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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

the beauty of a bad film

That beauty? The creativity of film critics reaching to new heights of metaphor and poetry in our attempts to encapsulate just how the experience of a bad film impacted us.

At the moment, that bad film that is inspiring so much cleverness is, of course, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

I wish I’d come up with the way that Robert Ebert did, at Roger Ebert’s Journal, to sum up the massive testosterone orgy that the film is:

I didn’t have a stop watch, but it seemed to me the elephantine action scenes were pretty much spaced out evenly through the movie. There was no starting out slow and building up to a big climax. The movie is pretty much all climax. The Autobots® and Decepticons® must not have read the warning label on their Viagra. At last we see what a four-hour erection looks like.

Emphasis mine.
At the other end of the extreme, there’s Charlie Jane Anders at io9, who was moved to wax rhapsody and loooong on how “Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie”:

Since the days of Un Chien Andalou and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, filmmakers have reached beyond meaning. But with this summer’s biggest, loudest movie, Michael Bay takes us all the way inside Caligari’s cabinet. And once you enter, you can never emerge again. I saw this movie two days ago, and I’m still living inside it. Things are exploding wherever I look, household appliances are trying to kill me, and bizarre racial stereotypes are shouting at me.

Transformers: ROTF has mostly gotten pretty hideous reviews, but that’s because people don’t understand that this isn’t a movie, in the conventional sense. It’s an assault on the senses, a barrage of crazy imagery. Imagine that you went back in time to the late 1960s and found Terry Gilliam, fresh from doing his weird low-fi collage/animations for Monty Python. You proceeded to inject Gilliam with so many steroids his penis shrank to the size of a hair follicle, and you smushed a dozen tabs of LSD under his tongue. And then you gave him the GDP of a few sub-Saharan countries. Gilliam might have made a movie not unlike this one.

And the true genius of Transformers: ROTF is that Bay has put all of this excess of imagery and random ideas at the service of the most pandering movie genre there is: the summer movie. ROTF is like twenty summer movies, with unrelated storylines, smushed together into one crazy whole. You try in vain to understand how the pieces fit, you stare into the cracks between the narrative strands, until the cracks become chasms and the chasms become an abyss into which you stare until it looks deep into your own soul, and then you go insane. You. Do. Not. Leave. The Cabinet.

That’s a longer excerpt than I would normally post, yet it’s only a tiny percentage of Anders’ marveling at the film. Please do read the whole thing — it’s beautiful.

And feel free to post in comments whatever other brilliant bon mots describing Transformers 2 you may come across online (but please post only small excerpts, with credits and links to the originals).



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