Papal Silliness


According to the Pope, bones contained in a tomb that supposedly houses the remains of St Paul are, in fact, his. This is due to a series of tests that, according to CNN, confirmed the bones dated from sometime between 1 and 200 AD.

“This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle St. Paul,” Benedict said in Sunday’s announcement.

It confirms no such thing, and shame on him for saying it does. All it confirms is that there are bones in there that are mighty old. It does not say whose bones they are.

Also, you gotta love the Catholics for relying on scientific proof like carbon dating when it suits their purposes.

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How Far We’ve Come


Back when I was a wee shaver in the 1980’s, I had a little portable tape-playing device. It wasn’t actually a Walkman, just some other brand, but it got the job done.

These days, of course, we have iPods and the like, which lead a 13yo British boy to wonder what it would be like to tote around a Walkman for a week and leave his iPod behind. He wrote about his experience and the BBC published it. It’s a fascinating read!

Equally of interest, btw, is the fact that this thirteen-year-old boy writes better than most adults I know… gotta love better educational standards!

The Strange Life and Death of Michael Jackson


The Daily Mail has a fascinating article about the life and death of Michael Jackson. Among the unsurprising revelations: MJ was apparently gay and had been in at least a couple relationships with other guys.

For the record, I agree with the writer that the child molestation charge against Jackson was likely bullshit. The first complaint against him, settled for $20 million, might or might not’ve been, but the second almost certainly was.

Either way, he was certainly someone who needed a friend who wanted to be his friend and not bankrolled by him.

Sic Transit Billy Mays (1958 – 2009)


Billy_Mays_headshot

Hi, Billy Mays here for Oxi-Heaven!

Are you tired of afterlives that promise you everything, but deliver nothing? Then try new Oxi-Heaven! It gets your halos brighter than bright, with harps that sound like the voices of angels!

Call now and as a special offer, we’ll give you Oxi-Purgatory absolutely free with your order, but you gotta call now!

(we’ll miss you, Billy! Pitchmen was great and fascinating!)

Movie Review/Recap – Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen


They've fallen, and they can't get up!

They've fallen, and they can't get up!

The critics rave about Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen!

…Michael Bay’s latest bid to bludgeon audiences into dulled submission, is the reductio ad absurdum of a summer blockbuster. It is loud (boom!), long (two and a half hours!), incoherent (poorly explained intergalactic warfare!), leering (Megan Fox in short shorts!), racist (jive-talkin’ robot twins!), and rife with product tie-ins (Chevy! Hasbro!)… John Yoo would not be able to draft a memo excusing the torment this movie inflicts on its audience… – Dana Stevens, Slate.com

The film is padded by an hour of completely unnecessary, worthless, offensive and repugnant sequences that do nothing but tread water. – Harry Knowles, Ain’t It Cool News

Often bypassing any logic or reason let alone character or depth, this utter mess of an action opus is only sporadically entertaining thanks to all the visual flair that $200 million worth of computer-generated fighting robots can buy, but holds no real value beyond that. – Garth Franklin, Darkhorizons.com

Bay stages battle sequences the way a three-year old plays with Lego’s. He dumps everything out at once in one loud crash, and just starts snapping pieces together and tossing them into each other… And much like a child at play, things get loud, there’s a lot of screaming, and shit gets destroyed. – Capone, Ain’t It Cool News

It’s tempting to dismiss Michael Bay’s long, loud and ludicrous sequel to 2007’s Transformers with one word — hunkajunk. On every level this movie is as bankrupt as GM. But there is more to be said about a movie this gargantuan ($200 million spent on robot hardbodies) and galactically stupid. Transformers: The Revenge of The Fallen is beyond bad, it carves out its own category of godawfulness. And, please, you don’t have to remind me that the original was a colossal hit ($700 million worldwide) and the sequel will probably do just as well. I know it’s popular. So is junk food, and they both poison your insides and rot your brain. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Though there are more special effects and new ways for machines to turn into ‘bots, the story seems as if it’s about to end at least three times.

