Do superhero movies really suck?

Posted by Sanjeev 
I can forgive some of the weak characters. My gripe would be the continuity....Havok and White Queen being the primary culprits. He's Cyclops' younger bro, ffs....and how they mesh the WQ from 1st Class with the WQ from Origins is beyond me. Overall, geeky gripes, though. As others have said, the political backdrops used throughout the movie are what what made it for me. And Jones is gorgeous.

GL's ending seemed to do the same thing...take a prominent story premise, and shoe-horn it into 30 seconds, just makes no sense.

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Definitely diverges from the comics quite a bit, definitely don't care. It was fun anyway and yeah, loved the Professor X/Magneto near-romance, especially the crying satellite dish thing. Still drives me insane the black dude is the X-Man who is immediately killed, though. Grrr. Just like Enter the Dragon!

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
I just realized that the new X movie didn't get a toy line to go with it.

Aside from the last Punisher film, haven't all of the Marvel films in the last decade gotten toys?
I think you're right... I guess without Wolverine to anchor the toyline, there was no point in producing toys for the movie?
Gcrush Wrote:
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> I just realized that the new X movie didn't get a
> toy line to go with it.

There are Minimates, if that counts.

> Aside from the last Punisher film, haven't all of
> the Marvel films in the last decade gotten toys?

Interesting question. Did the Edward Norton Hulk movie have toys?
Ken-A Wrote:
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> Interesting question. Did the Edward Norton Hulk
> movie have toys?


Tons. I have a couple Hasbro action figures that aren't half bad.
The Norton Hulk movie gave us (as far as I know) the first-ever action figures of Ed Norton and Tim Roth!! And in 3 3/4" G.I. Joe compatible, no less. Though the prototypes or test shots pictured on the backs of the packages had much sharper likenesses than the production figures. Still, they're hanging out with my Jean Reno action figure from GINO '98.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Sanjeev (Admin)
Can we all agree that the only good to come out of GINO was a Jean Reno action figure?

;)
We should compile a list of action figures of actors that were least expected to become action figures like Jean Reno, Ed Norton,or Megan Fox.

My pick: ERNEST BORGNINE (from "The Black Hole").
I think just about any actor from the MASH tv show that was cast in plastic intrinsically raged against the notion of "action figure"...

btw...as a rabid 80's and 90's X-Men fan, even taking into accout the "Bacon Factor" (he wasn't all that bad, just not visually S.S.), First Class was first class in my book. I'll easily buy a copy and look forward to multiple viewings.

For reference, I'll watch X3 only if it comes on the same station I'm already watching and I have no will left in me to change the channel. Never even went to see Origins Wolvie either.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/03/2011 12:09AM by Supersentai.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Cross-stitched threads!

Rather than continue to taint Marvin's thread about TF reboots, let's continue the nerd fight here:


gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Prometheum5 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I will have to tell you that I think you must
> be
> > on drugs if you would compare Iron Man I or II
> and
> > Thor to these movies. The Marvel superhero
> movies
> > have done a commendable job of developing
> strong
> > and consistent characterizations and a
> meaningful
> > world, which is something the TF movies
> couldn't
> > do in three films with the same characters.
>
> If by developing a meaningful world, you mean
> developing a meaningful worldview that promotes
> western imperialism and justifies the U.S.
> military-entertainment-industrial complex, then,
> yes, I'd say IM I and II are on par with
> Bayformers, minus the American muscle cars. As for
> characterization in Thor--I'm still trying to wrap
> my head around how I'm expected to believe that
> genocidal, warmongering Thor turns into noble,
> sweetheart, defender-of-all-lifeforms Thor...all
> because he gets a boner for the Black Swan hottie?
> When that personal transformation is the pivot
> upon which the entire narrative turns, I'd say
> that that's not a small failing.
>
> I'm not saying these movies suck because of these
> things. They're fun and stupid. I'm just saying,
> well, what I said in the last post: They ain't
> much better.


I'm just about 1000% in agreement with Ben. YES, Iron Man was totally a vehicle for liberal racism and US foreign policy...but at least all that shit was accurately portrayed. The racism *made sense*. In the context of all the elements in the movie, it was cohesive...further, based on reality, it sure meets what I'd expect from rich elites...who happen to be able to design invincible powered armor. :P

But flip the script to Transformers (keeping in mind, I only saw the first)...that fucking dreck was batshit crazy. Not a SINGLE element made sense in relation to another...OR in any sort of quasi-realistic frame of reference. It was just...stuff...happening...and blowing up.

I'm not trying to tell people to like one over the other, but come on... I think we can try to analyze which movies offered "better" story-telling. And I think the answer is pretty clear. In my opinion, of course...

