Transformers 3 Is A Movie About How Wrong You Were To Hate Transformers 2

A lot of people paid a lot of money to hate Transformers 2. The movie made enough money for Michael Bay to bathe in the blood of supermodels every hour, for the rest of his life. But people loathed it.

So with Transformers 3, Michael Bay has made a movie about how dumb you were to hate Transformers 2, and how much you hurt his feelings by dissing his movie. Partly, he does this by making a note-for-note remake of Transformers 2. And partly, he does this by lecturing the audience about how unappreciated he feels.

The good news is, Transformers 3 is a better movie than Transformers 2. But it's not as good as the first Transformers, by any stretch of the imagination. Giant robotic spoilers ahead!

So the theme of Transformers: Dark of the Moon is not by any means subtle, because well, it's Michael Bay. The whole film is about how people do not appreciate Shia LaBeouf's character, even though he saved the world twice. The government people, including a stubbornly non-kittenish Frances McDormand, don't appreciate Shia. Random soldiers don't appreciate Shia. The people holding interviews for crappy entry-level jobs don't appreciate Shia. Even Shia's supermodel girlfriend kind of thinks he's a loser who should get a job. Why don't they understand how special Shia is?

The actual conflict of the film is the opposite of Transformers 2 - in the second movie, everybody desperately wanted Shia to come back and save the world again, but he was too busy being in college and having a normal life. It was your standard "I want to be normal even though I'm really awesome" storyline. But this time around, Shia desperately wants to help save the world one more time, but everybody keeps telling him to go have a normal life and stop trying to help. Shia is forced to go through a slew of humiliating job interviews and stuff, and even his giant robot buddies are too busy blowing up Libya and Eastern Europe to tell him how great he is. Worst of all, Shia's supermodel girlfriend is kind of flirting with her ultra-rich boss, played by Dr. McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy.

The main emotion that comes off Shia LaBoeuf, from the first frame to the last, is a bitchy, indignant rage, interspersed with feeble attempts at ingratiation. Mutt is pissed. This is way worse than the time those monkeys kept grabbing his butt. This time, it's his self-worth and his ability to abseil off a robot's neck to glory that are being called into question, over and over again. Don't they know he got the Matrix of motherfucking Leadership last time around? And a medal from the motherfucking president?

After a few hours of seeing Shia get dissed, overlooked and mistreated, the message becomes clear: Shia, as always, is a stand-in for Michael Bay. And Bay is showing us just what it felt like to deal with the ocean of Haterade - the snarking, the Razzie Award, the mean reviews - that Revenge of the Fallen unleashed.

In case it's not clear enough, Bay throws in another clue: John Turturro's character, who was working in a deli in the second movie, is fabulously rich in the third. He has written a tell-all book about aliens, which everybody dismisses as just crackpot conspiracy theories - but it's still made him millions and millions of dollars. Just the same way that everybody dismisses Michael Bay's last film, even though it made obscene quantities of money.

And because everybody just wants Shia to get a real job and have a life, instead of trying to recapture his former world-saving glory, the entire world risks being destroyed. Because Shia is the only one who can save the day.

It's not really a spoiler to say that the final hour of this film includes a series of scenes where absolutely everybody stands around saying how wrong they were to ignore Shia, and how awesome Shia really is.

That's the reaction Michael Bay is envisioning you'll have by the end of this film: a deep remorse that you ever doubted him, and a profound appreciation for his contribution to the continued awesomeness of the world.

(Meanwhile, the actual plot of Transformers 3 is basically the same as Transformers 2. There's an ancient, super-powerful Transformer, who knows secrets. And there's a super-powerful piece of Cybertronian technology, which will destroy the sun or cause the sky to blow up or something. And Sam is the only one who can save the day. A lot of the same story beats happen, in roughly the same order, in both films.)

To prove to you that you love him, Michael Bay knows that he must turn everything up to 11,000 this time around. He has to blaze a pure, bright after-image of his Bay-ness in your mind, so that you walk out of the theatre blinking and spitting up lung pieces and knowing what the fuck Michael Bay is all about. Your eyeballs will be twice as bludgeoned. Your adult diaper will be twice as heavily laden! This time, it'll be in 3D! All of the excesses from the previous two films will be doubly in excess - except for the hip hop Autobots, who are gone.

