Transformers: Symptom or Disease?

on June 25, 2009 by Steve Simels


transformers poster.jpgSo yesterday morning I was immersed, as is my wont, in the great comforting warm bath that is the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times, when I encountered a review -- by the redoubtable Manohla Dargis -- of the latest Transformers flick. I'm not, by nature, a person consumed with envy, but reading this I had perhaps the most profound Wish I'd Said That Moment of my adult life.

Fans of the film, Dargis correctly noted, probably come in several categories. For example --


-- those who collect toys and liked [Shia] LaBeouf in the last Indiana Jones movie. Or those who fantasize about having sex with [Megan] Fox while shooting guns, a vision that distills the auteurist ambitions and popular appeal of the movie's director, Michael Bay....And make no mistake: Mr. Bay is an auteur... Mr. Bay's subject - overwhelming violent conquest - is as blatant and consistent as his cluttered mise-en-scène. His images, particularly during the frequent action sequences, can be difficult to visually track, but they are also consistently disjointed. (And proudly self-referential: the only director he overtly cites is himself, with a shot of the poster for his movie Bad Boys II.)



The French filmmaker Jacques Rivette once described an auteur as someone who speaks in the first person. Mr. Bay prefers to shout.


Heh heh.

In any case, as somebody who's long been on record as saying that the four most terrifying words in the English language are "A Michael Bay Film," I will nonetheless force myself to endure this latest one strictly for science, and I'll get back to you after I recover.

But in the meantime, if you're gonna make big budget action movies based on 80s kids cartoons developed from a line of toys, I think somebody at a major studio is missing a good bet.

Yes, I definitely want to see Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors: The Motion Picture.

JATWW (the toys were by Mattel) ran five days a week early in the morning during 1985; I used to watch it while dragging my sorry ass out of bed before going to work, and for whatever reason -- my overindulgence in certain controlled substances the night before or the show's essential incoherence -- I never was able to figure out what the hell it was about. Something involving killer mutant plants and a villain named Saw Boss, I think, but to this day I'm not sure. And what any of that had to do with futuristic motorcycles is still beyond me.

In any case, I just discovered that the show was created and written by none other than J. Michael Straczynski, the great auteur behind Best Sci-Fi Series of All Time Babylon 5, and more recently Clint Eastwood's underrated Changeling. I have also learned that Straczynski has a script in the drawer for a JATWW feature film that was shelved in the 80s; obviously, it's time for JMS to dust it off and shoot it with the most expensive CGI effects money can buy.

With Shia LeBouef as Jayce, obviously.


Tags: Transformers, Manohla Dargis, Michael Bay, Jacques Rivette, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, J. Michael Straczynski, Babylon 5, Clint Eastwood, Changeling

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