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The Tragedy of Michael Bay.

by Eric Kohn
July 4, 2011 12:00 PM
13 Comments
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The best part of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" has no transformers in it. In the first act of Michael Bay's two-hour-plus threequel, regular transformer pal Shia LaBeouf fights a harder battle than any Decepticon has ever forced on him: Finding a job. In a humorous montage of ill-fated interviews, LaBeouf reminds us that he posseses legitimate acting talent beyond those countless reactions shots to CGI. (Remember "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?) In a vain display of self-confidence, the erstwhile hero repeatedly gets put in his place by striking out. Even a bemused John Malkovich doesn't bat an eyelash when LaBeouf proclaims that he saved the world twice already. When he tells another potential employer that he received a medal from President Obama, the hustler hits another wall: "We're mostly Republican here," comes the reply.

The movie hardly needs giant robots in disguise to make this genuinely entertaining montage work. But the robots eventually take over the screen, the speakers belch out a million thundering sounds at once, and the band plays on. That's the ongoing paradox of Bay's entire filmography, a string of blockbusters with the potential for something more.

From "Bad Boys" to "The Island," Bay has shown an ability to direct screwball comedy and even convey a fair amount of romanticism, but in each case the dissonance has resulted in a fragmented work divided between story and spectacle. Invariably, spectacle wins out. The Bay aesthetic is expensive but ironically disposable. (Will anyone remember, much less talk about, "Dark of the Moon" in 20 years? In 50?) In Bayville, money talks, but that doesn't mean it always has something to say. Which is a shame, because the least ugly aspects of "Transfomers" are also its cheapest conceits.

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13 Comments

  • Kysersosai | July 19, 2011 5:46 AMReply

    If you haven't everyone watch Transformers: The Movie. This is not only a great movie it is the only movie to do justice to the loving memories people have of a short lived cartoon. They're not "robots" they are machines that are fundamentally people. You don't need humans at all in the movie. Pixars seemed to be doing ok with out them... I wonder why? ITS CALLED A GOOD SCRIPT!!!

    Bay makes eye candy. Fine I don't expect Anthony Hopkins to walk done a VS runway. Get your head out of your @$$.

  • rodimus | July 17, 2011 1:12 AMReply

    Bay makes a truly fantastic looking movie, always. He films things with the same flair and exaggeration a comic book artist would. What the man does not seem to possess is an editor that will challenge him. You could forgive the unnecessary human element and the unfunny humour and racism in all three films if someone would go toe-to-toe with him and say, "Mike, you've filmed a lot of great stuff, but it doesn't actually all have to be in the film, you know. Let's get the scissors."

  • Sarke Beeley | July 16, 2011 10:37 AMReply

    I think you need the human element in Transformers to some extent. Terminator wasn't just about the Terminator, it was about the human lives he was trying to destroy (or save as it got worse). I think in the first Tranformers film characters such as Optimus and Bumblebee were soulful enough for the viewer to care about them and I think Bay should have gone with that. In this film there didn't NEED to be a (terrible) love story, the relationship between Sam and the Transformers was enough to make us bothered about whether they survived or not. Get rid of the love interest, show more of the Transformers personalities (which most have) and have the humans as what the should be - partners in the story, not the main event.

  • Hardcore Nerd | July 12, 2011 10:59 AMReply

    One word .. Disapointment !!! The movie is suppose to be about transformers . My son who is 8 wanted to leave the theatre twice because of the pointless human garbage , They make the mistake of trying to make the actors in the film the main charchters , but their not . It' not called Humans : dark of the moon . You get a few batttles , kool for what they are . You make the suppose to be stars one line extras , as if they had nothing to do with the film . Tranformers is idiot proof , there is so much material from the series you would have to be a complete failure to screw it up . Simply , transformers is for kids , for the kids inside us all . I don't want a love story , or human heroes . I want transformers , Dinobots , ultra magnus , Kupp , Triple changers , omega supreme , tripticon . The big thing is suppose to be 4 or 5 new autobots . lol This movie was nothing more than a quick payday for an enormus robot size ego . They need to find a director who wants to make a Transformer movie thats actually about , you guest it tranformers .

  • erichkohn | July 6, 2011 6:43 AMReply

    @actionman As much as the light and colors of the Chicago battle blew me away, I found it largely incoherent and uninteresting, while the very idea of LaBeouf's character finding a job is inherently funny and well-played. LaBeouf, who comes across as a smarmy bastard in interviews, plays a smarmy bastard really well--so it's amusing to see his charm fail to do the trick. I agree that "The Rock" was a high point in Bay's career. He needs a good script to go along with the noise.

  • Hans Gruber | July 6, 2011 1:45 AMReply

    Transmorphers is a superior film

  • actionman | July 6, 2011 1:39 AMReply

    Wow, I disagree with you COMPLETELY. Bay has no clue how to direct comedy, and his taste in what is "funny" is shockingly lame and obvious. The first 90 mins of TF3 were dreadful. It was only during the Siege of Chicago that the film came alive. Over the years, Bay has gotten worse as an overall filmmaker, while getting better at presenting large scale action. His finest work, The Rock, will never be replicated again.

  • Angelo | July 6, 2011 1:17 AMReply

    It's a film about alien robots that transform into cars, planes and helicopters. Get a life.

  • Matt | July 6, 2011 1:08 AMReply

    I think people are missing the point of the article. The writer is not saying that Transformers would be better off without the explosions and robots the reviewer is saying that Michael Bay has it in him to make a visually stylistic comedy (or romantic comedy?) that might stand the test of time better than his current body of work. Each and every Bay-directed film, whilst showing glimmers of this underused talent and propensity for screwball comedic moments eventually succumbs to similarly staged action stunts, contrived plot devices, expensive looking explosions and militarism. It's an interesting observation, though I'm not sure if it would play out as well as the writer hopes should Bay actually try his hand at another genre.

  • chris | July 5, 2011 7:20 AMReply

    I agree with Marnie. If you don't like "Transformers", don't see the movie. Personally, I don't pay to see anything that Michael Bay makes. All of his movies are just about the same: I'm going to have a series of explosions strung together with the weakest of plots.

  • herbert katz | July 4, 2011 12:10 PMReply

    I agree with the reviewer. TheTransformer film best part is not about transformers. In general the movie seems to go in many disconnected directions.
    There is no entertainment value when the title of the movie, Transformers, play no role.

  • LA Portfolio | July 4, 2011 2:47 AMReply

    Transformers Shia LaBeouf interviewed with Regis and Kelly to promote directing plans over Manson's documentary film after Manson's label leaves him for antisemitic songs like Pretty as a Swastika.

    Read: Marilyn Manson Jews and Nazis

    Available on Amazon and Kindle

    http://www.amazon.com/Marilyn-Manson-Jews-Nazis-Antisemitic/dp/146356614X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309757653&sr=8-1

  • Marnie | July 4, 2011 2:35 AMReply

    No offence but if you wanted to see a comedy then go and see one but dont expect to pay to see a Transformers film and not see Transformers I thought the clue would have been in the title surely??!! I mean if u detest them that much dont go to see or if you are a true film critic then your review needs to be non biased and not from a person who isnt into Transformers, thats not a fair critique in my opinion anyway.As for me I find all 3 film thoroughly entertaining and fun to watch, im not going to take them seriously because lets face it thats not what they were made for. I say go see T3 if you want to brighten up your evening from the dull and mundane reality tv that seems to be everywhere we go these days, and let your imagination run wild and have fun! If you want a serious thinker for a film then go see one of martin Scorsese's!. Marnie =D

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