He does this in two ways:

1) Delivering a few of the smoothest, most gorgeous action scenes he's ever created. There's about 30 minutes of stunning fight choreography, urban destruction and joyriding, buried in this two hour, 34-minute movie. You could edit TF3 down to a 90-minute action film, and most people would agree that it's a decent movie. (Forget the Director's Cut. For movies like this, we need the Bathroom Attendant's Cut.)

Several of TF3's action scenes are definitely better than the confusing mess that was every part of Transformers 2 except for the forest duel. There's a sequence where a giant robot snake tentacle-porns a building that Shia LaBeouf is in, which steals brazenly from Cloverfield and Inception, and yet still manages to make you hold your breath with its audacity and vividness. (On the other hand, large chunks of action are still confusing, nonsensical and bloated.)

2) Making every other part of the movie as obnoxious as possible - and making the transitions as jarring as he can. TF3 feels like three different movies, edited together by a lemur on provigil. There's the weirdest, most unfunny comedy you've ever seen. There's an incredibly solemn political thriller where people uncover the truth about the Apollo Moon landings, and debate the role in our society of giant robots that turn into cars and trucks. And then there's a bloated but occasionally fantastic action film. None of these three films feels like they belong together, but Bay also works hard to heighten the discord.

Why does Bay bog down his pretty serviceable action movie with long stretches of brain-meltingly unfunny comedy, and idiot plot wrangling? It's partly because he wants you to love his work for what it is - all of his work, including all the horrible parts. And it's partly because he knows he's making a kids' movie, and he thinks kids enjoy uncomfortable jokes about gay toilet sex.

But still - the transitions between unfunny humor, heavy-handed exposition and occasionally awesome action are so abrupt and weird, that they draw attention to themselves. It's almost like Bay wants us to witness his movie's tone in mid-transition, like a mechanism caught halfway between a robot gladiator and a mid-priced family sedan.

Because the awkward lurches from one type of movie to another are the message.

Michael Bay wants to slam you off your axis, like a building being knocked sideways by a prehensile robot penis from outer space. So he can awaken you to the truth. When Asian men thrust their crotches in your face - in 3D - while screaming "Deep Wang! Deeeep WANG!", or Alan Tudyk (!) impersonates a gay ex-Nazi manservant in a weird suit, you are being reprogrammed. Michael Bay is flooding your brain with random input, so that a parade of colourful anthropomorphic vehicles can roll into the centre of your cortex and turn into a whirl of CG tubes.

It's not an accident that this film draws way more attention to the process of robotic transformation than previous films. By now, the CG is smooth enough that we can see the robots changing shape as they roll/jog across the screen, with no pause to grow legs. Shia and other human characters are constantly being tossed in mid-air and caught by robots, that turn into cars, that the humans are suddenly inside. You can go from a hundred feet in the air, falling without a parachute, to being inside a moving car, in seconds. And now that it's all in 3D, the camera itself appears able to change shape as well, depending on how deep Michael Bay's wang wants to get.

After a while, you no longer even feel the transition between tones - you feel two or three tones simultaneously. Asian men, especially Ken Jeong, are both ludicrous and ominous at the same time. New leading lady Rosie Huntington-Whitely - who makes Megan Fox seem like Katharine Hepburn - spends the final hour of the movie looking as though she's ready to have a nervous breakdown and give a lapdance. The supporting cast from the first two movies is grim and silly at the same time.

Tone is for single-purpose machines. Consistency is for Decepticons. Michael Bay's ideal movie shifts from action movie to teen comedy to political drama with the same well-lubricated ease that his cars become men. By the time you've finished watching Transformers 3, you will speak Michael Bay's cinematic language. Your brain will be as supple and as formless as Optimus Prime.

And only then will you develop a full appreciation for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the movie you scorned.

Republished from io9


Comments

    I loved this review. I've never watched one of the TF films, yet I own all of the nonsensical G1 cartoon series. Why? Because I don't want my headache-inducingly silly child favourite peverted by Michael "Bad Boys II" Bay.

      The 1986 cartoon movie was the best, and hasn't been topped.