Oh, and gingaio: you and kiriko are still nuts for liking Ang Lee's Hulk over the Marvel one! :P
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> gingaio Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> I'm just about 1000% in agreement with Ben. YES,
> Iron Man was totally a vehicle for liberal racism
> and US foreign policy...but at least all that shit
> was accurately portrayed. The racism *made sense*.
> In the context of all the elements in the movie,
> it was cohesive...further, based on reality, it
> sure meets what I'd expect from rich elites...who
> happen to be able to design invincible powered
> armor. :P
>
I think we need to distinguish between the character's racism and an authorial one.

If Stark is ethnocentric/what-have-you and we're meant to see him as such, that's one thing. If Stark is ethnocentric/what-have-you and the movie comes up with reasons for why such qualities are not only attractive ones, but actually justified, that's a completely different dilemma.

Example: When Stark flies into Afghanistan in the first movie, finds bad Afgans holding good ones hostage, and then proceeds to take out the bad ones with his midget missiles, that actually sets up a politically charged argument that's fairly insidious. Because it boils down something as complex as the Afghan conflict to good and bad and--given that we're meant to cheer for Stark in this scene (note the super-cliched walking-away-from-an-exploding-tank shot that climaxes this moment)--presupposes that Americans are good and know which bad Afghans to kill. Given what you've mentioned as the real-world context, it just makes it all the worse.

If I'm to be spoonfed disposable villains in a fantasy story, I'd prefer they not be proxies for real people in other countries.

I have to say, this doesn't quite "make sense" to me, Reverend.
Sanjeev (Admin)
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If I'm to be spoonfed disposable villains in a
> fantasy story, I'd prefer they not be proxies for
> real people in other countries.

AH!

See, I was reading through your post, thinking to myself, "yeah, but who cares?" Then I got to the above statement. That may be the crux of the matter. We're on the same page about Stark's, uh, "ethnocentrism" (just say "racism", damnit...watering it doesn't doesn't help anyone and only confuses the matter...but if you insist on qualifying it, call it "liberal" or "unaware" racism).

But anyway, getting to the point, I prefer a story like that because it's actually very *human*. I know PLENTY of people in the real world who think/behave like that. Where objective liberalism ends and liberal racism begins is a struggle for many. All racism sucks, for sure, but at least it's a compelling, appropriate, and critical discussion.

As for Bayformers, there's simply NO analog whatsoever in any aspect of human phenomenology. They wanted to depict alien robots...well, they sure as fuck succeeded. Of course, "alien" here translates to utterly and unabashedly inane.
A couple of things....Stark turns against the military/industrial complex by refusing to manufacture weapons after his ordeal, no? As for Thor, is was less his chubby for Amidala and more the humiliation of losing his godly powers and becoming mortal.

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Also, the robot-on-robot action....isn't that what we go to see?

---------------------------------
[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
Sanjeev (Admin)
Y'know, I'll actually admit the robot-on-robot action in the Iron Men flicks wasn't all that interesting to me (especially the first one). It was...meh (it was all the shit before and after that I enjoyed!). In TF, however, the robot-on-robot action was miserable because I couldn't ever tell what was happening. I'll take uninspired over inscrutable any day.

As for Stark and Thor *learning from their suffering*, that's exactly what I dig! Very human stories...albeit very simplified. What did Optimus Prime learn? Apparently how to decapitate Decepticons savagely, while they beg for their lives.

But like how I was saying above, it's not like the Marvel movies aren't fraught with issues. Really tho, what movies aren't? It was just that there was plenty enough good stuff for me to be able to suspend my eye-rolling enough to get into them. The TF flicks have almost no "good stuff" whatsoever.
hillsy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Also, the robot-on-robot action....isn't that what
> we go to see?


Do vibrators count as robots?
gingaio Wrote:
>
> Example: When Stark flies into Afghanistan in the
> first movie, finds bad Afgans holding good ones
> hostage, and then proceeds to take out the bad
> ones with his midget missiles, that actually sets
> up a politically charged argument that's fairly
> insidious. Because it boils down something as
> complex as the Afghan conflict to good and bad
> and--given that we're meant to cheer for Stark in
> this scene (note the super-cliched
> walking-away-from-an-exploding-tank shot that
> climaxes this moment)--presupposes that Americans
> are good and know which bad Afghans to kill.

I don't see the basis for this interpretation. I think the movie is taking it as a given that anyone who threatens an unarmed person with a weapon is a "bad guy" - and that the scene is carefully constructed to make Stark's actions defensible, by showing that the people he's defending have no chance of reprisal or self-defense. The guys with guns could be Ten Rings or Taliban or reckless Afghan security forces, and the meaning of the scene would still be "only bad guys point guns at civilians". It's the same formula as any superhero's first violent intervention (e.g. Kick-Ass intervening in a three-on-one beating), just transposed to an international context.

