Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (Part 1)

Previously on Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen...

I literally have no idea how to approach what happened. When you actually read out everything that happened, it's all just a bunch of nonsense that is loosely edited together to form a borderline nonexistent story.  A story that somehow spanned 17,000 years to tell us the tale of the Fallen, the true leader of the Decepticons who cooked up a plan to turn the sun into energy for his armies. Megatron ends up killing Optimus in a scene that probably should have felt more epic, but these movies have gone out of their way to establish that as long as you're on the movie poster death is totally irrelevant to you. Which reminds me, I do NOT like Ironhide's chances in this one.

Case in point, Sam Witwicky also ends up dying and going to Robo-Heaven, where Autobot Angels resurrect him and give him the means to save the day. Sam is able to revive Optimus, who fixes things the only way he knows how: brutal murder.  Strangely enough I did enjoy the movie much more than I did the first one, something I can only assume is due to the inclusion of with Ehren Kruger who balanced out the rambling nonsense of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. With Dark Of The Moon, Kruger has solo writing duty so that should mean I'll REALLY like this one right?  Right?  Hmmm. A Ghoul Versus Transformers: Dark Of The Moon!

I'm out of ways to bitch about a movie opening up with narration, so here we go: the movie opens with Optimu fucking narrating.

“We were once a peaceful race of intelligent, mechanical beings. But then came the war between the Autobots, who fought for freedom, and the Decepticons, who dreamt of tyranny. Overmatched and outnumbered, our defeat was all but certain.”

Optimus continues his passionate love affair with the sound of his own voice, something I can't fault him for WHATSOEVER. If I sounded like Optimus I'd narrate every single damn thing I did too.

On the dawn of the future, we found ourselves faced with a struggle that dampened our spirits. The dishes in the sink had reached epic proportions, and they could be ignored no longer. It would take a camaraderie we were unsure existed within us to overcome them, as-”

Over his words we are treated to the final days of Cybertron as the Transformers FUCK EACH OTHER UP! Oh, he's NOT done? Ugh.

“But in the war's final days, one Autobot ship escaped the battle. It was carrying a secret cargo which would have changed our planet's fate. A desperate mission, our final hope. A hope that vanished.”

We see the Autobot ship get bombarded with missiles while escaping Cybertron's orbit as we cut to the Earth in 1961. The American governments detects an object entering Earth's proximity as we see the ship crash on the moon.  Oh, already? That was pretty quick! Only two and a half minutes in and the story is doing its hardest to not make sense. According to the first movie, Cybertron World War I was over 12,000 years ago, so that means this damaged ship hovered through space THAT long until it crashed on the moon? I suppose it's possible, but when we see the ship it looks like it's only minutes away from completely falling apart. 12,000 years is a LONG ass time to exist in that condition.

President John F. Kennedy is told a UFO has crashed on the moon through a MASSIVELY JARRING usage of shots that jump between black and white, grainy, colour, and stock footage. It's REALLY weird. The crux of this is that the REAL reason Kennedy kicked the space program into gear, so we could go to the moon and investigate the UFO before the Russians could. On July 16, 1969 we watch as the legendary Apollo 11 space shuttle is launched, and you pretty much know the rest. “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” and all that. I wonder if the government let Michael Bay use the same sound stage they used to fake the moon landing?

Now the real fun begins as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin go to investigate the crashed Autobot ship. They find a ship full of dead robots, taking some samples with them and returning to Earth. We watch historical footage of them landing back on Earth, but then the camera returns to the ship where we see one of the Autobots awaken...  THAT was actually a great opening, aside from the movie obviously forgetting its own timeline in regards to the crashed ship. The brief glimpses of the war on Cybertron looked awesome, the flashback footage added a genuine sense of weight to the film, and the astronauts exploring the ship was very tense and dramatic. So, how is Michael Bay going to fuck it all up with the next scene? Sam's parents or tits and ass? Hmm...

