Ken Jeong contemplates the latest piece of his soul he has sold.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
By Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman
Upon exiting Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I couldn’t help but think back on James Marsh’s new documentary Project Nim, which I’d seen earlier that evening. In his latest overlong warring-robots opus, Michael Bay, film culture’s favorite punching bag (or is it now Brett Ratner?) has created perhaps the purest expression yet of his particular gift for the hyperbolic spectacular, yet in so doing has reminded me of Marsh’s tragic primate protagonist. Orphans and primitives both, Bay and Nim approach their respective means of communication—cinema and signing—awkwardly, and from a removal; their resulting control over their languages often suggests clever mimicry instead of true language. Thus, in Michael Bay films, humorous moments don’t even seem to be trying for funny, they’re just efficiently sadistic (here, watch as a vulture-like robot attempts to dispatch a conspiracy-fearing Ken Jeong and make it look like a suicide—ha ha!); sexuality is shorn of Eros in favor of coldly machine-tooled desire (a sleazy Patrick Dempsey describes the curves of a car to Shia LaBeouf, yet Bay’s camera is fixated on Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s shapely midsection). Outsized, kneejerk patriotism and unyielding climactic spectacle are of paramount importance (the invasion and destruction of Chicago, a rather inexplicable target, plays out over an interminable third act). It’s all here, and there’s more of it than ever. Continue reading.