If you want to read something entertaining about Michael Bay, go read this. It's absolute genius. In fact, the whole blog is quality.
I genuinely enjoy Michael Bay movies. I am perfectly happy to watch a 3 hour long movie that is largely incoherent but has lots of splosions and plenty of cheesy jokes. And regardless of how you feel about Michael Bay, you must admit that the man has a flair for blowing shit up in epic fashion. So I was really excited about Transformers 3. As a bonus, a lot of it was filmed in Chicago, so there's the pleasure of seeing how it turned out after having walked by the filming a few times, and the general enjoyment of seeing my city on screen. And seeing it get blown up*. The trailers made me gasp, they were so thrilling. Then, I read A. O. Scott's review in the NYTimes and got even more excited! This movie was gonna be AWESOME!
Well, it was not awesome. Not at all. Like all Bay movies, it clocks in at almost 3 hours. Unlike his other movies, however, there is basically no action at all until the last hour, at which point I was quite literally struggling to stay awake. This was no hyper caffeinated, adrenaline rush thrill ride. This was a painful slog through a preposterous plot with lame characters and nothing to hold your interest. It was so bad that I started thinking about what was so bad about it, when the whole joy of Michael Bay movies is they allow you to stop thinking and not care about how bad it is because you're having so much fun. Shia the Beef spends the entire movie basically whining about how no one appreciates him, and negotiating his relationship with his ridiculously hot girlfriend**. The relationship is a chaotic jumble of various tropes. He's jealous of other men who hit on her! He's insecure about the fact that she makes more money than him! She doesn't mind, except when she maybe does? She is sympathetic and supportive, but maybe not? She is proud of him for being a hero! She is freaked out by the idea of him doing anything remotely dangerous because she lost a brother in the war! She is cute and kind of ditsy! She is highly capable and a raging badass! Omg stop the ride and let me off. The fact that the relationship is a garbled mess really shouldn't matter, but unfortunately, the movie has so little else of interest doing on that you actually find yourself thinking about how bizarre and incoherent her character is. I suppose you could think about the plot instead, but really? You think that's gonna be more rewarding?
The highlight is indeed the Chicago stuff, but honestly, I was strangely aware of it being computer generated. Maybe because it's a familiar landscape. But maybe because it seemed like they mostly just superimposed large burning holes onto buildings. My bf was like "well, now we know how Chicago will look when the Happening comes", but... I don't think it will look like that? I can't explain really. It just looked kind of fake. Like I said though, I did actually doze of a few times. I was really bummed with myself, because it was clearly the best part of the movie, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open. Though I really don't think missed much.
Finally, despite what people have told me, the 3D really didn't add much. I mean, sure, it was nice, because 3D is generally neat. But a friend of mine told me it was better than Avatar, and this is not true at all. I think seeing it regular style would be fine, but really, I think there's no point in seeing it at all. It's seriously terrible.
*Though I have to say, there is a part of me that finds it really weird to enjoy that. There's a lot to be said about this - I went to a really fascinating lecture by Joe Cleary a few years back where he wondered if Americans enjoy this sort of thing more because they a. have never actually experienced historical trauma on the home front the way Europeans have (the exception being Oklahoma and 9-11) and b. have some kind of weird fascination with the apocalypse as a seen of rebirth, which does in a weird way echo the dawn of the nation. It's a line of thought I frequently return to, actually. Joe Cleary is an incredibly smart guy. If you don't believe me, check out his book, Outrageous Fortune. It's so smart and well written, it's a real pleasure.
** I actually don't think she's that hot. But I was kind of amused by the fact that a lot of her scenes actually look like Victoria's Secret commercials. The lighting, the make-up - all the same.