Saturday, February 23, 2008


Megan Fox in Transformers. Just one of the reasons the movie didn't suck.

Every now and then, there will be something I'm expecting to hate that I end up loving. It happened big time with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it's happened on a much smaller scale with some of the music Will and Peter listen to. Beck, for instance. It happened again last night with the movie Transformers. I certainly wasn't expecting to like a movie "based on Hasbro's Transformers"—toy robots that transform into cars, and vice versa. How stupid does that sound? And it was directed by Michael Bay, the director of the widely-reviled Pearl Harbor and the laughably awful The Island. But Transformers turned out to be a highly entertaining couple of hours—just the right combination of extreme silliness, special effects, action, and Megan Fox. The movie itself was a kind of transformer: one minute a war movie (starring Josh Duhamel and Jon Voight), the next minute a teen romantic comedy (starring Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox), the next minute a live-action Saturday morning cartoon (starring the Transformers with their silly cartoon dialogue). John Turturro added a little extra dash of strangeness as a kind of Coen Brothers version of Agent Mulder. Somehow, it all added up to something that kept us all entertained for 144 minutes.

In the photograph above, Mikaela (Megan Fox) is looking under the hood of Sam's (Shia LeBeouf's) Camaro/Transformer. Cars, of course, have long been metonymous with women and sex. Men seem attracted to the shapely and mechanical. Listen to Springsteen in his prime (Born to Run, Darkness at the Edge of Town). In songs like "Racing in the Street," you get that wild whiff of hormones and gasoline. Early in Transformers, Sam says that Mikaela is more than she appears to be. At the end of the movie, Optimus Prime says the same thing about humans in general, as Sam and Mikaela make out on the hood of the Camaro/Transformer. The same is, of course, true about the Transformers: they are not just plain cars, they more than they appear to be. At the end, Sam is neatly sandwiched between male fantasies: the perfect woman and the perfect machine, which are, in the male imagination, curiously alike. Metaphor and metonymy are language's version of Transformers: words are always more than they appear to be.

The military provides another time-tested metaphor for sex, with its phallic missiles penetrating enemy territory, etc. One of my favorite quotations from our Founding Fathers is from Elbridge Gerry (who gave his name to gerrymandering), who said that a standing army was like an erection: "an excellent assurance of domestic tranquillity, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure."

Rob's rating: 4/5 stars.
Will's two cents: " it has two really hot girls in it."


Bleeet said...

Wow, wish I'd come up with that Gerry quote. That's a beauty. But, I'm curious, people had erections back then?

It was so long ago...

Christopher Tassava said...

Gerry-man-dering, indeed! That is a great quote. (I dunno about the movie. What's a movie?)

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .