When I was growing up, there was one kid that my parents forbid me to hang out with because he was a "bad influence." He was violent, a pig to the girls, and a little bit racist.
That kids name was Michael Bay.
OK, that wasn't true, but it could have been, based on the movies he creates. Transformers is the perfect example of his particular brand of bad influence.
Bay's overgrown man-part is illustrated best in his pandering to three stereotypes, and one other offense that my wife took issue to:
Stereotype #1: Women are for sex. The first time we see the new girlfriend, Megan Fox's replacement, Bay starts a long camera pan up from her ankles, pausing far too long on her butt, barely holding up panties. It was gratuitous, as was the rest of her role in the movie. In fact, the only other two females characters (aside from many scantily clad minor characters) was Sam's mom, awkwardly doling out sex advice, and the government woman, who is annoying until she's finally sexualized in the end. But, what do you expect from a guy whose first directing job was shooting a Playboy centerfold video.
Stereotype #2: Black people must be portrayed formulaicly as either cool or funny. Yes, Michael Bay, you did good with Bad Boys. No, I don't think you're a racist. But please, give us some developed black characters! Not the jive talking idiot robots from the second movie that were the 21st century equivalent of the slaves in Gone With The Wind. And not the tough with no character development soldiers in this installment. Give me well thought out characters cast with black actors, for once. Actually, that's a complaint for all of Hollywood, so maybe I'll give you a pass on that.
Stereotype #3: The more violence, the more men will like it. There's a line, and I got to tell you, this movie crossed it. You can only kill so many people, burn all their skin off, kill parents in front of their kids, rip a head off with the spine attached, and massacre an entire city before I start to question the MPAA on their rating system. Ok, I ALWAYS question the MPAA, but still.
Final Offense: This comes from my patriotic wife, but I totally see her point. Bay treats American history as though it's nothing more than a box of legos for him to build tittilating imagery. From shooting Abe Lincoln in the head, to mimicking the challenger explosion, to buildings falling like the trade towers, it was just too much. Even Megatron dressing like a taliban came across as bordering either offensive or ridiculous, and I wasn't sure which one it was.
Was there anything good? Yup, the 3D was amazing, worth the ticket price, and Sam finally had an intriguing storyline, which kept my interest throughout, even though it never got resolved.
But, Michael Bay, my mom says it's not enough to change her opinion of you. I can't come out and play.