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Transformers: America in disguise

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Introducing the protagonist.
  3. Naration and plot.
  4. Language.
  5. Nature of the Decepticons.
  6. Introduction of 'Sector 7' in the movie.
  7. Incorporation on the part of the Autobots and its absence on the part of the Decepticons.
  8. Conclusion.

Michael Bay's Transformers is a genre pastiche, combining elements of action films, science fiction, high school dramas, general comedy and even moments of direct satire. Most interesting, though, are the ways in which Bay's film ties into the genre of war cinema and the modes and conventions it borrows particularly from such films as Lewis Seiler's Guadalcanal Diary, George P. Cosmatos' Rambo: First Blood Part II, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket and David O. Russell's Three Kings to create a surprisingly multi-layered depiction of the wartime Other. The Other of Transformers a race of giant robots is both alien and familiar, both overtly evil and uncompromisingly noble, and most importantly, it provides an allegorical mirror for American society that allows the film to promote its own consumerist ideology.

[...] In Three Kings, the Iraqi Other is divided along lines of refugee and soldier. In Transformers, it is separated into Autobot and Decepticon. In contrast to Three Kings, however?where the moment when an American soldier relates to and identifies with an Iraqi soldier, the enemy Other, is probably the movie's most profound scene?the enemy Other characters of Transformers never escape that prima facie simplicity, save for a few isolated instances when the film creates a minor connection between the audience and the enemy Other. [...]

[...] This early scene in Transformers functions according to that mode. In it, the audience sees American soldiers returning from an unspecified mission in Qatar. They never discuss what they were doing or, for that matter, are doing in Qatar. They just talk about missing their mother's cooking, cold hotdog and a flat baseball and their newborn daughters. For this one scene, they are not soldiers, just normal guys in military uniforms talking about things anyone can relate to their own lives. [...]

[...] This is actually most noticeable in the case of the civilian hero, Sam. In the final battle, one of the soldiers approaches Sam, hands him the Allspark, tells him he is soldier and sends him off to save the day. In essence, Sam is drafted, but unlike some films which treat the draft as negative?particularly in the infamous boot camp portion of Full Metal Jacket?this draft is meant to be inspiring. It is what allows Sam to be a hero and ultimately destroy Megatron, a moment which further highlights Megatron's status as other, as Sam kills him with the Allspark. [...]

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