I can't see Stark as a stand-in for American power here either, since immediately afterwards he is in conflict with an actual, literal representative of American military power, and this nearly leads to the death of another ostensible "good guy" (the F-22 pilot who bails out). It seems to me that sequence is establishing a point that the rest of the movie fails to follow through on - that the superheroic idea of arbitrary, unilateral international intervention is disruptive, because Stark's on the verge of starting a war every time he flies in and shoots some thugs with guns. Of course, the rest of the movie is about Stark and Stane, so the implication that Stark may be in over his head in the international context is completely lost in the larger plot.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It seems to me that
> sequence is establishing a point that the rest of
> the movie fails to follow through on - that the
> superheroic idea of arbitrary, unilateral
> international intervention is disruptive, because
> Stark's on the verge of starting a war every time
> he flies in and shoots some thugs with guns. Of
> course, the rest of the movie is about Stark and
> Stane, so the implication that Stark may be in
> over his head in the international context is
> completely lost in the larger plot.

Yeah, this is where the superhero genre is always going to drop the ball. The idea of an anti-abuse-of-force walking death machine is interesting. But it will be diffused by the "need" to make said death machine blow shit up. A lot. It's the reason so many people, myself included, hated Lee's Hulk. "Watch the unstoppable force flee in frustrated moral conundrums!" Anyway. It would have been awesome to see more of Stark trying, and failing, to resolve the tension you described.

And, just because this came up somewhere along the line, I thought Batman Begins reboot was not very good. It just didn't move me. And after TDK came along the first installment became even weaker. I could watch Heath Ledger cut it up as the Joker all day long. But Liam Neeson as whoever-the-fuck-that-was-supposed-to-be? Utterly forgettable.

Somewhat on topic, here's a video examining why Batman is awful at his job. It gets to the heart of the matter in much the same way that I think superhero movies will almost always suck. The narrative logic is inherently broken.
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> gingaio Wrote:
> >
> > Example: When Stark flies into Afghanistan in
> the
> > first movie, finds bad Afgans holding good ones
> > hostage, and then proceeds to take out the bad
> > ones with his midget missiles, that actually
> sets
> > up a politically charged argument that's fairly
> > insidious. Because it boils down something as
> > complex as the Afghan conflict to good and bad
> > and--given that we're meant to cheer for Stark
> in
> > this scene (note the super-cliched
> > walking-away-from-an-exploding-tank shot that
> > climaxes this moment)--presupposes that
> Americans
> > are good and know which bad Afghans to kill.
>
> I don't see the basis for this interpretation.
>
Really? I'll try again.

> I think the movie is taking it as a given that
> anyone who threatens an unarmed person with a
> weapon is a "bad guy" - and that the scene is
> carefully constructed to make Stark's actions
> defensible, by showing that the people he's
> defending have no chance of reprisal or
> self-defense. The guys with guns could be Ten
> Rings or Taliban or reckless Afghan security
> forces, and the meaning of the scene would still
> be "only bad guys point guns at civilians".


This sentence, and the idea of "could be anyone else" is exactly why I think there's a rather not-unsubtle undercurrent of what I've mentioned. Yeah, the bad guys could be anyone, but they're not. They're constructed a certain way to, as you mention, ennoble Stark's character and at the same time vilify a group of people our government has classed as enemies. The villains are chosen specifically for a mimetic effect given what's going on in real life. If you think the choice was random and unintentional and should be taken as such, then I don't know what else to say.

I mean, I guess I could see your point (the bad guys just happen to be Afghans) if I consciously willed myself to forget the real-life context. But, like, the movie itself is actively making me remember the context, right from the opening scene in which Stark is riding in a Humvee in Afghanistan with a bunch of soldiers. Which makes sense since the genre itself was maybe sorta built as a vehicle for nationalist propaganda:

[www.suite101.com]

It's an idea more explicitly detailed in Michael Chabon's novel, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, an exhaustively researched and fairly transparent fictionalization of the creators of Superman and their rather political intent for the character.
>
> It's
> the same formula as any superhero's first violent
> intervention (e.g. Kick-Ass intervening in a
> three-on-one beating), just transposed to an
> international context.
>
International context, yes, but with a political argument. I think where we differ is you see the choices in a movie like IM as coincidental or incidental. I think the filmmakers are a bit more intentional than that.
>
> I can't see Stark as a stand-in for American power
> here either, since immediately afterwards he is in
> conflict with an actual, literal representative of
> American military power, and this nearly leads to
> the death of another ostensible "good guy" (the
> F-22 pilot who bails out). It seems to me that
> sequence is establishing a point that the rest of
> the movie fails to follow through on - that the
> superheroic idea of arbitrary, unilateral
> international intervention is disruptive,

