Be careful what you wish for. I can’t really blame Bay and company for the film they turned in as, if I were eight years old, this is exactly the film I would expect from a series of cartoons based on action figures. The thing is, this is a story that probably demanded a little restraint and patience (and no, taking 90 minutes to get to your film’s plot isn’t the sort of patience I was referring to) and while the film bears the name of Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, it’s exactly his instincts that are missing from the film. I mean is the film anything more than Jurassic Park meets E.T. (with some T2 and Independence Day thrown in for techno-cool shading)? Yet instead of delaying our first full on glimpse at the robots in all their stories-high biped glory, whetting our appetite and building towards the huge reveal, here we get full on Decepticon mayhem in the first 10 minutes. Scenes of Shia’s robot car/guardian being dragged off while Indy Jr. Jr. makes sad puppy dog eyes are completely emotionless, with no real bond created between man and machine. The film’s got ass loads of plot but I could barely make heads or tails of it and I grew up with the stupid cartoon (I’m sure it’s addressed in the film but why does Megatron, who’s frozen in the Artic Circle, know the whereabouts of the plot device/Rubick’s Cube/Allspark if it’s at the Hoover Damn? Why for that matter does everyone need it anyway?)
At this point I’ve stopped looking for humanity in Bay’s films (although you’d think a man who’s spent his entire ill-gotten career jerking off to sports cars and jet planes might be able to muster up some sort of empathy) yet I still keep holding onto the misguided belief that between all his lens-flares and slo-mo strides and jingoistic bombast that I’ll get to see some shit get blown up but good. And then I always remember how Bay has never even been able to get that right, preferring to dump us in the middle of the action and epileptically cutting from one disjointed medium close-up to another (if ever there were a film that demanded for long wide shots it’s this one) till you’re more or less beaten into a state of somnambulist submission. So much going on yet I don’t think I’ve ever cared less about what’s happening in a film than I did in this one. Also, does anyone find Bay’s racist, misogynist, lowest-common-denominator tendencies funny? Considering how many innocent bystanders are killed in these films (although conveniently off-screen) he sure seems to be keeping himself in stitches engaged in fratboy humor. Good to see even in robot form the black guy still dies first. On the plus side, it did make me want to re-watch Iron Giant, so that’s something.