You don’t have to wait until June 21st to get the inside scoop on Transformers: The Last Knight…
(B&B is in the public domain of everyone’s childhood so Boblius refuses to acknowledge plot details as “spoilers.”)
Before he’s THE BEAST, Beast is a tax-and-spend Prince. He vacuums income from the subjects of his French village to throw lavish parties where he prances around like Agador from The Birdcage (but somehow isn’t the gay character people are up in arms about?). The villagers are happy to RSVP in the affirmative for pre-Beast’s parties as long as he doesn’t mock them.
When a disheveled and smelly (one assumes) crone stumbles into pre-Beast’s latest party offering a single rose in exchange for shelter during a horrific storm, he laughs her offer away. Only pre-Beast gives out the roses in this edition of Bizarro Bachelor. For his haughtiness, the crone reveals herself to be an Enchantress (we wouldn’t want to call her a witch in a movie starring Hermione) then transforms pre-Beast into THE (CGI) BEAST. Finally. Now he looks like the Beast from our childhood. Whew. (more…)
I have a problem. A few cinemas are in my rotation for new releases and they’re pretty much what you’d expect. One theater, however, has a small lobby which is designed to funnel the smell of popcorn through the front doors. Now I love movie theater popcorn with its addictive blend of gluttony and guilt but not the pain that supplants the guilt in the following hours. I resolve to abstain from the popcorn stomach-aches every time and every time I return, I buy “just one more bag.”
You can see where I’m going with this. As I once again caved and bought popcorn for the new “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” I realized I’m a bit of a cinematic glutton. I was going to see the fourth movie in a series defined by, in my mind, Shia LaBeouf repeatedly screaming “no, no, no” and by giant robot wrecking ball testicles. Only this time, I knew there would be no Shia, I wasn’t sure there would be robot genitals, and I had no idea three hours of action could be so boring.
“Age of Extinction” picks up a few years after “Dark of the Moon’s” apocalyptic battle in Chicago. The prevailing powers have decided Transformers are humanity’s enemies and to rid the planet of their threat for good, have dispatched a CIA group led by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) to chase down the surviving Autobots. But when inventor Caede Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) saves Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), the clandestine operation explodes into dazzling firefights that draw into the open other shadowy players. And now the fate of the galaxy is in the hands of an overprotective father and Stanley Tucci. Or something.
Honestly, I don’t know anymore. After three movies of Transformers saving humans, I’m not sure why earth is still such a big deal to all these alien machines. Why do they still transform into flashy cars? What’s the purpose in any of this? The effects are meant to sizzle brains into a perpetual catatonia of amazement but they work so well they become tedious. They let the mind wander back to the “why” of the story. And back to the “why did I come?”
I was already back to wondering within the first fifteen minutes of scene after scene of director Bay’s loving portrayal of Americana when I was hit with a frightening realization: I think this really “is” America. While CIA agents were using their faces as warrants (their words, not mine), I was thinking about what this meant. Transformers has always been about explosions and cars and lingering shots of barely-legal nubile bodies. Everyone knows this. And yet the series makes gobs of money. So is there any better way to portray us, our spirit, than this? It’s the ultimate freedom; the freedom to revel in bad taste, the freedom to indulge our stupidity, and to come back for more when this helping’s gone stale. It’s Americana. It’s the popcorn. And a lot of us, despite our better judgment, are addicted.