If the theme of the flick really were how disruptive and harmful his actions were, then it wouldn't have built to a climax in which his use of the armor is the basis for saving himself and his girlfriend and a bunch of civilians. I think you're looking for nuance and moral ambiguity in a film that only teases it, but doesn't follow through. At all. Like, in this F-22 scene, it's not his interventionist actions (shooting down bad Afghans) that get him into trouble. The problem is caused by a military that doesn't properly understand him yet. They don't even know what the hell they're shooting at, is how incompetent they are. And not only that, they failed to save the Afghan villagers that Stark himself just saved (i.e., he was doing their job for them). And how does the scene end? He ends up rescuing one of the pilots from the pilot's own mistake (of crashing into the superhero). Stark is not presented as the problem in this scene. He behaves in a capable, heroic manner. The pilots are the ones operating with the blinders on, figuratively and literally.

Hillsy mentioned a point about how Stark actually works against the military establishment. And while the second movie starts off that way, it's really about Stark reconciling with his dead, carry-a-bigger-stick-than-the-other-guy-patriot-father and working his way toward joining a superpowered paramilitary unit known as the Avengers, headed by a dude with the words Captain and America in his name.

And if we're going to talk about seemingly random decisions, why make Rhodey a military officer for the movies? And one who eventually becomes Stark's armored buddy. I remember reading an article that talked about how Favreau was intentionally trying to portray the Air Force in a positive light. It could have been Favreau's own words.

Stark as a stand-in for American power?

Come on, fellas. Is it even a question?

Now the thing is, I'm not saying that this particular political view of the flick is the only one through which to filter it. I mean, I actually enjoyed these movies. You all did, too. I just think that we tend to forgive/overlook/ignore more, a lot more BS for movies we like, things that we wouldn't forgive/overlook/ignore in movies that we don't like (which for most of you would be Bayformers 3).



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 07/12/2011 10:23PM by gingaio.
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yeah, this is where the superhero genre is always
> going to drop the ball. The idea of an
> anti-abuse-of-force walking death machine is
> interesting. But it will be diffused by the
> "need" to make said death machine blow shit up. A
> lot.

Agreeing with the above, but I don't know how fully this applies to Ang Lee's Hulk. the final scene of the Hulk fighting his father, who, if I remember, is a cloud or something at this point, doesn't even involve motion. My memory's foggy, but I remember a series of still silhouette shots, which actually contravenes the normal 'watch A destroy B' sequences.

It's why I loved that penultimate scene, with Banner and his father strapped to chairs and yelling at each other.

> It's the reason so many people, myself
> included, hated Lee's Hulk. "Watch the
> unstoppable force flee in frustrated moral
> conundrums!" Anyway. It would have been awesome
> to see more of Stark trying, and failing, to
> resolve the tension you described.
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As for Stark and Thor *learning from their
> suffering*, that's exactly what I dig! Very human
> stories...albeit very simplified. What did Optimus
> Prime learn? Apparently how to decapitate
> Decepticons savagely, while they beg for their
> lives.
>
Yeah, I was very disappointed by the nihilistic turn the writer(s) did with Prime in the last movie. Very sad.
>
> But like how I was saying above, it's not like the
> Marvel movies aren't fraught with issues. Really
> tho, what movies aren't? It was just that there
> was plenty enough good stuff for me to be able to
> suspend my eye-rolling enough to get into them.
> The TF flicks have almost no "good stuff"
> whatsoever.
>
I can dig this.

I think the comic movies just have an easier starting point. With the Transformers, every piece of the mythos foundation is based off of commercial concerns: Why do the Autobots have to be Autobots (because a lot of the toys transform into cars)? Why do the Decepticons have to exist (because we need more toys to sell)? Why do god-like robots who could easily rule the planet have to disguise themselves (because the toys transform)? This will sound like (and is) an excuse, but there's just not much you can do with that.

The comic creators had it much better creatively.
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's why I loved that penultimate scene, with
> Banner and his father strapped to chairs and
> yelling at each other.

I remember the, uh, fighting-a-cloud scene. But I forgot all about the chair-strapping. Maybe it was the giant, mutant poodle that dominates my mind's eye when it comes to Ang-Hulk.

