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Terry van Feleday
Jun 6, 2010

Free Your Mind


Well, it's done! This thread is for the detailed, scene-by-scene analysis I made for the Transformers movie trilogy, starting last year and concluding after a long hiatus. If you're interested, you can find a compilation of my full writings plus some discussion excerpts...

...in .pdf format, thanks to Fat Lou
...as an EPUB file, thanks to Leospeare

Thank you for reading.


Original thread (archived)

Terry van Feleday fucked around with this message at 11:22 on Apr 20, 2014

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Terry van Feleday
Jun 6, 2010

Free Your Mind


Part 14: “Every frame is so dense, it has SO MUCH going on!“



Heroically storming the city (and, in Optimus Prime’s case, losing his trailer along the way), the Autobots re-join with our human protagonists in a church with some rather... Peculiar decorations. Churches are the oldest example of a sanctuary or “safe space”, designating this scene as a last little breather before poo poo his the fan (again).



While Optimus complains about his missing trailer (”I need that flight tech!”), he makes kind of an interesting dance around this rather Shin Megami Tensei-esque angel. The shot begins with him to her left, in her field of view, but his back turned to her. He turns around smoothly, but just as the statue moves into his field of view, his turning suddenly speeds up, scanning the other side of the room past her. He then moves to the right, and again turns his head quickly so his view shoots right past the statue, resulting in the shot above, where he’s actually divided from her by the strong line of her wings, looking into the opposite direction. Finally, he threateningly/dramatically cocks his gun for no reason, and the camera follows him to the right, the statue exiting its view left, never to be seen again.
I find it interesting because even though the statue itself is such a striking setpiece set up to immediately draw the viewer’s attention with its visual weight, Optimus himself actively denies its presence, as though he couldn’t bear to look at it. Aside from the obvious dissociating effect of him complaining about his toys while the viewer is busy wondering why the hell there’s a huge bronze statue of a naked angel with a whip smack-dab in the middle of a church in Chicago*, keep in mind also that this is a naked female angel cast in dark metal sitting amongst a scene of destruction and defiled sanctity in a position of great lament, a series of images previously associated with the character of Megatron.

*Unless there actually is a church in Chicago with a naked BDSM angel statue sitting right in its centre, in which case, welp


I should also note that Optimus has a history of not looking at angels, as seen here in Revenge.



While Optimus sends out the Wreckers to be murdered by Shockwave, Epps reminds the viewer of the humans’ target, the broken glass building here framed by more broken glass. Someone on the production team either really loving loves or really loving hates glass.



But before they go, Que reminds us that he’s supposed to be an inventor, and drops some techy gadgets on the floor. Convenient arm-mounted superhero grappling hooks and... Grenades. Wait a second. Take a look at that grenade in the centre. A cylindrical container connected to a long stick by which it is held. The German arms manufacturer just handed them some Stielhandgranaten. Welp, I guess it took them long enough to invoke the Nazis!


It’s even less subtle in some of the concept art. Also it’s a lightsaber I guess??



Garbage Day cameo in the background! Fun fact: I had no idea SA had an admin called that until just a couple weeks ago

Actually, in the interim, I found out I was wrong about him. While he resembles the garbage truck man from the riot scene before, thanks to how little he’s kept in focus, he’s actually an entirely different character. Whoops! Except.


Yes, rather than being a blue-collar vehicle, GD is a literal communist rocket truck. That only makes it less subtle!!



There’s a bit of a cute moment where the Wreckers all fire at Shockwave with like 12 machine guns and he immediately takes a car to use as a shield, until he realises that the tiny bullets can’t even scratch him and just throws it away.



Civilians! Much like the statue from before, they just kind of scroll off the left side of the screen as the camera focuses on the running protagonists.



The military approaches the city in Ospreys, which don’t seem to stand much of a chance against the Decepticon ships. Humanity is pretty hopelessly outclassed when it comes to technology.



The military scenes keep returning to this guy. He’s not named (beyond “kid”) and pretty incidental in every way, but the few words we get out of him give an actual solid breadth of emotion that really humanizes this entire operation. Contrast with TF2007 and ROTF, where the human zerglings were pretty much faceless automatons, and you can really see the upturn in compassion that happens in this film. There’s two such characters, him and another dude we’ll see in a bit, who display an unusual degree of human concerns and emotions. It feels strange that they use what are effectively background extras for this, instead of, you know, their main characters.
What also surprised me was that both of these characters are black. See, Hollywood has this problem where they tend to sort of disregard America’s demographics, ending up with cities and armies conspicuously dominated by white dudes, to say nothing of main characters. This film’s main characters certainly reflect this, as even the robots are explicitly coded to read as white. Add to that the weird commentary the movies tried to make on race in media, which sort of tried to go somewhere in the first and then spectacularly backfired in the second, and it just ends up feeling really unlike them to cast two black dudes for the express purpose of having someone the audience can actually relate to for this last bit. It almost feels like an apology – one that rings completely hollow of course, particularly since they repeated the same poo poo they did before, just with Asians.



Love this shot of the Deceptiplanes sticking to the side of a building like moths. It’s cute.



Also cute: The way Starscream shots “locusts!” I’m starting to notice a bit of an insect theme here.

So, now that they’re in the city, how does the military hope to accomplish anything against Starscream and the technologically and numerically superior force of the Decepticons? Simple.





Tactical flying squirrel suits.




It makes perfect sense, really. With the past movies, we had humanity trying to challenge the aliens on equal grounds, by building big toys to fight their big toys. The problem is, this form of combat is ultimately unwinnable. I’d like to bring up the big railgun from the previous movie, the absence of which here is often considered a plot hole – like, yeah, it shot down a really big dude and could probably do a lot of damage, but consider: It needs an entire battleship to operate, and if a targeted strike on that ship was led, that’s it for the big gun. You might even be able to build more of them, but equally speaking, the Transformers can just bring more bigger toys: Sentinel states that there are more Transformers in total than there are humans(!), so we’ve barely begun to scratch their total military capacity in these three movies.
So instead of attempting to challenge their enemy where they’re strong, humanity has decided to capitalise on their weakness: Their inability to deal with small, mobile targets. The wingsuits improve their aerial mobility, allowing them to swarm their opponents from the air as well as from the ground. The “locusts!” exclamation is only too appropriate.

