robertisenberg

Luna-cy

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Photograph of the Earth’s moon, taken from behind my house. The moon is a natural satellite that orbits our planet and is home to legions of man-eating creatures, a fact known by the government since the late 1960’s, apparently.

A perfect question for a lazy Saturday: Why is Hollywood suddenly screwing around with NASA conspiracies?

I’ve seen the trailer for Apollo 18, one of those mocku-horror movies with a “true story” and jittery cameras. While the footage has “not been modified,” the faux-casual dialogue is a dead giveaway that the movie is fake. The premise is that the so-called Apollo 18 shuttle blasted to the moon, astronauts hopped around, and then they were slaughtered by creepy-crawly aliens.

The super-scary tagline, already ruined by the trailer: “IT’S INSIDE MY SUIT!”

The movie might be cute enough to see, maybe not at Loews (like Cloverfield), or at a ragged indie theatre (like Blair Witch), but certainly as a Netflix impulse.

But after seeing Transformers 3, a cinematic car-wreck that transforms into a cinematic robot-wreck, I started wondering about all these blockbusters based on moon landings. Transformers 3 doesn’t have much to do with the Dark Side of the Moon, as its title would suggest; Michael Bay was much more concerned with tearing up the Windy City, using post-9/11 imagery that I can only describe as “uncomfortable.” But the teaser trailer, which even caught Kylan’s attention two years ago, preys on the story of the original moon landing. The movie even hired John Glenn, mythic astro-hero and personal conqueror of the Soviet space program, to insist that NASA discovered Decepticons and then lied about it.

I am of two minds: Partly, I want to congratulate Michael Bay for his iconoclastic filmmaking. Literally, nothing is sacred to this man. Blowing up skyscrapers with airplanes? Urinating freely all over America’s most majestic accomplishment? Using John Turturro and Frances McDormand as bobble-head dolls? I was warned about the “ground zero” reference and torrents of paper flying through the air—though it barely softened the blows. Only a sadist would make John Glenn act, much less mock his own heroism for the sake of a plastic Hasbro doll.

My other mind thinks: What an artless douche-bag. And what does it say about humanity that the film has grossed nearly a billion dollars?

It’s fitting that NASA has fired its final manned shuttle. Everyone is disappointed, given our pride in the space program, but I am of the opinion that NASA could use some serious soul-searching before sending billion-dollar machines into space (maybe Michael Bay could fund one. Better yet, we could leave him out there*). Meanwhile, Hollywood has found its chance to rip up the floorboards, crack the foundation, and turn space exploration into an extraterrestrial joke.

We’ve come a long way since 2001 and Star Wars, when the universe seemed so large and full of possibility. Never mind the goodwill and curiosity of Star Trek, which not only shaped my childhood but much of my worldview. The galaxy-spangled blackness that once promised Star Children and The Force is now a black hole of overgrown locusts and giant robot warriors with swords. Why go where no man has gone before? You’ll probably just get eaten by space monsters. Remember: IT’S INSIDE MY SPACE SUIT!

These movies may be one small step for men, but they’re one giant stumble for mankind.

My solution: Michael Bay needs a midnight jaunt. He needs to drive out to the middle of nowhere, far from his celebrity parties and CGI graphics. He’ll drive a dirt-road, somewhere in the desert, until he can’t see any lights or billboards. Then he’ll park, kill the engine and headlights, and step onto the sand. He needs to take a hundred paces away from the car, and he needs to spend three solid hours. No pharmaceuticals, no cell-phone, maybe a flask of whiskey and a milk-jug of tap water. And he needs to stay there, with only the sky for company. The only sounds will be the distant song of coyotes and the occasional mosquito.

Then, at the end of those three hours—roughly the length of his last film—Michael Bay must return to his parking spot to discover that his car’s been stolen. Now he has to walk all the way back to the highway, and then he has to hitchhike.

Now go make a real movie.

* Not that I wish any actual ill-will toward Michael Bay, who might be, in personal, a totally cool guy. But the thought of leaving people in space did remind me of that terrifying Dr. Poole scene.

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