“Transformers” redux: One shall stand, one shall fall

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GateHouse – I’m not sure what it was that drew me to the “Transformers” movie this week, but I know what it wasn’t: plot, character development, story, narrative arc, metaphors, emotional connections, thematic subtlety or the desire to see a movie in which people talk like actual humans talk.

Here’s what I think drew me to “Transformers:” For several years in the 1980s, I collected and regularly broke Transformers toys, which had names like Starscream and Metroplex and Astrotrain and had the power to do horrible things to the garbage disposal. So when I heard that Michael Bay, director of such thoughtful character dramas as “Armageddon” and “Bad Boys II,” was making a Transformers movie, I thought, “I have to go see the Transformers movie!” even though I am now 31 years old and, in direct contrast to the way things were in the ’80s, I can talk to girls without sweating. Mostly.

As it turns out, “Transformers” is more or less a movie version of the worst components of American culture. It’s a 2 1/2 hour commercial for cars, in which the camera lingers lovingly on automotive logos nearly as long as it does on Megan Fox’s midriff (which is, ironically, one of the best components of American culture). It’s a hyperkinetic bacchanal of editing, in which cars crash into cars and poles and other cars and empty symphony halls about every six seconds. It’s a nonsensical fiesta of nearly constant violence, none of which seems to have any effects on humans, or anything, although one robot gets killed, I think (it’s hard to tell, because the dead robots emote slightly less effectively than their living counterparts). And, needless to say, the whole thing is based on a toy line and cartoon from the 1980s, which is the last time anyone had an original idea for and more or less how Hemingway came to write “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

But here’s the thing: “Transformers” has giant killer robots. And you have to go out of your way to make giant killer robots completely lame. There are very few movies that cannot be improved by the addition of killer giant robots. “Forrest Gump” comes to mind. “JFK.” “Peter Pan.” “Sicko.” (Seriously, we should all have health care as available as the Autobots’. There are five of them in the whole movie, and one of them is a doctor named Ratchet who’s there primarily to be a doctor. Can you imagine if one out of your every five friends was a fully certified physician? I would drive SO much more unsafely).

I’m hardly a movie critic, but, as I mentioned in an earlier piece regarding “Spider-Man 3,” I do have a respiratory system and an Internet connection, which makes me deputized to tell filmmakers what’s wrong with their movie, script, actors, one-sheets and selection of gaffer. So if you’ll indulge me, here is my point-by-point list of things I learned from “Transformers.”

  1.  When moving the action along, simply cutting to a silhouette of a pilot getting into a fighter jet at sunset saves time and lighting money.
  2.  All movies should have Megan Fox in them (including “Sicko.” I don’t care how. Just do it). Megan Fox is sort of too hot for me to comprehend. When she is on screen, all I see is a blurry space. I am wondering if this is something Ratchet can fix.
  3. When a giant killer robot from space lumbers by an adorable blond white toddler carrying a pink teddy bear, that is a METAPHOR. Write that down, English grad students.
  4. Actors who are highly paid craftsman still cannot say the word “Megatron” and not sound like tools.
  5. Did I already do the Megan Fox thing? Just checking.
  6. According to the movie, Transformers are born when regular machines come into contact with a giant alien Rubik’s cube, which I believe has happened to my iPod, because it can read my mind.
  7. Giant killer robots from space apparently need lips.
  8. A Metroplex toy is currently selling on eBay for around $50, mine is in a box in the garage somewhere, and I am not going to sleep until I find and sell it.
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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

3 responses to ““Transformers” redux: One shall stand, one shall fall

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