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The Midweek Marquee: Optimus Grime

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Megatron and Optimus Prime & Co. are back, storming into theaters today with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

As far as sequels go, this $200M action flick is no Dark Knight. In fact, for all of the acclaim that film got, Transformers has gotten pummeled by the critics. While most reviews have been stinging harshly, blasting the movie for its lack of plot and bloated special effects, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis offers a deeper examination:

“The creative people behind the cretinous Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the second blockbuster inspired by the popular Hasbro toys, have segmented their demographic into four discrete categories:

1. Young teenage boys who still play with Transformer toys (or keep them under the bed).
2. Older teenage boys who identify with the professional doofus Shia LaBeouf.
3. Somewhat older teenage boys who would like to play with the professional hottie Megan Fox.
4. Boys of all ages who think it would be cool to go to war and run around the desert shooting guns.

… and make no mistake: (Director Michael Bay) is an auteur. His signature adorns every image in his movies, as conspicuously as that of Lars von Trier, and every single one is inscribed with a specific worldview and moral sensibility… the man just wears you out and wears you down, so much so that it’s easy to pretend that you’re not ingesting 2 hours and 30 minutes of warmongering along with all that dumb fun.”

It sounds like a post-9/11 headache to me! I fell for the first Transformers. I sat in my seat, excited for a fun popcorn flick, but instead I got endless sequences that resembled Operation Iraqi Freedom with fancy robots thrown in. To quote ex-President Bush, “Fool me once, shame… shame on you.  Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” Of course, for blockbusters such as this one, it doesn’t matter if the reviews are horrible.  The damage by advertisers and media hype has already been done.  People are programmed to be excited, regardless of how they really feel inside. That’s why Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is projected to make a ton of money. That means more sequels. The Transformers franchise is a money-making machine that not even Optimus Prime could stop.

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