How would you feel about a film purporting to be a secret history of the 1960s, starring Frances McDormand, John Turturro, and John Malkovich? Sound intriguing? Now what if I told you it was produced by the Hasbro toy company and directed by Michael Bay, the only major Hollywood director that makes James Cameron look like a soulful artiste?
It continues to perplex me that this deafening series continues to rake in the megabucks. It can’t be the plot, which features some epic twaddle about a long-ago battle between the Autobots (good!) and the Decepeticons (just look at the name!) on a faraway machine planet. As the story goes, it was this planet that unleashed a secret escape ark, which landed on Earth’s moon during the Kennedy administration, becoming both the real reason for our space program and, ultimately, fresh fuel for the Transformers’ unending battle, too. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, who turns acting into a bellow fest) and his new inexplicably hot girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who races around the Apocalypse in heels), are struggling because Sam can’t get a job, even though he’s saved Earth twice. Damn this recession. And except for Leonard Nimoy as a giant robot, it’s not about the performances either.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say maybe the draw comes from director Bay, whose aesthetic dictum continues to be raw excess. Maybe Bay represents the Next Wave: some kind of Übermensch auteur who can reach the more evolved fans out there. To be fair, when Bay gives us a chance to admire his mayhem (in five-second cuts) it is pretty: In moments of near peace during the battle for downtown Chicago, the rock-’em-sock-’em robots look downright sexy in slo-mo. But then the pounding resumes. I mean, after all, if actors as accomplished as McDormand and Malkovich want to be in it, maybe Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the future of art films. To which I can only add, “Game Over.”