If only. – Claudia Puig, USA Today

If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

It just doesn’t seem like summer anymore until Michael Bay gets the chance to visit upon us his latest cinematic abortion, and in the case of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, the newest bit of diaper gravy to spew forth from his directorial anus, he does so in a way that truly sets a new standard for craptacular films.

Now I was, and remain, rather sick when I saw this movie. I also saw it at a late showing, which didn’t get out until about 1:15am. So I knew that if I was going to write a review of it today, I’d need to take notes. Eight pages of notes, as it turned out. Thus this review, which is more of a recap than anything else, will be longer and more detailed than most. So brace yourselves.

The film opens in the year 17,000 BC. We know this because of a nice caption that tells us this. Quite nice of them to so accurate. Imagine if it had been, say, 17,014 BC! The confusion that might cause! It’s rather like the film 10,000 B.C.. The confusion it caused! True, mostly it was people confused about how the movie got made in the first place, but still.

In the distant past, we see standard Stone Age tribesman (looking like a bunch of Australian Aborigines), hunting a tiger (a tiger? In Africa?). As they do, they stumble across a large Decepticon outpost on Earth. They get stepped on and the movie goes into modern times with a nice seen showing modern Shanghai illuminated by bright sunlight. I know it’s Shanghai because of the caption, which also says that it’s about 10:14 at night. Very good.

A lovely battle ensues, during which time it’s revealed that a cover story about some chemical leak has been created to keep the public in the dark, because apparently even after seeing Los Angeles get leveled, likely with lots of video footage both amateur and professional, everyone has “forgotten” the Transformers exist.

Let me divert here for a moment. There’s a common theme in a lot of science fiction television and film that you can have some major, Earth-shattering event (like Los Angeles being trashed in the first movie, London being menaced countless times in Doctor Who and Torchwood, and supernatural nonsense in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), that happens, gets witnessed, gets filmed/video taped, and then everyone conveniently forgets about it and/or there’s a government cover-up.

This is particularly egregious in the TV series War of the Worlds, an otherwise forgettable show that takes place a few decades after the events shown in the 1953 film of the same name. In that film, we see millions killed, cities devastated and nuclear bombs set off. Yet by the time the TV series rolls around, there’s been a cover-up and everyone has “forgotten” it happened.

This sort of nonsense is the laziest form of writing there is. It’s implausible, insulting to the audience and just plain stupid. It’s like saying that ten years from now all the video footage of the 9/11 attacks and all the news coverage will just disappear and that people are likely to, as a large majority, sit around saying, “September 11, 2001? No, nothing happened that day. Why do you ask?”

Writers like to do this because it means they don’t have to work too hard to try and figure out what the consequences would really be to the events they set up initially. If giant robots had beat the crap out of each other in downtown Los Angeles, that would have massive repercussions worldwide, especially once we found they were aliens. But the writers don’t want to deal with that, so they just say “cover-up!” and that’s all there is to it.

Lazy fuckers.

Anyhow, where was I? Oh, yes, Shanghai. So the Autobots go chasing down one (1) Decepticon, who manages to destroy millions of dollars worth of property and kill hundreds of military and civilian personnel, in what is presented as a fairly routine mission. And their presence here on Earth is a secret. Right.

At the end of the battle, Optimus is standing over the defeated Decepticon, who taunts him a little, and then Prime shoots him in the face. Executes him. Murders him. Now, I ask you, does this sound like what Optimus Prime would actually do? No, because Prime is presented as a noble sort of figure, and not the sort who goes in for the cold-blooded killing of a prisoner.

Leaving this happy scene, we move on to Sam (Shia LeBeouff), as he gets ready to head to Princeton for college. He has some moments with his insufferable parents (you know, the idiots who in the last movie thought a robot falling down was an earthquake), and his two dogs. His two male dogs. Obviously male dogs. I mention this because we get not one, but two, scenes of them having sex. Thanks for that, Michael Bay. You’ve wrecked sex forever.

