Sam Strange Remembers: TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
Just so you know… there are spoilers.
Transformers has long been my film series for feeling out the outer walls of summer blockbuster stupidity. We already know people are kind to script deficiencies if the visuals are good enough. But if people’s standards don’t even demand one character’s question match another character’s answer, I need to know about it. If one Transformer can shoot another Transformer, then completely disappears for no reason only to show up again suddenly buddies with the shot Transformer to save a character we’ve never met before, that makes my job much easier. If people really are only paying to see various versions of fire, I’m in good shape.
To see how far I could go, I made Transformers 3, a film that goes out of its way to not make sense, not in a Transformers 2 way, where going through a door can take one across the country, but in a completely new way where even the logical glue between individual shots is difficult to verify.
Furthermore, I also wanted to see if we could do away with being stuck in one boring mode for a whole movie. There’s this show called Saturday Night Live, and they get to change tone, characters, and plot like fifteen times an episode. Why can’t films do that, too? So, if there’s a part of Transformers 3 you don’t like, just hold on, and maybe you’ll like the next bit.
The first sketch is about how a Transformer ship once hit the moon and America invents the Apollo space program just to check it out. A lot of this stuff contradicts Transformers 2 because I’m also trying to test whether or not Transformers 2 even exists our collective memory. Continuity is a bitch, and I wouldn’t mind doing away with it all together.
After this intro, we once again meet Sam Winkwinky, the franchise’s hero. Now that we’re three deep, I’ll tell you the secret of Sam Winkwinky. See, there used to be this show called The Wonder Years. In it, a boy named Kevin Arnold spent every episode being nice, then acting like a little asshole, then learning a lesson that effected his adult life. My idea for Sam Winkwinky was to punish audiences by basically giving them Kevin Arnold in asshole mode all the time.
Sam’s best friend is a car named Bumblebee. Bumblebee can talk, but his gay British accent embarrasses Sam, so he is only allowed to speak by cutting together dialog from other films. Whenever Sam and Bumblebee get together, Sam either yells at him or vents all his frustrations in his presence. Sam never once asks for Bumblebee’s thoughts on anything because what kind of idiot expects a car to have feelings?
Sam used to have a girlfriend who was an animated sex doll. Now that he’s grown up, his new girlfriend is an animated chunk of sculpted ice. Sam had her voice box removed, but she can still express herself by opening her lips and occasionally going cross-eyed.
Even though he lives in a really nice apartment and his parents are rich enough to own their own Tom Petty-sized touring bus, Sam really wants a job. No one will hire him, however, because he’s a known Transformers accomplice, and most businessmen are still mad about all the buildings they’ve had to rebuild thanks to those assholes. He eventually finds a position working for John Malkovich and Ken Jeong. Malkovich is a prickly gay karate guy, while Jeong is a gay Asian with delusions of urban menace. This leads to a really funny workplace sketch. The catchphrase is “Bitch!”
There are sometimes Transformers in this movie, too. The main one is named Optimus Prime. Optimus’ main character trait is that he’s really really stupid but doesn’t know it. Like Sam, he’s asserted as a heroic figure while acting like the butt of a normal film’s joke. When he shows up at the end to win the day, audiences will cheer even though his clumsy ass just spent twenty minutes accidentally tangled up in some wires.
Optimus finds out about the Transformer moon landing thing and gets really mad because it means he’s found not only an old friend, but also a weapon that will help him win a war. He goes up to the moon to retrieve his bud and his bud’s weapon, and the two have beers over old times before it’s revealed that the whole thing was a trap set by the bad guys to get the weapon.
There are two bad guys and we meet them after a five minute b-roll of nature footage (in IMAX 3D!). One has a cape, so I know what he looks like. The other does not have a cape, so even if I were holding a toy of him in my hand right now, I’m not sure I’d know what he looks like.
These two bad Transformers need to grab the old Transformer Optimus just woke up. Sam Winkwinky figures this out because it turns out his girlfriend’s boss got him his job so he’d run into Ken Jeong who would give Sam key information before dying but not before looking like they had sex. Then, it’s revealed that Winkwinky’s girlfriend’s boss is a bad guy. Or perhaps he’s a really bad good guy.
Sam and Bumblebee must protect this new Transformer from the two bad Transformers. Optimus would help, but he gets his foot stuck in a storm drain. Once the new Transformer is safe, he reveals himself as a traitor in cahoots with the bad Transformers they just fought. Then they all disappear, leaving Sam to try and figure out what the hell is going on.
First he talks to the head of the CIA, played by Francis McDormand. When she says “I don’t know,” Sam talks to her superior, played by Robert DeNiro. When he says, “I don’t know,” Sam talks to the president himself, played by Daniel Day Lewis (in lightly-applied black face). Daniel Day Lewis says he doesn’t know either. So Sam digs up his old buddy, John Turturro. Turturro doesn’t know either, but he has a gay sidekick who knows karate.
It doesn’t matter anyway because the bad Transformers take over Chicago. Just the city, not the suburbs probably. The old Transformer’s weapon basically is a transportation device. He assembles it a tiny bit, I think, to transport a bunch of evil Transformers to earth. Then he gets to work assembling it all the way, I think, to transport an evil planet on top of our planet, I think.
At this point, the film becomes a clusterfuck of edits and movement for over an hour. You’re not supposed to “know” anything, but here’s what I know:
*Sam Winkwinky’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by Sam Winkwinky’s girlfriend’s boss because he wants to be in the good graces of our new Alien overlords. In other words, he’s being an Ellis, but far more stupid. Sam goes into Chicago to retrieve her because she’s a really good cook.
*With Sam are a bunch of Badasses assembled from all over America, and Tyrese. They all go to help Sam save his girlfriend from bad Transformers, then chicken out when they go to save his girlfriend from bad Transformers. Before they can run away, they are spotted and can’t leave. Then they’re suddenly not spotted, but they don’t leave.
*A bunch of humans who can fly show up and fly all over the place. When they land, they climb buildings and jump off so they can fly again. One of them might be Timothy Olyphant from the first two Transformer movies.
*Everyone wants to shoot the building which holds the old Transformer’s weapon. Sam and his crew try it, but a worm Transformer eats their building before they can get their shot off. After that, they give up.
*Good Transformers show up. I think there are four of them. Optimus gives a big speech about “taking the fight to THEM!” The next time we see them, they’re captured by the bad guys, and Optimus is tangled in some wires.
*Sam watches as Bumblebee is almost executed. Bumblebee gets saved by something that is suspiciously NOT Sam Winkwinky.
*Optimus fights the old Transformer. The cape Transformer fights the old Transformer, too. Optimus kills the cape Transformer. Then, Optimus kills the cape Transformer…or the old Transformer, I mean. Optimus then kills one of his own Transformers accidentally but makes up for it by destroying the building which holds the old Transformer’s weapon. He doesn’t shoot the weapon, just the whole building around it.
Rather than being some big battle, it’s really more a series of tiny battles that have no relationship with each other. Does logical context improve entertainment? I’m betting heavy on “no”. It’s all an excuse to see the awesome destruction of recognizable buildings such as Sears Tower, the Space Needle, the Eiffel Tower, and the World Trade Center.
When it’s all over, the good guys have won and the bad guys are all bruised. Sam gets his girlfriend and his car and a job and he still bitches about everything. John Turturro and Francis McDormand fuck and have a baby Transformer. Just to make sure none of this shit every happens again, Optimus Prime blows up the moon.