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"Transformers 4: I am drunk and I must rage pee"
July 13, 2014 5:56 AM   Subscribe

If you’ve read anything about this movie, you’ve probably heard about the rightfully infamous “Romeo and Juliet law” scene. Nothing I have read as of yet does actual justice to how absolutely fucking creepy this scene is. Cade and Shane (Tessa’s boyfriend, played by Jack Reynor) have been pissing on each other’s legs since the moment they met about, frankly, just to whom Tessa belongs. Then Cade finds out that Shane is 20; well, Tessa is a minor. Without so much as blinking, Shane launches into a lecture about the Romeo and Juliet law of Texas, and has the text of the law on a laminated card in his wallet. He is carrying it the way one might expect a young man to carry a freaking condom.
If you're going to read only one profanity laden review of Transformers 4, make sure it's this one. The profanity because not even the power of alcohol was enough to protect Rachael Acks from this movie, after her readers were so kind as to donate $400 to charity to force her to see it. Bonus: PDF of the notes taken during the movie and for those who like less swearing, the io9 FAQ hits many of the same notes.
posted by MartinWisse (223 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
20 is a minor? What? Seriously? I thought it crazy enough that the age of consent was as high as 18 in many states, but 20? Good Lord. That's ridiculous.
posted by Decani at 6:06 AM on July 13


It seems that the girl is 17 (a minor) and the boy is 20 (not a minor).
posted by dng at 6:07 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


There is a storyline in the web comic MULTIPLEX in which the characters film an indie movie. The movie is scripted to look like a straight-up zombie plot - only at the end, they find that the zombies are actually being controlled by Michael Bay, whom the depict as a demon bent on world domination.

Yeah.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


For somebody who's a year younger than me, Bay really seems to have attitudes about women from a much earlier era.
posted by octothorpe at 6:15 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


The first Transformers was correctly described, by Charlie Brooker I believe, as like watching a drunk playing a video game. I doubt they've imporoved.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:15 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


He deserves world domination, he's one of the best directors currently working.
posted by edeezy at 6:16 AM on July 13


For somebody who's a year younger than me, Bay really seems to have attitudes about women from a much earlier era.

I skip his movies because dumb cartoonish explosionsrobotsfights isn't my thing, but the obvious ick factor in the reviews adds a whole other layer of why not to watch them. It's so uselessly superfluous, because there's no reason the CGI explosion stuff which people have come to see needs to be paired with the ick.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:19 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


He deserves world domination, he's one of the best directors currently working

nice try weev
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:21 AM on July 13 [28 favorites]


This seems relevant: Bayhem
posted by Sand at 6:21 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Transformers 4:

Longing for the Radically Feminist Days of Megan Fox


lol
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:23 AM on July 13 [24 favorites]


It's possibly confirmation bias on my part, but there does seem to be some correlation in the last 10 years between how retrograde a blockbuster movie's attitudes to sex and race are and how much it apparently gives a fuck about its audience.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:25 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


the review is fairly good, but the pdf notes are funny as hell
posted by pyramid termite at 6:25 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


edeezy: "He deserves world domination, he's one of the best directors currently working."

He's talented has hell and if you want an example to prove "auteur theory", he's your man. His films are nothing if not personal statements and his style is as easily recognisable as Hitchcock's or Wes Anderson's. But with all that talent, he has terrible, terrible taste and seriously weird attitudes toward women and minorities and his movies are close to unwatchable.
posted by octothorpe at 6:26 AM on July 13 [23 favorites]


Very brave to shit on a Transformers movie. They are very loud cotton candy with mass appeal. It's not a crime to turn off your brain for 2.5 hours every once in a while. :)
posted by owillis at 6:30 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Not if means validating racist sexist reactionary garbage attitudes :)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:33 AM on July 13 [138 favorites]


It's not a crime to turn off your brain for 2.5 hours every once in a while. :)
Well, maybe for you. If you do that, and be sure to take a roofie to prevent flashbacks. ;-)
posted by MikeWarot at 6:36 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


It's not a crime to turn off your brain for 2.5 hours every once in a while. :)

I love loud cotton candy action movies as much as anyone else, but it's a crime to see so much money wasted on them when there are perfectly good screenwriters out there whose much more intelligent cotton candy goes unfilmed and unloved.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:37 AM on July 13 [45 favorites]


Whenever I get into a tizzy about bad snarky reviews online, and start declaiming that writers should just ignore things they don't like and write about little-known work that needs help, I always end up pausing and saying "Except..." because of amazing take-downs like this one. 90% of the time we should ignore the degrading anti-art trash that hurts its audience and the very medium it represents, but every now and then someone who really knows what they're talking about needs to step up and light that sucker on fire.

Brb, this gives me the urge to write 3,000 words about how culturally poisonous Imagine Dragons are.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 AM on July 13 [11 favorites]


Tomb Raider is "very loud cotton candy with mass appeal"; Transformers is and has been a mess.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:40 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


Look, if you are going to see a Transformers movie, any of them, there is one basic thing you need to understand before wasting your money on the ticket:

A Transformers movie is the fantasy going through the mind of a ten year old boy who is playing with the toys. You know, the Hasbro toys upon which the movies are based. This isn't War and Peace.

From this perspective the R&JL scene makes perfect sense, because it is about defiance of parental authority. The ten year old boy who is having this fantasy only knows about sex as that thing the grownups do when they close the bedroom door at night. And doing that must be cool because it's a grownup thing, but being ten years old the holder of this fantasy doesn't really see the sex as the point of much of anything.

For me T4 earned its ticket price with the line, delivered deadpan by the grizzled veteran autobot after the dinobots transformed into dinos, "Well I was really expecting giant cars."

Really, if you expect more than that out of it you're seeing the wrong movie.
posted by localroger at 6:43 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Very brave to shit on a Transformers review. They are just hilarious rants with mass appeal. It's not a crime to turn on your brain for 10 minutes once in a while.
posted by straight at 6:44 AM on July 13 [36 favorites]


I actually saw (some of) this movie on Friday night. We had some cousins visiting from out-of-town, with three boys aged 12, 10, and 10, and so we took them all to the drive-in movie theater (yes, they still exist) and while we waited for it to get dark we played Frisbee on the lawn in front of the screen, and gorged on popcorn, and watched the moon rise and the lightning bugs come out.

Then the movie started.

Good thing we came in two cars, as I left after 30 minutes. Right after the Romeo and Juliet Law scene.

But the boys stayed with their parents, and they loved it, so there's that, I guess.
posted by math at 6:45 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


You can turn your brain off without resorting to a pile of wank like this.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:46 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


It's not a crime to turn off your brain for 2.5 hours every once in a while.

Pontypool moment.
posted by maxsparber at 6:47 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Pacific Rim and Godzilla were both similar themed movies and didn't require a temporary lobotomy to enjoy.
posted by octothorpe at 6:49 AM on July 13 [40 favorites]


But they have scutters. If they were rage peeing scutters, it might be worth seeing.
posted by arcticseal at 6:53 AM on July 13


From this perspective the R&JL scene makes perfect sense, because it is about defiance of parental authority. The ten year old boy who is having this fantasy only knows about sex as that thing the grownups do when they close the bedroom door at night. And doing that must be cool because it's a grownup thing, but being ten years old the holder of this fantasy doesn't really see the sex as the point of much of anything.

...While gently reinforcing at a very young age the concept that women are trophies whose agency is to be defined by men.
posted by mochapickle at 6:56 AM on July 13 [79 favorites]


T4 becomes the highest grossing movie ever in china.

The Half in the Bag guys watch the Transformers series simultaneously.
posted by codacorolla at 6:58 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I refer, once more, to the spot on video review of Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen by Mark Kermode, the updated review for Dark of the Moon, and awaits the third update to this style of review.
posted by ewan at 6:58 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


While gently reinforcing at a very young age the concept that women are trophies whose agency is to be defined by men

Yeah, that's exactly what it meant that Tessa was the responsible person who took care of paying the bills while Dad played with unworkable inventions in the shed.
posted by localroger at 7:03 AM on July 13


She's a mommy and a whore!
posted by amanda at 7:07 AM on July 13 [38 favorites]


From this perspective the R&JL scene makes perfect sense, because it is about defiance of parental authority.

No.

You can write a scene about defying parental authority--a scene about defying parental authority and sex, if you want--without making it a sexist, creepy scene.

Harhar boys like boy things is a terrible defense of sexist cultural products and always has been. It works even less well when the boys we're talking about haven't even hit puberty yet. Instead of spoonfeeding them more garbage so they do end up thinking of women as trophies, we should be giving them something, I dunno, that treats women decently.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:08 AM on July 13 [55 favorites]


At some point someone will make a movie about Transformers that matches up with the original zeitgeist. That won't be until after Michael Bay is done defecating on them, but there is still hope.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:13 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]



10 year-olds playing with Transformers would have a lot more robots fighting. And the robots would look like Transformers instead of piles of scrap metal.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:13 AM on July 13 [42 favorites]


A Transformers movie is the fantasy going through the mind of a ten year old boy who is playing with the toys. You know, the Hasbro toys upon which the movies are based.

That is fundamentally incorrect, and it's an insult to ten year old boys. I'm not even kidding. These films aren't made for ten year old boys; they're made with that premise used as an excuse for the inexcusable laziness of their creators. I could barely stomach the first Transformers movie, and yet even with that one I could tell that I had more maturity and more of a sense of narrative continuity as a ten year old boy than the movie showed me.

This is what I'm saying. I'm totally on board with a movie about giant robots smashing other giant robots. Deliberately choosing to make it stupid, as Bay consistently does, is a shameful waste. I get that it makes him and the studio tons of money, but they could make that money while also not putting out awful work.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:14 AM on July 13 [22 favorites]


owillis: "Very brave to shit on a Transformers movie. They are very loud cotton candy with mass appeal."

You know, I usually love movies like that. But these movies fail miserably at it. The first one was incomprehensible to me - I specifically recall a scene where two giant robots are ostensibly fighting each other in a city street while the human protagonists are watching close by, but everything - direction, cinematography, editing - was so terrible that it failed to convey even this relatively simple situation. The camera would switch between some unidentifiable blurry things moving around at high speed (FOV too low to decipher precisely what) accompanied by loud mechanical banging sounds, and some frantic humans who could have easily been in an entirely different country.

It was fucking awful, and that one scene ensured I wouldn't watch another one. Give me ten minutes of Pacific Rim over this entire series.
posted by vanar sena at 7:15 AM on July 13 [15 favorites]


No, the lobotomy definitely helped with Pacific Rim ...
posted by etherist at 7:16 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I'm taking my daughter to Dawn of the POTA today. I will try the Sexy Lamp Test.
posted by etherist at 7:17 AM on July 13


At some point someone will make a movie about Transformers that matches up with the original zeitgeist. That won't be until after Michael Bay is done defecating on them, but there is still hope.

