Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Last Decade's Robots, Today!

"With the lights out, it's less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us"

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

I visited family this week, which means catching up on a bit of TV and movies. Whatever's playing. This time around it's been a non-stop action extravaganza - and thus a faithful reminder of why I stopped action-extravaganzin' in the first place. Nevertheless I finally got to catch the first of Michael Bay's Transformers movies and del Toro's Pacific Rim.

Transformers was obviously, insultingly and I would say mistakenly intended for a tween audience. Pacific Rim was markedly better, aimed at a wider audience if not exactly the intelligentsia. Standard plot. The comic relief nerds nerd it up, provide crucial information and get pissed on for their trouble while the badass hired muscle martial artists punch giant monsters with their giant robots' fists... and kick them... and wrestle with them. Finally, fifteen minutes into the fight I hear "engage plasma cannon!"

Wait, wait, hold on. Time out!
You had a freakin' plasma cannon this whole time and instead you got into a slapfight with Godzilla's wrinklier cousin? Who the hell put you idiots in charge of saving the world?
But hey, holding the superweapon back til the last second is too much a staple of Japanese kids' shows to abandon I suppose.

They're special effects flicks, both, so I have to wonder why their special effects were so ... rococo. We were all glad when CGI acquired more detail, but there's an upper limit to how much detail you can cram into a design before it becomes an overloaded eyesore. Both these movies somersaulted over that limit last decade, to the point where you can't tell why doohickey #4173 strapped to the mecha warrior's back is suddenly moving and Transformers' faces twist around in a nonsensical jumble of criss-crossed frown lines. Until now I wouldn't have even thought to place crows' feet on the list of everything a giant robot doesn't need, so I guess thanks for that, Hollywood. At least it's only the movies with the fattest CGI budgets who can afford to be this stupid. Yes, I'm linking the promotional image of Optimus Prime from the newest movie because apparently they haven't gotten smarter about it in nine years.

Look, the whole amazinawesomecoolness of the Transformers toys (into which I sunk every penny of my allowance during fifth grade) was seeing a hood become a chestplate, a muffler an arm-cannon and so forth. Lose identifiable features and you lose the, well, y'know, the Transformation!

Have we gotten so anti-intellectual now that even visuals must be rendered as unintelligible as to spare the audience the trouble of attempting to keep track of the action?

No comments:

Post a Comment