We all know that Michael Bay is not just a shitty director, but he may be THE SHITTIEST director in all the land. Sure he's made a couple decent movies like The Rock and the first Transformers movie two years ago. But he also made both Bad Boys movies (and not the one with Sean Penn), Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, and the would-have-been-good-if-Michael-Bay-didn't-fuck-it-up The Island. If it weren't for Brett Ratner, James Toback, Uwe Boll, McG, Rob Cohen, Kevin Smith and Rod Lurie, he would clearly be the shittiest director in movies today.
But I realized that with Transformers 2, Michael Bay did something that he does in all his movies, and it just worked for me. He tapped into the juvenile child that I once was.
If you look at really any of MB's films, they are all just a celebration of machismo and being a man's man. He always has the dramatic 180-degree semi-circle camera shot, usually filmed from dick-level pointing upward, showing the sun in the background and group of determined capital-M "Men" ready to unleash their own brand of manly revenge.
Since I am a manchild of class and distinction, I have rarely fell for the rouse, scoffing at such neanderthal impulses, and opting for the more erudite, lyrical films of Frears, Lumet, Stanley Kaufmann, Egoyan, Noah Baumbach and the like.
However, because of my aforementioned connection with the Transformers brand, Michael Bay was able to bypass my cynical filtering mechanisms and successfully elicit a genuine adrenaline response.
If I may digress for one moment, I did see the film with my good friend D.Blakes, who is a unique movie-goer. D.Blakes is an African-American, and he treats any movie theater as if it were his own living room. So when Optimus Prime was taking on five Decepticons by himself, D.B. let out a high-pitched "WHOOOOOO!" When someone said something rude to one of the Autobots, D.B. -- at a silent moment -- said, "Oh shit, that nigga bout to get smacked in the mouth for that!" Thank God he's huge or else we would have had people shushing us the entire time.
So it turns out that most of the excitement that I felt in my chest came not from the storyline itself, or from the explosions being shown on the screen, or even by the mildly-attractive Ms. Megan Fox. No, it came from my extensive knowledge of the Transformers Generation One storylines.
I know that Optimus Prime is the baddest mo-fo this side of Cybertron. I know that Megatron treats Starscream like Michael treats Toby on "The Office." (Toastie's line, nuff respect due.) I know that Bumblebee and Sam (Spike in the cartoons) have a very special relationship. And I know this because I was obsessed with these stupid little plastic things when I was like 8 years old.
In fact, I think back to about 1984 or so, trying to imagine the amount of hair that would have spontaneously sprouted on my smooth boyish chest if I had seen so much as one minute of the Transformers 2 trailer back then. That such a thing could exist was inconceivable. I had envisioned a Transformers Atari 2600 game back then, but I couldn't decide whether the red button on the joystick would shoot a gun or make the robots transform into vehicles (or vice versa). Watching Optimus Prime stand up for the first time would have made my head explode.
These movies tap into something very primal (no pun intended) that is embedded in my psyche. And because of that, I was so willing to forgive all the terrible dialogue ("Mean robots suck!" "Punk-ass Decepticon!"), iffy acting, loud kabooms and completely incomprehensible plot. I mean the Matrix of Leadership turned to dust and then re-materialized? What the eff? Also, they could have shown all the "Primes" but instead just gave them one blurry, cursory scene! And sweet lord, don't you think that Megan Fox would have gotten a little bit of dirt or sand somewhere on her face or body at some point after running through the desert for two hours??!??!?!
But yet, I check my intellect at the door. As much as I know the movie is terrible, I still liked it. I would totally see it again. It's like the culmination of my youth, writ large. It's the same reason I gave Watchmen a pass, as disappointing as that was, and it's the same reason the G.I. Joe theatrical trailer gave me something akin to goose-bumps. And I wasn't even a G.I. Joe fan when I was a kid! (Sidebar, I'm a Judd Apatow fan, but that new Adam Sandler movie looks like a steaming pile. They practically gave away the entire plot in the trailer.)
These Hollywood assholes have finally found a way to crack through the veneer of us Gen-X film snobs. These bastards give us something that made us really happy when we were kids, update it, and then force us to try to hate it.
So bottom line, if they decide to make updates of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Go-Bots, M.U.S.C.L.E. wrestlers, Voltron, M.A.S.K. (that's Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, not the Eric Stoltz film), Thundercats or Super-Friends, my ass will be in the theater.
Of course, they did ruin Spider-Man, X-Men (the third one) and Star Wars for me in my later years so I suppose they can ruin anything.