The GI Joe comic book that I grew up with in the '80s taught me to read, it frequently deconstructed the glorification of violence and militarism, and it gave me multiple women as role models without ever treating them as objects (well, okay, except for that one awful issue of "Special Missions" which wasn't written by Larry Hama). It did all that while presenting a threat in the form of a patently ludicrous terrorist force of lunatics in clown outfits... who were themselves, on occasion, surprisingly nuanced and human.

The films could've been based on that. Instead, they took that awful, awful TV cartoon as their guide--and then they even dove under that low bar rather than jumping over it, presumably in the name of "fun," I guess...?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:22 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I don't get this attitude. I like brainy summer movies, I love indie-fall Oscar bait, and I love stupid explodey movies like this. Yet each camp always seems to insist the other shouldn't exist.

(and as far as incomprehensible plots go, the GI Joe sequel was far far worse and had Bruce Willis sleepwalking through yet another role)
posted by owillis at 7:25 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


The films were based on the cartoon which were a billion times more popular than the comic? You're kidding. :)
posted by owillis at 7:26 AM on July 13


This is what I'm saying. I'm totally on board with a movie about giant robots smashing other giant robots. Deliberately choosing to make it stupid, as Bay consistently does, is a shameful waste. I get that it makes him and the studio tons of money, but they could make that money while also not putting out awful work.

I think this is exactly right. I think when you have young filmmakers who sincerely love and understand a genre, you get Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I don't think Bay gives a good goddamn about the Tranformers. In fact, I think he hates them, and resents being a slave to the franchise. So he adapts them to the 1980s music video aesthetic that he does love and understand. So you get a lot of sexist rhetoric and spinning cameras.

Also, as filmmakers age, and continue to produce genre, they start mining their own properties, and unfortunately lose sight of the original passion of homage. And you get Crystal Skull.
posted by valkane at 7:29 AM on July 13 [20 favorites]



I don't get this attitude. I like brainy summer movies, I love indie-fall Oscar bait, and I love stupid explodey movies like this. Yet each camp always seems to insist the other shouldn't exist.


I think the complaint is not that the movie is "stupid explodey" but that it is actively insulting to its audience.

There could be a great, fun time, non-intellectual movie made about giant robots that transform into cars - this is not it.

It's like the difference between the worst of Star Trek Voyager and the best of the TNG series. Same concept, same suspension of disbelief required, but it's all in the execution.

This whole "I like to shut my brain off for 2 hours" nonsense is just that - nonsense. There's a million ways to relax and 'shut one's brain off' at a 'blockbuster movie' (Skyfall? The Dark Knight?) without being simultaneously kicked in the balls.
posted by modernnomad at 7:30 AM on July 13 [27 favorites]


edeezy: He deserves world domination, he's one of the best directors currently working.

If he were a good director, he would be capable of blocking an action sequence.


owillis: It's not a crime to turn off your brain for 2.5 hours every once in a while. :)

This will be true the moment that most people's brains start being in the "on" setting by default.

(By the way, thank you for actually using an emoticon in your argument. It makes my point so much clearer.)
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:31 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Yeah, that's exactly what it meant that Tessa was the responsible person who took care of paying the bills while Dad played with unworkable inventions in the shed.

Which undermines Tessa even more. Here she is, a smart young woman, taking care of business. And her irresponsible dad still feels he has ownership. It's unfortunate.

I think this might help illustrate the issue of why this feels so insidious: think about what would happen if we recast the roles of Tessa and her boyfriend and everything else in the movie stayed the same. The character of Tessa is now a 17 year old young man who's dating a 20 year old woman. Would the dialog be the same between the father and the 20 year old? Would the power play be the same? Would the stakes?
posted by mochapickle at 7:34 AM on July 13 [32 favorites]


> I don't get this attitude. I like brainy summer movies, I love indie-fall Oscar bait, and I love stupid explodey movies like this. Yet each camp always seems to insist the other shouldn't exist.

The Transformers movies don't have a flow to go with. They have a never-ending series of face slaps. It's possible to make big stupid movies without inserting exactly the same frightened-stupid-black-guy and teen-girl-as-fetish-item trope in each movie of the franchise, and Bay goes out of his way to make sure they're in there.
posted by ardgedee at 7:36 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


And calling these movies "lazy" is an poor dismissal. It happened because they planned it. It wasn't "oh woops, this happened, well, let's keep it."

The movies are storyboarded in advance. So when Michael Bay's mary-sue is role playing his relationship to an underaged girl just before hell breaks loose, it wasn't Bay improvising on the set, it was a moment that went through the hands of the dozens of people involved in devising what is going to go on-screen before dividing the production work among the thousands of people involved in production before the scene was shot.
posted by ardgedee at 7:45 AM on July 13 [31 favorites]


Bay really seems to have attitudes about women from a much earlier era

Yeah, the "I get older, they stay the same age" era.

I think this might help illustrate the issue of why this feels so insidious: think about what would happen if we recast the roles of Tessa and her boyfriend and everything else in the movie stayed the same. The character of Tessa is now a 17 year old young man who's dating a 20 year old woman. Would the dialog be the same between the father and the 20 year old? Would the power play be the same? Would the stakes?

No, the power play and the stakes would probably not be the same. Cade would probably be shown giving his son high-fives for having nabbed himself a cougar cub. I think the true hypothetical parallel would be if Cade was female (the mom).
posted by fuse theorem at 7:46 AM on July 13


Very brave to shit on a Transformers movie. They are very loud cotton candy with mass appeal. It's not a crime to turn off your brain for 2.5 hours every once in a while. :)


I have heard this enough times in my life that I have come to accept that there are many people who enjoy movies in this way. It's hard for me to get a grasp on, because thinking about a movie is basically why I go. How well was the plot constructed? What interesting choices did the director make? Any else notice that really interesting line reading? A somewhat bad movie I can enjoy watching by thinking about why exactly it is bad and what different choices would make it better. But most Michael Bay stuff loses me completely right away--the plot is just too incoherent to fix.

But for other people, I guess seeing something like Transformers is a good experience because the fast-paced action scenes are viscerally stimulating? A mini adrenaline rush or something? Is that it? Someone help me understand how this "I liked that movie and have had no thoughts regarding it" thing works.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:56 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Fuck this shit, where is Bad Boys 3?
posted by biffa at 7:56 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


A Transformers movie is the fantasy going through the mind of a ten year old boy who is playing with the toys. You know, the Hasbro toys upon which the movies are based.

I don't recall my eleven-year-old son ever having two of his robots/dinosaurs/Pokemon/action figures discuss whether he's old enough to fuck an eight-year-old. Maybe I'm raising him wrong.
posted by Etrigan at 7:57 AM on July 13 [73 favorites]


I found the shrill, verbally diarrhetic blog review exhausting to read.

And I love the extreme hypocrisy in its simultaneously complaining about the movie treating the girl like she's incompetent and yet constantly calling it "creepy" that it's about "sex with a minor" -- when a 17-year-old boy would hardly be considered some innocent in need of protection from "creepy" 20-year-olds.
posted by shivohum at 7:58 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I don't get this attitude. I like brainy summer movies, I love indie-fall Oscar bait, and I love stupid explodey movies like this

I can probably spend all day naming big, fun, explosion-full action movies that don't have the plentiful failings of the Transformers series. They are on the whole a waste of time, money, energy and talent. At least they're profitable enough to keep action blockbusters in vogue so we can get a genuinely fun film like Pacific Rim now and again.
posted by griphus at 7:58 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


The character of Tessa is now a 17 year old young man who's dating a 20 year old woman. Would the dialog be the same between the father and the 20 year old? Would the power play be the same? Would the stakes?

I now have a fantasy of being a studio executive with total control of movies. I'd let Bay shoot a Transformers movie completely unfettered with all of the blatant misogyny he'd care for, then I'd make him re-shoot all of the scenes, frame by frame with the exact dialogue and acting cues, with all of the roles gender-swapped.
posted by oddman at 7:59 AM on July 13 [24 favorites]


I think the complaint is not that the movie is "stupid explodey" but that it is actively insulting to its audience.

Ridiculous statement. Bay is known quantity as a filmmaker. Everyone knows exactly what they're getting when they choose to watch, so there's nothing insulting about it.

People enjoy looking down their nose at things they don't like and click bait web articles or posts know it. The two minute hate has transformed into the 100+ comment hate bond.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I don't get this attitude. I like brainy summer movies, I love indie-fall Oscar bait, and I love stupid explodey movies like this.

I have not seen #4, but: the Transformers movies are bad stupid explodey movies. I don't mean that they are even less oscarbaitey than your average SEM. I mean that they are bad at being SEMs. They're confusing messes with no sense of what's going on or where people are.

There are movies out there that excel at being SEMs. Predator. Die Hard. Pacific Rim. Dredd. Some might disagree, but Doom is good at being a SEM while being overall, well,pretty darn silly. The Transformers movies aren't even good at that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:07 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


'Shrill.'
posted by box at 8:11 AM on July 13 [44 favorites]


People enjoy looking down their nose at things they don't like and click bait web articles or posts know it.

That's it? Your thesis is that people think things they don't like are bad? Come on, you gotta try harder than that.
posted by Etrigan at 8:14 AM on July 13 [23 favorites]


Someone help me understand how this "I liked that movie and have had no thoughts regarding it" thing works.

Transformers isn't my thing (I am not, generally, an explodey movie person), but I do like fairly stupid romcoms. And all I want to do is just not think for a bit -- like rereading a novel, sort of, in that it's comforting. It will hit the beats I want it to hit, it will go where I expect it to go, it will be pleasant enough to watch, and it will engage my brain enough but not too much so I don't need to think for a few hours. This is a hard thing to reach. Now, there are better romcoms and worse ones, but overall I don't particularly care, even for the truly terrible ones. I don't know why. I can tell you that some movies are bad, if you made me think about it (they do tend to be unmemorable, so I am not very good at keeping track of which is which), but I go to these movies explicitly NOT to think. I'm not sure how this genre snuck in under my filter instead of some other genre, maybe it's just that romcoms always have women in them, but sometimes you want something that engages but not too much.

Now, I know not everyone wants this in a movie, and if they do there might be other considerations about what you can accept in order to have it work. But if you have something you do when you want to get out of yourself but do not want to engage deeply, this is what movies can be like for some people.

(Just to make it clear: I don't only watch romcoms, I do watch other genres in this way, and I do watch other movies that are more thoughtful, but in the end I go to movies for popcorn entertainment most of the time.)
posted by jeather at 8:16 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


People enjoy looking down their nose at things they don't like and click bait web articles or posts know it.

It's only 11:16 and we ran out of coffee in the house so.....
posted by triage_lazarus at 8:18 AM on July 13


Someone help me understand how this "I liked that movie and have had no thoughts regarding it" thing works.

It's like driving really fast on an open road or riding a rollercoaster: it's a thrilling experience and the particulars don't really matter, only the rush and fun. I mean, if you jump out of a plane, are you analyzing the wind currents or your manufacturer's choice of seam pattern on the parachute? Nope, (hopefully) one thinks 'WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I'M FLYING THROUGH THE AIR'.

So it's a childlike enjoyment in the sense that it is all experience and no reflection.

(Though if this movie were a rollercoaster, it would be a shitty woody that goes fast but is really predictable and actually physically hurts to ride. YMMV.)
posted by LooseFilter at 8:19 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I mentioned this in the FanFare discussion of this movie, so it will be a repeat for some, but: I have a friend who reviews movies for the local corporate alterna-weekly in Houston, and he reviewed the fourth Transformers movie. This is someone who regularly watches and reviews dumb action movies and finds enough enjoyment in some of them to give them positive reviews.

He left Transformers 4 after an hour forty-five because it was just that bad.

(He went with another friend of his who happens to also be my ex, and I can tell you that said friend is as tolerant of crap movies in a turn-off-your-brain way as anybody I've ever known based on my experience of movies with him. If they walked out before the end of the movie, it must have been terrible, and not in the fun-to-watch way.)
posted by immlass at 8:32 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


This quote from the pdf notes sums it up:

"Makes no sense. Such dick waving."
posted by lookoutbelow at 8:35 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


When I want to turn off my brain to watch a movie, I'm going to watch WolfCop.
posted by RobotHero at 8:40 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen this movie and doubt I ever will (I've seen none of the previous ones), so I don't really have any independent opinion about it: but I will just say that the idea that a 20 year old who is dating a 17 year old might have taken the trouble A) to understand the law pertaining to that relationship and B) anticipated the possibility of people giving him grief to the extent that he chose to get the relevant statutes printed on a laminated cared he carries about with him doesn't strike me as, in itself, wildly implausible or irredeemably "creepy." The idea that one might regard a relationship between a consenting 17 year old and a consenting 20 year old (arranging the genders however you wish) as pedophilia or as statutory rape strikes me as bizarre.

This is in no way to suggest that the film is not, in fact, "creepy" in the way it approaches the question of the girl's age/sexual appeal etc. Just that this particular thing doesn't, on the face of it, seem to be quite the clincher the reviewer suggests.
posted by yoink at 8:41 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen any of the Transformers movies, least of all this fourth entry, but my understanding is that the primary link's complaint with this aspect of the movie is twofold:Having no familiarity with the balance of the plot I can hardly suggest any one improvement that would fix the first problem, but the second could have been easily fixed if Shane had merely said something like:
"We met in High School. She was a sophomore, and I was a senior. And Tessa asked me out."
...which would be so much more affecting, so much less creepy, and so much more obvious than citing chapter and verse of the Texas penal code that one wonders what idiot script doctor(s) the studio employed that didn't think of that.
posted by The Confessor at 8:42 AM on July 13 [21 favorites]


I shouldn't pile on the metaphor, but if one actually did turn off one's brain, one would die. So one might wonder what, exactly, is being turned off; and I'm sure that question can be answered in a number of more or less insulting ways, which I leave as an exercise for the reader.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:43 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


'Shrill.'

Oh god, is that Dave Truesdale character for fucking real?
posted by kmz at 8:45 AM on July 13


Or, like, they could have just made the daughter 18 and/or the male character the same age...? Or they could have just ignored it and left their ages out entirely. There really isn't anything necessarily weird or creepy about a 20 year old dating a 17 year old. But Bay went really far out of the way to have an adult pull a laminated card out of his pocket to prove how totally normal it is for him to boink someone who is still in high school, and hence made it COMPLETELY DISTURBING especially in a movie that is supposed to be about robot what do a transform.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:53 AM on July 13 [63 favorites]


A Transformers movie is the fantasy going through the mind of a ten year old boy who is playing with the toys.

I guess that also explains why the female characters are so nonentities as well then. The movies' creators still think we have cooties.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


So, I read this on the front page, and thought that this was a funny alcohol-induced complete reinvention of the movie, certainly as to the laminated card and maybe even with non-metaphoric leg-pissing, like a Drunk History of Michael Bay or a Peter K. Rosenthal Onion review.

Was I the only one?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:55 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing: Good summer blockbuster movies.... No, let me rephrase that, summer blockbuster movies that I like, say Pacific Rim or Avengers, will nudge your brain awake even if you had turned it off. You'll catch a moment like the father/daughter dynamics between Mato Mori and Gen. Pentecost, or Bruce Banner's quiet admission of multiple attempts at suicide, and either smile or feel a twinge, something. You will, however, not be going "what in tarnation?!"

Bad Summer blockbuster movies that I do not enjoy also wake up the viewer's brain. The total why-is-this-even-happening underwear scene in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Apparently, the Romeo&Juliet Law scene in Transformers 4. ("Apparently", because I haven't seen it.) But the waking up is not a gentle nudge or a pleasurable note, it's a sudden vuvuzela blaring in your face, and your mind can't go back to blissful Enjoy-The-Pretty (or Explosions) mode because it's too busy raging.

But does a scene like that have to engage my critical faculties? So here's the thing: If I'm in a country using the Latin alphabet and my eyes fall on a word, I am going to read the word. To actively try not to do so is a very exhausting mental activity; try it if you don't believe me. I would actively have to try not to go "....but why" when "The Female Scientist" abruptly decided to take off her clothes without telling Kirk to get out of the damn shuttle first.

"Can't you just turn off your brain and enjoy?" No I can't, the movie doesn't let me.
posted by seyirci at 8:56 AM on July 13 [35 favorites]


The non-existence of cooties is still a controversial scientific theory, I'm going to need a massive consensus of experts worldwide before we start claiming that is a solved issue sorry
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:56 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Pontypool moment.
posted by maxsparber at 6:47 AM on July 13 [4 favorites +] [!]

Thought-terminating cliché
posted by murphy slaw at 8:58 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I wish they had gotten @boring_as_heck to write the dialogue.
posted by mcmile at 9:00 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


It's not a crime to turn off your brain for 2.5 hours every once in a while.

Some people are genuinely revolted by Michael Bay's misogyny and other people would have to turn their brain on to realize, "Oh, maybe I should find this revolting."
posted by straight at 9:04 AM on July 13 [13 favorites]


At some point someone will make a movie about Transformers that matches up with the original zeitgeist. That won't be until after Michael Bay is done defecating on them, but there is still hope.

It's a darker tone than the original cartoons, but I've always been interested in the potential of a full movie done in the style of the cinematics from High Moon Studio's "Cybertron" games: 1, 2, 3. (For the unfamiliar, the ones with red glowy bits are the Autobots, purple is the Decepticons). I particularly like the second two, which continue the "artsy song for action game trailer" tradition that Gears of War presumably started.

This is slightly off-topic, but despite its mercenary origins, I find it kind of fascinating that Transformers is a popular sci-fi franchise where the main characters are all not only alien, but artificial life forms, and there are plenty of offshoots of the fiction that don't contain a single human or even biological being. I honestly can't think of another fictional universe where that's the case. The currently-running More Than Meets the Eye comic series is a good example (it's pretty excellent, the only humans in sight are the holographic avatars the robots use to interface with some biologicals on a resort planet one issue, and it still has humor, tragedy, and a canon gay relationship that's well-handled)
posted by Wandering Idiot at 9:08 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Grimlock not speak in this movie!

A movie made for 10 year olds would spend zero time justifying gray-area statutory rape and non-zero time debating whether Grimlock is or should be king.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:12 AM on July 13 [54 favorites]


Shane launches into a lecture about the Romeo and Juliet law of Texas, and has the text of the law on a laminated card in his wallet.

excuse me i need to go shower forever
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:20 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


It's like driving really fast on an open road or riding a rollercoaster: it's a thrilling experience and the particulars don't really matter, only the rush and fun. I mean, if you jump out of a plane, are you analyzing the wind currents or your manufacturer's choice of seam pattern on the parachute? Nope, (hopefully) one thinks 'WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I'M FLYING THROUGH THE AIR'.

So it's a childlike enjoyment in the sense that it is all experience and no reflection.

(Though if this movie were a rollercoaster, it would be a shitty woody that goes fast but is really predictable and actually physically hurts to ride. YMMV.)


This analogy doesn't hold up for me. Jumping out of a plane is about as unmediated an experience as one can get; movies are experiences created entirely by another human who had some idea of what they wanted me to experience. And when we, as a society, take millions of ten-year-olds to go experience things, we should probably be a little more responsible and consider the cultural attitudes those things reinforce.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:22 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: a sudden vuvuzela blaring in your face
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:24 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I can't believe I just looked up the age of consent for Texas.

It's 17.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:26 AM on July 13


If anyone actually does want a surprisingly funny take on punching robot...ish things and also blasting them in the face with rockets and a female lead who is really good at her job, Edge of Tomorrow is silly and a little stupid and totally watchable. (As usual, I think it fails the Bechdel and the Mori tests, but, well.) It's really kind of incredible that in four movies Bay hasn't managed a single likeable female character, or, possibly, a single likeable character at all.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:28 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I think the true hypothetical parallel would be if Cade was female (the mom)
...in addition to switching the kid to a son and the 20-year old to a female.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:29 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I thought the first one was pretty great, it absolutely delivered what I was looking for in a stupid giant robots movie made by a notoriously ridiculous director. The series went sharply downhill from there in a wild freefall into a river of shit, and I say this as someone who really honestly does enjoy his stupid movies.

He peaked with Bad Boys II really.
posted by elizardbits at 9:32 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Someone help me understand how this "I liked that movie and have had no thoughts regarding it" thing works.

People don't go to movies to have thoughts, they go to have feelings. Bay is great at stimulating primal feelings about love, hate, death, life, deep friendship and patriotism. A certain segment of the American population absolutely loves that so they enjoy his movies.

I did see Transformers 1-3 because I tend to find his style in the movies to be extremely visually stimulating. But he keeps putting idiotic characters doing idiotic things that disrupte that visual flow, so I skipped #4. That and Pacific Rim did the giant robots beating the hell out of something so much better.

Bay hasn't managed a single likeable female character, or, possibly, a single likeable character at all.

The female character in the first Transformers film was somewhat interesting simply because she did something in the giant fight scene at the end.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:32 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Why... why not just make the character 18?
posted by Justinian at 9:32 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


Oh but the costuming in Pain & Gain absolutely deserves a special mention.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Because then they wouldn't get to reinforce the notion that it's TOTALLY OKAY to treat women as total objects because the law which I conveniently have kept on a laminated card and probably don't totally use it as a way to meet underage girls says it's okay.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:35 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


The female character in the first Transformers film was somewhat interesting simply because she did something in the giant fight scene at the end.

I love this defense. 'The sole female character three movies ago was somewhat interesting but not enough for me to remember her name!'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:35 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


Does anyone remember the names of any of the human characters? I couldn't tell you Shia LaBeouf's character's name if you had a gun to my head.

I must admit I find it amusing that Megan Fox is the high point of the female character arc on this series. But then I never have hated her as much as some folks do. I even rather liked Jennifer's Body.
posted by Justinian at 9:39 AM on July 13


I couldn't tell you Shia LaBeouf's character's name if you had a gun to my head.

I'm just sort of assuming he's playing the same douchey character from Nymphomaniac because it makes me feel better.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:40 AM on July 13


Uh her name was Mikaela and Shia's name was Chinless Pastyface as it is in every film.
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 AM on July 13 [23 favorites]


pistols at dawn, elizardbits
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:41 AM on July 13


What's significant about the Rotten Tomatoes rating is not that it got a 17% from critics, or 5% from critics who actually get paid as opposed to relatively persistent guy-with-blog, but that it got 57% from the audience. That sounds like a huge difference and a relatively unhilarious rating from the latter, but just remember that an "audience" consists of people who actually went to see a Transformers movie.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:41 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


...but just remember that an "audience" consists of people who actually went to see a Transformers movie.

Shhh, you're spoiling the moment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 AM on July 13


a movie that is supposed to be about robot what do a transform.

This made me laugh really hard
posted by Librarypt at 9:47 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


20 is a minor? What? Seriously? I thought it crazy enough that the age of consent was as high as 18 in many states, but 20? Good Lord. That's ridiculous.

This comment is insanely creepy b.t.dubs.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:53 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


yoink: but I will just say that the idea that a 20 year old who is dating a 17 year old might have taken the trouble A) to understand the law pertaining to that relationship and B) anticipated the possibility of people giving him grief to the extent that he chose to get the relevant statutes printed on a laminated cared he carries about with him doesn't strike me as, in itself, wildly implausible or irredeemably "creepy."

Because in real life, it would be incredibly creepy, because normal, healthy people *talk* to the people they might have sex with and treat them as intelligent people with input into the relationship. They don't pull out *laminated cards* to explain how they are entitled to have sex with them.
posted by tavella at 9:54 AM on July 13 [13 favorites]


pistols at dawn

sry i forgot to use his official royal title as the archduke uggo of uggtopia
posted by elizardbits at 9:55 AM on July 13 [20 favorites]


It could have been canon and way creepier, not that anyone should do that.

Kiss Players ugh.
posted by poe at 9:56 AM on July 13


tavella, the card isn't to show girls he wants to have sex with, it is apparently to show other adults who might have a problem with him having sex with minors. So, you know, so much less creepy. Or something.
posted by Justinian at 9:57 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


But from my reading (I have not and will not see more Michael Bay shit ever in my life), he did indeed pull out the card to explain to the father that we was entitled to have sex with her.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:00 AM on July 13


A Transformers movie is the fantasy going through the mind of a ten year old boy who is playing with the toys.

No. The Transformers series is a fantasy going through the minds of 20-30 year old boys who fondly remember being 10 and playing with Transformers as the good old days. Only now with the sex...

As for turning your brain off for 2.5 hours (!!!), sure no problem. But then you have to turn your brain into overdrive and work twice as hard to root this kind of conditioning out. Unless you're ok with letting this stay in your brain and take root there?

Ick, I just got the total shudders.
posted by susiswimmer at 10:07 AM on July 13 [12 favorites]


But from my reading (I have not and will not see more Michael Bay shit ever in my life), he did indeed pull out the card to explain to the father that we was entitled to have sex with her.

According to this article, he pulled out the card after the Dad freaked out over the age difference to illustrate that their relationship was completely legal (and consensual).

It sounds like a weird moment in the movie, but it doesn't come off as creepy as this post insinuates.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:09 AM on July 13


It's hard for me to get a grasp on, because thinking about a movie is basically why I go. How well was the plot constructed? What interesting choices did the director make? Any else notice that really interesting line reading? A somewhat bad movie I can enjoy watching by thinking about why exactly it is bad and what different choices would make it better.
...Someone help me understand how this "I liked that movie and have had no thoughts regarding it" thing works.


This is self-defeating to me - it sounds like you're appreciating movies on a purely technical basis, much as if movie-craft is your professional craft and you've become too jaded to remember why movies entranced you in the first place. When you watch, you seek to learn better craft for yourself and figure out solutions to problems that would improve on what the filmmakers made, things like that, but this movie-craft lacks purpose beyond rhetorical busywork because you're not aware of the audience.

You don't know how to construct the plot better if the audience you understand is people focused on how to construct the plot better, instead, what you end up doing is either falling into a death spiral of elaborate technical wankery accessible only to an increasingly-niche audience, or how to min/max a formula without understanding what the formula does.
Most movies don't exist to prompt other directors and armchair-directors to think about technique, that's an undercurrent. Movies exist as a way to tell a story. They intended for the audience to be focused on the story, not the telling.

If you're at a bar and someone is telling you an anecdote or a joke, you understand that your attention shouldn't be on how they could have constructed the joke better, it should be laughing at the unexpected and enjoying the story, then the conversation moves on to the next thing. If you are out camping and someone is telling a ghost story over the campfire, about a killer in these parts who finds people from the light of their campfires, you should have enough suspensiondoubt of disbelief that when a twig snaps in the blackness of the forest behind you, a part of you worries someone is out there.

I'm in the story-telling biz, which makes it very easy for me to fall into this trap. It's something I have to guard against, which is why I've phrased all this kind of harshly. (I see it as a trap. Like how becoming a connoisseur of... a sandwich... means that I can isolate and appreciate the qualities of the different ingredients, which is nice but it actually means I don't actually enjoy my sandwiches as much any more because I now notice when even one thing is less than perfect. The standards the sandwich has to meet to overwhelm me with deliciousness have become impossibly high when it used to happen easily, like a junkie becoming immuned to their drug).
Don't worry, I also believe that there's no "wrong" way to appreciate art. You should focus on what interests you, and find your enjoyment exactly where you find it. My point was that movies aren't usually made to be about the technical, they're usually meant to be primal. Magical. Transporting. About people and experiences, not plots and line readings.
posted by anonymisc at 10:09 AM on July 13


Maybe he has a laminated card for every law he is following. Like there's cut footage of him whipping out laminated cards to prove that minimum charges to use a credit card are illegal, that dogs count as passengers for using the HOV lane, that cigarette butts don't count as littering, etc.
posted by griphus at 10:10 AM on July 13 [57 favorites]


Regardless of the intended end result of the whole laminated-card-about-the-R&J-law scene, we are still presented with two male characters debating the love life of a female character without her input -- a debate that one of them prepared for to the point that he has visual aids -- and the entire debate is because the writers/producers/directors really really wanted it to be in there.

So put aside its precise level of creepiness either in the movie's universe or our own. There was a lot of effort put into this scene being in the movie, which is pretty telling.
posted by Etrigan at 10:11 AM on July 13 [16 favorites]


> "But Bay went really far out of the way ..."

Yeah, this. I actually support Romeo and Juliet laws and think statutory rape laws that don't include them ruin the lives of people who aren't doing anything wrong. That doesn't mean I expect to find it being a major incident in a Transformers movie. To get it in, Bay had to make all kinds of deliberate choices about the mutual ages of the characters etc.

I mean, I'm a huge supporter of freedom of expression as well, but had Raleigh Becket been given a scene in Pacific Rim in which he explains that his collection of underage hentai porn was completely legal and that no actual people were being exploited, it was all just imaginary images, I probably would have been ... surprised.

Now, it's possible that a scene could be in such a movie because the director wanted to take a moment to make a valiant, socially conscious point about the sometimes fraught intersection between sexual mores and the law. But given the nature of the scene in Transformers, I am doubtful that Bay was really trying to make such a point. I suspect his point, in the context of the movie, was that while the Dad thinks that he owns his daughter's sexuality, that is wrong ... because it is really properly owned by her boyfriend. Which, ugh.
posted by kyrademon at 10:13 AM on July 13 [28 favorites]


> It sounds like a weird moment in the movie, but it doesn't come off as creepy as this post insinuates.

Yes it does because it means that character was prepared to be called out for macking on underage girls.

This character hypothetically thought, "Wow, I might get in trouble doing sexy things with an underage woman. I should be prepared... WITH A LEGAL DEFENSE!" and went online to look up (presumably on some web site where people archive information about such things) the legality of it, chapter-and-verse, printed it out, and paid somebody at Kinko's to laminate it. Instead of packing a condom, like most young guys who think with their glands but still have the presence of mind to have one realistic thought in their head.

How is that more believable than giant robots smashing things?
posted by ardgedee at 10:17 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


What's significant about the Rotten Tomatoes rating is not that it got a 17% from critics, or 5% from critics who actually get paid as opposed to relatively persistent guy-with-blog, but that it got 57% from the audience. That sounds like a huge difference and a relatively unhilarious rating from the latter, but just remember that an "audience" consists of people who actually went to see a Transformers movie.

Isn't that getting close to the split between the percentages of profit from US audiences (shrinking) and the rest of the world (growing, especially China) for this kind of action movie? The studios aren't being stupid when they make these movies as dumb and depoliticized as possible, including lots of explosions and some creepiness but no graphic getting it on or anything else the censors might not like (or too much hard-to-dub dialog).
posted by Dip Flash at 10:21 AM on July 13


...we are still presented with two male characters debating the love life of a female character without her input

Not having seen the film, that's not what I'm getting at all from the various descriptions. Sounds like dad was an overprotective jerk and freaked out over the age difference. The couple themselves, including the young woman, are fine with the age difference, but the guy is keenly aware of how some view it and got or made the card to show he's not committing the crime someone might think he is.

Which, judging by the overprotective jerk of a Dad, was a smart move.

Yes it does because it means that character was prepared to be called out for macking on underage girls.

Nope, the couple had been dating since he was senior and she was sophomore, so he was prepared to be called out for dating this one particular girl, not the plural. Why? Because society is oppressive and close-minded and this particular girl's dad was even more so.

Isn't that getting close to the split between the percentages of profit from US audiences (shrinking) and the rest of the world (growing, especially China) for this kind of action movie?

Pretty much. Evidently the last part of the movie takes place in Hong Kong and features a popular China actress, so the movie is clearly catering and succeeding at doing so.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:25 AM on July 13


Very brave to shit on a Transformers movie.

Someone remind me, what is the comment-board converse of saying "shit on" to mean "pan a thing I like"; i.e. "praise a thing I don't like"? I'm thinking it's "fellate", but there might be another I've forgotten.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:25 AM on July 13


Yes it does because it means that character was prepared to be called out for macking on underage girls.

Haven't seen the movie, but when you're actually in a relationship that some parts of society are kneejerk hostile to, and/or ignorant about, you're very aware of that. Many people absolutely do have comebacks prepared, and unused staircase-wit from the last time.

