Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie
Huntington-Whiteley, Ken Jeong
Michael Bay gets a lot of flack for making “guy movies”—explosion-filled, testosterone-fueled action, with objectified supermodels parading around in their underwear. To the casual observer, these high-gloss spectacles would seem to be the product of an immature male mind. It is my assertion after watching “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” that Michael Bay is a self-loathing male who isn’t celebrating manliness but deconstructing it.
It explains why the men in the “Transformers” films are all so stupid. No one could create characters this dense or moronic without trying to say something. Take Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf). The last time we saw Sam he was reluctantly drawn back into the war between Autobots and Decepticons, despite his best efforts to create a normal life for himself. Now, he’s a college graduate looking for a job, desperate to do something that matters. This is difficult since “office jockey” isn’t as fulfilling as “saving the world from an alien invasion.” Sam is still the awkward, lost millennial searching for meaning. He spends most of the movie wearing an entitlement complex the size of a cinder block around his neck, expecting life to hand him great things. Bay’s statement about men: The younger generation are a bunch of whiny, spoiled babies.
Sam heads out into the big city to find a job. The only job he can find is in a mail room for a crazy corporate tycoon named Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich). Bay uses Brazos to symbolize the middle-aged man. He’s a crazy, obsessive-compulsive control freak who fancies himself a martial arts alpha male. Brazos is all ego—a giant, self-tanned phallus who has used cunning and intelligence to gain wealth and prosperity. Yet, all he yearns for is a fight. He’s a hairless ape, with all the gold-trimmed trappings of modern society but struggles with his natural male instincts.
Bay becomes a lot less subtle in his analysis of the male member by introducing us to one of Brazos’ employees, Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong). Wang is a frenzied, manic, tiny man, but he seems hellbent on confrontation. He attempts to impose his miniscule will onto those around him, and if the metaphor of the small penis isn’t clear enough, Bay has him pull out two gigantic guns to sell it visually. Yes, Wang is the personification of penis-envy.
The only sane person in the movie is Sam’s disproportionately hot girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). She has a promising career, a can-do attitude, and an ass that would make a Tibetan monk weep. Her boss, on the other hand, exists only for Bay to further deconstruct the institution of man. Dylan (Patrick Dempsey) is another super wealthy character who seems to have it all: looks, charm and unlimited funds. Still, he, too, is unfulfilled. He can have any woman he wants, but the one he pines for is Carly. Later in the film, we learn that Dylan has been working for the bad guys—a decepticon sympathizer, as it were. Bay once again helps deconstruct the modern man by showing us how quick we are to compromise our integrity (see previous remark about Huntington-Whiteley’s ass).
At this point, the giant fighting robots in 3D and the massive battle for the fate of the Earth is a backdrop for his male characters to revert to form and regress to mindless violence. And toward the end of the movie, when it looks like evil is going to win, who ends up saving the planet but Carly. How? She goes to the villainous Megatron and plays to his ego, telling him he’s being used like a little bitch. Megatron gets angry and turns on his evil partner just in time to save the world from destruction. Of course, Megatron is too stupid to realize he’s being played until it’s too late. Wait a second. Really stupid … manipulated by a beautiful woman … I guess Transformers do have penises.
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is packed to the brim with mind-boggling action, some impressive 3D visuals, and the most subversive examination of the male psyche since “Rocky IV.”