By the way, the suits are an actual thing, though I don’t think they’re used by the military. Thanks, Top Gear!

Alright, so after that bit, we get to another scene that really needs a video. Click here to see a scene I like a lot!

The thing I would like to call attention to most is the texture of the sequence. So far, most scenes took place at ground level, lousy with dirt and debris and burning wreckages, tinted in this unpleasant dark grey smoke-like filter, but in the earliest part of that sequence, when they reach that office, everything totally shifts. It’s not immediately apparent, but as you look at it, you slowly start realising how unnatural it looks.



The movie barely gives us any time to take in the surroundings as the characters carelessly rush past, but look closely. Every surface is clean and shiny. Every single chair is straight and beautifully aligned with the tables. Books are neatly stacked and refreshments untouched. There’s no sign of a panic, people being interrupted in their work and running for the exits, or even any work having taken place at all, no stray half-finished coffee cups, loose documents flying about, anything like that. In a building currently standing at a 30 degree angle. There’s an apocalypse outside and it’s like no human has ever actually been here. And yet the building is lit. After all the grit and blood and broken glass from before, the undisturbed office feels inhumanly smooth.
The fascinating thing is that it’s this very texture that becomes an antagonist in this sequence. The Decepticons don’t bother fighting directly past the first bit, they just angle the structure and let physics do the work. And so we see the order of the building continously break down and texture and chaos returning, but not before the protagonists get to slide around a bunch. On the uppermost floor, there’s a black carpet laid which offers a solid standing ground for the characters, but as they transition to the shining glass, it cannot support them, and their frantic grasps meet nothing. Not satisfied with merely having symbolic breaking glass, the characters then turn their weapons on the surface itself as though it were an enemy, reintroducing chaos into the system and allowing them to return into the building... Except this time, there’s no carpet. The floor here is just as white and gleaming as the tables above and the glass outside, and again our protagonists cannot find hold until they grab onto the dark cables freed by the damage to the building. And here we see the fluttering papers, cups being thrown around, and so on – it’s not just the building that progressively decays, but the entire picture. From here, the colour balance progressively shifts from the gleaming white back to the drab and gritty textures of the buildings below, and the rusty old fireladder becomes a symbol of (temporary) safety. And then Shockwave shows up.
Alright, so this is where things kinda go completely off the rails, so bear with me please.
Let’s look at the tower itself. What real-life concept could be seen as resembling?




Yeah GEE IDUNNO HELP ME OUT HERE GUYS

Okay, this is... Not subtle. But really, that just makes it more fascinating. Let’s start with the abstract: Remembering Zizek, who referred to the WTC as a “capitalist smooth space”, we see a number of references to that in the scene itself. Starting with the general inhuman smoothness I described above, we also have the fluorescent yellow/orange lights on the ceiling which don’t belong anywhere near an actual office space, thanks to workplace psychology, the utterly inexplicable alcohol standing there, and every single plant in the whole room being the same colour. We’ve already discussed the connection between yellow/gold and material wealth, and really this entire room is a subtle visual throwback to the early scene with Sam and Malkovich. Really, I wish the establishing shots of the room would have lasted more than a fraction of a second, though I’m not sure what that would have done to the pacing and stuff. It all ends up being too subdued compared to the crass imagery we get during the actual tower collapse, and it would have been neat to have a bit more focus on the virtuality of the thing and its entire nature as a space for machines to convince other machines that money is being generated.
The funny part of this is the physical impossibility of the building itself and the monumental effort required on part of the Decepticons to let gravity actually do its work. Remember that this movie takes place in conspiracy-space, where the twin towers could never have fallen straight downwards like they did without a controlled demolition. Clearly, if they were attacked from the side, they would have toppled sideways. Clearly. Just look at this compelling video evidence.
On the other side then, we have Shockwave, the polar opposite of everything we just talked about : We have this shapeless, incoherent thing that is itself actually an anthropomorphised cloud of dust and debris, mindlessly destructive and all-consuming, which creates this two-fold image: Firstly, the physical and inevitable (here represented by CGI) tearing away at this virtual object/idea that is seen as being beyond decay (here also represented by CGI), and secondly, the standard 9/11 story of the anti-American Other destroying this image of American might/innocence. We therefore conclude that the thesis presented by Transformers: Dark of the Moon is that 9/11 was caused by an undead Soviet nuclear hate-phallus.
And that’s not even the incoherent part.

(Notice how, when Shockwave burrows into the building, suddenly lots of civilians show up where before they were conspicuously absent. It almost feels more like he brought them there rather than attacking a place they were previously present in.)

Even just taken on its own, this scene is potentially very powerful. We have this group of humans powerlessly attempting to resist an aggressive, destructive war machine/force of nature on one side and the cold apathy of their own creation on the other, attempting to navigate the figurative path between Scylla and Charybdis just to survive after their failed mission... That’s great stuff, you could make an entire movie based that concept. Dark Moon often drags, but everything we’ve seen to this point gives this scene a lot of extra weight. We have all these associations with the characters, the settings, and so on... Carly’s angelic nature, the Chernobyl scene, the ideas of wealth and work portrayed earlier, every open plot thread, really the entirety of the last six hours of the trilogy and all the bits of modern culture they touch on, all of these things are there, on the back of your mind, contextualising this scene. Transformers 2007 was often hard to follow because of the camera angles, lightning and so on obscuring the action, but this movie can be hard to follow because there’s just so much going on, visually, auditory, textually, that the brain simply struggles to keep up. Simple setups like Shockwave staring at Carly on the old fireladder under the glass ceiling of the perfectly horizontal tower become loaded with meaning, and the movie throws out one of these after another. And after the meticulous setup of everything we just have seen, probably only this movie could brazenly pull off what happens next.

