I cannot understate how astonishingly awful this movie was. Just off the top of my head:
• The Autobots aren’t heroic. The opening scene depicts what has become SOP for the Autobots — hunt down Decepticons, beat them up, and — when the enemy is lying defeated and helpless on the ground — deliver a killing shot to the head. Call me old fashioned, but that’s not how good guys act.
• There are two Autobot characters referred to as “the twins.” Michael Bay apparently took his inspiration from ridiculously backward pop culture representations of African Americans. These characters were such pickaninny caricatures that they might have raised eyebrows in the 1940s. They had big ears. They had big buck teeth (and gold caps). They talked like Uncle Remus using street slang. They professed an inability to read. They were prone to fighting with each other at inopportune times. It was like they had blackface Autobots. Will Eisner would be proud.
• Barack Obama, identified by name, is essentially one of the major villains in this movie. He is accused by Optimus Prime of wanting to steal Autobot weapons technology in order to wage more war. His idea of diplomacy and soft power is repeatedly mocked, caricatured about as artfully as the aforementioned black robots. For example, when the Decepticons have taken over Earth and wiped out most of the humans’ military capacity, President Obama wants to use “diplomacy” rather than just manning up and fighting. And here, “diplomacy” is identified as “handing a young man over to the Decepticons, presumably to be killed, in the hopes that the Decepticons will then just pick up and leave and stop fighting us.”
The movie played like a neocon’s wet dream. In addition to the racism and Obama bashing I’ve already mentioned, this thing was borderline creepy military porn. Soldiers don’t act like any soldiers I’ve ever known; they act more like something Andrew Klavan would dream up. For example, the president’s weasel bureaucrat keeps getting in the way of the good ol’ hard workin’ military men, so they take him up in a plane in order to airdrop him into Egypt against his will. Because, you know, they’re such studs.
• I honestly lost count of how many times “Something is humping something else!” was used as an intended source of laughs in this movie. Dogs humping dogs (at least twice). Robots humping legs. We also see an blasting erect robot penis and two massive swinging robot testicles.
My wife commented as we walked out that this didn’t seem to just be written for five-year-olds — it also seemed to be written by five-year-olds. Yet as stupid as this thing was, and how it so clearly was playing down to a small-brained audience, it contained a surprising amount of swearing.
What an awful mess.
UPDATE: Oh, and two more words: Robot Heaven.