Donnie Darko vs. Michael Bay

2 for 1 Special Sunday!!!

It’s Sunday and you are getting two short review for the price of one! Lucky you.
First up, it’s that atrocity of cinema: Transformers 3!

First of all, I must make it clear that I am impressed and awed by how Epic Transformers 3 is. When I say “epic”, I mean that the production was spectacular in how it was done (like Pirates of the Caribbean or 10 Commandments).  The locations are breathtaking and exotic and Not CG. The CG that was there (ie – the Bots and explosions) was spectacularly blended into reality. And the fights were great as the spectacle that they were and for the depth to which they went – going to the dark point of death.  Ultimately the film is incredible in the Epic category; however that is the only aspect of it that I can use the word “incredible”…or even a positive adjective.

The story sucked. The writing sucked. The editing sucked. The acting….meh. Let me explain:

**Spoilers**

The story just wasn’t that good.  It started off well, using the classic story of ally turning on ally. I actually was very excited about the blending of the 60’s space race with modern world. However they basically dropped that story after the first 20 minutes and went back to the fighting. One positive note, they did drop the sex-i-mean-love story from #2 and kept the focus on what matters:  you can’t be focused on the girl during the end of the world.

The writing also plays into why the story sucked. Basically, in typical Bay style, it contains no Ramp and no build; it is just hardcore, over-the-top action the whole way which doesn’t let us get excited about it. Another thing, why is “I’m not a hero. I am just a messenger” the main arc for LeBeouf? That makes so little of him, the protagonist, that I really stop caring about him. Also, Who the BLEEP is Dutch and why the BLEEP is he Deus Ex Machina!? You need a personal assistant? Dutch. You need a kick-a body guard? Dutch. You need a tech-savvy hacker? Dutch. Why don’t they just make this guy God and get it over with!?

Speaking of Deus Ex Writing, why did they bother making obstacles when they take them out without any problem? In particular I refer to the bridges in Chicago. They make it a big deal that the bridges to the middle of town are up so the special forces guys will have to figure a way around tha….wait. No. Just have Dutch from some mystery place hack it in two seconds and remove that obstacle. “Somebody’s watching over us!” Yeah, the writers are.  I could go on and on about how the obstacles really never factor in (plane gets them into the city, giving them weapons to take out Starscream just before they fight him, two small guys get stuck on the big ship right as Bumblebee is about to be killed) but i won’t do that.

Editing falls under the same category. I said it on facebook and I say it again: Where are Simmons and Mearing during the final battle? “Headquarters, duh!” Oh, headquarters! Is that where they have the tech set-up or is that the war room? Or maybe was that the roof that they were on at the end? I can’t tell you how many times I was raising my hands during the movie saying “WTF! Where did that/they come from?”  The fight stuff was well cut as always (because that is the only part that matters) but everything else I thought was useless. One final question – Why are his parents there?

Finally, the acting was…okay. It wasn’t spectacular but because everything around it sucked, it stood out as some of the best stuff of the movie. Other than one obnoxious “OPTIMUS!” from LeBeouf, I thought it was well-performed and a good job of the actors to overcome the bleep that was the script.

Ultimately if it wasn’t for the circumstances in which I watched it, I would regret every second of that night. However it was fun to watch this piece of bleep with friends super late at night and to despise Michael Bay with all of you here, now.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  4/10
Looks pretty but entirely not worth my time and money.

Btw: I am officially starting a boycott of Michael Bay films. You are welcome to join me if you like. Until I hear the he has final stopped making bleep and starts making quality, intelligent films, I am out. $11 less for the multi-millionaire.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

The second of this Review double-feature is actually a Summer Film Challenge 2011 Film, Donnie Darko.

Summer Film Challenge 2011
Report #5
Date:  10 July 2011
Film:  Donnie Darko
My Rating:  9/10

This film…
I am really not sure how exactly I feel about this film and I think that those of you who have seen it know what I mean.  My thought is this film falls somewhere between “WTF!?” and “Holy BLEEP!”  It is definitely an amazing film, deep and dark. I am just not sure I know what Richard Kelly was trying to say. Thus it is not a 10.

Going into it, I really didn’t know what it was about. I knew it was dark and had the creepy, apocalyptic version of Harvey but other than that I really didn’t know anything about it. I was surprised by how many people I recognized in it: Battlestar’s “Madame President” Mary McDonnell, Maggie Gyllenhaal (who plays Rachel in the Dark Knight), Jake Gyllenhaal – the star, and the Dirty-er Dancing, pedo-Ghost Patrick Swayze. Great cast that really sold a tough script to me.

**Spoilers**

Not much to say about the plot, because I don’t think that is what I am supposed to think about. So I focus on what I believe this film to be about.  The time-travel thing and the liquid worm-hole thing I think come back to one throw-away conversation in the middle of the film.

Donnie starts talking with his physics professor about time travel, etc, and at the midpoint of thef film, they have a conversation about Predestination – sort of. They are actually discussing his liquid worm-holes that he sees and how they seem to guide his path in life. They discuss whether following a physical manifestation of “God’s path” for them constitutes free choice or a predestined life (ie – “Can we escape fate?”). I think this is what the whole of Donnie Darko is about. Donnie’s whole experience with Frank after the escaped accident seems to explore what happens when you escape fate (similar to Final Destination). Donnie is granted sight into the chaos of the world without the order of destiny and thus comes to choose (not follow blindly) to follow the path he should have taken. I think these lines might help clarify what I mean:

“Freedom is having a desert open and bare before you, free to be roamed at leisure, and instead you choose to sit in the sand and weep.  Freedom is knowing all angles and vertices of the argument, understanding that which is right and which is wrong, and confining yourself to half-truths plastered on feltboard for children’s comprehension.  Freedom is being able to walk past everyone in the courtyard and out the gate, on to whatever life you choose, and instead you bend your neck down onto the chopping block.”

I wrote that immediately following my watching this film. Hopefully it makes clear what I am trying to say – freedom is having every option and choosing the hard one.  Thus Donnie, who is fully able to avoid his fate, chooses to stick to it.

I think I will be analyzing this film for quite a while. Not sure this film is fully accessible to everyone (or anyone), but it is deep and, I think, important to discuss and figure out.  I loved all of the references in it (King’s “IT”, Last Temptation of Christ, Evil Dead). Not sure exactly what is meant by all of them but it does add a nice level of depth to the film.

I really wish I had watched Donnie Darko with people. Not because I am freaked out by it, but because I wish I could have discussed it with them. This really is a thinking person’s film and I look forward to unpacking it as the years go on.

So there you go! Two films reviewed – one bad, one good. Thanks for stopping by, please comment and subscribe, and here is your clue for the next review:

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Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

One thought on “Donnie Darko vs. Michael Bay”

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