Hoooooo dear.

Someone sets the cartoon dial on full tilt, and flying in comes the freedom man on a red, white (well, silver) and blue goddamn jetpack with two giant guns, shouts “I WILL SAVE YOU ALL” and takes apart the existential threat in two seconds flat. All it’s missing is confetti raining from the sky while the words “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” flash on the screen. We conclude a fantastical vision of the WTC attacks by having a truck man punching the explosion to death. Ta-da, everybody lives! It’s such an impossibly crass and tasteless moment that the entire movie seems to do a doubletake: The overwrought construction immediately gets caught up in its surroundings and immobilized. It is too absurd to exist in physical space. (Note how he gets trapped in a bunch of cables, much like the cables the human characters grabbed onto for safety.)

After such a meaningful sequence, this is just so... It reminds me of that cartoon version of Titanic in which the titular ship doesn’t sink. It would be offensive were it not so baffling. But in a sense, it’s only too appropriate, isn’t it?

It’s in the best interest of state and media to boil down complicated reality into simple narratives. When you have a complete clusterfuck like, say, Europe’s current financial situation, it’s impossible for a common person to wrap their head around the what and why of the whole thing, and as a result, the thing becomes “somebody else’s problem”, no matter how much it affects them. Of course, for maximum possible emotional investment, the topic tends to be reduced to the simplest narrative possible: The good guy, the bad guy, and the princess who needs to be saved, or, more succinctly, “Those Fuckers, Our poo poo”. Tell the German people it’s those lazy Greeks who took their money, and you have an instead widespread outrage, a potent political tool.
Of course, when it comes to terrorist attacks, the story is already handed to you on a silver platter. You have a villain and a victim, so all people will want is justice. To a degree, then, national response to the 9/11 attacks is entirely natural, and the celebration of the orchestrator’s death a solid decade later is just the closure of a chapter in history. Or at least, should be.
See, this is where things get funny. I don’t need to tell any reader how deeply that event actually affected society, and you see yourself how farcial the above paragraph reads as a result. I cannot tell you why, because I’m really not nearly qualified to make any statements about this whole affair (it’s too complicated for me, of course), but the impression that I get from media and discourse and the constant repetition of those images and phrases that have become burned into our memory is that America – and, consequently, the whole western world – never really moved past that date. And I don’t mean that in a rote “Never Forget” kind of way; I mean that 9/11 is, on some level, still happening, right now, as we speak.


The politoons thread in D&D is a hoot when it isn’t utterly depressing.

When something rests so heavily on an audience’s emotions, naturally they will want to deal with that trauma somehow. Returning to the idea of media narrative, it is once again the revenge play that usually does its job here. But in this case, 9/11 has become so synonymous with the idea of terror that the death of the man (seen as being) behind it accomplishes very little. If he’s dead and terror still happens, clearly the actual villain is still about; But in this case, the “actual villain” is the idea of terrorism. You can’t fight or kill a spectre like that. As a result, the story can never actually be concluded – we’re in the middle of the third act, but have no idea where to actually go from here.
So the only way entertainment can actually work with this anxiety – since they’ll want to capitalise on the viewers’ emotional investment – is to create villains from whole cloth. It might be Koreans, or vague Arab people, or aliens, or aliens that are also robots. A foreign force non-specific enough to stand in as a scapegoat, that Iron Man can punch in the face for a cathartic finish.
(To see what I mean, take a look back at the last two years and reflect on which big action blockbusters had and hadn’t some kind of 9/11 reference in them. Note that I’m not playing that loose with the idea of a 9/11 reference here – Transformers 2007 had an enemy plane crashing through a building, but it’s not really referential. The movies I’m thinking about explicitly replicate scenes or shots associated with the event in a calculated effort to evoke a particular emotion. It’s something that seems to have ballooned very recently, for some reason.)
The problem with this approach is that ultimately, it doesn’t work very well. It’s a poor reflection of reality, so it doesn’t actually help on an emotional level, but it invokes just enough of the real images to put them back into our subconscious... Thus again creating the need to cope. Like a PTSD-sufferer constantly returning to the place of their trauma, it becomes a viral image that necessitates itself.
As usual, all Transformers really does is cut the false subtlety and take the concept to its natural conclusion: SEAL Team 6 flying in on jetpacks to save Lady Liberty from Kim Commusama’s evil claws in the streets of Chicago.

Terry van Feleday fucked around with this message at 11:53 on Oct 12, 2013

rawdog pozfail
Jan 2, 2006

by Ralp


Yes, yes!! I steadily worked my way through your original thread a few months ago and subsequently linked it every chance I could get. I was always disappointed it cut off so abruptly so I just want to express my gratitude for your coming back and closing it out.

CPFortest
Jun 2, 2009

Did you not pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese?


Holy poo poo it's back

Effectronica
May 31, 2011


Fallen Rib

One thing that I don't remember being discussed much is the symbolism of Chicago. Among the US's biggest, most important cities, Chicago is one of two that's a long ways away from the coastline. Chicago is also associated with the heartland, the wide open prairies historically and the endless expanses of corn and wheat today. So while TF and ROTF mostly used places physically dissociated from geography (Hoover Dam and Shanghai are the only ones with a concrete sense of place), DOTM decides to set the climax right in the heart of the USA. The Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) was also the tallest skyscraper in the USA, until it was surpassed this year by the new World Trade Center. It stands taller than the original Twin Towers did. So we have this symbolic heart of the USA being invaded and occupied, and 9/11 is invoked, only with a larger scale- now, they're attacking the tallest building in the country!

We also have Cabrini Green, the infamous monument to the failures of American public housing, and the 1968 DNC riots, and the notoriously corrupt city politics. While these are not invoked so clearly, the Autobots enter through a burned-out section of the urban ghetto, and then we contrast to the tony apartment of Dylan. The American heartland is also a Heart of Darkness, and it isn't surprising that it has to be assaulted by the red, white, and blue robots in order to clear out the Communists, terrorists, poors and so on.

Finally, Chicago is also notorious for being a common destination for illegal immigrants into the USA. Sentinel and Megatron are about to take this to another level by illegally immigrating an entire planet here.

Pick
Jul 19, 2009


Nap Ghost

I have been waiting for this .

Robot Style
Jul 5, 2009



There's a special feature from the dvd/blu ray that goes into the sound design of the film. One of the things they take the time to mention is that the sound of the driller as it attacks the tower was a baboon that was screaming to warn it's trainer that someone had stolen his keys.
The driller is literally an animal responding to an injustice.

Robot Style fucked around with this message at 21:38 on Sep 25, 2013

Lord Krangdar
Oct 23, 2007

These are the secrets of death we teach.


I can't believe the old thread was over a year ago; I just recently re-watched Transformers and The Island with that thread in mind. It was striking how rough and haphazard the film-making was in the Island compared to the slickness and efficiency of Transformers (apart from that trilogy's bloated plot- I'm just talking about the way the films are assembled).

When the old thread was still going did we know there was going to be a fourth Bay film yet? I'm curious to see how it fits into the themes Terry has identified.

Robot Style
Jul 5, 2009



Lord Krangdar posted:

When the old thread was still going did we know there was going to be a fourth Bay film yet? I'm curious to see how it fits into the themes Terry has identified.

I don't know if it had been officially announced yet, but if this billboard from Trans4mers is any indication,



It's going to be an absolute treat.


EDIT:
Terry, do you have any plans to talk about Pain & Gain in this thread? It's a pretty big confirmation of everything that's been said in the last thread, not just about the Transformers films but about Bay's mindset in general. I know there's a Pain & Gain thread already but it's mostly just people popping in to say "I thought this movie would suck but it's actually p. cool".

Robot Style fucked around with this message at 21:48 on Sep 25, 2013

Lord Krangdar
Oct 23, 2007

These are the secrets of death we teach.


Hey wasn't the church in the OP's first picture also in The Island?

Robot Style posted:

I don't know if it had been officially announced yet, but if this billboard from Trans4mers is any indication,



It's going to be an absolute treat.

Great!

Xtanstic
Nov 22, 2007



You're back! Loved the first thread. Can't wait for the conclusion

Jenny Angel
Oct 24, 2010

Out of Control
Hard to Regulate
Anything Goes!


Lipstick Apathy

Welcome back! I'm really glad to see you're doing so well, and psyched for the return of the best goddamn thread in CineD (sorry handsome black actors thread, you have been kicked out). I'm really tempted to buy archives just to be able to refresh my memory on what went down in the first thread, or at least remember what points I made. Is this Lowtax's monetization strategy? It feels like one.

Occultatio
Aug 4, 2005

heroes
NEVER
die




Literally earlier this evening I was getting into an argument with my brother where he was trying to map Transformers to characters from the Iliad and I was getting mad because he thought Odysseus was Megatron and this transitioned into me trying to recapitulate the general thrust of the argument from the original thread and then trying to find it to show him and being very disappointed that it has disappeared from the internet except for the SA archives.

And then, not two hours later, you're back.

Tremendously excited for this to resume, and eagerly awaiting you or anybody else who saved them to find the pdfs from the first thread -- like Jonny Angel I'm seriously considering buying Archives just for this, but there are too many non-SA members I also need to share it with.


P.S.: obviously Odysseus is Bumblebee.

Skwirl
May 13, 2007

The 'blood babe with the silicone chest, 200-dollar haircut, and a closet full of the latest fashions.

Occultatio posted:

Literally earlier this evening I was getting into an argument with my brother where he was trying to map Transformers to characters from the Iliad and I was getting mad because he thought Odysseus was Megatron and this transitioned into me trying to recapitulate the general thrust of the argument from the original thread and then trying to find it to show him and being very disappointed that it has disappeared from the internet except for the SA archives.

And then, not two hours later, you're back.

Tremendously excited for this to resume, and eagerly awaiting you or anybody else who saved them to find the pdfs from the first thread -- like Jonny Angel I'm seriously considering buying Archives just for this, but there are too many non-SA members I also need to share it with.


P.S.: obviously Odysseus is Bumblebee.

You're right that Megatron isn't Odysseus, he's Che Guevera.

bushisms.txt
May 26, 2004

Scroll, then. There are other posts than these.



Is there anyway someone can upload the first thread somewhere? I don't have archives, but that thread was amazing, and I have some friends I want to send it to, but sending a forum link isn't appealing.

GonSmithe
Apr 25, 2010

Perhaps it's in the nature of television. Just waves in space.


bushisms.txt posted:

Is there anyway someone can upload the first thread somewhere? I don't have archives, but that thread was amazing, and I have some friends I want to send it to, but sending a forum link isn't appealing.

Fat Lou made them into PDFs, he just hasn't logged on since the thread was posted, but I'm sure he will soon.

Abitha Denton
Jan 10, 2012


GonSmithe posted:

Fat Lou made them into PDFs, he just hasn't logged on since the thread was posted, but I'm sure he will soon.

How do you figure, is he some sort of spirit that haunts Terry?

I am so glad this is back, I didn't find the first thread until it was almost over.

Chichevache
Feb 16, 2010

One of the funniest posters in GIP.

Just not intentionally.


I've been waiting months to watch Dark Side Moon, but I refused to do so without your guidance, Terry Van. Thank god you're here.

Safety Factor
Oct 31, 2009





Grimey Drawer

I was fascinated by the first thread and I'm glad the last movie is going to be finished off.

Chichevache posted:

I've been waiting months to watch Dark Side Moon, but I refused to do so without your guidance, Terry Van. Thank god you're here.
I watched it back during the last thread so I could follow along. And now I'm thinking of watching the whole trilogy while rereading the old stuff.

Dr Monkeysee
Oct 11, 2002

just a fox like a hundred thousand others


Nap Ghost

Skwirl posted:

You're right that Megatron isn't Odysseus, he's Che Guevera.

I must have a different version of The Iliad.

