The Source Code/Transformers 3: The Chicago Smackdown

Hollywood must really hate Chicago. Maybe they’re jealous of the pizza or the fact that we had Oprah for all those years, but there was definitely some kind of an agenda when studio execs got together and decided to blow up the city not once, but twice. The results were The Source Code and Transformers III: Dark Side of the Moon. Michael Bay shut down Michigan Avenue last summer to bring his robot annihilation film to fruition. If he wanted major traffic arteries shut down, he should have been here in February; Lake Shore Drive was already kind of closed.

The Source Code blows up a train heading toward the city six or seven times. In a movie that cannot help but be compared to Groundhog Day, Jake Gyllenhaal must repeat the same eight minutes over and over again as he tries to figure out who is the terrorist who planted the train bomb and then headed to ChiTown with an even bigger one. I regret to tell you that not once in this movie does Jake take off his shirt, and really, what is the point of having him in the film if he’s going to remain fully clothed? Oh, Jake, like Heath said, I can’t quit you, but it isn’t your acting that makes me go to your films. The dirty bomb goes off in the one of the sequences, and we’re left with a fairly apocalyptic view of the city. Also, not a very reassuring feeling about ever getting on a Metra train again.

I liked this film a lot. It’s fast-paced and unfolds a little at a time, with Jake learning more each time he goes back. There was a lot of rocking train movement and flashing light sequences, but nothing like the train wreck that was Unstoppable. I believe this movie is also the first one to ever feature The Bean as a cinematic device; the taxpayers of Chicago congratulate the filmmakers for making a beloved city icon into a cheesy special effect!

In Transformers III: Dark Side of the Moon (3D), the devastation of the city goes on for what feels like hours as the climax of a movie that has already been running for over 120 minutes. This movie is so freakin’ long that the transformers would have had time to drive to the Wisconsin Dells and visit Tommy Bartlett’s Robot World. I’m not even sure why they were destroying Chicago – I lost the thread of the plot when I closed my eyes because the 3D glasses made them burn and I might have dozed off for a little bit, which seems impossible because this is the loudest movie you will see all summer. And it’s not just the robots destroying each other that is noisy – Shia LaBeouf literally screams most of his dialogue. I’m sure it’s just the anguish and passion of a serious young actor trapped in yet another blockbuster film.

I enjoy rock’em sock’em robots as much as anyone but I got tired of this movie very quickly. I could never tell the Transformers apart so I wasn’t sure which were the good ones and which were the ones trying to destroy Chicago for no reason that I could ascertain. And the explosion of the skyline hit me in a visceral way that surprised me; even though it’s been ten years since the World Trade towers fell, I can never watch something like this without thinking that the video of 9/11 looked a lot like a special effect, too.

I’m going to need different icons from the Barf Bags to rate 3D films, because after extensive research, I was pleased to discover that these movies do not make me sick to my stomach. They do, however, make my eyes burn like someone rubbed jalapeno pepper seeds in them and my head ache like a mofo. In the coming weeks, look for a whole new section on devoted to the erosion of your vision and the jack hammer pressure of your mind. It’s summertime, and there’s lots more 3D ahead!

Barf Bag Rating: The Source Code – Two Bags,
Transformers – One Bag
Jalapeno rating: Transformers – Four Peppers

4 thoughts on “The Source Code/Transformers 3: The Chicago Smackdown

    1. Excellent pop-culture reference! Any child of the Golden Age of Television can tell you that was Season 5, Episode 15 of The Dick Van Dyke Show. (Alright, I had to google for the episode number, but I knew the original reference.)

      I actually saw The Guns of Navaronne at a Drive-In in WV with my sister and another friend, and he fell asleep!

  1. I have to wear the 3D glasses over my trifocal lenses–that is just not a good visual experience, since I can’t move my head or the focus will change. I know I’m not the target generation but I’ve got money to spend if someone can improve on this arrangement. You can probably get prescription 3D glasses now for when you get your 3D TV. But for now, I’m apprehensive about seeing “Deathly Hallows Part 2” in all its many dimensions.
    But thanks for a nice juxtaposition of Chicago-destroying films.

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