Movie Review: Transformers – Dark of the Moon

Cropped image of shooting for Transformers wit...

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I’m a horrible critic, and an avid transformers geek, so I was delighted to see the premier in my home town of the latest flick about those cheesy but cool autonomous robotic organisms from Cybertron.

First I’ll note a few things that stood out as pluses for this movie, and then I’ll get to my biggest hitch with it. Now, I’m in the habit of switching off my critical faculties when I’m actually watching these sorts of films, and only after the movie is over do I turn them back on.

I’ll ignore the scientific implausibilities, since others more acquainted with the science do a much better job of it than I do. That, and it’s almost too typical for science fiction movies to have at least some bad science in them.

Don’t even get me started on that horrible little stillbirth of a movie, Battlefield Earth; That movie had logical plot holes big enough for Lord Xenu’s entire space-fleet to soar through.

‘Nuff said on that.

If you plan to see Dark of the Moon yourself, read no further until afterward, for here there be some spoilers!

The story starts out in the opening scene with the first landing on the Moon (of course!)by Apollo 11, though I’ll ignore the historical gaffe of the astronauts’ journeying to Luna’s far side, which is needed to make the plot work…Hey, it’s a different universe than ours, so it’s excusable.

After finding a crashed Transformer spacecraft on the Moon, where they discover a dormant Cybertronian named Sentinel Prime, the whole affair being cleverly concealed from the public and the mass media after our boys in pressure-suits get within sighting distance of it, after which all communication with Earth is only with need-to-know NASA personnel and American intelligence agencies. Including some real footage from 1969 and the early 1970s, the film switches scenes to a few years after the events in Revenge of the Fallen, picking up with a now older Sam Witwicky and his new girlfriend.

The basic plot revolves around some Machiavellian betrayal among the alien droids, with Sentinel Prime, Optimus Prime’s predecessor, deciding to screw over the Autobots by making a deal with Megatron to share power over an enslaved Humanity, by using Cybertronian artifacts he invented to reshape space and bring Cybertron to Earth for rebuilding by his Decepticon allies, intending to use the humans to work as an unpaid labor force.

The film involves a lot of action, and it was difficult sometimes to focus on any one scene before the next happened. I’m just lucky, I suppose, that I didn’t see it in 3-D.

Headache city…

It winds up that after the seeming victory by teh Ebil Robottz, and in several scenes almost being killed himself, Sam gets to show his mettle in the final conflict.

Following a typical episode of personal politics between Sentinel and Megatron, who feels he’s getting the short end of the stick after literally being called Sentinel’s bitch by Sam’s girlfriend, no less, the bridge between Cybertron and Earth is severed, and the enemy defeated.

Okay, now time for the criticism:

This film’s plot line almost directly derives from that of an old first-season animated Transformers episode, in which the same bring-Cybertron-to-Earth-with-a-space-warping-thingie is done, assisted in the episode as in this movie, by humans promised power by their alien masters, who of course, have no intention of fulfilling their word to their fleshy pawns.

BTW, the human traitor in the classic episode, which has not aged well at all, was a mad scientist named Dr. Archeville, and a rather pompous one at that (but aren’t they all?).

*sigh* I’m showing my age, aren’t I…

Save for this glaring lack of originality, I found the movie fun, and it had a lot of scenes that provided some good comic relief between the scenes of Cybertronians getting ripped apart and humans being disintegrated by alien weaponry.

I found it cheesy, but entertaining, though I wouldn’t recommend it for an Academy award.

Off-Season for the Witch

It looks like Nicolas Cage’s 2010 movie, Season of the Witch, has already caused a crap storm in the critical and skeptical blogosphere, and for good reason.

Not only is it yet another tiresome movie about exorcism, this time during the Middle Ages, but it also portrays demons in a manner uncritically promotional to and encouraging of literally medieval superstition in an already irrational and otherwise modern society.

Never mind that nobody has ever been killed by a demon, but quite a few people have been killed by botched exorcisms.

That’s the harm.

It amuses Troythulu that Mr. Cage is promoting this movie as “…unafraid to explore the paranormal and the supernatural.” (his words).

But aside from that, and aside from the quality of the film, which is at best debatable…

Apart from the obvious false dichotomy of the kinds of legitimate criticism that the article’s writer poses, the tone of the article ,(Click Me Here) seems typical of such promotions, but that’s the entertainment media for you…

It’s almost cliche to try to present a flick like this as both brave and different, despite both Hollywood and Bollywood having scads of such credulously-themed films coming out of their collective ears, movies which show a rigid fascination with woo in a very conventionalized, banal, ‘inside the box’ way…


Nic, dude, I respect you, I really like your movies, but if you think that this latest offering is in any way unusual, do yourself a favor and take a long, hard look at the rest of the entertainment industry to notice how typical and ordinary this sort of fare really is.

Often, I hear paranormal proponents who like to congratulate themselves (with straight faces, I might add…) for their openness toward and their ‘curiosity’ of well, what they propound on, but…

…Actual curiosity is a desire, the need, to learn new things, to find out something that you don’t already know.

What I see in proponents is instead a preoccupation with the subject matter that shows itself in repeatedly expounding upon, rarely with anything new to contribute to the topic short of very small tweaks, refinements, or minor stylistic variations, in the same standard claims of supernatural phenomena and entities.

It’s trying to continually validate what one already needs to believe and reword what one already knows about. In paranormal advocates, this extends to getting others to believe as well.

Evangelism, plain n’ simple.

That’s not curiosity at all, but a thorough and profound failure of both curiosity and the human imagination.

After all, how many truly original supernatural forces, events and beings are there even in admittedly fictional treatments already chock-full of erotic vampires, reincarnated mummies, vengeful ghosts, and demons just itching for someone to possess?

It’s the same old thing. Astrology… The afterlife… Telepathy… Crystal power… Channeling…

Ho hum. I’ll say it here: In most of the fare that’s cranked out by the entertainment industry, the paranormal has become boring.