Rhyno
Mar 22, 2003

Google Image Results for
"Sexy Guy Gardner"


I'm glad you finally found the time to get back to this. And I can't wait for those PDFs so I can re-read this all over again.

Hemingway To Go!
Nov 10, 2008

im stupider then dog shit, i dont give a shit, and i dont give a fuck, and i will never shut the fuck up, and i'll always Respect my enemys.
- ernest hemingway


Terry van Feleday posted:

For those of you who have been there: Welcome back. Let’s continue as if nothing happened.

Democratic Pirate
Feb 17, 2010



gently caress yeah.

Terry van Feleday
Jun 6, 2010

Free Your Mind


Lord Krangdar posted:

When the old thread was still going did we know there was going to be a fourth Bay film yet? I'm curious to see how it fits into the themes Terry has identified.
We knew there was going to be a fourth one come summer '14, but not much else. Which, to be fair, isn't that much less than we know now.

Robot Style posted:

Terry, do you have any plans to talk about Pain & Gain in this thread? It's a pretty big confirmation of everything that's been said in the last thread, not just about the Transformers films but about Bay's mindset in general. I know there's a Pain & Gain thread already but it's mostly just people popping in to say "I thought this movie would suck but it's actually p. cool".
I actually only saw Pain & Gain a week ago (thanks, Germany!), and it really is Bay's best work and in terms of craftsmanship easily blows Transformers out of the water. I won't be talking about it much here because it really deserves to be covered in more significant detail, but now that I'm done with TF, I've been toying with the idea of giving it a similarly thorough analysis. I'll have to watch it again and see what I can say about it. If anyone reading hasn't seen it yet: Do so. Now there's a movie I can recommend without reservations.

Skwirl posted:

You're right that Megatron isn't Odysseus, he's Che Guevera.
Megatron is a lot of people. Funnily enough, while I didn't think of the Iliad, I am going to link him to a character from Greek myth.

CAPT. Rainbowbeard
Apr 5, 2012
My incredible shitposting will not transform the xbone into a good console


Lipstick Apathy

Effectronica posted:

One thing that I don't remember being discussed much is the symbolism of Chicago. Among the US's biggest, most important cities, Chicago is one of two that's a long ways away from the coastline. Chicago is also associated with the heartland, the wide open prairies historically and the endless expanses of corn and wheat today. So while TF and ROTF mostly used places physically dissociated from geography (Hoover Dam and Shanghai are the only ones with a concrete sense of place), DOTM decides to set the climax right in the heart of the USA. The Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) was also the tallest skyscraper in the USA, until it was surpassed this year by the new World Trade Center. It stands taller than the original Twin Towers did. So we have this symbolic heart of the USA being invaded and occupied, and 9/11 is invoked, only with a larger scale- now, they're attacking the tallest building in the country!

We also have Cabrini Green, the infamous monument to the failures of American public housing, and the 1968 DNC riots, and the notoriously corrupt city politics. While these are not invoked so clearly, the Autobots enter through a burned-out section of the urban ghetto, and then we contrast to the tony apartment of Dylan. The American heartland is also a Heart of Darkness, and it isn't surprising that it has to be assaulted by the red, white, and blue robots in order to clear out the Communists, terrorists, poors and so on.

Finally, Chicago is also notorious for being a common destination for illegal immigrants into the USA. Sentinel and Megatron are about to take this to another level by illegally immigrating an entire planet here.

It's still pronounced "Sears." It's like how you pronounce Worcestershire "wooster."

sigher
Apr 22, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole.


CAPT. Rainbowbeard posted:

It's still pronounced "Sears." It's like how you pronounce Worcestershire "wooster."

gently caress everyone that does this.

Fat Lou
Jan 21, 2008

Desert Heat? I thought it was Dessert Heat. No wonder it tastes so bad.



GonSmithe posted:

Fat Lou made them into PDFs, he just hasn't logged on since the thread was posted, but I'm sure he will soon.

gently caress, I...might not have it anymore. I will look though.

Edit: I don't but I will actually make a nice new one. The other one was kinda rough anyways. I will have it up in a day or two.

Fat Lou fucked around with this message at 08:38 on Sep 26, 2013

timeandtide
Nov 29, 2007

This space is reserved for future considerations.

Terry van Feleday posted:


I actually only saw Pain & Gain a week ago (thanks, Germany!), and it really is Bay's best work and in terms of craftsmanship easily blows Transformers out of the water. I won't be talking about it much here because it really deserves to be covered in more significant detail, but now that I'm done with TF, I've been toying with the idea of giving it a similarly thorough analysis. I'll have to watch it again and see what I can say about it. If anyone reading hasn't seen it yet: Do so. Now there's a movie I can recommend without reservations.


Have you not seen anything else by Bay yet? The Island, Bad Boys 2, etc. Bad Boys 2 is notable - it ends with the Miami police protagonists involved in a Mexican Showdown at the mine-laden gates of Guantanamo Bay. The Island is definitely tied to Transformers series. The Rock is an action movie that ultimately puts governmental bureaucracy as the real evil - not in the normal conspiracy sense, but in that they see people as tools subservient to whatever the government needs. I haven't seen Pearl Harbor in a long time, but I've seen snippets of the uncut attack and it's stunningly violent: there's one scene where nurses and other civilians are running, screaming, as Japanese Zeroes zoom down on them and open fire, reducing the crowd to a red mist.

BioTech
Feb 5, 2007
...drinking myself to sleep again...

Welcome back!

Terry van Feleday posted:

I actually only saw Pain & Gain a week ago (thanks, Germany!), and it really is Bay's best work and in terms of craftsmanship easily blows Transformers out of the water. I won't be talking about it much here because it really deserves to be covered in more significant detail, but now that I'm done with TF, I've been toying with the idea of giving it a similarly thorough analysis. I'll have to watch it again and see what I can say about it. If anyone reading hasn't seen it yet: Do so. Now there's a movie I can recommend without reservations.

Please do, Pain & Gain is my favorite movie of the year so far and I would love to further my understanding of it. There is so much in there, I must have missed hundreds of things.