We get our answer as we meet Ass. Ass is attached to Carly Spencer, Sam Witwicky's new girlfriend. Why, whatever happened to Megan Fox's deeply nuanced character Mikaela Banes? It seems Miss Fox was not a fan of the way Michael Bay ran his productions, complaining about it to a British magazine where she made the BRILLIANT decision to compare Bay to Hitler.

Because that ALWAYS goes over well, she got fired and Bay dropped her character in favour of Carly. Carly is portrayed by Victoria's Secret model Candice Swanepoel, who has ZERO professional acting experience outside of television commercials where she's never had to talk, so you KNOW this is going to end well. Candice- wait, what's that? Ohh, I've made a mistake. Carly is played by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who has ZERO professional acting experience outside of television commercials where she's never had to talk, so you KNOW this is going to end well. She also looks EXACTLY like Candice Swanepoel, if you're wondering.

It seems Sam's life hasn't gone that well since the last movie. He's looking for a job and seems all but forgotten by the the government for all he did to help save the world two times. Don't fret though if you missed these establishing lines of dialogue, he'll remind you MANY MANY more times over the next two and a half hours the government is ignoring him.  Once again to the movie's credit, that's a HYPER realistic depiction of how the United States government would treat you if you helped them out, so MEGA-KUDOS to the movie here. This is by far the most believable Transformers movie I've seen yet.

Carly reminds him they did pay for his college and gave him a “hero's medal” as the film cuts to a flashback of Sam meeting with worst President Obama impersonator this side of Saturday Night Live. Sam proudly holds up his medal to his... parents. Oh God, here we go. Deep breaths, deeeeeep breaths. Sam uses up the film's “fuck” PG-13 allowance as he says “What the fuck!” while showing them his medal, because Transformers REALLY needs as much profanity as possible in it.

Sam and his parents bicker over whether he should wear the medal or keep it in its ceremonial box as his attention falls on his future girlfriend, who worked their as an aide or something. The only reason I'm bothering to mention this is as Sam's mom walks by Carly she says “What a gorgeous box!”, which is in NO WAY meant to be a dirty joke about Carly so get your mind out of the gutter. Oh no wait, this is Bayformers. That's EXACTLY what they were going for.

And because one sex joke is NOWHERE NEAR enough, we return to the present where Carly promises she'll give Sam a blowjob that night with all of Bay's trademark subtlety Their sexual innuendos are interrupted by Brains, a strange little robot whose gimmick is HE'S A PERVERT! Ha hah hah, oh Bay, where do you come up with these brilliant character ideas? Brains isn't annoying enough though, so let's bring Wheelie back as well. At least I think it's Wheelie, he must have undergone a complete Racial Stereotype-ectomy from the last movie because he no longer sounds like Joe Pesci doing a Joe Pesci imitation. We learn they're staying with Sam because they're stranded on Earth or something.

Wheelie notices Star Trek is playing on the television, quipping “Shit, I seen this one. It's the one where Spock goes nuts.”. That's weird, why is the Foreshadowing Alert going off for that line?  Wheelie and Brains question Sam's wisdom in deciding to move in with Carly, especially after he was dumped by “that last chick”. The two robots spend a minute being as unfunny as possible, so Sam's parents show up to show these fuckers how TRUE non-comedy is done.

The joke here is Sam can't find a job so his parents are passively aggressively bashing him for it. This goes on for too long, so Sam hops in his junker car to leave for an interview. When they see his car his parents ask what happened to Bumblebee, Sam telling them it's a real car because the Autobot is off doing missions. Sam's mom diplomatically says she likes it and it reminds her a lot of Bumblebee... “if he were a sad piece of shit”.  Okay you fucking movie, that's ONE. ONE LAUGH you got from me. FROM SAM'S MOM. I know I should be bitching about how that kind of language is not at all appropriate in a movie of this nature, but dammit... that was funny. This means you completely and utterly have my trust right now Bay, don't fuck this up.

