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Review: Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Fernando F. Croce
Transformers Dark of the Moon

"Visual, therefore visceral," snaps John Malkovich in Transformers: Dark of the Moon as some sort of wacky Michael Bay proxy, a conglomerate martinet who screams at his crew, checks out the leading lady’s ass and purrs like a kitten at the metal feet of one of the giant robots. A sniper’s command later on is even more indicative of the film’s aesthetic credo: "Take out the eyes!" Neither the Antichrist nor the second coming of Brakhage, Bay is modern cinema’s purest peddler of technocratic pageantry, full-bodied and hollow-headed, a neo-DeMille pulverizer engrossed by shiny chrome and spiraling movement and other "cool shit." The climactic blitzkrieg, to use just one surreal example, encompasses flying soldiers, a clanging Cyclops, and Mr. Spock’s voice emanating from a bearded automaton. The 3-D technology in the franchise’s third installment provides the calligraphy exercise so needed to calm this hyperactive kino-fist: For once the images can be seen for more than three or four seconds, the choreographed mayhem often hits notes of sustained, almost lyrical abstraction, and the eponymous behemoths—toys dilated into deities, or is it the other way around?—actually attain a certain ludicrous grandeur. The deceleration makes the other facets of the Bay Touch all too visible as well: Jockish disdain for the humanity of characters and viewers, unchecked racism, truculent humor, chortling objectification (the camera licks Rosie Huntington-Whiteley up and down while Patrick Dempsey waxes rhapsodic over a scarlet convertible offscreen), rampant Shia LaBeouf smirking. And yet, by now it all comes together into a personal vision, imbecilic and undeniably whole, in which singling out the acrobatic mugging of a Ken Jeong cameo as "too much" is akin to singling out a diagonal or a patch of orange on Dalí's Tuna Fishing as "too much." Truly the "artillerist" my colleague Ignatiy Vishnevetsky once described, Bay makes American pop detritus gleam, the better to blow it up—it's no accident that the much-mocked shot of the heroine’s vacant visage surrounded by explosions is an explicit echo of Zabriskie Point.


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Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

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