I might actually breakdown and watch this again. For science!
Again, regarding the TF films, everything that is "wrong" about them is actually "right". Prime develops into a merciless Decapitron. Can you imagine a more serious character arc than that? It's about the corruption of nobility in the face of moral extremism. And God-Robot piss jokes.

I'm serious. Everyone is misreading these films. Michael Bay is smarter than all of us. (Though Bad Boys I and II might suggest otherwise.)
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> gingaio Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > It's why I loved that penultimate scene, with
> > Banner and his father strapped to chairs and
> > yelling at each other.
>
> I remember the, uh, fighting-a-cloud scene. But I
> forgot all about the chair-strapping.

I thought I was watching a play at that point, given how minimalist the mise-en-scene had become, how focused the film was on those two characters talking.

> Maybe it
> was the giant, mutant poodle that dominates my
> mind's eye when it comes to Ang-Hulk.
>
Think what you will, but the movie was not about the poodle.

> I might actually breakdown and watch this again.
> For science!

:)
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Again, regarding the TF films, everything that is
> "wrong" about them is actually "right". Prime
> develops into a merciless Decapitron. Can you
> imagine a more serious character arc than that?
> It's about the corruption of nobility in the face
> of moral extremism. And God-Robot piss jokes.
>
> I'm serious. Everyone is misreading these films.
> Michael Bay is smarter than all of us. (Though
> Bad Boys I and II might suggest otherwise.)

I can't tell if you're joking, G, even though we are technically the same person.

For the corruption-of-nobility idea to work, we'd have to be given an inkling that what Prime has done is regrettable, but everything in the presentation of the film suggests that everything he does is perfectly justified. Every murder he inflicts he's given an out for. Every bad guy is irredeemable. Every good guy is good. There are no consequences to his actions, only consequences to inaction. The movie's moral is as absolute as Prime's.
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Think what you will, but the movie was not about
> the poodle.

I cannot be sure of this just yet. Let me get back to you on it.
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Again, regarding the TF films, everything that is
> "wrong" about them is actually "right". Prime
> develops into a merciless Decapitron. Can you
> imagine a more serious character arc than that?
> It's about the corruption of nobility in the face
> of moral extremism. And God-Robot piss jokes.
>
> I'm serious. Everyone is misreading these films.
> Michael Bay is smarter than all of us. (Though
> Bad Boys I and II might suggest otherwise.)

Woah woah woah. As a new convert, I refuse to sit idly by while you slander Bad Boys I and II. Those movies are IN-FUCKING-FINITY times more meaningful and entertaining than all three of the TF movies combined. If Bay wanted to have the action in the TF movies be over the top and a spectacle, the Bad Boys films prove that he knew how to get that done. The action in Transformers is heartless and stunted... it's flat and emotionless. Nothing actually elicits a visceral reaction from you like the fucking boat flying towards them in BBII does. Plus, in the first five minutes of BBI, I knew more about the characters and cared for them more than three TF films give me. All I really know after three Transformers movies is the principle characters' names, and even them sometimes it's hard to tell them apart. I can see the argument of Prime spending the three movies becoming more and more worn down by the bullshit that surrounds him, but the the inconsistencies along the way suggest that he went bat-shit insane, rather than defeated.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
gingaio Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I can't tell if you're joking, G, even though we
> are technically the same person.

Well, the part about Prime becoming a Decapitron was a joke. But the rest is serious. It's not that Bay has made a bad trilogy. It's that he presided over one of the most monumental satires in contemporary pop culture. Pull back on the subjectivity for a moment and take a look at the cues contained within the work itself. Literally everything is so exaggerated beyond belief that it is impossible for it to have been an accident. When was the last time three movies in a row were so utterly incoherent by accident? One movie, maybe. But a trilogy? Impossible. When people say, "Absolutely nothing in these movies makes any goddamn sense!" they're 100% correct. The claim of GENUINE BAD FILM would only be a problem if some of the stuff made sense while the rest didn't. Which is not the case.


> For the corruption-of-nobility idea to work, we'd
> have to be given an inkling that what Prime has
> done is regrettable, but everything in the
> presentation of the film suggests that everything
> he does is perfectly justified. Every murder he
> inflicts he's given an out for. Every bad guy is
> irredeemable. Every good guy is good. There are no
> consequences to his actions, only consequences to
> inaction. The movie's moral is as absolute as
> Prime's.

I should have emphasized the irony in how Prime was framed from the start. He shows up and is just supposed to be this awesome, infallible protector of humanity. But the more we are exposed to him the more we see that, aside from a wicked militant PETA-streak, he is as utterly reprehensible as the human-squashing Robo-Gods he's out to decapitate. He's not a savior. Never was. He's just a glorified murderer. Annnnnnd... BAM! Bay lays down the satire while we all fail to notice since we had Prime toys when we were kids.