We cut to the White House where- Good God, Optimus is STILL narrating?! Is this Dark Of The Moon the movie or the audiobook? He tells us about all the anti-Decepticon measures they have on Earth and in space, as well as the fact the Autobots are working for the government to help resolve human conflicts. This is illustrated by scenes of Autobots taking down evil foreigners all in the name of 'Murica! USA! USA! USA! Sure is lucky the Autobots didn't land in Russia originally, eh?

Lennox- who at this point is probably the most superfluous character in movie history because seriously do we know ANYTHING about him besides the fact he has a wife and daughter? I'm not even sure they've said his first name in any of these movies, I had to Google it! He meets with a Ukrainian official who tells him they've made a discovery of alien nature at Chernobyl, so we segue to Optimus and team exploring the famous site.

They find some kind of spherical object and down below, but before they can grab it they get attacked by a bunch of CGI Tentacles. Bay sadly misses a chance for a hentai joke, but maybe next time. The tentacles grab the orb and vanish. Topside , Optimus pursues the tentacle robot which is a GIANT monstrosity called the Driller. I'm going to be honest here: this scene is fucking AWESOME. Optimus transforms into robot form, his trailer transforming into a portable storage area for his weapons. THAT'S how you make a bad ass intro!

Optimus selects a sword and a shield, rushing at the Driller. He starts cutting off its tentacles like he's in the most bad ass Hercules reboot EVER until this pisses off the hidden rider of the Driller, who reveals himself as MOTHERFUCKING SHOCKWAVE! They even got his Cyclops eye right! I'm marking the fuck out right now! Did you know the inspiration for Shockwave and his cold, emotionless personality was Spock from Star Trek?

However, Shockwave takes one look at Optimus and the Monument to Eternal Badassery and transforms into hardcore GTFO mode. Lennox notices the Driller dropped the orb when Optimus was slicing and dicing, Optimus shocked to discover it's an engine part from the long lost Autobot ship. Elsewhere we see the Ukrainian official get murdered by the Deception Laserbeak, who tells the now dead official it was “a pleasure working with him”. Oh ho, are we actually trying to get some kind of MYSTERY going on in this movie?!

I also want to point out Laserbeak is voiced by the legendary Keith Szarabajka, a name you probably don't know but has a voice you've heard hundreds of times over if you've ever played a video game or watched a cartoon. But he's also a very talented actor as well, having played one of the best villains I've ever seen on a television show: Daniel Holtz, of Angel season three fame.  I am so overjoyed by that scene that I don't even CARE the next one is more of Sam's parents. It doesn't even PHASE me. Optimus fucking shit up! Soundwave! This leads to a montage of Sam being interviewed at numerous jobs, and they're all oh so funny because every boss is weird and wacky! Ah ha ha, never seen THAT before! Aerosmith's “Sweet Emotionis the very odd song of choice for this scene, I'm guessing Bay must be a fan?

Equally funny is Sam blows every single interview because he's just a complete moron. Just for icing on the cake, they keep cutting to Sam's parents as they drive him from interview to interview so they can add their HILARIOUS two cents. You know what I don't get about any of this Sam stuff, and I'm talking all three movies here? Why do we spend so much time on his life before the Deception craziness starts when it has NO PAYOFF for any of it?

To contrast what I'm talking about, look at the Harry Potter movies. Nearly every movie we'd spend time with Harry going through his classes and his day-to-day life, but the huge difference there is he'd ALWAYS learn something that'd be crucial to the end of the film. Here, it's just a bunch of bullshit filler for Bay can “get his sillies” out before a bunch of CGI battles and explosions. It's very annoying. No time to dwell on that though, because it's time for Sam's next interview where the boss is... JOHN MALKOVICH?!? John “The Killing Fields” Malkovich. In a Transformers movie. WOW, someone needed a new vacation home. 

