"Transformers 2" (Michael Bay) (24 June 2009)
One of the things Micheael Bay does well in both Transformer films is convince you that the battle would go on, even if you weren't there to observe/experience it. This differs from LOTR, where too often you sensed that the battles were conceived with you in mind--are the halflings going to "get it"?! No, for just as you begin to wince in anticipation of the falling sword, comes whomever to save the day. The feeling you get is as if Bay asked the CGI dudes/lasses to forget about the viewer and concentrate on what whatever particular robot would do in the situation he found himself in. The result of this immersion, interest in something other than making you feel a certain way, integrity of the art form, even, is that the battles (for the most part--there is a bit of the nick-of-time stuff here) feel uncontrived, unpredictable, outside (not the projection of someone's inner world) -- really happening, and incredibly immersive and exciting. These films are not just loud and bombastic. And thank God. For Stephanie (Zacharek, at Salon) isn't just making a comment about Michael Bay, here; she's saying something about the American populace that would like this "crap." To her, the bulk of humanity finds satisfaction in naught but loud noises (though are these the same people she sensed were trying to convince themselves they were having fun while watching Phantom Menace?). Fortunately, it appears that the current rabble do have some of the same sense for art their equivalent had way back when, when Shakespeare's make of the razzle-dazzle dominated the stage. The popularity of Independence Day scares me way more than does the popularity of this series. (And there is stuff in this film I really don't like -- I don't like what it does with the Washington-type [but I didn't like what Incredibles did with the boy-genius, either], which feels pre-requisite, and doesn't help us any, for example.)
About the editing: this is one film I'd certainly like to see circulated to fans to fiddle around with. One too many dizzy mommy moments, for example. And maybe also choose between the fem-bot and the humping dog-bot. (Dump the chick and keep the dog, is my sense.) Unlike the first film, there are a bunch of other robots that never really "gel" into enjoyable, apprehensible entities/identites. It's a relief when bumble-bee (who shines in the battle sequences) bashes the two annoyo-bots together--"I don't understand either of you--get out of my face!"
Stephanie said the action felt "clumpy." Despite the worthy family stuff that goes in these films, which to me is as worth talking about here as it is in that movie about gentrification, The Incredibles, I would like it if in future with major action movie releases, she expanded on this kind of impressionistic analysis of the action. This kind of criticism seems most appropriate here; and is interesting, intriguing, and possibly helpful. I certainly watched the film wondering how I would over-all summarize the feel of the battles. I didn't immediately come up with clumpy, but I'm still thinking about it. Bay certainly likes wrestling throws and mid-air twists and turns, and boy they are fun to witness and experience. You kind of want to mimic them yourself, as I did all that shotgun cocking and curling in Terminator 2, for instance.
Also, Someone please draw attention to all the quick verbal and visual humour in these films. And with respect: the humping bot and destruction balls were true enough to the occasion, clever, and funny, to be worth noting and discussing.
Link: Transformers (Salon)
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No, but I'd prefer if you'd do more with the summer's major movie release than just quickly pee on it. If the first Transformers had uninspired action sequences, people would not have liked the film. (One thing the bulk of X-box humanity has got down, is when there is and when there isn't LIFE, in action sequences.) I liked that the action felt sort of unstaged, adhoc, unpredictable. I felt there was was both aggression and genius in it, and preferred it to the pin-point, neat dancing you get in X-Men, or the right angles and geometry, you get in Dark Knight. That you get "pussy" and "bitch," seems only appropriate for a movie uninterested in being quite so noble.
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Also, I didn't experience Mikaela as "prancing"; nor when drawn to attend to her butt did I think of its "pertness." This woman isn't a perky elf--she's got too much flesh, weight, sway--sensuality, to be fairly summized this way. The outfits are all form-fitting, as they are in Incredibles, Star Trek, and everywhere else, out and about, in this tight and controlled age.