Sam calls his girlfriend, whose name I cannot number, so I’ll just call her Porn Slut 1 (PS1 for short). PS1 is shown on screen for the first time in a shot you’ve no doubt seen in the trailer. She’s sitting on a motorbike in pose that might make most Playboy Playmates feel embarrassed. She had some role in the previous movie, but no role here, other than to engage in “witty” banter with Sam as to who is going to say “I love you” first.

I mention that fact only because that discussion, the whole “I love you thing” is the entirety of the central emotional core to this movie. No, seriously. That’s the entire scope of their relationship conflict point. Now admittedly, I’ve been single most of my life, and don’t expect this to change anytime soon, but when I have been in a relationship, I haven’t had any problem with saying, “I love you,” to whomever I was involved with. It’s just not that big of a deal. Well, unless you’re in a major Hollywood blockbuster where the lazy writers have to come up with some sort of emotional conflict.

While yammering on the phone to PS1, Sam is fiddling with the outfit he wore in the first movie and a shard from the Allspark cube falls out. Because Sam’s mother apparently never does laundry. Sam touches the shard, it zaps his brain and falls through the floor, burning its way down into the kitchen where it turns all the appliances into robots that promptly attack everyone.

This brings up a flaw from the first movie that is carried over into this one, which is: why does the Allspark apparently only make Decepticons? Every time it creates some sort of robot entity, the first thing that bot does is attack everyone. Ah, well. If there’s one thing I learned quickly from this movie, it’s not to ever ask “Why?” cause the movie won’t explain it.

Anyhow, a small battle starts up inside the house, which catches on fire. Bumblebee comes out from the garage and tries to fight off the little bots, and eventually does so. He then hides as the fire department and police show up and, interestingly, none of the neighbors notice any of this. All sorts of comments are made about security (cause of the robots being Super Sekrit!) and there’s more annoying interplay between Sam’s parents before we have a touching moment between Sam and Bumblebee.

In this moment, Sam tells Bumblebee that at Princeton, freshmen aren’t allowed to have cars (I doubt this, but it’s possible, I suppose). Bumblebee responds with… music and clips from movies. He does this because, like in the first movie, he can’t talk. Now that was fixed at the end of the first film, but clearly someone said, “Hey, the kids like him talking in music! So let’s keep doing that! Yeah!”

Now we catch up with the military guys (apparently part of a team called NEST), who are busy doing their thing and talking with people back home when some suit shows up to yank the rug out from under him. This suit, who again has name that I cannot remember, is presented as a one-dimensional jackass and this brings us to our next lengthy digression.

There is, in a lot of fiction, what I call “The Rule of Incompetent Omnipotence”. It’s the rule that says government agencies are all-powerful and all-knowing. They can track you everywhere you go, they can send agents after you that will find you in under two minutes, they can cover up anything, anywhere, and rule the whole world, but they do all this in a very incompetent way, which means that some slimy internet weirdo can uncover what they are doing. They bumble around like idiots, breaking things and failing miserably so that the hero can come along and save the day. So they’re omnipotent, but incompetent. Please add “The Rule of Incompetent Omnipotence” to your dictionary. Thank you.

We also are introduced to one of the long running standbys in action films, which is that the military is always right and the politicians are always wrong. This combined with Bay’s overreliance on “rah-rah, go America!” patriotism must be the only reason the US military helps him so much in making his films. Given how many military personnel he kills in each one, there can’t be any other reason.

This scene also introduces us to two cringeworthy characters named Mudflap and Skids. You may have already heard about the controversy surrounding them. If you haven’t allow me to enlighten you by saying that if you think Jar Jar Binks is the height of funny, if you can’t get enough of minstrel shows, and if you enjoyed Amos and Andy, you’ll love the comic stylings of Mudflap and Skids, two characters who prove that racist humor is alive and well and living in America!