Just a side note - are Transformers really robot zombies? Only head-shots can kill them?
Prometheum5 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Woah woah woah.

I'll break it down like this. BBI & II are shit because they only go half way with the absurdity. In other words, they don't signal a strong commitment to satire. The crazy shit that goes on is for "cool" not "fool". And Martin Lawrence is one of the most annoying actors to come along since Joe Pesci.


> If Bay wanted to have the
> action in the TF movies be over the top and a
> spectacle, the Bad Boys films prove that he knew
> how to get that done. The action in Transformers
> is heartless and stunted... it's flat and
> emotionless.

You're going to make my point for me. Bay knows how to stage a traditionally "cool" action sequence, but did you ever feel like any of the action in the TF movies was earnest? It's not. It's all flat despite containing the same key ingredients of things exploding, guns firing, shit flying around, people scrambling for their lives, and so forth. This is exactly how Bay is satirizing those elements of "cool" action. He's doing it to the Nth degree to make a point. I mean, an hour long action sequence? The fatigue that comes with it? It's no accident.

Put another way, what ingredients were missing from the action in TF movies? Nothing. It's all there. To excess. Like a deep-fried Twinkie. People don't cook that shit up by mistake. They serve it to make money while laughing at our fat asses for eating it up.
Sanjeev (Admin)
'Crush, baby, you've been touting this TF theory for quite some time now. Admittedly, at first, I thought you were joking. I soon realized this was not the case. Still, I adamantly refused to believe it...holding onto the notion that Bay is just a greedy cunt who didn't give a fuck about fuck and just wanted big-boom on screen and $$ in wallet.

But it just sorta dawned on me--flipping the script--if you are right, well, I'd cease to believe in a god (if I did so in the first place).
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I should have emphasized the irony in how Prime
> was framed from the start. He shows up and is
> just supposed to be this awesome, infallible
> protector of humanity. But the more we are
> exposed to him the more we see that, aside from a
> wicked militant PETA-streak, he is as utterly
> reprehensible as the human-squashing Robo-Gods
> he's out to decapitate. He's not a savior. Never
> was. He's just a glorified murderer.

But I'm not sure how this makes him different than Rambo or Ah-nold, or Bronson and Dirty Harry. If anything, this strikes me as a resurrection of an old type.

The fact that this persona is grafted onto a previously less aggressive character seems to be what Miller did to Batman in Dark Knight.

It seems less a satire to me than a modern update of an "outdated" character.

If it were satirical, I'm not sure what the object of satire would be. Our conventional views of superheroes? If that's the case, for the satire to really bite, Prime's murderous behavior needs to be based more off of choice, and there needs to be a way for the audience to be chastised for its support of Prime.

Faced with enemies on the brink of enslaving all of humanity, enemies who will never cease their ambitions unless they are dead, Prime does the only thing he can. Brutally, yes, but with no other option. The movie gives him no option if his raison d'etre is to protect humanity.

If he were facing opponents who have been shown to be capable of coming to a peaceful settlement without enslaving humans, and he chose to act in a murderous manner, then this sets up more of a traditionally ironic situation, in which his actions are questionable and belie his appearance.

> Just a side note - are Transformers really robot
> zombies? Only head-shots can kill them?

Huh. Good point.
gingaio Wrote:
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> But I'm not sure how this makes him different than
> Rambo or Ah-nold, or Bronson and Dirty Harry. If
> anything, this strikes me as a resurrection of an
> old type.

Taken on its own, it doesn't. However, none of those other heroic killers was enmeshed in so much ludicrous excess. They were, to the best of my recollection, in movies that played it straight. (Aside from Stop, or My Mother Will Shoot!, but you'll see how that supports my theory about cues.) Yes, they were goofy, unbelievable caricatures, but their framing never did anything to suggest that they weren't to be taken seriously.

Conversely, nothing about the TF movies suggests earnestness aside from the roles we subconsciously assign to the characters, slightly edged along with knowing winks from the score and script. Because, looking at them as a whole, the sheer lunacy eclipses any intentional seriousness. Suggesting that Prime is a hero is a feint at the audience, it's a ruse. It plays us for suckers by preying upon our nostalgia and desire for simplistic roles.

In a movie about god-like sentient robot aliens, could the grotesque materialism really have been a mistake? Did someone accidentally let the robo-piss jokes slide? Maybe once. But what about the people-piss jokes? Or animal piss-jokes? Multiple times and across six hours of film? Impossible.

I conclude Prime is distinct from Dirty Harry because DH was always played with a serious face and never indulged in grotesque humor.