Depending on whether the scene is sympathetic or hostile, I would read that scene either as "people have already attacked him about his girlfriend" or "tip: this guy is really the baddie".
posted by anonymisc at 10:29 AM on July 13


Nope, the couple had been dating since he was senior and she was sophomore, so he was prepared to be called out for dating this one particular girl, not the plural. Why? Because society is oppressive and close-minded and this particular girl's dad was even more so.

Your reading of it is the same as mine, as far as that goes. If I, at 20, were dating a 17-year-old, and were catching flak for it, I might have had such a card made myself. But we're talking about a movie, not real life, so it prompts the question: why did the writer/director feel it was necessary for the girl to be 17? Why does this plot point even exist?
posted by rifflesby at 10:34 AM on July 13 [16 favorites]


he pulled out the card after the Dad freaked out over the age difference to illustrate that their relationship was completely legal (and consensual).

It sounds like a weird moment in the movie, but it doesn't come off as creepy as this post insinuates.


His carrying of that card is exactly what's creepy.

why did the writer/director feel it was necessary for the girl to be 17? Why does this plot point even exist?

To point out, as kyrademon says, that even though Dad thinks he gets to dictate his daughter's sexual agency, it's actually her boyfriend that does. (Gag, retch, puke.) It's regressive social commentary that plays incredibly well, one would imagine, amongst people who are conservative/regressive/fucking stupid about gender roles and agency.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:36 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


That's basically the only answer I can come up with too. What must it be like in Michael Bay's head.
posted by rifflesby at 10:37 AM on July 13


Note that it's not the daughter who defends her actions to her father. It is a conversation between two men about the sex life of a woman who is absent in the scene. It is not a conversation in which a woman has agency. Her boyfriend is expected to speak for her, and to her father, to justify their relationship to him.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on July 13 [22 favorites]


it prompts the question: why did the writer/director feel it was necessary for the girl to be 17? Why does this plot point even exist?

Are you unable to imagine any reasons, or assuming?
I'm guessing that the writers need a conflict between Cade and Shane, but this would put the audience too much against Cade unless he had a criticism of Shane that is understandable, yet can also be defended - not enough to make us fully commit to his side. That sorta means finding something that we're a little conflicted about ourselves. And from this thread, this is definitely that. But like I said, haven't seen it. No idea. Just throwing out possibilities.
posted by anonymisc at 10:44 AM on July 13


But we're talking about a movie, not real life, so it prompts the question: why did the writer/director feel it was necessary for the girl to be 17? Why does this plot point even exist?

I'm guessing it's Bays way of illustrating that the father is an overprotective jerk who over the course of the film realizes his daughter is fully capable of running her life and becomes less overprotective. But I haven't seen the film.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:46 AM on July 13


Yeah, if the *daughter* had pulled out the card while her dad was freaking out at her, that would have been funny and nicely overturned patriarchal norms at the same time. But well, Michael Bay.
posted by tavella at 10:48 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


While it does sound like this scene is creepy and patriarchal I don't think one can say in general that trying to prevent adult creepos from having sex with your minor children is patriarchal.
posted by Justinian at 10:51 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


What makes me the maddest about the Transformers movies is the way they just totally piss all over art in general. Every shot is just so poorly composed I can only assume it is being done on purpose. I seriously have no idea of what I am supposed to be looking at most of the time. I saw the first two or three movies (I honestly couldn't tell you which, they are that indistinguishable) and I call them all the same thing: Debris: the motion picture.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:52 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I'm still trying to get my head around WTF this laminated card actually is. Is it something he made himself -- and I'm trying to imagine how a scene of him actually spending an afternoon manufacturing this thing would come across in this or any other movie -- in which case, how is it stronger than simply saying that the law exists? Or does the State of Texas actually provide "licence to fuck" cards as a legal documents to produce on these occasions?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:54 AM on July 13


I'm guessing it's Bays way of illustrating that the father is an overprotective jerk who over the course of the film realizes his daughter is fully capable of running her life and becomes less overprotective. But I haven't seen the film.

(I also haven't seen the film.) I expect you're right. But dang, Michael Bay. Movie dads have hated movie boyfriends as long as movies have existed. Give the boyfriend a leather jacket, dad says "Keep away from my daughter, punk, you're a bad influence!" and everyone knows what page we're on.

To make it explicitly about them fucking is crazy.
posted by rifflesby at 10:54 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


I saw the first two or three movies (I honestly couldn't tell you which, they are that indistinguishable) and I call them all the same thing: Debris: the motion picture.

Yeah, but don't worry - I bet the movies will get better when they reboot.

HA! That hadn't even occurred to you yet, had it! You're going to spend the rest of your life with the Transformers story endlessly rebooting in theaters, like the batman story - over and over and over.
Did you know that the big Micheal Keaton / Jack Nicklolson BATMAN movie came out a quarter of a century ago? Kids who watched it in their teens are grandparents now, and the batman movie is STILL being released again and again and again...
Welcome to your future. Please take a seat. :)
posted by anonymisc at 11:03 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


> "I'm guessing it's Bays way of illustrating that the father is an overprotective jerk who over the course of the film realizes his daughter is fully capable of running her life and becomes less overprotective."

I actually completely agree that this was almost certainly the intent. I even think it's a reasonable plot point if that's a character arc in the film. Here's why it still doesn't work for me at all:

She's not part of the discussion.

Why isn't she the one handing her dad the damn laminated card? Shouldn't she be the one to know her dad well enough to know he's going to threaten jail? If it's about her father learning his daughter is an independent woman and he needs to let go, why isn't she proving that rather than letting her boyfriend do it?

She could have handed him the card. Or she could have told her dad she's not speaking to him ever again if he tries to send her damn boyfriend to jail. Or she could have done anything to prove she has the agency the movie pretends it wants to give her.

Instead, she runs around and screams a lot while her boyfriend handles the whole pesky "independence from dad" plot. Which is why it reads like they're arguing over who has legal ownership of her privates, whatever the intent was.
posted by kyrademon at 11:08 AM on July 13 [20 favorites]


It is possible for a dumb summer movie that defies the laws of physics to also have people of color in main roles and women taking action and doing interesting things. See: Fast and Furious 6 - which succeeds in being dumb, loud, full of laws-of-physics-ignoring action, and also passes the Bechdel test.

I'm a big fan of dumb summer movies, but Transformers 4 doesn't clear the incredibly low bar I've set for them. Give me Edge of Tomorrow any day. Or a Fast and Furious movie. Or the next Pacific Rim. Or Godzilla - and I hated the heck out of that movie.
posted by rednikki at 11:13 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


the first movie was a brilliant portrayal about how America's white suburban culture is toxic and produces broken, loathsome people i.e. le Beef and fam. Even von Trier couldn't have done better.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:24 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


why isn't she proving that rather than letting her boyfriend do it?

My expectation is that she is also shown arguing with her dad at some point - I would be surprised if there is not a scene where she disagrees with her father about her boyfriend. But if she were the only one shown standing up to her dad, that would lead to its own sets of problems. If she does not in fact argue with her dad, then yeah, that's crap.
posted by anonymisc at 11:25 AM on July 13


I actually completely agree that this was almost certainly the intent. I even think it's a reasonable plot point if that's a character arc in the film. Here's why it still doesn't work for me at all:
She's not part of the discussion.


According a friend, one can find cam recordings of the movie online and see that particular scene. This friend says the daughter is indeed part of the scene. Yeah, the dad addresses the guy first in the typical "I'm gonna punch you and then call the cops" stereotype, but he also addresses her. She evidently calls him out for being overprotective and bullshit on his "i'm just looking out for you" schtick by pointing out he brought home a Transformer, which got her friend killed. Then she walks out of the room, 'cause fuck you dad.

Not a great scene based on this friend's description. Yeah, dad's view and stance is patriarchal, but it's pointed out that he's being a parochial ass, no one takes him seriously for being that ass or gives him an ounce of power for being that sort of ass.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:27 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the dad addresses the guy first in the typical "I'm gonna punch you and then call the cops" stereotype, but he also addresses her. She evidently calls him out for being overprotective and bullshit on his "i'm just looking out for you" schtick by pointing out he brought home a Transformer, which got her friend killed. Then she walks out of the room, 'cause fuck you dad.

At which point the boyfriend says, "This is a conversation that you and your daughter are going to have to have, because it's her body and her agency, and it is important to me that she make the right choice on her own terms rather than because you and I have decided which of us has control of her sexuality."

Oh, no, wait. He actually whips out his laminated Get Into Teen Vagina Free Card.
posted by Etrigan at 11:30 AM on July 13 [30 favorites]


While it does sound like this scene is creepy and patriarchal I don't think one can say in general that trying to prevent adult creepos from having sex with your minor children is patriarchal.

When the daughter is explicitly pointed out as being the more responsible person in the family, then it is patriarchal for dad to suddenly be the Stern Caring Parent when it comes to who the daughter sleeps with.
posted by Etrigan at 11:32 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


vanar sena, your comment describes exactly why I've found the Transformers movies basically unwatchable. Even putting aside the general stupidity and sexism, the action in the robot fights is just too hard to follow.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:41 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Which is why I said that this scene is indeed patriarchal and creepy?
posted by Justinian at 11:47 AM on July 13


I thought the Editing Room's take on this was pretty great:

NICOLA PELTZ
Look, dad, you may score a lot of points right off the bat simply by not being Shia LaBeouf, but your go-nowhere salvage-slash-repair-slash-robotics company keeps dragging us deeper and deeper into debt! In a lot of ways it’s like I’m looking after you!
(pause)
That’s empowering enough, right? Me just saying I’m the mature one around here? I don’t have to actually do anything in this movie, do I?
posted by heisenberg at 11:51 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


When I picked my 12-year old son up from the movie, he just shook his head sadly and said "No."

We watched "Pacific Rim" the next day to cheer him up.
posted by bibliowench at 11:52 AM on July 13 [26 favorites]


Edge of Tomorrow is silly and a little stupid and totally watchable.

Do read the original novel, All you Need is Kill as well: barely 200 pages, more coherent than the movie.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:03 PM on July 13


Did you know that the big Micheal Keaton / Jack Nicklolson BATMAN movie came out a quarter of a century ago? Kids who watched it in their teens are grandparents now

At 44?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:09 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I find it amusing that it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone else that since researching the law and laminating a card involve neither driving nor building unworkable robots, maybe the person who made the card was Tessa, having made her own decision about having a relationship but knowing how Dad would probably react.
posted by localroger at 12:21 PM on July 13


At 44?

Well, if you can bump uglies at 17 you technically can be a grandparent at 34.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:22 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


maybe the person who made the card was Tessa, having made her own decision about having a relationship but knowing how Dad would probably react.

