesn’t seem as interesting to me as, say, the premise of NBC’s recent series “The Event”.

The movie shares another concept from “The Event”: the extraterrestrials will bring their planet to near Earth. Here, it’s a huge honeycombed sphere that can be blown up all too easily.

There’s another thing. Much of the movie is supposed to happen in Washington, but the photography shows tall buildings from Detroit and Chicago that don’t belong in DC.  Finally, the movie moves to Chicago. Now, this time, Hollywood destroys Chicago instead of New York (“Cloverfield”) or Los Angeles (“Skyline” and “Battle LA”, all of these reviewed on my “cf” disaster movies blog under the label “from outer space”).  At one point, Sam and his friends are caught in a highrise as it topples over, but it doesn’t implode in 9/11 style – still, the last hour of this long (154 minutes) film does give some idea what the bedlam of 9/11 might have felt like.

I saw this at AMC Tyson’s VA in Imax 3-D. There were a few spots where the 3-D did not work and the CGI was more obvious here than in most films of this type.

I think that AMC ought to make its “extraterrestrial theater” trademark video in Imax 3-D.  One thing: all the auditoriums (at the state-of-the-art AMC Tysons) have screens set up for 1:85:1, meaning the top and bottom are cropped slightly for 2.35:1, as is this movie (and most of this type). The use of Imax may make some directors rethink their use of aspect ratio.  But I prefer the wider screen.  Some day, I’ll have to see “The Robe” in the original CinemaScope again.

The website for the film is here. It may be known informally as “Transformers 3” or “Transformers III”.

Shia LaBeouf says he doesn’t want to do another sequel for Transformers; her feels that the “creativity” for this concept has been exhausted. I agree. There’s a rumor about his doing Indiana Jones.  But who needs remakes?  (Same question for the “Dragon Tattoo”.)

Bay says that Shia, now 25, sometimes needs some “fathering”.  His hand seems completely healed from the auto accident a couple years ago. This was obviously a very "physical" movie to act in. 

LaBeouf also says that this film had the benefit of a complete shooting script (by Ehren Kruger); the second film was made during or right after the writers' strike.  It's interesting how corporatized writing of big films has become.  What about originality?

I wrote a posting about the filming of this movie in DC on Oct. 11, 2010.  I found out then that Shia likes “Muscle Milk”.

I’m ready for a Christopher Nolan kind of sci-fi film again.  Something new.

Here is an interview with Shia on the movie.


Note: technically, the direct article "the" doesn't appear in the official movie title on IMDB (before "Dark").  But I guess one can speak of "The Dark" of the Moon , as if to identify a deliberate government coverup. Anyway, the title could have made sense either way.

(Film viewed, 2011/06/30) 

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