Tag Archives: Transformers

Mad Max has a Feminist Hero for (Almost) Everyone

I know. Pretty well every woman with a computer has written about how great Mad Max: Fury Road was. I actually meant to write about it last week, but then I decided that I needed to address the news about the Duggars instead.

Not only am I late to the Mad Max conversation, but when I went to write about this post I came across the video I’ve included below, which succinctly summarizes many of the points I was hoping to make.

Even though Rowan Ellis beat me to the punch with several of her points, I loved this movie too much not to add my two cents. I also wanted to dig deeper into some of the feminist identities offered in the film and how they impacted me as a female viewer. Spoilers, obviously.

Furiosa: The Tough, Capable Woman

Furiosa is, of course, the first person anyone is going to think of when I say “strong female character”. She is a brave, intelligent, and capable character. I also love that she isn’t sexualized by the camera angles, and that we aren’t forced to view her through the male gaze.

As much as I absolutely love Furiosa, she doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. We’ve already had hardcore, confident female leaders like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley since the 80’s. And as much as I want to be like Furiosa, I don’t always feel myself reflected in these kind of figures. Sometimes that’s okay, sometimes all I want is to escape into the kind of fantasy where I can imagine myself kicking ass and taking names. However, it can be discouraging when movies only have one type of “strong female character”  to offer. While I absolutely love female heroes like Furiosa, I really loved having less capable heroines in Mad Max as well. Heroines who were well-rounded and brave in spite of their weaknesses and fears. Continue reading

More Ninja Turtles News [And Why Not To Be Mad]

Way back in April of last year I wrote a post called “Mashin’ It Up” [titled after something Harley Morenstein says on Epic Meal Time] that mentioned the new upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. You don’t have to read it if you don’t you want to, and I can sum it up with the following sentence: the turtles will now be aliens.

Oh, and Michael Bay will be directing, but you knew that from the title.

Over at the aptly named michaelbay.com the following was announced just yesterday:

TMNT: we are bringing Megan Fox back into the family!

Michael Bay

To be more specific, Megan Fox will be playing April O’Neil, the Turtles’ ladyfriend. Prompting rage from all corners of the internet [not that they weren’t already upset about the “alien” thing].

As you all probably know, Megan Fox played a pretty pivotal role in his first two Transformers movies, until the two had a falling out and she was replaced in the third film by a blonde goldfish [looks are subjective, but that’s just how I feel about Rosie Huntington-Whiteley]. Now it appears that the two have patched things up and the actress will have moved on from hanging out with alien shapeshifting robots to hanging out with ninja turtle aliens.

She managed to beat out starlets Jane Levy, Anna Kendrick, and Elizabeth Olsen, who were all also in the running. I can say for a fact that the latter two, at least, are very talented actresses and that I am very glad they didn’t make it. Allow me to explain myself.

No one out there expects this to be a good movie. I mean, sure, co-creator of the original TMNT comic Kevin Eastman thinks it’s going to be “a fantastic film,” but I’m not buying it. We’ve all seen Transformers, we know what to expect: a testosterone-fueled explosion-fest that will include at least one decent fight scene that you’ll have to find on YouTube after you’ve seen the movie because there was too much detail in too short an amount of time. It won’t be good.

And because it won’t be good I don’t want Anna Kendrick in it. If it’s going to be a train wreck of a movie I don’t want decent actors and actresses to be involved in it. Megan Fox can be April O’Neil because if I watch this film I want to enjoy it like I do a triple bacon cheeseburger, knowing it does nothing good for me whatsoever. Casting a truly gifted actress would be like putting spinach on that burger; it’s not where it should be, and in spite of being healthy would actually hinder my enjoyment of it as a whole.

So I’m not mad, personally. It’s just a Michael Bay movie, something we’ve all had to get used to at some point this past decade. You can be upset about it if you want to, but that’d be like being mad that an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo doesn’t have better cinematography.

The Autobots Wage Their Battle To…

There will be spoilers. Please be wary.