> If it were satirical, I'm not sure what the object
> of satire would be. Our conventional views of
> superheroes? If that's the case, for the satire to
> really bite, Prime's murderous behavior needs to
> be based more off of choice, and there needs to be
> a way for the audience to be chastised for its
> support of Prime.

Remember, satire is not always easily recognized, even in it's lifetime. A Modest Proposal and The Prince confused a lot of people, the latter being especially difficult for people to pin down. But both, by virtue of their absurdity, satirize particular values. In other words, the narrative itself does not need to provide the lecture. It's GOTCHA! satire that critiques people by virtue of their endorsement or inattentiveness.


> Faced with enemies on the brink of enslaving all
> of humanity, enemies who will never cease their
> ambitions unless they are dead, Prime does the
> only thing he can. Brutally, yes, but with no
> other option. The movie gives him no option if his
> raison d'etre is to protect humanity.

Again, go back to what I said about PETA. Prime is engaging in fratricide/patricide for unclear reasons. He willingly sacrifices the salvation of his native planet for what comparatively amounts to gerbils. As an audience this fucks with us because we are the gerbils, and so we naturally want to root for the gerbils.

But change the setting while keeping the rationale the same. If science could stop global warming and produce clean energy by enslaving all the dogs on the planet to run on a giant treadmill, what would we think of people who used AK-47s to kill dog catchers? As much as we like dogs, the gun-toting vigilantes would be obviously nuts. Hell, we already collectively agree that it is wrong to curb serious environmental problems because it's too inconvenient. You think we'd really step up to bat for saving dogs if it came down to it? Some people might. And it would be easy to label them nuts. Because killing people to save animals represents a type of moral extremism that we almost inherently see as Wrong. Which is...


> If he were facing opponents who have been shown to
> be capable of coming to a peaceful settlement
> without enslaving humans, and he chose to act in a
> murderous manner, then this sets up more of a
> traditionally ironic situation, in which his
> actions are questionable and belie his appearance.

...part of the TF satire. Recall that despite being in command of a superior army and having just defeated a mutual foe, instead of killing Prime, Megatron attempts to sue for peace and Prime responds by excising Megatron's spine. The movie stages a moment in which the "villain" has the upper hand and offers a non-violent resolution, suggesting it is a viable truce, and the "hero" outright rejects it. That's fairly ironic.

The films are goading us in to rooting for moral extremists mired in piss-gags. Extremists that kill their brethren without so much as a moment's deliberation or acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Hell, the "good guys" don't even mourn their own dead. They just surround themselves with buffoonish human pets and we're supposed to cheer for them. That might be the most shallow criteria to ever be substituted for heroism in an action film.

Which comes to the second part of the satire. It's not about superheros per se, it's about the action genre and our gullibility for it. We have three movies given hollow construction from the start, layered with grotesqueness otherwise inappropriate to the genre, and played out for atypical run times with confused pacing. Yet they made gobs and gobs of money because people were too shallow to look past the surface.

Yes, people complained about the movies. Yes, the director even admitted to making shit films. But nowhere along the way did anyone stop to take him at his word. That, just maybe, his "shit" films weren't an accident but an obvious manipulation of action/sci-fi conventions whose admonitions come in the form of box office receipts.

If you have the stomach, re-watch the films without preconceptions. It won't be difficult to grab the satire.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Remember, satire is not always easily recognized,
> even in it's lifetime. A Modest Proposal and The
> Prince confused a lot of people, the latter being
> especially difficult for people to pin down. But
> both, by virtue of their absurdity, satirize
> particular values. In other words, the narrative
> itself does not need to provide the lecture. It's
> GOTCHA! satire that critiques people by virtue of
> their endorsement or inattentiveness.


I hate you, G. Every fiber of your being. On ever single level.

Because you're starting to convince me.
I'm inclined to think that you've just gone so far off the deep-end desperately searching for a reason why these movies are so bad that you've lost the ability to see how absurd your final theory is. If you look at the TF trilogy as part of Bay's body of work, rather than as three horrific movies, they are the culmination of a pattern of poorer and poorer movies. Based on stories from on set and a couple rough assumptions, I'd bet that you could really cleanly graph the 'perceived quality' of movies Bay was involved in against the number of people besides Bay driving production, and you would have a sharply negative trend. I really think that, since Bay has managed to completely take over the production process of every aspect of these films, we're just seeing the result of total amateur-hour storytelling and creative vision, which is something we were more and more shielded from when more and more other people were involved in the process of Bay making a movie. Hes just grossly incompetent, and they're just bad movies.

Introducing Prometheus Rising Studio.
[prometheusrising.net]
I make 3D printed mecha action figures.
Sanjeev Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Because you're starting to convince me.