God, these two are awful. They are the worst characters I’ve seen on screen in ages. Now I’ll defend Jar Jar Binks for the most part, but these guys? Painful! They talk in Ebonics, they always fight each other, one has a gold tooth (?!), and they can’t read. There is nothing good about these characters at all. They serve no useful purpose to the plot and Spielberg ought to be ashamed to have his name attached to a film where these guys appear.

Now how did two characters like these get created? Let us turn to the words of Mr Bay himself:

Bay said the twins’ parts “were kind of written but not really written, so the voice actors is when we started to really kind of come up with their characters.”

You understand what that means, right? The characters weren’t really written. They made up a rough sketch, had the voice actors come in, and built the characters around their performance. Memo to Mr Bay: This is not how movies should be made. The usual flow of action is to write up the characters and then cast them. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but this is not one of them.

More troubling, though, is this quote:

“I purely did it for kids,” the director said. “Young kids love these robots, because it makes it more accessible to them.”

So according to Michael Bay, the kids of America are fundamentally racist and will be best entertained by two jive-talkin’ robots presented as caricatures of black people. Well done, Michael, well done. I believe this officially undoes everything good that’s come of race relations since the election of Barack Obama. I am impressed.

Also it’s worth noting that this means that Bay wanted to have this movie be accessible to kids under 13. The movie is rated PG-13 and was likely made with an eye to that rating. Well done, Mr Bay!

Back to the “story”. The political guy is bitching at the military guy (the same military guy who had cannibalistic fantasies about his infant daughter in the first movie), who is bitching at the political guy. This is during a video conference with some four-star general who is not allowed to see Optiumus Prime, since apparently a four-star general can’t be trusted to keep a secret.

Eventually the political guy tells Optimus that this isn’t humanity’s war and that he blames the Autobots for bringing the Decepticons to Earth and then causing more trouble by inviting more. This might actually be an area that could lead into interesting discussion if, say, Christopher Nolan had been at the helm, but not in a Michael Bay film, where plot cannot be allowed to get in the way of the action!

In the end the political flat-out asks Optimus if the Autobots will leave if the US government asks them to. Optimus says yes, and I can’t help but think of the large queue of governments behind them that would be happy to have the Autobots come live in their countries. That plus the fact that the Decepticons would be quite gleeful at this turn of events and would promptly take over.

In the meantime, we have Sam and company arriving at Princeton. Sam meets his annoying roommate, Leo, who runs a conspiracy website all about how the government is covering up these giant robots running around (memo to Leo: why not just contact KTLA, who surely would’ve had miles of video tape from the original battle in Los Angeles and ask to borrow some of their footage?). He mentions, in a rather telegraphed plot-point, that another website often scoops him.

We get more of Sam’s parents running around engaging in Komedy!, including Sam’s mom eating a pot brownie (then running around like she’s on speed), without knowing it, which is something of a surprise given that there’s a marijuana leaf prominently displayed on the bag she’s holding and she’s old enough to have lived through the Sixties and Seventies. You know, I’ve never smoked weed in my life, but even I know what a pot leaf looks like. This is the kind of movie where humor comes from people being morons.

It was at this point I realized something about this film. I’m about ten years too old to enjoy it and about three hundred times too smart. But I soldiered on!

Now we come to one of the few cool parts of the movie as Soundwave (happily voiced by Frank Welker), drops Ravage down to Earth. Ravage goes to a US military base and ejects some ball bearings into a vent shaft. These merge and form a fascinating looking two-dimensional robot (giving it more dimension than the screenplay). This, along with a couple other scenes, show some real flickers of possibility, that prove that there could actually be something of substance to this movie if only people had actually put forth the effort. But no, why bother?