John Malkovich's character, Bruce Brazos is the head of Accuretta Systems, a global leader in telecom and aerospace technologies. He has a recommendation to hire Sam from a member of his board, which is news to Sam. We quickly learn Bruce is a complete psychopath and Malkovich probably only took this role to see how much he could get away with, because DAYMN he's in rare form here.  He offers Sam a job in the mail room, but Sam turns it down because he considers it beneath him. I'm kind of torn here, on one side you can actually feel Sam's frustration at how much his life sucks now but on the other side he's also coming off as one of those guys forever trying to live off his past glories. I'm not really sure how to feel I am actually ANALYZING a character in a Michael Bay movie, it feels... weird.

Bruce talks Sam into taking the job, Sam looking as excited as I did when I first learned Sam's parents were going to be in this movie again. We go across town to the NEST headquarters, where FRANCES McFUCKING McDORMAND arrives?!?  What, did Bay put out a casting call under the guise of a new Coen Brothers movie to trick these actors into signing contracts with him? Or, as is more likely, he saw Burn After Reading and drove a truck full of money to each of their homes in an attempt to transfer some of the magic they had in that movie into his?

McDormand is the Director of National Intelligence Charlotte Mearing, and she wants ANSWERS DAMMIT! I guess there was an Autobot mission to the Middle East that wasn't sanctioned or something, it really doesn't matter because Optimus wants answers too! He wants to know why an Autobot engine part was in possession of humans, but Charlotte claims she didn't know anything about it because only Sector Seven held information about alien crap.

As a peace offering, she tells him she's just uncovered some information that might interest him. She brings in DR. BUZZ ALDRIN himself to assist, which is just unbelievably awesome they got him to do this. This movie is working its ass off to not suck right now, I'll give it that. Although it's sad that probably the vast majority of kids that saw this thought he was just a made up character from the beginning of the movie.  Charlotte recaps the opening of the movie because Bay NEVER underestimates the attention span of his fans, with the addition of her theory the Russians used space probes to pick up the orb from the moon and discovered it was a fuel rod. They took the fuel rod to Chernobyl where everything went wrong, and we are officially on some Secret History of the World stuff right here. If Nicholas Cage shows up next, I promise I'll give this movie 10/10.

Optimus reveals the ship was called the Ark, carrying technology that would have won the war for the Autobots along with its creator, Sentinel Prime. He says their spacecraft can make it to the moon, hopefully before the Decepticons. Their SPACECRAFT, huh? The one they never had before because they came to the Earth in form of metallic comets?  But instead of seeing THAT, let's see how Sam's day is going. He goes to see Carly at her job, where she's an assistant to super rich guy Dylan Gould. This about the time I realized Rosie Huntington-Whiteley can't act. Like, AT ALL. She says her lines like Michael Bay is holding cue cards for her right off camera, and for all I know he probably is. I bet they're written in crayon too.

The film immediately sets up that Dylan wants to take Carly away from Sam, and just like that we're back to the parade of cliches Bay used in Revenge Of The Fallen. Why does a movie about walking death machines needs a “lovable schlub has to fight rich guy trying to take his girlfriend” plot in it? How come I NEVER hear these scenes brought up when people talk about how “great” these movies are?  Dylan owns a classic car company, or something, showing Sam one of his cars as he monologues about it. “Look at the curves. Elegant, isn't it? Beautiful. Sensual.”. Oddly enough though, instead of showing the CAR the camera lovingly caresses every curve of Carly's body as Dylan speaks. Waitaminute! He was using a DOUBLE ENTENDRE! Holy fuck this script is DEEP!

Sam and Carly try to leave, but naturally his car won't start right in front of Dylan just to threaten Sam's manhood all the more. This is a Transformers movie, just thought I'd throw that in there. Dylan takes Sam aside and reveals HE'S the one who put in the good word with Bruce to get Sam his job and WHY IS THIS SCENE STILL GOING ON?  Oh thank God, Optimus and Ratchet land on the moon. Hmm, you even notice these movies only barely focus on Optimus and Bumblebee and NO ONE else? Ironhide and Ratchet were in the last one for like a minute, and this one has been filled with Autobots that get their one liners in and then fade into the background.