I've done this sort of thing with students before. I'll tell them something utterly insane and obviously wrong, and watch them dutifully write it down before I turn around and chastise them for a collective lack of critical thinking. [For the record, I am not engaging this technique in my Bay thesis. I 100% seriously believe the TF films are a satirical magnum opus.] This is especially useful for probing uncomfortable or unmentionable issues. In some venues it is a difficult technique to pull off because the opportunity for follow-through isn't there. Like in cinema.


Prometheum5 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm inclined to think that you've just gone so far
> off the deep-end desperately searching for a
> reason why these movies are so bad that you've
> lost the ability to see how absurd your final
> theory is.

I'll give you the point about Bay's body of work as a director up to a degree. He's produced more films than he's directed and so he's always had a good measure of creative influence. So I don't think the bit about taking over the process flies here. I just think he's never been a traditionally "good" director and has presided over several huge stinkers. (Note that Bay Boys I & II are critical stinkers, too. Hell, all of his work except The Rock has been panned.) But his films have made loads of money (billions!), so he must be on to something.

Clearly Bay is making money and having fun at the expense of the audience. Or at least without respect for them. I'm claiming that the TF trilogy has been so contemptible as to defy any type of categorization other than satire. Everyone bemoans the lack of earnestness and cynicism in them. From an incredibly successful director with an increasingly terrible track record. All of these thing should raise some critical analysis.

Is it possible to produce such a blatantly awful trilogy? How?

Maybe one film, but not three. We live in a time when the entertainment business is so mature that traditionally good directors can lose their job for not making enough money. Surely we can think of film series that weren't very good, but can we think of many that are so bafflingly bad?

Has any other director approached the same level financial success and critical mess? Under what circumstances?

Perhaps. We could count Ed Wood and Uwe Boll, but their works don't fall into the same type of serialization. Nor do they approach the same confusing relationship of mega-budget and mega-mess. Big, expensive movies should not be quite this bad. Nor this consistently bad. Wood made bad movies because he was clueless and everyone around him knew it, hence his life and career were pretty miserable. Boll has a particular business model that works well in a foreign market and has no delusions about being a great director. Are there any other directors in the same scenario as Bay?

Are there any other explanations for what's going on?

It is entirely possible that I have overestimated Bay's control or intention with the TF movies. Perhaps these films are the product of committees with Bay acting only as a patsy front man. It is possible that a headless process created this consistently steaming mess. Is it likely? I'm not convinced it is.

Likewise, Bay has publicly admitted he wasn't making quality material and at the same time misdirected people's expectations about the third installment. So it seems unreasonable to assume his intentions were to earnestly create a "good" movie. Rather, the contrary is true. It seems he is uninterested in making a "good" movie. So we could assume he inattentively made a trilogy of bad movies. But does that undermine the inclusion of so much grotesquery and the undertones it creates? I don't think so.

In other words, is it possible to unintentionally create a satirical work?

I say yes, it is. In which case I'm leaving open the possibility that Bay is not a genius, but an accidental one. A savant, if you will. Otherwise, how can anyone account for the above?
Most likely a savant since in real life, he apparently lives the life his type of movies glamorizes (hot women, fast cars, Alpha Machismo level up to eleven...). I don't see "irony" in any aspect of what Michael Bay represents much less some sort of calculated endgame.

But there is a "grand joke" in there somewhere... that corporate synergy, military fetishism, and slick commercialized filmmaking can create this "thing" that will make gobs of money on a global scale even if the actual product is universally regarded as shite.
Gcrush Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ...satire is not always easily recognized...The
> Prince

What? Which The Prince are we talking about?


> ...Boll has a particular business model that works
> well in a foreign market and has no delusions about
> being a great director.

What? Which Uwe Boll are we talking about?

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Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 07/13/2011 02:22PM by Scopedog.
This may be neither here nor there, but the Iron Man story really wasn't changed much for the movie. In the comics, Stark was initially making weapons for US forces in Vietnam. The movie just swapped out Viet Cong for Ten Rings/Taliban. As a weapons manufacturer, who makes weapons for the US, where else would they be currently used? And Rhodey was always Air Force...the origin was retconned in the comics when they introduced Rhodey, so that he was in Viet Nam, as well, and helped Stark escape. I believe he's still in the military as War Machine, in the comics.

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[pgaijin.blogspot.com]
<I conclude Prime is distinct from Dirty Harry because DH was always played with a serious face and never indulged in grotesque humor.>

I dunno....Bronson in the final scene of "Death Wish"...that smile and finger gun are grotesquely humorous. I would say the follow-ups are even worse. But they were meant to be, I think.

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