He was carrying a white card with black letters inside a brown wallet. The subtext is pretty clear.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:24 PM on July 13


I find it amusing that it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone else that since researching the law and laminating a card involve neither driving nor building unworkable robots, maybe the person who made the card was Tessa, having made her own decision about having a relationship but knowing how Dad would probably react.

Or maybe Tessa is only 17 in Earth years but she's actually 374 in Terpischore Beta years and so it's all a hullabaloo over nothing! The mighty Terpischoreans laugh at your puny human moralities!
posted by kmz at 12:30 PM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Very brave to shit on a Transformers movie.

The one shitting all over Transformers is Bay (and his writers, presumably). Doesn't Spielberg exec produce these things? Doesn't he, or anyone, ever go "Gee, Mike, you know that these are movies based on an 80s cartoon about fighting robots, that was aimed at grade-schoolers? I'm not sure if you really need the statutory rape discussion, or the mom asking if his son is masturbating in his room, or the obvious racist caricatures?"

Even if all you cynically cared about was global box office, wouldn't just the fighting robots part be sufficient? And maybe on a secondary level, you could have characters with personalities, and some real humor? But the fact that these movies are so terrible isn't half as bothersome as the fact that people still pay to see them over and over.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:32 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Maybe the dad made the card but he has retrograde amnesia so it was actually a gentle reminder that he is surrounded by people who love him!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:32 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


he pulled out the card after the Dad freaked out over the age difference to illustrate that their relationship was completely legal (and consensual).

IIRC, the dad freaked out when the daughter revealed how long she and guy had been seeing each other (and presumably having sex), not the three-year age difference. In a few months she'd be off to college and could have plenty of guys older than age 20 coming at her so this one guy's current age was moot.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:35 PM on July 13


Aaaand people in this thread have already put more thought into this film than Michael Bay did in the entire process.
posted by Justinian at 12:41 PM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Aaaand people in this thread have already put more thought into this film than Michael Bay did in the entire process.

From IMDB: Michael Bay wasn't originally going to direct a fourth movie but had an experience that changed his mind. After Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), Bay finally got to visit the Transformers ride at Universal Studios. Upon seeing fans waiting three blocks for the attraction, he realized he wasn't ready to give up the franchise just yet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:46 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


This review has amazing little throwaway nuggets. "we are a culture in only the most bacterial sense of the term..." "ugly ravenous kaiju baby of a music video" "like a trash compacter fucking a junked car in the tailpipe..." No wonder Roger Ebert had no desire to keep on living. An era of fanboy, comic book, action figure flicks deserves all the withering contempt it can get.
posted by jonp72 at 12:56 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


> "But if she were the only one shown standing up to her dad, that would lead to its own sets of problems."

Serious question -- why would it do so, and what would they be, for this particular issue?
posted by kyrademon at 1:01 PM on July 13


From the io9 "FAQ":
What is Transformers: Age of Extinction about?

Nothing. It's about nothing.

But it's three hours long. How can it be about nothing?

Because Michael Bay has somehow perfected his technique of turning a major summer action movie blockbuster into a high school graduation.
That's beautiful. When I got my Nexus 7, it came with the third Transformers movie as a freebie--apparently as a "free fix" to get me to buy movies through Google Play to watch on the little tablet--and not only have I never bought any move or TV show through GP, I've never watched the Transformers movie, but occasionally I've wondered if I might not enjoy the dumbth of it all if I was really bored enough to give it a try. I'm guessing, now, probably not.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:24 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I'm not defending Michael Bay nor the utterly insane card plot point, but I'd like to remind people how bad the original Transformers cartoons were.

Because they were pretty awful themselves, well above and beyond the hundreds or thousands of fractured plot points, loose ends and non-internally consistent plot holes and even the first animated Transformers Movie with that awful power ballad.

Please allow me to present the Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya. A plot point so bad and so racist that it caused Casey Kasem to quit working with the original American TV show.

So, yeah. The teen virgin hunting license is gross, but keep in mind that there's no rosy golden age of the Transformers universe, either. I've made the mistake of going back and trying to watch some of the cartoons (along with vaguely related stuff from the same era like GI Joe and even Robotech) and it's all pretty problematic in ways I wouldn't have realized or even understood as a kid.

And tangentially for the record, I remember playing with, well, not Transformers but Robotech toys as a kid with my friends, and, well, from maybe age 10 onward and we ended up talking about sex a lot. A whole lot. Granted, Robotech was a goddamn Wagnerian soap opera fraught with sexual tension, what with the stereotypically tough-but-vulnerable Lisa Hayes and the stereotypically vulnerable-but-tough Lynn Minmei.

In retrospect I now understand why my mom hated those cartoons and how into them my brother and I were. She actually called out Robotech as a soap opera when I was in my young teens and I vehemently denied it.
posted by loquacious at 1:25 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


From IMDB: Michael Bay wasn't originally going to direct a fourth movie but had an experience that changed his mind. After Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), Bay finally got to visit the Transformers ride at Universal Studios. Upon seeing fans waiting three blocks for the attraction, he realized he wasn't ready to give up the franchise just yet.--Brandon Blatcher

The current movie is now at $750 million world wide, so I'm guessing he (and the studios) had other motivations.

Like elizardbits, I actually liked the first movie. I heard scientists are working on a way to erase memories. I would pay good money to have that second movie obliterated from my brain. Feel free to wipe out anything nearby that might have been contaminated. Yet it grossed over $1 billion. Maybe people went to it based on the strength of the first movie, as I did.

But that doesn't explain the next two. I think we need public shaming. "You went to that movie?"
posted by eye of newt at 1:37 PM on July 13


Upon seeing fans waiting three blocks for the attraction, he realized he wasn't ready to give up the franchise just yet.

Damn you, Universal Studios.

The frustrating thing is, in this blockbuster movie era, how many directors actually stick around for two sequels, let alone three? I can only imagine how well this franchise would do at the hands of a capable creative team, where people didn't keep saying "I know it'll suck but I'm getting tickets anyway lol!" If there was anything that needed an instant reboot, this is it.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:54 PM on July 13


The character of Tessa is now a 17 year old young man who's dating a 20 year old woman. Would the dialog be the same between the father and the 20 year old? Would the power play be the same? Would the stakes?

Well hi there! Perhaps one reason this scene doesn't bother me so much is that in Real Life I was the gender-swapped Tessa. I was 19, my girlfriend 25, and my control freak parents weren't building unworkable robots but they were having other problems which they worked out by treating me like their personal little remote controlled son.

Now since I was 19 there was no need for a laminated card (and a good thing because R&J laws generally didn't exist in the mid 80's) but my parents were working full time to make it look like I was 19 going on 12 so they could justify their control freakishness. The explosion that occurred when they learned about Y made the collision between proto-Earth and Theia look like an accident at a fireworks show.

So yes, Dad's take on this is about ownership, most def. But I have trouble seeing the whole laminated card thing as anything but a cooperative effort between Tessa and Shane, most likely initiated by Tessa because she knows where the real problem is going to erupt. And I can tell you from personal experience that it would go down very similarly with the genders reversed.

I think you really have to be looking for outrage to see the card as anything but Tessa's effort. With great consistency every character in every Transformers movie who isn't either female or evil is a 10 year old boy in an adult body, and they have exactly one skill which is what will be needed to survive the narrative. If a card needed to be laminated it is kind of ridiculous to think anybody but Tessa did the laminating, because Shane drives cars and Cade builds robots and neither of those things involves legal reserach or laminating cards. Meanwhile, Tessa is demonstrated to have actual multiple skills needed by both of her men.

Suppose it isn't about which man owns Tessa, but which man Tessa is going to own? It's made clear that she has already made the decision to defy her father by having another relationship. I got no sense at all that Shane was trying to abduct her and take her away to his own cave. After all, that wouldn't involve driving cars either.

But Tessa does recognize that she is going to have to defy her father eventually and deal with the fallout if she ever wants to have a life. I've been there. I've tried to keep the relationship hidden. I've known that it wouldn't work forever. And if I thought my parents might have had reason to call the cops when it all went south I'd have probably made up a laminated card for my wife to keep with her too. Not as a license for her to bang guys six years younger than her, but as permission in my specific case. Because I can tell you firsthand that possessive parents can be unbelievably destructive when they get the idea that you are disrespecting their authoritah.
posted by localroger at 1:55 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I'm not defending Michael Bay nor the utterly insane card plot point, but I'd like to remind people how bad the original Transformers cartoons were.


This. The cartoons sucked. The movies suck. Consistent, is nothing else.
posted by signal at 2:03 PM on July 13


I Watched Transformers: Age of Extinction So You Don’t Have To: The Official Mary Sue Review (With Gifs!)
posted by Pendragon at 2:09 PM on July 13


The Transformers: Animated series of 2007-2009 was pretty good, though. And funny. And at times, a little angsty! And not sexist! And poked fun at the original T1 series. A lot like the 90s Batman animated series, actually.

I didn't like the darker one that came after it nearly as much. And the movies remove everything appealing about the Transformers and make them look like faceless piles of scrap metal.

The potential for a good story is there. But it keeps being crapped on.
posted by emjaybee at 2:12 PM on July 13


MartinWisse: "Did you know that the big Micheal Keaton / Jack Nicklolson BATMAN movie came out a quarter of a century ago? Kids who watched it in their teens are grandparents now

At 44?
"

Average age of a first-time grandparent is 47
posted by octothorpe at 2:13 PM on July 13


The reason that crap summer blockbusters make money is that the movie theater is air conditioned. It's almost better that they require very little from the audience.

Sexism is more noticeable in a very bad film since there's nothing else to look at. I'm pretty sure Michale Bay is shooting for no-thought entertainment but hitting the uncanny valley of "poorly written and shot such that we can no longer stop thinking about it."
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:14 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


> "Tessa did the laminating, because Shane drives cars and Cade builds robots and neither of those things involves legal reserach or laminating cards."

localroger, I hope you understand I am not trying to deny your lived experience when I say that if the movie had wanted to indicate in any way that Tessa had a hand in making the card, it would have been really super easy for the movie to do exactly that. Even in a Michael Bay movie, if the only way to see it is to logically deduce by process of elimination that only one character could have had enough brain cells left over to understand the concept of lamination, I think it is not really there.

> "Suppose it isn't about which man owns Tessa, but which man Tessa is going to own?"

That would be great. But things like Shane saying “I’m not here to help rescue your daughter; You’re here to help rescue my girlfriend”, or Cade telling Shane that he has to be the one to protect Tessa from now on when Cade thinks he is about to die, make me dubious that this was the actual direction the film took.
posted by kyrademon at 2:28 PM on July 13 [12 favorites]


Yeah kyrademon, it could have been handled a lot better. But it could also have been handled even worse. I think it just landed where it did because nobody was thinking about that part of it really hard what with all the giant robot animations that needed to be vetted.
posted by localroger at 2:34 PM on July 13


Average age of a first-time grandparent is 47

And that's probably some kind of historic high, as it involves you and your child each having a child at the age of 23.
posted by localroger at 2:39 PM on July 13


There are movies out there that excel at being SEMs. Predator. Die Hard. Pacific Rim. Dredd. Some might disagree, but Doom is good at being a SEM while being overall, well,pretty darn silly. The Transformers movies aren't even good at that.

