Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: resurrection of the Dumbo crows and women as props

Spoiler alert

I just got back from this movie (fully aware that it is not getting good reviews from critics--I fully place blame on my fiance for this one). I think I might start rating movies on a scale of eye-rolls, where I tally how many times I find myself rolling my eyes during the course of the movie, and the more it gets the worse it is.

There was just so much wrong with this movie. So before I get to what this post is really about, here are a few complaints:

  • Optimus Prime is essentially dead for 3/4 of the movie before being reanimated or whatever you want to call it, and then the final battle is over in like 2 seconds. I mean, he's like the One, so why was he so under-used?
  • The lady autobots are motorcycles, tiny dainty motorcycles. And I think they only get one line before they're blown apart by a missile. Rather than give them any face time, the filmmakers decided to give it to the two twins, but I'll address them later.
  • I know since Shia LeBeouf was in a car accident that injured his hand, the filmmakers sort of had to work around that and that's fine; but come on--are we to seriously believe that the group just happened to have gauze with them when they suddenly found themselves in this dangerous situation? Wouldn't it have been more believable to use a shirt or something?
  • As much as I love that John Turturro is still getting work, did he (or anyone for that matter) really have to point out that those two wrecking balls that happened to be dangling between the Devastator's legs were "scrotum"? Haha, dick and ball jokes...
  • Bumblebee (before the audience is even made aware that Alice is a Decepticon) attempts to prevent Sam from cheating by playing suggestive music, and when that fails he resorts to making Alice bash her face against the dashboard and then squirting her with some liquid. But assault and humiliation are okay (and hilarious) when the girl's a slut, right? I mean, yeah, that bitch totally had it coming...
Now onto my main points.

I see no difference between this:

and this*:

I couldn't laugh at Mudflap and Skids;** all I kept thinking about is what sort of statement is their presence making in the movie where they are essentially charicatures of black wanna-be gangstas, embodiements of racist stereotypes in fucking robot form. The first we see of them, they are an icecream truck which has graffitti on the side which states "Suck my popsicle." So, we know they're sexual (though I wasn't aware that robots really had a sexuality) and they're gendered, thanks to that invoked popsicle imagery. The big ears and grill (on the one), the fact that they can't read (and make a joke of it) and are prone to violence (especially among themselves) all further illustrate the obvious play on racist stereotypes. I found my jaw dropping any time either of them said anything. I'm not exactly sure what contribution they made to the film except as walking talking racist jokes.

Now, as for Megan Fox's heroine roll: even though it seems like she's an ass-kicking heroine to LeBeouf's hero, she's essentially just another prop--a sexy prop, who we first glimpse ass-first in the movie as she's displayed for our viewing on a motorcycle, detailing it at a highly impractical angle. Yeah, she's the love interest, but she's also a fuckable object (like every other woman in the movie--including Sam's mom, who receives a lovely ass-slap from her loving husband, and also including Alice, and the girls in class (who are also sexualized in their interaction with the dirty professor--tee hee, sexual harassment is a compliment!)).

Megan Fox's character, Mikaela, is treated as a prop throughout the movie. While she does help by capturing Wheelie, it's her job to tame him, winning him over by being femininely sweet.

She has actions done to her rather than acting herself, like when Wheelie humps her leg (I guess it's supposed to be endearing, or some shit), or when Jetfire lands them in the desert, and she has apparently landed on Leo's crotch, sprawled in a suggestive manner. She's nothing more than a prop used for the (male) viewer's enjoyment. Even Wheelie says she's hot (a statement I can't make sense of, since I wasn't aware that these robots were sexual, or even had the capacity to judge the attractiveness of a creature not of their species).

After having addressed the above, I would like to ask the following to filmmakers:

This may be difficult to understand, since it goes beyond your prescribed movie-making formula, but women enjoy action flicks involving epic battles and explosions just as much as guys do, so why are you still relying on the same tired ass sexist dialogues that basically portray women as available and fuckable instead of giving them complex characterizations like you're so willing to bestow to the men?

I doubt they have an answer for me, but still--I would love to see an action movie not cater to dudes. I seriously felt like an interloper while I was watching the movie.

I give this movie 8 eye-rolls.***

Most of these due to poor dialogue (like where Optimus says "Punk-ass Decepticon" or when one of the twins calls someone else a "pussy," as well as almost every other uttered line--seriously, who the fuck wrote this???), but of course I factored in racism and sexism.

*Certainly there are other examples of this in other recent movies--still doesn't make it okay.
**Skids is apparently voiced by Tom Kenny, the dude that voices Spongebob, and is white. Draw your own conclusions.
***Out of a possible ten. I decided it shouldn't be arbitrary (well, not completely), and since I can't say for sure how many times I rolled my eyes during this movie, I'll just make it on a scale of 1-10, ten being the most intolerable thing I've ever been forced to view, and would've left if it weren't for the exorbitant ticket price.


elle said...

Oh My God.

I so wanted to see this, even when the first horrible reviews rolled in. But then people kept writing what garbage it was and I saw it was more than 2 hrs long (something my attention span wont let me do!) and I gave up on it.

I had to admit to myself that the biggest pull for me is the possibility of hearing OP saying, "Autobots, roll out." I loved that when I was a kid :-)

elle said...

Also, when I heard M and S were an ice cream truck, I thought immediately that Ice Cream Man was once a popular term for a drug dealer.

Alston Adams said...

"I doubt they have an answer for me, but still--I would love to see an action movie not cater to dudes."

Careful what you wish for--when companies to try to cater to women, you get things like Dell's Della line of computers.

pcwhite said...

Re: action movies that treat women as props...have these filmmakers never seen Terminator 2? Is it really the newest action movie with a decent female role?

I admit, I had a passing interest in this movie until the reviews came out, if only because the transforming robots are incredible from a design standpoint. You'd think with all that money they could afford a decent screenwriter...