Fat Lou
Jan 21, 2008

Desert Heat? I thought it was Dessert Heat. No wonder it tastes so bad.



So, I just got the rough formatting of the PDF done up through ROFT Part 9. It is currently 137 pages long. I am just keeping the main posts, but I am modifying some things just for general legibility for PDF reading. Once I get it up to date I will post it and keep it up to date.

Abitha Denton posted:

How do you figure, is he some sort of spirit that haunts Terry?

I guess I am. I made one post in the prior thread about making the PDF I followed the thread like a hawk, but for some reason I never uploaded the PDF. Also, I never even posted in the thread outside of that because I did not have much to really add with how in depth it was and I did not really get to rewatch them at the time. Who knows?

Fat Lou fucked around with this message at 10:22 on Sep 26, 2013

Marshal Radisic
Oct 9, 2012


I have to go now, but for anyone looking for PDFs of the original thread, look here. There's links to downloads of all three films up until the last thread ended (and Duel too).

Really glad to see you're back, Terry. I wanna see how crazy this sucker gets when it ends.

Jack's Flow
Jun 6, 2003

Life, friends, is boring


Here we go again. Glad you're back for me.

Arsenal_12
May 7, 2007




edit: Removed the links. Didn't notice they were linked above

Arsenal_12 fucked around with this message at 14:12 on Sep 26, 2013

HiriseSoftware
Dec 3, 2004

Two tips for the wise:
1. Buy an AK-97 assault rifle.
2. If there's someone hanging around your neighborhood you don't know, shoot him.

Lord Krangdar posted:

Hey wasn't the church in the OP's first picture also in The Island?

The "church" is actually the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit, which has been shuttered since 1988. Bay used it in The Island, Transformers (2007) and Dark of the Moon. In Transformers it was the "building with the statues on top" where Sam took the cube.

There's no angel statue (or statues on top) in real life though.



Lord Krangdar
Oct 23, 2007

These are the secrets of death we teach.


HiriseSoftware posted:

The "church" is actually the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit, which has been shuttered since 1988. Bay used it in The Island, Transformers (2007) and Dark of the Moon. In Transformers it was the "building with the statues on top" where Sam took the cube.

There's no angel statue (or statues on top) in real life though.





Ok, thanks. I thought it was in the first Transformers, too.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


I'm so glad this thread is back.

Although I might have to rewatch the third movie, at least, to jog my memory and see if my idea that even more than the other two, it's about Sam being initiated into Transformer-hood holds up.

Terry van Feleday
Jun 6, 2010

Free Your Mind


Part 15: *incomprehensible Cybertronian chittering*



Sentinel gives the command to launch operation Break Spacetime, and there’s a montage of cultural caricatures as Decepticons all over the world launch their doodads into space.



Wheels & Brains, finally having snapped from being the constant comic relief, find a mostly-intact fighter, and decide to, rather ominously, “lay down the law”.



Sam & Carly get separated from the others (somehow),



And run straight into Starscream! “What a treat! You and me... Alone!”

What an odd thing to say. It seems like he’s been looking forward to getting his hands on Sam, but, thinking about it, why?

What did Sam do to Starscream specifically? His entire contribution to the conflict is killing Megatron once and setting up his second defeat afterwards. If we go by the usual “canon” character for Screamer, we know that, if anything, he should be thankful for Sam getting rid of Megatron! After all, thanks to Sam, he got to be Decepticon Leader for two whole years! G1 Starscream would short himself over that idea!
In fact, if we assume that is Starscream’s leading motivation, the trilogy could not have gone better for him (well, safe for that one time he lost his arm and Megatron beat him up a bunch). Look at the current situation: Megatron is alive, yes, but he’s a complete wreck who does no actual leading in this film, and Soundwave never gave a poo poo to begin with, making the only obstacle between Starscream and de facto leadership Sentinel – who is risking his own hide in the middle of a warzone. Why, then, would Starscream go after Sam, who made all this possible in the first place, instead of sitting over Sentinel’s shoulder like a hawk and waiting for a good opportunity for an “accident” to occur? He would have no reason to do this. It doesn’t add up. In fact, none of Starscream’s actions work with this characterization.
Let’s think even further back, before the movies. Cybertron spent a whole bunch of time without Megatron to rule over it. In Revenge, Starscream explicitly states that without Megatron, he ends up being the highest ranked guy around. poo poo, forget what I just said about two years, Screamer could have run around in a silly crown and garish purple cape on Cybertron for a hundred! Yet when five or so scrappy Deceptigoons make off to earth with the explicit goal of freeing Megatron, he’s among them. He doesn’t try to stop them, or sabotage the operation, or show any sign of personal initiative. The instant Megs leaves his icy prison, Starscream swoops in to stand by his side, apologizing for being an idiot. Megatron’s reply is standard villain stuff, but as with all of his lines, it’s the tone that’s important. In spite of being a glowing ball of rage, he shows no aggression or anything towards his lackey – he just seems vaguely disappointed, like “man, you haven’t changed at all over the years, have you?” Then he rips some other guy in half.
Contrast with the second film. Again, Megatron barely has time to step in the door, and already Starscream comes running in to toady before his master. This scene is pretty surreal for practically being the setup for a bad sitcom – Screamer looks after the kids while Megatron is gone, and when he returns, he quite literally says “Starscream, I’m home!” It portrays the two as an actual (if kinda dysfunctional and bizarre) family, with Starscream as the wife. Who is them immediately physically abused.
I’ll admit, I did not expect to write that sentence in a context other than bad fanfiction.
Starscream seems genuinely shocked at his Master’s violent outburst, which is no mean feat considering how bad he is at expressing any kind of emotion. He has no such reaction to the second time Megatron abuses him – he goes from blind panic to feebly attempting to reason with his Master. And, most importantly, at the end of the movie, it is he who suggests that Megatron should flee for the time being. He doesn’t egg him on to run back into Optimus’ claws, nor does he abandon his master. He shows genuine concern for his survival.
It’s important to note that the two scenes of abuse are the only times in the trilogy Megatron and Starscream stand opposite each other and face each other directly. At all other times, throughout all three movies, Starscream will always be beside Megatron, his body facing the same way, and them tilting their heads to look at each other. They face the same direction. Cinematic language!
For a perfect three out of three, it takes barely a minute after Megatron is first seen on screen for Starscream to fly in and pity him this time around too. And at this point, I find it hard to see his words of pity as sarcastic.
It’s strange to think of Transformers as having any sort of non-murderous relationship, because we barely see them having any benign interactions at all. The movies tell us that the Autobots have some kind of vague camaraderie going, but they only ever talk to each other once. otherwise, it’s always Sam they’re talking to. There seems to be exactly one attempt at communication per movie that does not immediately lead into or involve some kind of violence – the observatory scene in the first movie, Megatron and the Fallen in the second, the Africa scene in the third. But throughout the entire trilogy, no matter what happens, Starscream never leaves his master’s side, always trying his best (worst) to be helpful. I think that speaks for something!
And in that light, his hunt for this meaningless little insect makes perfect sense. Of course he would want to take revenge on the man who killed the one that was effectively family to him, drove him raving mad, and was instrumental in permanently physically and mentally scarring him. Starscream is completely useless, but his heart is in the right place. So how does this little attempt at payback go?