I would argue, and i realize this is contentious, that Dredd is the best SEM of the past 10 years.

Pacific rim proved you can do a decent SEM with robots. It wasn't on the level of say, Dredd and the fifth element, but it was a solid SEM.

The fact that crank exists, and is brilliant, proves that you can make an incredibly stupid movie that is essentially a cartoon and still have it be good. That movie will cause your brain to turn itself off, and it manages to do it without really ever being offensive or proselytizing for some bizarre ass beliefs about women or anything. You'll find yourself laughing at the stupidest things watching that movie, and your thoughts will essentially be reduced to toddler-like "HEHEH, ZAP!"... and it's perfect. It's like the movie equivalent of drunken, thrashy punk rock in a sweaty, smoky basement.

I'd argue though, that transformers problem is not just that it's bad at being an SEM. It's bad at being dumb. There's good movies that aren't even just SEMs, but are also dumb out there. I mean everybody on here fucking loves starship troopers right?(and i realize this is probably going to start a fight on whether or not that movie is objectively Dumb, but i think it is in the same way Crank is). The 80s were full of these, and there's been a smattering of them throughout the 90s and 00s.

So in a one two punch of sorts, i think it fails at being a SEM, and fails at being a dumb, silly, SEM. Some SEMs take themselves seriously and succeed, like Dredd. Some really blatantly don't, and succeed at that, like crank. Transformers fails to pass either bar, and also tries to consistently sell and showcase Bays really bizarre regressive bro-y views on women.
posted by emptythought at 2:42 PM on July 13 [13 favorites]


In Age of Extinction, the plot is a losing Cards Against Humanity hand and the people are stick figures
posted by nubs at 2:46 PM on July 13


If the worst thing you could say about Bay's movies is that the plots weren't internally consistent, I'd happily pay the price of ticket, maybe even a blu-ray, to make that exchange.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:49 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: It's bad at being dumb.
posted by localroger at 3:23 PM on July 13


Robotech was a goddamn Wagnerian soap opera fraught with sexual tension, what with the stereotypically tough-but-vulnerable Lisa Hayes and the stereotypically vulnerable-but-tough Lynn Minmei.

Not to mention Yellow Dancer once it moves past Macross stuff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:05 PM on July 13


Last Transformers movie I saw (Ruse of the Fallen? cannot recall), I distinctly remember coming away with a feeling of accomplishment, as I had mentally shopped for and planned that evening's dinner during the course of the fight sequences.

So, who won?
posted by datawrangler at 4:22 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Who the fuck even prints out a card and then laminates it? Wouldn't either of them just look it up on their phones, like normal young people? Do young people even have printers, or know what laminating is?


Also, if you turn your brain off for 2.5 hours, don't you, like, stop breathing or something?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:30 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Last Transformers movie I saw (Ruse of the Fallen? cannot recall)

I think you'll find it was Redemption of the Moon.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:33 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Who the fuck even prints out a card and then laminates it?

Someone who wants to make sure it can be read no matter how long the phone has been in use, or after it's been slapped out of your hand by a Very Pissed Off Parent.

And yes, technology hasn't advanced so much that even young people don't know paper things can be wrapped in plastic to protect them.
posted by localroger at 4:38 PM on July 13


Bay's attitude to both women and Transformers is perfectly encapsulated in the second movie, with the character(s) of Arcee. In the cartoon, Arcee was a future-car, and though my recollection of the movie (where she was first introduced as the first female transformer) is fuzzy, I believe she did okay, and slugged it out just as good as the boys. She became a big part of the mythology post-movie, and I believe laid ground for a whole heap of other female transformers to be introduced. I actually had her toy as a kid, and wasn't ashamed of it or nuthin'.

Arcee gets reintroduced in the second Bay move as a trio of motorbikes with hot holo-girls riding them. She is utterly useless at taking down a bad guy at the beginning of the film (one of the manformers has to come and sort it out for her), even though there's three of her (her weapon seems to be a .22), and she gets I think one line which you can't even really tell comes from her, and then all three of her get killed ingloriously and more or less off-screen, and I remember interviews with Bay at the time where he said he "hated" Arcee.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:44 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


Also, if you turn your brain off for 2.5 hours, don't you, like, stop breathing or something?

Mike the headless chicken and Sarah Palin stand as proof to the contrary.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:46 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Favoriting for manformer.
posted by emjaybee at 4:47 PM on July 13


I would take his having it as an indication that he bought it at some Creep Convention. A quick google search shows that people have made laminated wallet cards with laws related to other stuff, like concealed/carry permits. I have one that CLERGY on it in case I figure out a way to use it to get away with something, or if I need to perform an emergency wedding and no one believes that I can perform an emergency wedding. I suppose the fact that you have whatever you're saying printed on a laminated card and then you carry it with you gives it a certain amount of credibility, though it is, in fact, possible to get anything printed on a laminated wallet card, including fake laws. I could have a wallet card that says that my clitoris is officially an ambassador of Clitoria and thus is granted diplomatic immunity, for example.
posted by NoraReed at 4:52 PM on July 13


Please- we haven't recognized the Clitorians since the coup. It might as well be a rogue state.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:02 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I'LL SAY IT'S A ROGUE STATE
/rimshot

posted by NoraReed at 5:04 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I wonder if Bay carries around a laminated Director's Guild membership card, you know, in case someone doesn't believe him.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 5:06 PM on July 13 [14 favorites]


I guess that also explains why the female characters are so nonentities as well then. The movies' creators still think we have cooties.

It is known.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:23 PM on July 13


I thought Pacific Rim Job was hard to beat for the stoopid, but now I'm persuaded otherwise.
posted by oluckyman at 5:46 PM on July 13


Oh yeah, also, fuck Spielberg for allowing his name to be attached to these nuggets of shit. I don't know Hollywood but I gotta assume Steven Spielberg has more pull than Michael Bay, plus he actually seems to have some level of sensibility, so why the hell didn't Spielberg call that jock piece of trash on his trashy directorial decisions?

Why couldn't James Cameron have directed these movies? Imagine that scene from the beginning of T2, in the blue-lit truckstop, with the big truck, and then that truck transforms? That would have been amazing. The Terminator could still show up, whatever.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:46 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a culture in only the most bacterial of senses.

(Seriously, that phrase is Wodehouse good.)
posted by uosuaq at 5:49 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I thought Pacific Rim Job was hard to beat for the stoopid, but now I'm persuaded otherwise.

It turned out you weren't even wrong.
posted by maxsparber at 5:50 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


You can have a big, dumb monster movie that works. Pacific Rim was a big, dumb monster movie that works, because it had the right balance of plot, characters, and robots fighting monsters. Actually, the plot and characters are the weakest part of Pacific Rim, because they are not about robots fighting monsters. As I was watching it, I had all kinds of red flags going off in my head--why is he showing up right at this time? Why are all those characters doing that, it makes no sense? Why is this person doing that? Even during the action scenes: ok NOW you finally remember you have a 5-story sized samurai sword?

But Pacific Rim is so fun and inoffensive and non-cynical it's kind of hard not to like it. The Transformers movies have such a goddamn agenda aside from the Robots Doing Things that it really does feel like a kind of social conditioning happening.
posted by zardoz at 6:07 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't James Cameron have directed these movies?

Aside from being busy saving the planet, exploring the bottom of the world, and working on Avatar sequels, I imagine that he simply got tired of being That Guy, in the same sense that Alan Moore got tired of being That Guy in comics, above and beyond his running out of companies that he could stand being associated with.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:11 PM on July 13


so why the hell didn't Spielberg call that jock piece of trash on his trashy directorial decisions?

The only input I've ever heard of him giving was to better develop the friendship between Shia's character and Bumblebee. Of course, they don't even give the latter the ability to speak, because I guess that would require giving him personality and dialogue.

Why couldn't James Cameron have directed these movies?

I might have agreed pre-Avatar. Speaking of which, it appears TF 4 actually outdoes that movie by including something called "Transformium." This just keeps sounding worse.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 6:12 PM on July 13


Yeah I know but still.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:13 PM on July 13


It was like he was laughing, Bella Lugosi-style

I'm pretty sure Count Dracula didn't sparkle.
posted by xedrik at 6:29 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I saw this movie with two friends opening weekend (I was pushing for Edge of Tomorrow, but got overruled). I really tried to turn my brain off and enjoy this movie for the dumb action movie it was. But, as it went on, I found myself getting angrier and angrier. This movie is not just dumb, it's insultingly dumb. There are so many moments in this movie that are not only stupid but stupid on the movie's own terms. I think where I flipped from disliking this movie to being filled with rage was when Marky Mark crashes his spacepod thing into a bud light truck and then yells at a guy while drinking a foamy bud light. He might as well have just stopped the entire movie for a commercial. Or, maybe it was when the elevator is stuck because there's too much weight on it. Except, they actually show the weight limit (680 kg if I recall) and it's way more than all the actors on the elevator could possibly weigh. That's the thing. They didn't have to show that weight limit sign. I would have bought that this little residential elevator could only hold three people or whatever. But no, they had to show the sign, as if to say "Fuck you audience." I have literally never been angrier at a movie in my life. Fuck this movie.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:41 PM on July 13 [14 favorites]


your friends were wrong and you should go to edge of tomorrow with people who have better judgment.
posted by twist my arm at 6:54 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I saw the first Bay Transformers movie and haven't been interested in the rest because I can't stand the action sequences. I had to go back and find an example of this just to be sure I was remembering correctly. I hate how the editing jumps around so just when you see one robot about to hit another, suddenly you're looking at a closeup of Shia cringing by a car. I also hate how many of the robot shots are in a limited frame, or obscured by debris, so you not only don't see the other robot that is being attacked or doing the attacking, you can't even intuit the motion of the robot in frame. It was kind of cool how Optimus grabs onto a jet that flies past him, but that was the exception.