Cartoons from the 80s permeated much of my childhood, largely because a lotSource: http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Optimus_Prime_(G1) of older shows were aired in the Philippines, like the Captain America segment of The Marvel Super Heroes.1 Most people who grew up in the 90s have been exposed to Transformers, however, and know exactly what I’m writing about when I say that at one point Megatron didn’t transform into a tank or a jet, but a gun.2

Beginning in 2007, director Michael Bay began creating films based on the franchise, the content of said films fitting more in line with current cultural norms. In other words, the level of violence was ramped up to much higher levels.3 I never saw a transformer go down when watching the cartoon, but in the first two films we are witness to Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots: ramming his Energon Sword through Devastator’s head/neck region4, cutting off Starscream’s arm and clubbing him in the face with it5, and ultimately killing Grindor by pulling his head apart with hooks6.

As the antagonists in these films, the deaths of the Decepticons are seen as victories and not tragedies. Their design, especially when it comes to their sharp teeth and red eyes, helps to depict them as more beast-like than human. The Autobots being seen as people, however, is a point that’s pushed pretty hard in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third and final instalment in the series. Wheeljack, the elderly inventor of the Autobots, is captured by the Decepticons and, as he begs for mercy, brutally shot twice. Ironhide is betrayed by Sentinel Prime and shot in the back, and as he asks why the Prime “dismisses” him and deals a finishing blow. Sam [Shia LaBeouf] and Bumblebee have a relationship going back to the first film, and whenever the Chevrolet Camaro-transforming robot is endangered the audience feels as Sam does, taking emotional cues from his panicked yells.

Since the first film we’ve seen Optimus Prime lay down the law and watched him and the Autobots wage their righteous war against the Decepticons. In spite of them clearly being in the right [no one wants humans to become slaves to the Decepticons] some of the actions that they perform in the third film seem . . . excessive. One battle is concluded by Ironhide pulling a spear out of his shoulder and impaling it into Crankcase’s (a Decepticon) face, slamming him into a car, and then kicking the wreckage into an auto shop.7 More disturbing by far, though, is what happens when a Decepticon aircraft is brought down. As the pilot struggles to get out he is surrounded by Autobots and dismembered. His head, arms, and legs are all yanked from his body, with his torso being further pulled apart by one of the Wreckers. Optimus Prime ends the carnage (and the film) by finishing off Sentinel Prime in a fashion eerily similar to how Wheeljack and Ironhide were, by executing him with Megatron’s fusion shotgun as he begs for mercy.

As exhaustive as this post seems to be, there are many instances of robot carnage which I have neglected to include. I suppose that the ones mentioned could show us that extreme violence can be justified when it is the forces of good against the forces of evil (and when they are robots). What it doesn’t explain is how, exactly, to understand this. If the Autobots are to be seen as people then why aren’t the Decepticons? Their fight is a civil war, and with this in mind would we be so cavalier to promote the murder of brother by brother? Are there any real-life parallels that these levels of brutality can be placed on?

The well-known Transformers theme song has the line “The Transformers! More than meets the eye!” The lesser known lyrics immediately proceeding that are: “Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons!” Knowing this, I suppose we always knew as children that Optimus and his forces were destined to more than defeat Megatron and his cohorts. A dozen or more years later, what I don’t think we could have known is how brutally this would happen.

1. First syndicated on US television in 1966: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marvel_Super_Heroes]

2. Specifically a Walther P-38, a World War II era handgun. Source: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megatron_(Transformers)#Dreamwave_Productions]

3. Levels that  can only really be described as Bay-esque. [citation needed]

4. For your viewing pleasure: [http://tfwiki.net/w2/images2/thumb/5/52/Movie_Bonecrusher_dies.jpg/800px-Movie_Bonecrusher_dies.jpg]

5. Source: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T-ehTYfE-0#t=00m38s]

6. Source: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T-ehTYfE-0#t=00m46s]

7. Which then promptly explodes. Courtesy of Michael Bay.