Look! It Moves! by Adi Tantimedh #24 - Hasbro Or Hasn’t-Bro

Look! It Moves! by Adi Tantimedh #24 – Hasbro Or Hasn’t-Bro

Posted by November 9, 2009 Comment

Not that much going on last week that other people didn’t already talk about at length, and the column about Miyamoto Musashi I was planning needs more work, so I decided to rent a couple of the two summer movies that I had no interest in seeing when they were in the cinema.  TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN and G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA could almost be a double feature, both based on toy lines owned by Hasbro, both supposed still have fans because of their cartoon series that ran in the 1980s.  I never watched a full episode of either show and I never played with the toys, so I was looking at these movies purely as filmmaking ventures.  I’m not going to write a review of these.  They’ve already been covered and slammed in summer.  I’m just going to… type my impressions as they go along.

Right.  TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.

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Hmm, straight to robot smashy-smashy.  They know what people are seeing this for.

Blah-blah-blah.  Exposition.  Blah-blah-blah.  Megan Fox looks plastic.  When are we getting more smashy-smashy?  Oh good.

An OAP giant robot who needs to walk with a cane.  That’s almost up there with the Gundam that needed to ride a giant robot horse.

What’s this?  Am I detecting some genuine and personal passion in the way the action scenes are shot and choreographed?  There’s some interesting framing and camera moves in the way Bay is actually keeping the mastershots running longer than expected as the camera moves all over the arena.  I’m seeing the real explosions synched to the CGI robots overlayed into the frame.

I think Michael Bay wants to be regarded as an auteur.  He’s the auteur of Blowing Shit up.  He studied Film at Wesleyan University under respected film historian Jeanine Basinger (as did Joss Whedon) and got her on the commentary for the DVD of PEARL HARBOUR.  He takes this shit seriously.

Hmm… the tyranny of the image.  I miss Roland Barthes.   Thumping music and oppressively loud sound effects and design.  This is filmmaking designed to batter the audience into submission.

Oh, now we’re in Egypt.  The desert is always a good place to have giant robot fights.

This movie revels in showing off the cooperation they got with the armed forces.  It’s like a kind of covert recruitment advert the same way TOP GUN was, though the majority of the soldiers get their asses kicked.  Also, battles in the desert allude to current warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Zeitgeist as cake icing in action movies, something Hollywood does all the time now.

Bigger and bigger explosions as the movie progresses.  There is something Freud might say about sublimation of virile urges, male fantasy of potency… but I can’t be bothered to think anymore on it.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t see this on the big screen, though that was probably the real purpose of all that spectacle.

Now G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA.

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Oh Christ, this is bad.

Really bad.

Mindlessly, arbitrarily bad.  It’s so bad and stupid it makes the fascism look utterly trivial.  Milporn fascism for kids, except the toys here look really crap.

It makes TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN look like Tarkovsky’s ANDREI RUBLEV.

I wonder why Paris agreed to let them film there and trash most of the Champs-Elysée.  Did they really need the Hollywood money?  Or did they agree to it as a kind of double-edged ironic joke?

Huh.  Sienna Miller is the first blonde I’ve seen who doesn’t look good as a brunette.  Or is it that she’s just lit and shot really badly?  Her skin looks craggy and pasty in this movie.   The angles she’s shot from make it look like she has a double chin, which I don’t think she has.

They cast Saïd Tagmhaoui from LA HAINE!  And Christopher Ecclestone! Jonathan Pryce as the President?  What are all these people doing in this movie? Do they have mortgages or bookies to pay off?

I wonder if casting Lee Byung-Hun meant securing Korean financing for the movie and guaranteeing major press there.

What passes for a script here is even more trivial and tedious than TRANSFORMERS.  This is not holding my attention at all.  Who gives a shit about the hero’s backstory?  He’s there to blow shit up.  We get it.  Why does Hollywood insist that heroes have to have a complicated backstory in movies that are sold on the explosions?

Huh.  Did the bad guys actually win in the end?  It’s hard to believe there’s intentional commentary going on here, as the whole movie is so awful it washes over me like a tide of sewage.

This is like a load of CGI just thrown at the screen without any real sense of finesse.  Sure, the FX houses worked their arses off to get every texture right, but Michael Bay had genuine ambition in how he was going to frame his explosions and orchestrate the motion on the screen.  There’s an emptiness at the core of this movie that puts TRANSFORMERS in the pale.

So the screenwriter announced the week this movie opened that he’d written a HALO script on spec and was campaigning for it to be picked up?  Thank God Microsoft shot that down.

I feel like I arrived late to a party I didn’t want to attend.  Glad that’s over.

Well, that was educational, I suppose.  This is the state of the art in Hollwyood now: bloated, elaborately-produced product based on pre-existing franchises aimed at the kid and adolescent audience with massive toy tie-ins.  Both show an obsession with milporn and destructive hardware, but one has some, albeit very odd, soul and the other is utterly empty.  And we can expect sequels.

In the end, this viewing experience has only led me to one conclusion:

Michael Bay MUST direct a $500 million movie adaptation of the BBC’s long-running rural farming soap opera THE ARCHERS.

There are cows to be exploded and entire chunks of rural England to decimate.  Get to it!

Sorting through the DVD rental list at lookitmoves@gmail.com

© Adisakdi Tantimedh

(Last Updated November 9, 2009 11:57 am )

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About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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