found drama

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Transformers

by Rob Friesel

An anagrammatic haiku review of Michael Bay’s film, Transformers:

truly a hard-on
for these U.S. armed forces
and for broken glass

⇒becomes⇒

try to suck boner
for nose-gas. half of us ran.
arms heralded red.

Wired captured it best in June of ’07 with this quote from the original screenwriter, John Rogers:

“While a large chunk of people want to see giant-robot fights, there’s an equally large, dedicated group who want to see their childhood idols treated like serious characters, with real emotional arcs […] For every fan wanting to feel like he’s 12 again, there’s another who’s outraged that you think this is just a movie for 12-year-olds. It’s not that people don’t trust Michael Bay. It’s that the list of people who would be trusted is almost vanishingly small.”

I watched this film because, as a kid, I was a Transformers fan; I was curious what this updated version would bring to the table.  I went into it feeling like the former group in the above quote — not really looking for much more than a cheap thrill — but left it feeling like the latter.

And not because the film was all explosions and broken glass1.  I think I would have been OK with that.  It was the nihilism.  It was as if no investment was made in any aspect of the film.  Certainly in the $150 million spent they could have found some room for actors willing to display a little affect, for writers that could create a half-way decent character arc…  It’s almost as if they blew the whole budget on sets and special effects.  And then when the CG animation didn’t look nearly as good as they hoped, Bay stepped in and said: “More smoke.  More dust.  More explosions.  Speed the damn thing up.  Don’t let anyone get a good look at anything.”

Also, bonus round haiku (non-anagrammatic):

Can a film about
giant transforming robots
have latent sub-text?

I’m not talking about the “no sacrifice, no victory” theme that they mention in the Wired article.  No.  I get a vague notion that what’s afoot is more ontological in nature.  The battle between the robots seems to be about free-will; nearly all of Optimus Prime’s dialogue is drenched with these plaintive statements about how our young human species should be allowed to choose its destiny.  It’s a little cloying and patronizing.  Megatron at least seems to have grasped the principles of evolution, that goalless sallying forth of life (fleshy, robotic, or otherwise) that knows no rules and has no plan; he at least seems to understand that these are simply constructs that we bring into the mix.  And as I recall, it is not as though the Decepticons were specifically out to destroy humans; we just happened to be in the way.  This effort on the Autobots’ part to defend our free-will then seems to start to lose credibility.  The Decepticons aren’t explicitly trying to strip us of any of our rights; they just don’t give a shit.  Meanwhile, the Autobots claim to be defending our freedoms, tug at our heart-strings a little bit, and suddenly they’ve manipulated a boy and a whole bunch of hardened U.S. Army soldiers to pitch in on their behalf.  Our choice?  Our free-will?  Perhaps.  But perhaps under duress; those sons of bitches took advantage of us.

Oh, but they did a hell of a job with the sound in that film.  Nice work, that.

Image credit: Thomas Hannich @ Wired.com.

  1. And man!  I don’t believe I’ve seen that much broken glass since the original Die Hard. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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