For me, there are two sure signs of summer: Loud, fun popcorn-filled blockbuster movies and inefficiently cumbersome rental car lines. Both can be equally long (thanks, Budget!), but the latter can be made much more enjoyable when you attempt to infuse a touch of Michael Bay’s signature style to the process. Here are five tips on how to punch up your car rental experience:
Introduce the threat of an alien attack
Every good summer movie has a sense of urgency (or a “ticking clock” as I learned from all of those screenwriting books collecting dust on my lopsided Ikea malm shelf), but unfortunately the idea of “urgency” is about as foreign to Budget employees as an alien invasion. Like a tender rack of BBQ ribs, they prefer the “low and slow” method in which they talk as low as possible so that you can barely understand what they’re saying and they move as slow as humanly possible (sometimes even ceasing to move at all for several minutes). What’s a better motivator than an impending alien attack? Thus, the first sentence you should say to every employee you come in contact with is “We don’t have a lot of time before the alien invasion starts, so let’s make this quick.” Erratically look at your phone or watch during all conversations while mumbling “it’s going to be too late…”
Steal a walkie talkie
Walkie-talkies play a very important role in Budget’s highly inefficient process for obtaining a rental car. This centralized form of communication between the counter and garage means that you’ll have a captive audience if you can get your hands on one. There’s a small chance this will get you kicked out with no rental car, but having to use a different (and more efficient) rental car company might actually work to your benefit. If you’re less bold, you can ask to use the walkie talkie. They won’t let you, which will give you the opportunity to look them in the eyes and earnestly say, “But we need to get everyone out of the city!” If for some reason you do get your hands on a walkie-talkie, use your platform to inform your audience of the imminent attack and the importance of getting out of the major cities. Be sure not to specify exactly how much time remains, rather just make it clear that “time is precious” and the vague importance of moving quickly.
Make your own love story
You have some freedom here, as you can inform the employees of you desire to see your significant other “one last time,” or if the mood strikes you, turn your interaction at the rental car counter into a “meet cute.” Start subtly by expressing your physical attraction to their hands/eyes/hair/etc. Compliments for people in their position are likely rare, so you may have to sprinkle in a few more during the process of booking your car (this is in addition to #1 and #2 above, as these are meant to work together). This may seem like a lot to cram into your visit to the counter, but trust me, you’ll have plenty of time since what should take five minutes will undoubtedly take anywhere from 30 minutes to the rest of eternity. Now that you’ve buttered them up, introduced the threat of aliens, and are ready to leave the counter to get your car you can make your final move: Look him or her in eyes, hold out your hand and make Schwarzenegger proud by saying: “Come with me if you want to live.”
Squeal your tires
Once you finally get your car, throw your bags in the back, jump into the driver’s seat as fast as you can and FLOOR IT. It won’t be hard to make the tire squeal, since you’ll be in a garage. Aside from getting the attention of everyone in earshot, there’s not really any point to doing this, since you’ll likely have to immediately stop and wait in yet another line with other cars trying to exit. But, it’ll feel cathartic since you’re one step closer to escaping the aliens.
Shed a tear while spewing a heart-felt monologue
There will be numerous interactions with Budget employees since each step involves adding an unnecessary human as often as possible. Save the monologue for the last person you interact with at the gate. Even though you’ve already confirmed the reservation and your information with at least three people prior to this final “gate check,” you will be required to provide proof of a driver’s license and receipt for your rental car. Once the attendant opens the gate for you, this provides an excellent opportunity to utilize those high school acting skills in one last final monologue. You can improvise if you like, or utilize the three-plus hours of waiting to write, rewrite, and polish an Oscar-worthy speech. Hell, you may have enough time to email a copy to William Goldman for a few punch-ups. Get out of the car and make sure you speak to any other cars in line behind you, as this is your last chance to rally mankind against those damn aliens. Be sure to incorporate your desire to see your significant other one last time, lots of references to the aliens (there can never be too many), and as many metaphors about American pride as possible. Preferably you will be renting a Ford to really help sell that last one. Start crying during the final act of your monologue (the wetter your cheeks, the better). Budget employees are barely trained to handle normal customers, let alone one that keeps referencing an alien attack while crying. At this point the gate will have closed again, thus revealing the real point of the monologue as a tactic to stall. You want that gate closed, so you can crash through as fast and as furiously as possible (you paid for the damage waiver, right?).
See? Not a bad way to spend six hours at an airport and by the time you leave, there will be twice as much story and character depth as whatever Transformers they’re up to now. Also, while you’re there, tell Satan I said ‘hello’.