Next up we have Sam in astronomy class going slowly bonkers as he puts up with the introduction of Professor Schrute, who dresses like a Time Lord and has a libido that would make Hugh Heffner go “Damn!” Sam starts hallucinating, reads his entire astronomy text book in only a few seconds, runs up the chalkboard screaming about Einstein equation of E=MC2 being wrong (it’s not), and then runs off to his dorm where he starts scribbling on… on…

I almost cannot bring myself to type this. Michael Bay has truly exceeded himself here, for young Sam starts scribbling alien characters on a framed poster for Bad Boys II, a movie generally regarded as one of the worst made in the last ten years and a low-point in Bay’s career.

Now from any other director, I might think this is a nice bit of irony. If Spielberg had, say, a shot of a poster for 1941 in a movie, that might be kind of fun, and him having a joke with the audience. But he’d just do it as a quick throw-away thing. He wouldn’t do what Bay does, which is to center it in the screen and keep it there for several seconds, showing the main character interacting with it. I seriously doubt Bay is self-aware enough to do irony; I think he’s just being an idiot here.

The next sequence brings us another odd little WTF?! kind of moment. Some backtracking here: in an earlier scene, Sam went to a party and met Porn Slut 2, who was crawling all over him. Now she has him in his room, in private and is, again, crawling all over him. Then she sprouts a tail, some spikes and proceeds to toss him around and it turns out she’s what’s known as a Pretender.

Pretenders, for those unfamiliar with Transformers lore, were a group of transformers that human and/or animal shells. They didn’t turn into vehicles; they just disguised themselves in these shells. It was a weak idea and one that was never popular with the fans.

In this case, PS2 is a Pretender whose only real job appears to be driving a wedge between Sam and PS1 and then chasing after them in an exciting, Terminator 3 kind of way, thus reminding me of another movie I hated, but would rather watch than this. Also, when chasing Sam, PS1 and Leo, she moves at walking speed, cause as we all know, the super-powered bad guy/gal is never allowed to run.

Meantime, the Decepticreeps (which they were often called in the animated series… ah, speaking of things I’d rather be watching…), have managed to revive Megatron somehow and he captures Sam and the gang (now available on LP and 8 Track, Sam and the Gang’s Greatest Hits!), and is about to kill Sam and remove his brain when the Autobots arrive to save the day. This leads into a great big fight which leads into…

Well, amazingly enough, it leads into another really well-done scene! Rather like the 2-D robot, this is one of the scenes that shows what this movie could’ve been if it had tried. It’s a nicely done, creative, well-visualized, fight scene in a forest, where Prime fights Megatron, Starscream and some other Decepticon. It’s everything exciting that the rest of this movie is not. It also contains one of the other few emotional scenes as Prime gets killed off. Those of us, like me, who are Transformers fans, know this must be temporary since neither Ultra Magnus nor Hot Rod are around, but it’s still nicely done.

Now we go to a scene where Megatron and Starscream are hanging out on the top of the MetLife building in New York City. I know this, because the shot that shows things like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building helpfully says, “New York City”. The two of them talk about how it’s time to basically out themselves and go on a rampage which they do by going to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge and… er… knocking over an American flag. Then they leave. Yeah… ok. That’s… impressive? I guess? I mean, sure, they could’ve gone on a rampage, murdering people and destroying buildings, but why bother with that when you can… uhm… knock a flag down.

Then the Fallen comes along. He appears on video screens world wide and basically says humanity will be destroyed unless Sam is given over to the Decepticons.

In a panic, the military minds meet up at the Pentagon which, according to the caption, is in Washington, DC. This is no doubt a great surprise to the residents of Virginia, but amazingly it’s not even the worst geographical error in the film.

After the brief, useless scene there, we see Sam and the Gang, now wanted fugitives, try to decide what to do. Eventually Leo says they should go to talk to the man who runs the website that competes with his. There’s brief discussion, and then they head out to New York City. To be fair, since they are on the run, Sam disguises himself with a baseball cap and a hoodie. Yes, that’ll help.

When they get to New York, they go to a deli and behind the counter is, argh, John Tutututurrro, who played the leader of Section Seven in the first movie. His character was annoying then, and is annoying here, though amazingly slightly less so, since he alone of the cast seems to understand that he’s in a very, very stupid movie and plays accordingly.

