Mushroom Soup For The Pixelated Soul
Wow….Michael Jackson died.
Much like how most of you must feel, I’m not sure how to react to this news. So many years have been wasted to turn Michael Jackson into a living boogieman (as quoted in The Simpsons), that many of us forgot how awesome he used to be.
For a brief time in my youth, Micheal was like a superhero to me, using his magical dancing moves to fight crime and save kids. I am of course referring to his Moonwalker movie, which was recently talked about here, but that childhood image I once had hasn’t faded away, regardless of how weird he got.
I was hoping on the slim chance that MJ would get his act together, first by meeting with some sort of Jesus Surgeon that would completely fix up his botched face, maybe even wash out some of that bleached skin, followed by a new album that would serve as the mother of all comebacks. Sadly, that dream remains a dream. Well, he’s moonwalking up in heaven now. Or hell, if those accusations ever ended up true.
And I agree with the Nostalgia Critic, Smooth Criminal was indeed his best song and video ever.
The other Micheal as mentioned in my title is Micheal Bay, who has received his own notoriety, although his is much well deserved. I had watched Transformers 2 on IMAX today, and I’ve decided to add my own little mini review.
There will be mild spoilers, nothing too major.
Now, I love The Transformers. The original series remains one of my big childhood shows, standing alongside He-Man, Thundercats, and G.I. Joe, and the original animated movie remains one of my favorite animated movies of all time. It’s also got my favorite 80’s soundtrack ever.
Despite that, I’m not a Transformers purist. As long as none of the big-name bots are ever screwed with (Optimus, Megatron, Soundwave, etc), then I don’t care if the new movies mess with canon or outright changes most of the Autobots and Decepticons. All I require is explosive action and pretty CG, as well as Peter Cullen forever playing the role of Optimus Prime.
So when early viewers cried foul on how the sequel did nothing to fix the human side of the Transformers films, or in delivering a more serious, coherent plot, I must ask….did you really think Bay was going to pull it off?
Indeed, the first movie was riddled with the director’s muddled “outlook” on humanity, with low brow humor, perfectly sculpted young boys and girls, and a huge looming message about how awesome the Army is and how retarded the Government is. It was mentioned that this was done in order to lure in non-fans, who couldn’t possibly relate with talking CG robots. In a sense, this is true. But ultimately, whatever the puny humans did was irrelevant; as long as the sequel delivered on the Baysplosions, then I would walk away satisfied.
Well, it certainly did deliver. More robots, more explosions, and more slow motion jiggling with Meagan Fox. There is however, more than a few stupid moments that you’ll have to put up with, and this time it doesn’t just involve the humans.
Right from the start, Transformers 2 had wasted its potential; I really loved the concept of the Army from the first film forming a task force with the Autobots to combat all invading Decepticons. Called NESTS, this organization should have been the entire focus of the movie. The humans were actually tolerable and rarely got into any moments that reached slapstick level, and as soldiers they were actually competent enough to stand shoulder to leg with Optimus and his crew. And as shocking as it may sound, they even managed to restrict themselves from the usual government bashing seen in other Bay films. Okay, there’s the cliche douchebag government spokesman that tries to mess up a good thing just for the sake of messing shit up, but other than that, I would have really enjoyed having the entire movie focus on NESTS, and maybe show a passing shot of Sam and his girlfriend for a couple of minutes.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen, and we’re subjected to nearly an hour of Sam put through a ridiculous amount of situations that are both humiliating as well as painful (yet aside from a bandaged hand, he barely breaks anything). Oh, and also homosexual dog humping, pot brownies, repeated genital remarks, and a general unending awkwardness and humor that borders on Family Guy level.
And the Autobot twins. Oh lord, who the hell approved this? There was barely any laughing in the audience whenever these two Stereobots opened one of their golden buck-toothed mouths. I am utterly convinced that Micheal Bay has a serious grudge against minorities, and these two Jar Jars are the ultimate big budget culmination of his warped view. I couldn’t even tell if he was ripping on blacks or latinos; as part of the latter, I was a bit offended regardless.
The innuendo present in this movie was also bordering on obscene. Megan Fox nearly kills any credibility her character had in the first movie by becoming a never-ending fanservice model. Her opening scene is so blatant, the only thing missing was a lollipop in her mouth. This is only further tacked on when Sam’s college is filled to the brim with perfect, super attractive girls and MTV music blasting in every campus hallway.
But that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, because ultimately these movies are geared toward the MTV crowd. Aside from the gangsta bots, the other robots come across excellently. There isn’t a single scene featuring Optimus Prime that doesn’t kick ass, and his penultimate encounter with Megatron and two other Decepticons in a forest had me throwing my hands in the air in excitement. Not since “The Touch” has Prime ever delivered such an awesome smackdown. Megatron gets a lot of screentime as well, and Starscream is replicated quite faithfully to his original animated counterpart (he also gets bot slapped like crazy, but whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you).
But the highlight, for me, is finally seeing Soundwave in the film. A lot of fans speculated and feared what alternative would be given to a cassette player, but for once Bay chose wisely, and what we’ve got is some real stunning shots of a looming satellite bot in space. Pretty ironic that the one CG robot scene to not feature action or baysplosions happens to be the one that sticks the most with me. And kudos for bringing back Frank Welker to reprise the role, although it’s unfortunate that the 80’s vocoder technology is no longer present, so he sounds more like Dr Claw as a result. But that’s a moot point; Soundwave is my favorite Transformer after Prime, and he was given the same amount of love of and care that nearly everyone else was denied.
True to Bay’s word, there are many, many more robots in this movie when compared to the original. The double edged sword to this is that the majority of focus goes to the Decepticons. Sure, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Decepticons than the Autobots (just as I have more favorite Cobras over Joes), but I was really hoping to see more of Sideswipe and Arcee (who for some reason comes in triplet form, but that’s irrelevant as they looked really cool, and dare I say sleek). And if they really wanted to have some comic relief Autobots follow Sam around, why couldn’t they use the goddamn Dinobots?
Regardless, there’s some great CG work used here, and it’s pretty much a requirement to watch it in IMAX. Devastator is as towering and chaotic as you can imagine, looking like an Evangelion that swallowed a cement mixer. And despite the looming hatred regarding a “robot’s scrotum” joke, I didn’t particularly hate the joke myself. It’s not like it was supposed to have testicles, but rather it had a mechanical aesthetic that conviently resembled the fact. I would almost say it’s clever, since many famous machines tend to have a part or two sticking out that resembles a certain human anatomy.
Just take a look at Zone of the Enders’ Jehuty, and where the “cockpit” happens to be.
And as much as I love Zero from Mega Man X, it’s hard to look past his “light bulb boobs.”
The final portion of the movie carries the usual trademarks of explosions and slow motion, but it also added a really tired, really played out cliche of someone who appears to be dead, but is soon magically revived. I really wish Hollywood would stop with this, already. I was around five years old when I watched The Carebears Movie, where the main girl character is apparently “killed” by Dark Heart, and even then I didn’t believe for a second that she would stay dead. Who in the world would still fall for this?
So in conclusion, when Transformers 2 gets into the action, it delivers. Whe it stumbles with its juvenile humor, it stumbles hard. It’s clearly established that Micheal Bay is a great effects director, but can’t write for crap. If you can accept that like I did, then you should enjoy Transformers 2. You can keep on hoping that one day a competent director will adapt Transformers with an iota of subtlety and, just maybe, compelling dialog, but until then, enjoy your Baysplosions, and try to stomach the Baysploitation.