      Wow this is the longest pile of crap I have ever read. I don't understand how the movies are bad but each time one comes out MBay seems to make 10x more money the the guy who wrote this review. If the trio of movies are so bad quit you freaking day job an grab a dang camera an make T4 shit I'm pretty sure you would direct something that comes out horrible like the last air bender

    What's the deal with everyone always slagging off the Transformer movies?? Especially number 2 and now number 3. I’ve seen all of them and really liked them. If you don't like Michael Bay just don't see his movies, simple. Nothing worse than when people go to a movie made by someone they don't like just too slag it off. One word for people like that is Douche Bag. Not saying people can't have an opinion but when it's biased from the start that's BS. Don't forget it's a movie it's not real and even though it might be crap there as still people who worked really hard on it and there will people who like it.

      I would describe TF2 as the worst film ever made per dollar spent. The plot and acting were abysmal, and even the acton scenes were a poorly animated mess of colour. And the RC twins -I believe Bay when he says he can't see how they were racist, but I he still made two robots with pretty much every racist cliche in the book.

      Needless to say I'll be skipping this one.

        Have to disagree, I think Battle: LA edges it out as worst film per dollar spent.

        I loved the T1, was dissapointed by 2, but am kind of keen for this one.

          Battle:LA has one redeeming feature; Aaron Eckhart.

          Transformers has nothing.

          I'll see your Battle LA and raise you one Avatar.

          I actually didn't mind Battle LA, however I don't know how much money was spent on it. Also I went into it expecting a really bad C or D grade action movie, like Starship Troopers 2 or 3, and it was actually quite watchable. There was even some good points in some of the scenes, despite the rest.

          I have to agree with CF2K about hating on Transformers and Michael Bay though. I didn't mind Transformers 1 but would agree with probably every bad thing said about Transformers 2. I really didn't like it. That said I don't feel the need to rant endlessly about how terrible a movie it is and how Michael Bay is the worst director of all time. Clearly he isn't (Uwe Boll) and some of his stuff is good. Some of the stuff in his bad movies is still alright.

          Yes a lot of it sucks but can we maybe move on?

        I can only take this to mean you have not seen Pearl Harbour.

          Whilst Pearl Habour was also terrible, I'd rather sit through a nauseating two hours of Ben Affleck than Shia.

      The deal is that Michael Bay and a bunch of suits decided to use the Transformers name and then make three films that are as far from being Transformers as possible.

    My missus has only ever fallen asleep at the movies twice. Once during Quantum of Solace and once during T2. We saw it in the loudest cinema with the biggest screen and it still put her to sleep.

    I will be subjecting her to T3 at the earliest opportunity knowing full well she may fall asleep again. But I couldn't care less because I'm a child and I like gigantic robots even when I'm also subjected to thin plots, fish lipped chicks and, well, Shia.

    I liked the first one, i thought it was a pretty good action adventure movie, maybe with 1 extraneous plotline, but nevertheless a good movie.

    The second one not so much, too long, too convoluted, too much of everything really. Everything seemed blown out of proportion. I feel like Bay was kept in check by speilberg in the first movie, however the second was all bay-all day and thats not really a good thing, he doesn't know when to tone that sh-t down.

    I will still go and see the third movie at the cinema, with my mates, because we've all been fans since G1 was on TV, but i just don't anticipate liking it a whole lot.

      Summed up my thoughts exactly.

    Transformers 2 gets way more scorn that it derserves, I guess about two thirds of the shite heaped on it is self generated. It was bad, but I could think of dozens of films I hated far more.

    There are plenty of other geek movies that seem to get a pass despite being equally bad, GI Joe seems to have gotten a pass despite being as stupid and poorly acted as Transformers 2 AND having a Wayans brother in it.

    People are way too quick to post 'worst movie eva!!!1!!', didn't these people see Wing Commander, Epic Movie, or really any of those 'movie' movies, The Spirit, Battlefield Earth, White Chicks, Sex and the City 2, every Ben Stiller comedy post Zoolander, the Twilight movies surely anything my Uwe Boll? Surely Transformers 2 inches ahead of any of these films.

      All those movies you listed are bad, and I wouldn't call TF2 the worst ever. I think some of the difference between those listed and TF2 are:

      The budget for TF was very large.

      It was seen to be abusing a beloved franchise. (Adding things that weren't in the original a human transformer and Optimus getting wings etc.)

      The Advertising and marketing Hype that was behind TF2 was very big as well.

      It had really bad acting.

      It had really bad writing.

      It didn't really make sense.

      Each of those movies you listed might have had one or two of those things but not many would have all of those. Except sex and the city two maybe, and I don't think they will be allowed to make a three.