Through the ensuing conversation its revealed that in archaeological sites all around the world are these same strange letters that Sam keeps seeing. They’re in Mexico, Egypt and lots of other places the movie doesn’t bother to mention (since archaeology happens only in Egypt and Mexico). Somehow, in the roughly 150 years that professional archaeology has been going on, no one bothered to take notice of this, which I find somewhat odd, since that’s the sort of thing that would make archaeologists wet their knickers.

Anyhow, Sam and the Gang break into the Smithsonian, where Wheelie (a really, really obnoxious Decepticon who turns into an RC truck. He was also in the animated series, and was annoying there, but even more so here), tells them they can find one of the really old Transformers, and we get a hint of some possibilities. We see pictures of things like WWII bomber planes and an old-time car, which, along with a toy I picked up (transformers from robot to WWI biplane), gives me hope that we might see something really cool.

Instead we get Jetfire.

Jetfire, the toy, was originally a Veritech fighter from the anime Robotech. Hasbro liked the design and so turned it into a Transformer, who had a backstory where he’d been a Decepticon, and friends with Starscream, before setting aside his evil ways and becoming an Autobot. He was one of the few multi-dimensional characters on the TV series (called Jetstorm on there), and when I heard he was in this movie, I got pretty interested!

Then I saw the character.

First, his vehicle form is an SR71 Blackbird. It seems an odd choice, but doesn’t really matter, since one he turns into robot mode, he stays that way. Second, though, and most irritating, is that he’s played as an old man robot, complete with a “get off my lawn!” attitude, a cane and at least one incontinence joke. Yes, this is how Jetfire should appear.

He transports Sam and the Gang to the middle of an empty desert wasteland which not one, but two, characters, apparently tipped off by all the hookers, bright lights, fountains, money and cars that are failing to appear on screen, guess is Las Vegas. It was at this point in my notes that I wrote the plot is officially missing, presumed dead.

Our heroes are still trying to remain hidden from the authorities, so Sector Seven Guy (hereafter called SSG), calls the military guy and speaks in clever code to tell him where they are headed, so they can have reinforcements. He speaks in this wonderful code, and then at the end gives latitude and longitude coordinates.

*sigh* I think I just lost three IQ points from that.

The characters are currently in Egypt, which we know by all the camels and shots of the Pyramids. But they need to go to Jordan. So they hop into Bumblebee and, along with Skids and Mudflap, drive to the land-based border crossing between Jordan and Egypt. Yes, apparently Google Earth is wrong, as is every map in the known world. It turns out Egypt and Jordan share a land border which is, I am sure, news to Israel.

The team crosses the border through the cunning tactic of saying “We’re Americans”. The border guard commander (played by Deep Roy, known to the world from such works of art as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang), apparently thinks that’s good enough, so he lets them cross into Jordan, where they set up camp for the night at the Pyramids.

Like I said, the Pentagon in DC is the least of the geographical fuck-ups in this movie.

They wander about the Pyramids (in Jordan), for a bit, making me really wish Jaws would pop up and take a bite out of someone. Then Sam spots Orion’s belt (in daylight), and deduces that under the belt is where the McGuffin they are looking for is located (oh, haven’t I mentioned what they’re doing out here? Trying to find the Matrix which will revive Optimus). The stars, I cannot help but notice, are much larger and spaced much farther apart then they are in real life, but what the hell. This is a world where the Egyptian pyramids are located in Jordan, so why not fuck with the stars, too?

Now we have shots of one of the great archaeological sites in the world; Petra. It is an incredibly beautiful site and served great purpose in Spielberg’s film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Here, it’s only job is to be the burial chamber some tomb that was hidden thousands and thousands of years go, which is quite impressive, given that the site is only about 2100 years old.

