But Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and, to a lesser extent, Stephen Sommers's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra have taken the conspiracy movie to a place where even my paranoia falters. Forget their abject inanity and shameless, moronic ugliness; they're diabolical post-modernist masterpieces. Once again, the machines — the inanimate products of a bankrupt and soulless corporate behemoth — are the bad guys. The movies themselves are simulations of such products, and are designed to sell these products to the hapless lemmings (at least guinea pigs would have had a fighting chance) that swarm to see them. What does it mean? It makes my head go round and round.
Maybe these two films just serve to remind us that the only real paranoid conspiracies are movies themselves. They are plots hatched by omnipotent powers working behind the scenes (ideally a director, screenwriter, and producer, but more likely some marketing executives and a herd of lawyers) inflicted on characters who are more or less powerless pawns, depending on the skills of their agents. A comforting illusion, when you come right down to it.
Inevitably, though, we must acknowledge the supremacy of a higher power. I am referring, of course, to Roland Emmerich. In his film 2012, the culmination of 5000 years of Mayan prophecy, the ultimate conspiracy plotted by divine destiny made possible by state of the art CGI technology, will at last be fulfilled — and not a moment too soon.
To read Peter Keough's film blog, go to thePhoenix.com/outsidetheframe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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