In light of Michael Bay’s fifth (5th!) upcoming robot-sex movie, Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), I thought it appropriate to look back on Bay’s previous work on the franchise that has become synonymous with big, loud, brain-dead Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking, as well as obnoxious product placement and blatant, shameless international pandering. I have made my thoughts on the franchise and its imitators crystal clear for some time, but thought I’d share my observations on several prominent trends in Age of Extinction (2014), which have not surprisingly become more prevalent in Hollywood as a whole.
The accompanying photograph contains tallies of the number of times Age of Extinction features product placement, gratuitous, sexualized shots of female actresses (i.e. objectification), depicts an American flag, and panders to the People’s Republic of China. Oh, and it also counts each time star Mark Wahlberg mentions that he’s an inventor. Because inventing = smart.
For those who cannot read my handwriting, here is an edited text transcript:
- Product Placement [# different ads/scene; multiple shots of same product within same scene count as single PP]: 45
- Sexual Objectification Shots [# pervy shots/scene (total shots)]: 8
- American Flags [# total shots of entire flag]: 25
- People’s Republic of China, Nationalist Pandering [notable instances/sequences/lines/cameos appealing to China’s political power or cultural exceptionalism]: 9
- No. Times Mark Wahlberg mentions “Inventors, Inventions, or Inventing” : 6
Keep in mind these tallies are approximations. I only watched the film with a friend once (I didn’t have the strength to rewind entire scenes, let alone rewatch the film), and we tallied as we went.
My friend and I watched this a long time ago, and I can’t recall whether we finished the movie in one sitting (I doubt it) or split the load into two parts. Either way, I remember being bored throughout and rolling my eyes numerous times. This is coming from me, the action-junkie. It strains the mind to think of an action franchise better at draining all the fun and excitement from computer generated figures punching each other for hours. It’s “awesome” in a weird sort of of way, that kind of power. But hey, at least they’re making more.
I have no romantic inclination to believe I’ll dissuade those audience members who watch this series out of either masochistic entertainment or a misplaced sense of irony, to forgo seeing this latest film, because those folks have already made up their minds. While I am somewhat relieved that North American audiences are catching on to Michael Bay’s bullshit, overseas markets — particularly those in Asia, and China, especially — have more than offset that domestic box office trend. Expect Transformers: The Last Knight to gross over $1 billion with its incoherent action, bland script, irritating characters, cringe-worthy humor, and artificial human drama.
No, I haven’t seen the film yet, and I like to refrain from judging a project before I’ve seen it, but at this point, after four bad to terrible films, it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. And the Transformers franchise doesn’t just blow — it sucks.