The tomb itself, where the Matrix is located, is stuck behind a wall that appears to be about an inch thick. I have to believe that at some point some archaeologist would’ve done radar or sonar searches that would’ve shown this, but apparently not. Anyhow, the Matrix crumbles into dust as soon as Sam touches it.

Meantime, we see the US military arriving in what I will now call Jor-gypt. They bring all sorts of tanks and planes and hovercraft and make a sea landing near the Pyramids, which is also near the Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings and within walking distance of Petra. Also, there’s no mention of them asking the Jor-gyptian government’s permission. I believe the word for today is “invasion”.

Now comes a fight. The penultimate fight in the movie. I don’t really have a lot to say about it. It’s pretty big. Much of it takes place in a small village where the US military sets up camp (not bothering to ask the locals for permission, and placing civilians in danger by doing so). There’s also a few scenes in a construction area (with people wandering through with goats), near the Pyramids (though at this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie showed the Space Needle being near the Pyramids), which leads to the introduction of Devastator.

Devastator, for those who do not know, is what’s called a Combiner. He’s a set of Transformers called Constructicons who, in addition to being robots in their own right, can merge into one larger robot, in this case called Devastator. In the original version of the character, he was just a really big-ass robot, but in this movie he turns into something really, really big that looks like a gorilla and has a large suction device that pulls in people, vehicles and in one shining moment, either Skids or Mudflap (I can’t tell the difference). Sadly, he survives and, at least at one point, looks as though he destroys Devastator.

As the big desert fight continues, we get treated to about three seconds of screen time by fan-favorite, Arcee, the first-ever female Autobot. Now we can go all around about the impossibility to gendered robots, but who cares? She was a cool, interesting, and to some people, sexy character and that’s what matters.

Lots of people, myself included, had been really looking forward to her appearing in this film, hoping that she might do something interesting and cool. So what does she do, actually?

She gets most of one line and then gets blown up.

That’s it. It’s an even more pointless death than the one Jazz had in the first film (you might remember him as the other horribly stereotypical black character, and the only Autobot to die). What a fucking waste of an opportunity.

So Sam gets knocked ass-over-teakettle at one point and winds up apparently dying. While dead he sees three Primes talking to him, and one of them is voices by Michael York. Oh, Michael. Are the jobs really this few and far between? You disappoint me, sir, you disappoint me. Anyhow, they tell Sam, “Well done! Here’s the Matrix, just stab it into Optimus and all will be well with the world.”

Sam comes back to life, says “I love you,” to PS1, who says the same to him, thus tying that up, and then stabs Primey, bringing him back to life for a bit. But then Prime is newly injured and it’s up to the mortally wounded Jetfire to allow some of his parts to be used to Optiumus more optimal. Now fully functional, Prime goes off to fight Devastator, the Fallen, Megatron and coherent movie making in an FX extravaganza that left me feeling completely detached and uninterested.

In the end, Prime defeats Devastator as the latter is busy demolishing one of the Pyramids (he’d already removed most of the top by the time Prime gets there), and, ugh, I can’t help but notice (cause the movie forces you to notice), that Devastator has two large wrecking balls dangling between his legs. Yes, I’m sure the crew who rendered that had a grand old time.

Then Prime fights the Fallen, and in the process destroys quite a bit more ruins, thus continuing this jolly rape of Egyptian culture. Finally at the end he destroys the Fallen, Megatron gets away, Devastator is destroyed, thousands of people worldwide are dead and I… just… don’t… fucking… care.

There’s so many things wrong with this movie and so many points at which it could’ve been turned around. For starters, when the next film is written, people writing it need to remember the franchise is called Transformers, not Humans. We don’t need to see the humans running around doing stuff for most of the screen time. We can see that in any movie. Giant transforming robots, however, are somewhat more rare.

I never thought it would be possible to describe a movie as being “aggressively dull”, but that’s exactly what Michael Bay has accomplished with this film. He has made a movie that left me completely bored and uninterested in what was happening on the screen. The parts where I sat up and paid attention consisted of about five minutes of screen time, but otherwise I was starting to feel like Jedidiah Leland watching opera.

