July 15, 2011, 10:00 AM
OUT OF THE DARK (of the Moon) AND INTO THE SPOTLIGHT: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and her Rightful Place in Cinema
The critics have not spared any of their ammunition in bashing the latest instalment of director Michael Bay’s epic film trilogy - Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The iron pen of The New York Times tore into the multimillion dollar film as full of “excess and redundancy, taking place in a universe full of fire and metal and purged of nuance.” That may well be, but even the reviewers have not denied that the series has always had a crowning jewel - nigh irreplaceable by any shiny car/robot or any degree of CG carnage – that more than makes up for any lack of precious cinematic “nuance”: the nubile sidekick. Although the hoity-toity sourpusses of journalism have - quite obviously - not even condescended to voice their opinions on this aspect, word on the street was clearly hungry for a glimpse at actress Megan Fox’s replacement: the British starlet and supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Indeed, Ms Huntington-Whiteley clearly has not disappointed her director, and her film’s gross revenue (almost 700 million dollars worldwide - so far) doesn’t seem to indicate that the audience disagrees.
Comparison with Megan Fox? Really?
Ms Huntington-Whiteley even compares favourably to, and far outstrips the person she replaced in many respects. Looks aside, she seems to be a lot more comfortable acting under direction than the irritable Megan Fox, who stomped off the set of the second Transformers film after a harsh tirade against her director. This included a customary comparison to a certain German dictator which, considering Mr Bay’s (and producer Steven Spielberg’s) ethnicity, was held by many to be in extremely bad taste. An anonymous letter in 2008 from members of the film crew seems to confirm that, on the whole, Fox’s behaviour on-set has been less than gracious than her self-stated public persona as a “strong… intelligent and outspoken… role model.” Compared to such a prickly character, Huntington-Whiteley seems to have proved quite capable of working effectively according to her director’s wishes – no easy feat. The less-than-subtle camera pans mirroring “the male gaze” and close-ups of Ms Huntington-Whiteley’s barely-clad buttocks onscreen reveal the difficulties that any actress might face working with Mr Bay. Yet, the fact that Ms Huntington-Whiteley has come through, and seemingly established firm ties with her director reveals her perseverance and most of all, overall good humour.
In the Very Spirit of Transformers
Failing to consider the aforementioned factors, many critics have berated Ms Huntington-Whiteley’s acting and compared her unfavourably to her predecessor. As understandable such points may be, and making it clear that this is Ms Huntington-Whiteley’s first acting role, it is yet another fault of the reviewers that they have failed to grasp the very spirit of Transformers: ensuring that its predominantly male cinematic audience receives its onscreen visual banquet. This is precisely what has made this trilogy so popular, and director Michael Bay has not been at all slow on the uptake. Having started off the first film in the trilogy with a considerable human dimension (botched or not), Bay has realized precisely what the movie going public was asking of Transformers – cars, soldiers, American flags, robots, violence, and voluptuous females. Judging from the later movies, Bay has internalised such demands flawlessly and has embodied them in his projects with expert execution. In this respect, Ms Huntington-Whiteley’s acting skills do not detract from the film at all. On the contrary, her relative (to Megan Fox in the previous films) lack of dialogue brings her generosity in flaunting her – very aesthetically pleasant - body, together with ponderous American military action and beautifully rendered multi-coloured robots flipping about, into perfect focus for the audience. This all adds up in the final product to nothing short of a visual tour de force. It is in debt to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s insight into the very fibre of Transformers that - at this rate - this movie will probably manage to be a bigger blockbuster than even its predecessors (with Ms Megan Fox).
Even setting aside her more obvious "charms" such as her looks, her double-barrelled name and her British accent, Ms Huntington-Whiteley has proved herself as more than a replacement for Ms Fox. Her affable demeanour, her abilities for close collaboration with the director and her stoic conduct onscreen has made her fit to be the centrepiece of a chaotic world inhabited by objects that compete with her for masculine attention – supercharged rides that tumble and skid, battle-weary soldiers striding out of explosions in slow motion and the eponymous metallic beings themselves. Yet despite this being her acting debut, she seemingly has managed to have actively staked her presence in film (off screen). It is perhaps no surprise that she was graciously bestowed the title of “Female Star of Tomorrow” at the CinemaCon Awards in April. True to this, she has even more of a presence in Dark of the Moon than even that deserved by lead actor Shia LaBeouf's shrill and annoying character. In this onscreen and off-screen world of chaos and violence, the stoicism and clemency embodied by the beautiful Rosie Huntington-Whiteley perhaps should be qualities that everyone should aspire to.
Also she doesn't have those hideous club thumbs like Fox...ewww!