        *cough*MagicDust*cough*

        Also, entering the Smithsonian in Washington and exiting in Arizona?
        That's just...

        No he is right, anything by Uwe Bol has all three of those things by the truckload.

    I saw the first one and came out with mixed feelings but mostly that it is not what I felt transformers was about, The second was terrible. I have finally decided I will not put more money into Hollywood machines that produce terrible movies with little artistic merit.

    I just hope that Transformers go the way of Super hero movies. They were abused at first for a quick buck, but now some (most?) are made with care and direction. Maybe one day someone will get the rights and make an interesting movie about giant robots and not about annoying teenagers/college students.

    HEY BAY! Was it too much to ask to have a film about TRANS-FUCKING-FORMERS?!!!

    I am seriously considering using the three films to edit my own transformers movie and uploading it on The [Pirate] Bay. Will have to wait for TF3 to hit blu-ray though

    I enjoyed the humour in TF3. It was simple and fun. Far from the stupid fart jokes that seem to plague American comedies these days. Overall, I loved the movie.

    I've been a fan of Transformers all my life, have all the animated series on DVD and a lot of the toys. I enjoy Michael Bay's take on the series; sure it's not the same as the original story, but why would I want the same story regurgitated over and over again?

    Interesting take, nice review.

    "There’s an incredibly solemn political thriller where people uncover the truth about the Apollo Moon landings, and debate the role in our society of giant robots that turn into cars and trucks."

    LOL.

    Why do are you concerned so much about how the film conveys itself. It's big robot action fightan, why do you need to care about anything else. It's not designed to be intellectually challenging.

      Because it's 30 minutes of ACKSHUN in a 150 minute movie. So, four fifths of the time you're sitting there bored waiting for something to blow up

    Certainly nothing is gonna stand in his way as he demonstrates that he's got the touch and can win if he dares. You know what I'm talking about ;)

    Personally, I'm not giving any more money to this goon. I've seen enough rubbish this guy has produced and have learned my lesson.

    Gimme, the 1986 classic. Remade, but keeping the 80's vibe, songs and all.

    2 was terrible terrible film. I didnt't know you could integrate racial stereotypes into a robot, but Michael Bay managed to do it with those ghetto Autobots that I'm sure infuriated anyone sensitve to racism.

    Also, the whole deal with the US Army throughout the films. I bet the real institution payed Bay to make the movies aimed at recruitment rather than any sort of enjoyable story.

      The US army even gives them actual soldiers and planes et c. in exchange for portraying the military in a positive light. The fact that real F-22's were used (amongst a ton of other military hardware) in T2 means the army is basically viewing it as a giant recruiting tool.

      Jazz in the G1 series was the the token african american character by design so yeah racial stereotypes are not one of the unforgivable sins the d*#$head has made with this franchise.

    Was Mr. Anders hired by Michael Bay for this Freudian analysis, by any chance?

    Giant robots bashing each others heads in for two and a half hours is the best a movie can get. For me anyway.

    what the hell is with the last picture? it looks like shes just been boxing...

    And looking beyond the actual impressiveness of the transformer robots, the films suck ass so badly. 1 was ok but 2 was a giant turd, and i do agree with the fact it was a military recruitment film more than anything (i mean the autbots need military help to defeat the decepticons? Bloody weak)

    Anything that Michael Bay touches will have unnessary action and explosions, and a crappy plot line and romance to go with it.

    I saw this movie last night. I didn't hate it, and I didn't have high expectations, but I wound up just sighing a lot. So much just felt so goddamn illogical.

    Just give me a Transformers movie where the two warring factions are in the middle of a desert and there's no humans in sight.

    The final action scene must take up an hour of screen time, and so much of it was filled with humans surviving for no real good reason.

    That said: one of my major gripes with Transformers 2 was how much of a messy blur most of the action scenes were. Things are at least a bit clearer visually here.

    No Unicron. No fan service. Boycotted.

    I thought this was the best movie by far, I liked the first one and I hated the second and this one was bombdiggedy.

    If my use of that word should somehow cast doubt on my credibility as to be a reliable opinion-giver, I don't care. I do not agree with the overall tone of this review and resoudingly I declare this movie to be the shizzit and it makes up for almost everything I loathed about the first 2 movies combined.

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