There’s still good material that can be had here for a third movie. It’d be nice to see the Dinobots and to introduce characters like Ultra Magnus, Springer, Hot Rod and Galvatron (ideally with Leonard Nimoy doing the voice), and let’s perhaps move the story into space. Bring on Shockwave, Skywarp and Thundercracker. Move the story to Cybertron. Bring out Unicron. Any of these things could help make the next movie better.

But ultimately what will need to happen for the next film to be better is for the powers that be to tell Michael Bay to take a hike. He’s already made some noise about thinking that two years is not enough time for him to do the next movie, so with any luck they’ll toss him and hire someone who knows what they’re doing. While at it, they can keep the original writers of the first movie and Star Trek and ditch Ehren Kruger, who Harry Knowles blames for most of the problems with this film.

I want the next movie to blow me away and not leave me disgusted and annoyed. Until that happens, I’ll just have to stick with my toys.

It Was 40 Years Ago Today


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Today marks an important day in history, but one that was ignored when I was taking history in high school. It’s the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. No, this wasn’t a bunch of Civil War re-enactors getting grumpy, it was instead a seminal moment in the gay rights movement. We learned about the black civil rights movement and the suffragettes, but we didn’t learn anything at all about the gay rights movement, so I never knew what an important day June 28, 1969 was.

It was the day that a group of people, fed up with police brutality and corruption in an unjust society, finally stood up and said that they were as mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore! They rioted, big time, in New York City, creating a fire that burned its way across the United States and within two years had spread overseas.

I’ve learned a lot about the riots in the last few hours, largely from that Wikipedia article, which is today’s featured article. I never know, for example, that the bar was owned and operated by the Genovese crime family (sure, the mafia hated gays, but who wouldn’t love a group to whom you can sell watered down drinks for twice as much, knowing they won’t complain to the authorities?). I never knew that it coincided so closely with the death of Judy Garland (though it seems unlikely her death was a major contributing factor). I never realized that prior to the riots, gay sex was legal only in Illinois, and illegal everywhere else in this country that prides itself so much on freedom and tolerance.

I dump on gay culture quite a lot, but that’s at least in part because I have the luxury to do so. Like the educated black man who can look down on the minstrel shows and the stories of Uncle Remus, I can look down on the flamers and the love of all things Broadway. I have a broader, much more interesting culture that I can access and feel at home in; normal, mainstream, American culture, and that’s at least in part due to the struggles made by people during the Stonewall riots, as well as those brave souls before and after.

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals still have a long way to go before we’re actually granted the equality this country’s philosophy says we should have. We’re still excluded from the military, in actuality if not exactly in law. We can’t marry those whom we love, except in six states, and those marriages aren’t recognized nationwide or at the federal level. We can’t adopt children in many states. We’re still second-class citizens.

But much like Bunyan’s Pilgrim, we’ve made our progress. Thanks to Lawrence v Texas, gay sex between consenting adults is legal nationwide. In most places, we can’t be fired for our sexual orientation (and to straights who have a problem with that, let me ask you how you’d take being fired for being straight? Protections like these protect you, too). We’re more equal now then we’ve been at any time in our nation’s history.

So tonight take some time and remember our past, and keep an eye on the future (you’ll be spending the rest of your life there, after all). Start putting pressure on the White House to bring an end to things like DOMA, DADT, the HIV travel ban and other such discriminatory practices.

The weight of history is on our side. We are right and just and those who would treat us as subhuman are wrong and intolerant.

We shall overcome!

Wish Me Luck!


Shortly I will be going to see Transformers 2 in the theatre. I’m still sick, but I already bought my ticket online and I can’t get a refund, so there you are. I’ll be sick and seeing a two-and-a-half hour long Michael Bay film. This could really finish me off…

I’d say pray for me, but no. 😉 Just wish me luck on surviving!