Examples of parts of action scenes I have enjoyed watching:

- Black Widow taking out the Russians who were "interrogating" her
- The Hulk tearing the wing off a jet fighter and slinging it at a charging Thor, who has to fall to his knees to dodge it (and the Hulk then trying to lift Thor's hammer)
- Gipsy Danger hitting Otachi with a tanker ship a few times, before Otachi grabs it away with its tail and flings it down the street
- A snowspeeder taking down an At-At during the battle of Hoth by wrapping a cable around its legs
- Batman kidnapping the business guy from Hong Kong by grabbing him and launching a balloon that is picked up by a waiting plane, and then getting reeled in
- Pretty much anything in The Matrix

These scenes have been choreographed and planned in detail, and then shot so that you can understand how the combatants are moving in space, often in interesting and surprising ways. I didn't get any of that from Bay's first Transformers movie, nor from the bits I've seen from the later ones. For this reason, and the other problematic ones this thread is really about, I'm sad the franchise has been so successful.
posted by A dead Quaker at 6:55 PM on July 13 [13 favorites]


I experienced similar anger watching the first one. It's not even that it's stupid, like a B-movie. It's aggressively... like... anti-narrative. Like the photographic negative of Goddard's Film Socialisme. Like Last Year At Marienbad where instead of the shifting walls of a French manor it's a howling mass of metal, machismo and Linkin Park.

These are basically movies made for the growing foreign market, with many decisions being made specifically to attract non-English speaking audiences. Language, and the narrative that language tends to carry, is the enemy of broad adaptability. I think it's funny to watch American audiences becoming the second consideration to a much more lucrative set of eyeballs.
posted by codacorolla at 6:56 PM on July 13


Goddamit, this is America, so make movies for 'mericas!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 PM on July 13


i meant to link to this in that earlier comment about Pain & Gain, plz bask in the magnificence
posted by elizardbits at 7:13 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


A dead Quaker just nailed down what annoys me so much about Michael Bay movies.
posted by arcticseal at 7:19 PM on July 13


I had to go back and find an example of this yt just to be sure I was remembering correctly.

That's actually the most coherent, intelligently-shot battle scene in the entire franchise and I'm not even kidding.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:50 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I remember someone telling me the first one was great so I saw it on television some years later and concluded that this is another horribly bad franchise, like Star Wars from Return of the Jedi onward or like the new Doctor Who or Sherlock, that will be wildly popular for decades to come. I remember another friend asking me, "Who the hell said that?" I certainly wouldn't expect anything more than shit from them.

Looks to be the case. This has become common place. Big popular films are often 70's tv show quality whereas some television shows, most recently True Detective, are simply outstanding.
posted by juiceCake at 8:45 PM on July 13


Just chiming in that it's super weird to have documentation on that law with you at all times (because WHY?), somehow even weirder that it's laminated, and as weird as weird can be that it found its way into this movie of all possible movies.
posted by ostranenie at 9:14 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


This thread just inspired me to watch Fast and Furious 6, so I guess some good came out of Transformers 4.
posted by susiswimmer at 9:30 PM on July 13


You know, in the broad genre of robots punching robots, I just remembered Real Steel which was also pretty dumb but somehow not insultingly dumb so I liked it.


Plus Red Letter Media watched three Transformers movies at the same time and they start to notice when similar things start to happen at the same time in all three.
posted by RobotHero at 9:42 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Are you a 13 year old Chinese boy? No? Then your opinion counts for nothing.
posted by telstar at 9:45 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I must join with elizardbits in singing Pain & Gain's praises, Michael Bay notwithstanding.

You guys, i'm no fan of Michael Bay, post-Bad Boys. The gross misogyny stuff involved in the first Transformers (both within and without the movie) turned me off and has only made me wince even more when i've accidentally caught a few of the sequels.

But Pain & Gain somehow rises above this ignominious pedigree and is a shining star of cracktacular hilarity. And I say that despite the fact that Mark Wahlberg, infamously lacking in humour Mark Wahlberg, is the lead actor.

You guys, can you trust us and just believe that The Rock and Anthony Mackie are so hilarious that you'll mostly forget about Marky Mark? Because they are. And there is also Rebel Wilson and Tony Shalhoub and Ed Harris (!), hanging around and being generally funny and great and full of quiet gravitas, respectively. Man, Ed Harris has aged so well.

And as elizardbits has mentioned, holy god the costuming alone. You will laugh at least 5 times at it. I promise you that, 5 belly laughs or more at the things they make Anthony Mackie wear. And a long, loud guffaw at The Rock in a belly top.

You will come out of this movie with a headache, a deeper adoration for The Rock (because I know you already have an enormous amount of affection for him, as he is a wondrous creature of bemuscled delight) and a startled but ultimately more satisfying for it feeling of utter joy.

TLDR: Pain & Gain rules, Transformers drools, would anyone like to join my Dwayne Johnson fan club?
posted by pseudonymph at 10:38 PM on July 13 [6 favorites]


I watched the first Transformers (or most of it, except maybe the very end) on a plane back when you watched movies on screens in planes, and boy, that first one made me so mad that I refused to acknowledge the existence of the franchise.

I admit you hooked me. The reference to the Texas "Romeo and Juliet law (which I'd never heard of before) sucked me in.

I read a good 12-15 paragraphs, but no. I'm just going to be over here, sticking my fingers in my ears and singing the Flintstones.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:32 PM on July 13


> TLDR: Pain & Gain rules, Transformers drools, would anyone like to join my Dwayne Johnson fan club?

Pain & Gain is hilarious, and even Mark Wahlberg is pretty good in it. Mostly because he's playing the kind of character he plays best: the charismatic dimwit. But The Rock is the best, and I will join your fan club.
posted by lovecrafty at 12:03 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen any of these films, with the exception of the second one, which I watched briefly on a plane. Two robots were hitting each other. It was pretty difficult to tell which was which, whether one was winning or not, or to be honest anything that was going on.

It does make me sad the Spielberg is attached to these films even if in name only, because he really could (and can) direct an action scene in a coherent manner which tells a story.

Add to that all this horrible racist and misognyist nonsense which really did not need to be there I think I am quite happy without the existence of these films in my life.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:27 AM on July 14


The Guardian's review of the second movie is one of my favorite bad movies reviews ever:
Bay has a great love of flashy effects, stroboscopic editing and loud crashes; he famously calls his cinematic technique "fucking the frame". That phrase might be brutal, but it's accurate. And there's no doubt about it: he really has given the frame a right old seeing-to this time. Bay has turned up at the frame's flat with some unguent massage oils, scented candles and a hundredweight of Viagra. It isn't long before the headboard of the frame's bed is crashing repeatedly against the wall, while the frame gazes up at the ceiling ... and I think the frame is faking it.
posted by octothorpe at 4:25 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I love that you can write like that in a mainstream newspaper in the UK. The NY Times would never be able to print that.
posted by octothorpe at 4:26 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


This is the same Michael Bay who directed Armageddon, isn't it? A film where the main character's teenage daughter is seeing an older man and there are loads of US flags everywhere.

He's a bit of a none trick pony, this Michael Bay character.
posted by asok at 5:56 AM on July 14


I will also join the Pain & Gain praise derail. It is surprisingly amazing -- a Coen Brother fiasco with Michael Bay's big budget flair. If anything, I think it benefits greatly from the fact that the actual newspaper article is, itself, rather hilarious and while Bay had license to play loose with the actual facts, the overall framework of the story reined in most of his excesses and allowed the movie to focus on improving funny moments that were, essentially, handed to him on a plate.

That's not even mentioning some sincerely gleeful performances from most of the cast. Even the motivational speaker, Johnny Wu, which could've been a horribly racist and offensive trope in standard Bayville, skirts the edge of outrage by a voraciously scene chomping stint from Ken Jeong.
posted by bl1nk at 6:58 AM on July 14


Pain & Gain is hilarious, and even Mark Wahlberg is pretty good in it. Mostly because he's playing the kind of character he plays best: the charismatic dimwit.

I don't understand why people are baffled by Wahlberg being awesome in stuff. Didn't anyone see Boogie Nights or I Heart Huckabees?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:42 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I Heart Huckabees also had an incredible cast for him to hide behind. To be honest, I didn't even remember he was in that movie.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:51 AM on July 14


I have found it helps to believe there are two Michael Bays, both working concurrently with a large overlap in style. There is the wild satirist who did the brilliant Aaron Burr museum Got Milk commercial, and may also have been behind The Rock, if you see the film as a comedy, and was certainly the guy who did Pain and Gain.

And then there is the other guy, who blows things up.

I want to see more from the first guy, because I like his stuff.
posted by maxsparber at 9:27 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why people are baffled by Wahlberg being awesome in stuff. Didn't anyone see Boogie Nights or I Heart Huckabees?

There are people who can pull a good performance out of Mark Wahlberg, especially by surrounding him with people who are virtually incapable of giving bad performances and putting him in really good scripts (see also Three Kings).

But there are also people who will put him in crap, and he has shown little ability to elevate it (see The Happening or The Other Guys or Rock Star or Invincible -- better yet, don't see them).
posted by Etrigan at 9:40 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I think the true hypothetical parallel would be if Cade was female (the mom).

Well first off, a women as the lead actor in a major tentpole explodey movie franchise? HA! And I say again, with great sadness, HA! I'm pretty sure some producer/studio exec at some point considered a way to recast Lara Croft and Logan Croft.

The real problem though, would be that the switch from a "Dad" character to a "Mom" character would be that the sexual tension would change from controlling Tessa's sexuality to competing with it. The Mom would be all, "Oh Cade, you're 20? Well that's a bit old for my daughter, but I think I know someone who might be interested," all while answering the door in a negligee and constantly having to overly dramatically bend over to pick something up. Meanwhile Tessa is all "Momma, quit tryna have the sex with ma boyfrand!"

Also, the actor playing the Mom would be like, 6 years older than Tessa, at max.


Look into your heart and weep, for you know it to be true.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:00 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


But The Rock is the best, and I will join your fan club.

Me too. He is so good I actually got into professional wrestling for a while.
posted by Hoopo at 10:39 AM on July 14


> I will also join the Pain & Gain praise derail. It is surprisingly amazing -- a Coen Brother fiasco with Michael Bay's big budget flair.

I wanted to like Pain & Gain. I really did. Whoever edited together the trailer deserves whatever that profession's highest honor is, because they made it look great. The Rock can be good. Mark Wahlberg can be good. I was really looking forward to it. And then I watched it, and it was the same old Michael Bay cavalcade of sexism, racism and stupidity and it was so, so very pleased with how clever it thought it was. The Coens could have pulled that story off (and I wish they'd taken a shot at it, because it was a good one), but Michael Bay? As usual, he bludgeoned the source material into submission.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:48 AM on July 14


yes but did you see the pants
posted by elizardbits at 10:53 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


My favourite transformers review. (RIP Roger Ebert.)
posted by bodega at 11:26 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


That opening paragraph makes me miss him so much I almost started crying.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.

Like I think I just realized I'm more offended that Big Bad Movies continue to get made in large part because they make me miss the inevitably wonderful Ebert takedown.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:43 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Continuing The Rock-related derail: "Scenes from my imaginary friendship with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson"
posted by epersonae at 12:31 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Yes, yes, everyone in Pain & Gain looked ridiculous.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:40 PM on July 14


keep in mind that there's no rosy golden age of the Transformers universe, either

Oh I weep for a generation untouched by the pure joy of Micronauts and Shogun Warriors.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:44 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


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