The writers of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” decided to weave their tale into real history, making the Apollo 11 lunar landing and the Chernobyl accident a part of their movie about shape-shifting alien robots.
Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy (or, video footage of them, anyway) and astronaut Buzz Aldrin even make cameo appearances in the film.
But could the movie also be making critical references about our current president and politics?
It certainly could be, if you notice the film’s hilarious coincidence with a current news story and if you’re willing to stir some snarky spin into the script.
A stretch? Yes. But it’s more fun to play along with the idea than to actually analyze what, if anything, this film – which consists of little more than lame jokes, lots of explosions and lingering shots of female anatomy – is trying to “say.”
As for the film’s more significant worldview messages, there’s very little depth beyond a few, throwaway lines about “believing in yourself” and the shameless objectification of the lead actress’s physical assets.
But if you stick with me, we’ll have a little fun at Obama’s expense.
The storyline of the film suggests that the international “space race” of the 1960s was in response to the secret discovery of a crashed spaceship on the dark side of the moon. The ship belonged to the Transformers – an alien race of mechanical, robotic beings capable of hiding among earthlings by transforming into mankind’s vehicles – and contained a dangerous, intergalactic weapon.
As the third film in the recent incarnation of this once-cartoon franchise, it continues the storyline of the young man, Sam Witwicky, who befriended the noble clan of Transformers, who call themselves Autobots, in their quest against the evil Transformers, called Decepticons. Witwicky, it seems, must again survive a gauntlet of bullets and rockets and explosions and crashing buildings to yet again save all humanity from the Decepticons.
While not good as the first “Transformers” film, “Dark of the Moon” is better than the abysmal and laughably bad second film, at least achieving the high praise of being called “mildly entertaining.”
Good filmmaking it’s not, fulfilling the cynical stereotype of how Hollywood makes a summer hit in that it forgoes good writing for special effects, a compelling story for exciting explosions and quality acting for a cast that includes a Victoria’s Secret model as the female lead (yes, really). While it’s a treat to see John Malkovich take up a role in the movie, not even he can save the film, which just suffers far too much from far too little attention paid to storytelling on screen.
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is everything that separates teenage boys from their ticket dollars in droves, while providing them all the intellectual nutrition of cotton candy.
But what’s this business about Obama?
For starters, Witwicky receives a medal in the film from the president. And while the twenty-something Sam is literally gaga for Obama, reverently showing off his medal as though it represents great status, every other character who sees it … is simply not impressed.
Even more fun, however, is the coincidental likening of Obama to Decepticon leader Megatron.
At the opening of the film, the leader of the Autobots explains that on their planet, the Autobots fought for freedom, while the Decepticons fought for tyranny. Since no one could plausibly argue Obama is fighting for greater freedom, but a case could be made his policies are pushing us toward a more tyrannical federal government … clue No. 1, Obama is a Decepticon.
Later in the film, a human accomplice of the Decepticons proclaims, “You have to be on the side of progress if you want to be part of history”: Hmmm, “progress,” progressive, … yep, clue No. 2 Obama is a Decepticon.
The same accomplice also declares, “We all work for the Decepticons now.” Given Obama’s record government spending, attempted takeovers in the banking, auto and health industries and an ever-increasing percentage of the population working in the public sector … yep, clue No. 3 Obama is a Decepticon.
Finally, a reporter over at MSNBC recently got in a lot of trouble for turning aside after listening to Obama speak, when he thought the microphones were off, and calling Obama “kind of a dick.”
In the film, the Decepticon’s human accomplice listens to Megatron give yet another self-aggrandizing speech, turns aside where the Decpticons can’t hear and pronounces of his robot leader, “What a dick!”
As I was already joking with myself about the idea of the Decepticons being like Obama, when I heard the same crude word used to describe the same, condescending, self-centered attitude … I just about fell out of my chair laughing! What are the odds of the film so paralleling real life?
In the end, the MSNBC host Mark Halperin got suspended for the insult. The human accomplice in “Dark of the Moon” doesn’t fare any better.
And unless Victoria’s Secret and mindless explosions are enough to earn your movie ticket dollars, you could also fare better than “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” contains about 40 profanities and obscenities, most of which are tossed slipshod into the script without much reason or significant effect.
- The film, naturally, contains a significant amount of violence. Above and beyond the bullets and bombs and various things blowing up, however, the Decepticons also shoot humans with plasma bursts, instantly pulverizing them into flying chunks of flesh (OK, the Obama metaphor clearly ends here), flaming bones, skulls and sprays of blood. It’s brief, but gruesome, and a step up in gore from the previous films in this franchise.
- Sexuality in the film is first, frequent and in your face. The movie opens with a shot on the rear of female lead, Carly, as she walks in a pair of panties up the steps. Later Carly straddles Sam, Carly makes out with Sam, Carly flashes leg, Carly flashes cleavage, Carly makes lewd references about giving Sam “a job,” a character gives a speech about feminine curves while the camera pans slowly on Carly, and Carly and Carly and Carly. When it isn’t Carly being a sex symbol, the other women in the film do their best to get their skin on screen, including a pointless scene about a woman dressed as a “hootchie mama.” There’s also a sequence where a man badgers Sam in a bathroom stall and has to strip to get a hidden document from his pants. Several lewd jokes and innuendo-laden quips about homosexuality follow.
- The film has several, relatively insignificant religious references. For example, a prominent cross hanging from a rearview mirror in unable to protect a man from death, the alien ship is called “The Ark,” the Decepticons talk about “being gods” on their home planet, and so forth. None of it is developed or meaningfully discussed.