He gets a grappling hook jammed into one eye, a bomb in the other, and then his head explodes.
It’s... Honestly painful to watch. Like, he’s the clear aggressor this time around, but watching him squirm and flail around like a terrified child while screaming in pain, while hearing that bleeping noise that spells certain doom, all you can think is “Jesus, no one deserves that fate.” And what does Sam have to say about it? “Well, he’s dead.”
He certainly is, buddy. Just when I was starting to like him, too.

(The facial violence is even more grotesque than usual, but I don’t even feel the need to point it out at this point. It’s just kind of a given.)




Brains and Wheels are taken into one of the big transporters by their new toy’s autopilot. Inconvenient!



HQ, meanwhile, decides to appropriate traffic cameras to get a better visual of Chicago. They use their newfound vision to launch a bunch of missiles.


More surveillance imagery.



Sentinel does his “the needs of the many” shtick, and it is time to turn on the pillars!

Yeah, the movie starts constantly shifting perspective here – I’m cutting most of it out, too. Still, it’s never disorientating, and there is a certain degree of logic to how one event affects the next. Mostly.



Because you see, suddenly the Autobots have been taken prisoner. What? When did that happen? Bumblebee was up and about just two minutes ago!

Of note, Mearing’s reaction: “Oh my god, we’re helpless.” The person who stood up to the Transformers the most suddenly sees herself as being totally dependent on them.





Well, there’s those pillars in action. Cybertron seems to sort of grow into space, like a computer program generating a fractal image. And yes, Cybertron is a giant beehive. I don’t think I need to elaborate what this says about the Decepticons and Megatron.

One thing I didn’t really talk about is the sound design of the movies. I really like it! The sound effects for the robots and their planes and so on is carefully synthesised so they don’t quite sound like anything that occurs in reality, but still have a physical quality to it that makes it seem like they really could sound like that if Transformers existed in real life, if that makes any sense.
The sound the pillars make, by contrast, are completely unnatural and incongruous with what occurs on screen. It’s like bubbles in water, and a rhythmic, electronic sound that sounds like a quiet klaxon or maybe a really slow clock. It’s the perfect way to convey “space and time is being horribly violated here”.



HEY, HOW’S IT HANGIN’?

Haha look at that guy



Back to the prisoners! Soundwave and his goons were content to just stand over them threateningly, but Dylan suggests to cut the crap and just shoot them already.



This scene is incredibly melodramatic. The SADDEST MUSIC starts up, and Que starts playing pitiful, as apparently the idea that running around in a warzone could get you killed never actually occurred to him. The intellectual character, ladies and gents!



Goodbye Que, you were pretty awful and even the fans never liked you much. Your toy wasn’t even released outside of Asia. You won’t be missed.



World’s saddest genocidal killer robot.



But of course, they’re not actually willing to kill off their main source of merchandise, so suddenly, It’s raining spaceships!



Apparently, the reason for the sudden change in weather is brains and wheels gnawing at the big mothership’s electronics, causing it to drop its contents and rapidly approach the ground. B&W die on impact. No, really – it’s hilariously unceremonious.

Brains and Wheelie, after being abused and degraded throughout the entire movie, decide to deal with their pent-up aggression by mindlessly destroying things, and then that kills them. They are immediately forgotten. It’s just so... Petty.





The distraction ends predictably for the Decepticons. I said I wouldn’t point out the facial violence anymore, but here Bumbleebee punches Soundwave in the face, then kicks him in the face, then shoots him, multiple times, in the face, and finally graphically blows up his head. Only a single one of his attacks is targeted at any other part of his body. Come on, this is getting ridiculous!

Right. About this scene.

To be honest, I’m not sure I “get” it entirely. It feels like there’s something I’m missing entirely, but again there’s just so much going on it’s kind of hard to keep track. So I’m just going to start rambling and see if I hit on something.

