I haven’t seen the new Transformers film, and I really don’t have any desire to. I’m not going to bother judging it on the basis of quality. Quality is an ethereal thing, and it all boils down to opinion. I might think Green Lantern was a really fun and cool superhero movie (and one of the best movies I’ve seen this year), but I’m largely alone in that opinion. It doesn’t mean I’m wrong. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s not going to change anyone’s opinion, and my opinion certainly isn’t going to change.
But some things aren’t opinion. Some things are simple facts. And, from what I’ve heard, I have no interest in the robot gore and dark unpleasantness of the film. No one else seems to really mind it, but it’s just not my thing. Maybe I’m just an old man now, and if so, I shake my old man fist to an indifferent universe. Because I’m frankly kind of sick of all the bloodshed.
I’m not against gore in general. It fits fine in the right genre. And I’m not against darkness. Also fine in the right stories. I didn’t particularly enjoy Kick-Ass, but it was thematically consistent. And watering down the violence would’ve been both unnecessary and silly because that’s the kind of film Kick-Ass is trying to be. So while I might not enjoy the film, I certainly don’t fault it for its violent imagery and unpleasant aspects.
But Transformers shouldn’t be Kick-Ass. I don’t need to watch as robots are painfully disemboweled, as their metallic flesh is ripped from their bodies, as their heads are sliced in two in slow motion. I know that I’m not supposed to feel that way because they’re robots, but there’s just a gruesomeness to the entire affair that I find repellent.
It’s not that I’m even against violence in a Transformers film. The classic animated film is full of death and destruction. It begins with the death of an entire planet. The death of Iron Hide is probably one of the most powerful cinematic moments in my own personal experience. It shocked me at the time, and it still shocks me. It’s pretty rough stuff, and I still shudder when I think of Megatron, smirking, saying “Such heroic nonsense” before he blows up Iron Hide just out of frame.
Robots are beaten and battered and destroyed like mad in the film. It just doesn’t feel the need to give us a close up of robotic intestines spilling out across the battleground. And certainly there’s no extended scenes of Transformers begging for their lives, only to be killed, execution style.
Yeah, that’s a big pass for me.
I’m reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, where within the first five minutes we’re treated to a pirate getting his eye ripped out by a raven. And this is a Disney movie. A Disney movie based on an amusement park ride. It seems strange to me that nobody seemed to notice or care.
So it is that if I’m going to watch a movie about alien space robots based on a line of toys, I’m not really interested in gore and bloodshed of this type. I don’t mind watching Autobots and Decepticons die. But I’d rather not turn it into some strange form of PG-13 gore indulgence. And I know that the Transformers are waging a war, but I have no interest in seeing it treated as one in any genuine sense. If I want to see the horrors of war, I’ll go see Saving Private Ryan. If I want to watch unpleasant violence, I’ll rent Hostel. And if I want to see a strange mix of the two, I don’t think I want to see it in a movie about alien robots.
But that’s just me. I am wrong. I loved Green Lantern because I found it fun and charming and appealing to the kid in me. But I’m wrong. Because it’s obvious the audience would rather watch mechanical evisceration. And that’s their right.
But if this is what passes for “mindless fun”, I guess I have a different definition than most.
It’s no wonder that I’m considered a fluffy writer because I’m just not interested in this stuff. And definitely not in my fantasy adventure fiction. If the levels of torture and gore are so entrenched in our entertainment that we can’t even allow space robots to be relatively broad in its portrayal of violence and the struggle of good VS. evil, then I have no plans to rise to that challenge in my own work.
It’s a logical turn of events. I am almost 40. So it’s only natural that I should find standards of taste passing me by in mainstream entertainment. Still, it’s frustrating to watch it happen, but that’s life.
We all get old.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,