Thursday, March 25, 2010

Transformers 3 now worth seeing?

When I was a freshman in college, a close friend of mine had this dream project of doing a big-budget Friday the 13th movie (part 10 at the time), with a real budget and a real cast. His two dream co-stars were Kurt Russell and John Malkovich. I distinctly remember giving him hell over the likelihood of two big stars and/or respected thespians taking part in such an obvious blow-off gig, as well as the desire to hear a trailer guy gravelly intoning: "John Malkovich and Kurt Russell in... Friday the 13th part 10.

Well, that was ten years ago. As most of you already know, Michael Bay has somehow convinced Frances McDormand and (yes) John Malkovich to come on board for the next Transformers picture. Comic god Ken Jeong has also signed up, but that doesn't mean anything other than that Jeong will be in the movie and will likely be funny in it. As for the other two, Malkovich will be playing Shia LeBeouf's boss (not a jewel thief, alas) and Francis McDormand will be playing the head of the NSA or something to that effect. While Malkovich has been known to ever-so-occasionally play in the genre pool (Eragon, Jonah Hex, Mutant Chronicles), McDormand has more or less stayed out of the action/adventure sandbox since her damsel-in-distress turn in Sam Raimi's Darkman back in 1990. So while Malkovich will likely dive head-first into the cheese (like John Turturro), expect Frances McDormand to simply make like Glenn Morshower or Michael O'Neal (both 24 vets) and just pretend like hell that she's in a real movie and exit stage right with her head held high.

While we can all randomly guess just how and why two uber-respected actors were convinced to appear in the least-respected major franchise currently going (I'm guessing Malkovich wanted/needed a quick payday after Spider-Man 4 fell through), it does seem to confirm that Malkovich is reaching the self-parody second-act of his career, where he just wants to enjoy himself and occasionally mock his image (in Hollywood, you either die a villain, or live long enough to see yourself become the punchline). As for McDormand, maybe she and Malkovich got along on Burn After Reading and she just wanted to cash in for once. It is fascinating that, come next summer, many people will be discussing Transformers 3 because of the inexplicably high-caliber cast. Weird...

Scott Mendelson

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