First of all, just the sudden reveal of the prisoners being taken. We first see it on a screen in HQ, virtually right after Bumblebee appears in the Starscream scene to catch the falling Sam. There’s absolutely no lead-in to this, no single shot of the Autobots actually being captured, just them sitting in a neat half-circle with Decepticons looming over them. The Autobots are consistently portrayed as superior in direct combat to the Decepticons, as well as totally unwilling to give up. After the convenient distraction, they defeat their opponents with incredible ease, not taking a single scratch. There’s no way for them to be captured like that. It seems like such a transparent plot contrivance.
On the other hand, there’s the whole idea of the Decepticons taking prisoners in the first place. It’s something that feels at odds with the whole idea of Transformer combat as portrayed before: It’s always shown to be quick, brutal and, past the very first battle in the trilogy, always necessarily lethal. Taking the opponent prisoner without a surrender in an active warzone seems like a pretty hard thing to do, and doesn’t seem like it’d be worth much in the end. Yet they just... Do it, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. And then, bizarrely, it’s the human who actually suggests executing them. Soundwave, the most monstrous and morally bankrupt character we see on the Decepticon side, who actively delights in murder, doesn’t even consider the possibility of killing his helpless enemies. He complies with gleeful enthusiasm once the idea is pointed out, it just plainly doesn’t occur to him. It’s so strange.
Really, that got me thinking about the “combat psychology” of the Transformers, the way they fight. I stated that most combat in these films is quick and brutal, but thinking about it, I am not sure that is entirely representative of their culture as a whole.
See, of course the movies would focus on such combat the most – it’s the most exciting, after all. But there’s a degree of consistency in the driving forces behind those scenes.
In the first film, they’re focused on Optimus and Megatron, who start viciously murdering the instant they get into a fight. Megatron, of course, being totally pissed off, and Optimus being... Optimus. In the second film, you have the intro scene with Demolishor, who is running for his goddamn life, and Prime (again) and the ostentatious Sideswipe doing most of the dynamic movement. The forest battle is, of course, pretty vicious: Once again, it’s mostly the two leaders driving it. With Optimus gone, Bumblebee picks up the slack, after making a more cautious impression in the first movie (potentially even letting Barricade live), until his leader is back to continue his bloodbath. Largely the same story here: Bumblebee and Optimus do most of the dynamic fighting, though the Dreads do make an honest effort.
But look at all the fighting that happens in the background, particularly at the end of the first and second movie, and how the other characters behave. Largely, they seem content to stand in place and take potshots at each other. Remember how Scorponok stood perfectly in place and let a whole row of planes shoot at him instead of using his ability to move through walls? Yeah, that.
When you look at the various combatants, they often seem oddly lethargic, sticking to cover and moving very little, and then being surprised and completely overrun by the ferocity of their opponents’ leader’s assault. Until that happens, their fighting is very long, drawn out and largely bloodless... Which, to me, feels entirely consistent with the idea of the war lasting for millennia and slowly wearing out the fighters and their resources. The impression I get is that the Autobots’ aggression is actually a fairly recent development and a product of their desperation over having lost, and the Decepticons are only now starting to really adjust to it. In a slow-burning war, it makes perfect sense to take prisoners when possible, and if it’s something the Decepticons got accustomed to over many battles, it makes sense that they simply wouldn’t get the idea of trying any other approach. It also fits with my little theory that Soundwave was at one point a POW himself.
Now, this is all pretty much speculation, and I’m not sure what it has to do with anything, so let’s return to the scene itself.
Que’s and Soundwave’s deaths are, in some ways, mirrors of each other. We have two Mercedes(es?) who largely acted as behind-the-lines support executed by active combatants put in a position of superiority entirely through dei ex machinae. The interesting part is the differences in circumstance and cinematography.
Remember Barricade, from the first movie? Well, he survived ‘til now to be part of this scene, for some reason – maybe to act as a counterpart to Bumblebee, as another character who’s been with us for the entire trilogy, both being part of the first actual fight we see? He makes a silly cackle, and then gives Que a push. You know, the impression that I get from him is that he’s a bit of a schoolyard bully. He was never terribly smart, and there’s something strangely childish about his behaviour. He certainly seems strangely happy about pushing Que along. But notice how it’s not him who fires the killing shot.. It’s Decepticon grunt #147. The movie plays up Barricade’s glee somewhat and Que’s false innocence to almost sickening levels, but when it comes to the actual killing? A push, one shot, two shots and Que’s head rolls on the ground. It’s quick and efficient, the grunt’s face doesn’t make a single movement, and the scene is framed only in the grey fog of the still city. It’s very dispassionate, certainly.
Bumblebee’s killing shot, by contrast, happens among total chaos. Metal raining from the skies, everything exploding around, part of an all-out fight that leaves multiple people dead. Unlike the happy Soundwave, cackling Barricade and “just doing my job” zero-fucks grunt guy, we have no idea about Bumblebee’s emotional state. Relief? Anger? Malice? He doesn’t talk, and his face is immediately obscured by a mask, so there’s no real way to tell. But what we do see is the way he fights: loving about hitting Soundwave’s face (even though that’s clearly not his weak spot), taking some time aside to murder another grunt, and finally violently ramming his cannon into Soundwave’s body, warping the metal and raising him up before firing through the bottom of his chest into his head from below, exploding it into a slow-motion fountain of blood and shrapnel before contemptuously throwing it aside. Barricade might cackle over having pushed a guy, the dynamic of Bee’s acts among a scene of apocalyptic destruction equates to nothing less than roaring laughter, hiding behind a face-covering mask and a voiceless body.
I guess this is why the psychology of combat as portrayed here came to mind for me. It seems like we see here once again how deeply rooted the difference in the characters’ way of thinking is.
Of course, this could all be nonsense, and I’m still not sure what it has to do with anything and why this scene is sandwiched between the incredibly charged tower scene and... Everything that comes after this. It's an odd bit of pacing, certainly.

The MSJ
May 17, 2010



The beginning of the end, when named characters start to get killed off one by one with alarming frequency. It's like foreshadowing the title of the 4th movie, Age of Extinction. Ironically, with all the characters being eliminated in DOTM it was like a 4th movie would never happen unless a rebooting occurs. On the other hand, with toy sales reported dropping for DOTM it does sound like a Hasbro-mandated plot development designed to free the character roster to make way for fresher toys.

Speaking of which, here's a promo pic of Bay on the set of Transformers: Age of Extinction.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


The MSJ posted:

Speaking of which, here's a promo pic of Bay on the set of Transformers: Age of Extinction.


It almost looks like the camera is some kind of weapon and he caused the explosion by firing it. Which is fitting I guess.

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Gatts
Jan 2, 2001

Goodnight Moon


Nap Ghost

I bet Bay was making "Pew pew!" noises as he shot the scene and things exploded. That's an interesting viewpoint, the camera is his gun and thus whatever he shoots, it explodes. Movie making philosophy/design.

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