Confessions of a Former Transformers Fan

3

Greetings loyal readers. If you’ve been keeping up to date with my blog, you’ll find that my content is usually on subjects that interest me, whether it be random reviews or iconic deaths (yeah I suppose it’s all rather cynical) and it’s always quite personal, today I will reveal something that I usually cringe at the thought of sharing and may even tarnish my street cred as a critic:

I loved Michael Bay’s first Transformers film, I loved it so much that I watched it on circuit twice, pre-ordered the DVD and bought into the marketing mastodon as well.

It’s hard to explain exactly why I liked it, maybe the thought of a live-action Transformers movie finally releasing into cinemas brought some inner emotions of childish innocence to the surface of my psyche, emotions that are typically reserved for superhero flicks and other applicable fan-pleasers. The original Transformers film is by no means a masterpiece – even I knew that back then – but the spectacle and fan service looked to deliver on the Transformers experience that any boy of the 80s should remember quite vividly. The film, while nothing special, was at least competent as a motion picture: the human characters were corny, the CGI characters were duller than cybertronian rocks, and the story was a patchwork of bombastic computer generated images and half-assed cliches mixed with forced humour…but brought together, it still managed to impress my easily-satisfied senses (the humour not withstanding)

So when I heard they were making a sequel (as most successful franchising happens to undergo) I crapped my metaphorical pants and made extra certain to have tickets for the midnight premiere (keep in mind, this was before In The Kan existed in any shape or form). I remember the evening vividly as it was the night that I turned in my Transformers clubhouse membership badge, shelved my oversized transforming desk toys, and resigned to never think about Michael Bay or Transformers for a good long while.

Yes, the first movie wasn’t perfect, but it was serviceable at the very least, but Revenge of the Fallen is a completely different beast. I have seen some shitty movies in my day, films that will change a man forever and not in a good way, but Transformers 2 was some triple A-grade bullcrap that I couldn’t abide. More importantly,  it taught me a few lessons on what actually constitutes a motion picture and could very well have laid down the foundations for my career as a critic.

In case you forgot how bad Revenge of The Fallen was, here’s the trailer

So how could a movie be so bad as to destroy my emotions towards such a beloved franchise? Firstly, lets talk about the story…yeah, what story, exactly. The plot is so horribly convoluted and nonsensical that I can imagine Michael Bay and the Hasbro execs snorting mountains of cocaine instead of writing a script. Seriously, the story for a Transformers film should not be that hard to sell – nobody is asking for Citizen Kane, just a plot that does justice to the characters, the mythos, and is wrapped up in a coating of badassery. I could have written a better story as 4-year-old sitting in front of the TV playing with my action figures – it’s not hard for a kid, and it shouldn’t be hard for an adult. I walked out of that film not knowing who The Fallen were and not knowing why they wanted revenge, in fact I probably walked out of that cinema a few IQ points shorter than I went in with.

We all know that Michael Bay is the king of boom, he loves explosions like a crack-ho likes er…crack, but the action scenes in Revenge of the Fallen looked like a bunch of scrap heaps engaging in some bizarre Cybertronian gang-bang. The final act was an hour of senseless explosions cobbled together without a semblance of creative flair or even the slightest hint of logic – it was the longest hour of my life, and no human being, sane or otherwise, should ever have had to endure its torture-like effects. The same could be said for the rest of the action scenes in the film.

If you thought the characters from the first film couldn’t get any worse, Bay found a way to defy the natural order and make them even dumber the second time around. Shia Lebeouf’s performance of an epileptic Sam Witwicky was enough to give any audience member a stupidity induced convulsion and within his lacklustre career is a standout performance of idiocy devoid of any and all talent. Megan Fox continues to prove that her 2 dollar hooker looks are perfectly matched by her two-bit acting ability, and the Transformers themselves while being the worst of cliches decided to add racism to the laundry list of logic-defying character traits.

confessions-screen-3

Forget Daniel Clowes, Shia should apologise to the insulted eyes of the thousands of Transformer victims. Photo courtesy Getty Images

The humour in Revenge of the Fallen rivals and exceeds George Lucas’ attempts at comedy that were seen in the Star Wars prequels – now that is saying something. Most of the so-called humour is delivered from Sam’s parents and not only were the lines completely unfunny, they were downright moronic, slapstick even. Nobody and I mean nobody wanted to see Sam’s parents in the first film, and they definitely didn’t want to see them in the sequel. For the sake of my sanity, I won’t even go into how John Turturro reached his low point, it’s just far too humiliating.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was such a bad movie and not just a bad Transformers movie that I resolved to not even watch the third entry (namely Dark of the Moon). To this day I still haven’t subjected myself to the threequel and it would take one helluva dare to even get me to consider watching it. From what I’ve heard, the film is marginally better than its predecessor but that’s like taking a dog turd and covering it in chocolate sauce – it may look like lunch bar, but it’s still faecal matter either way.

How could a movie be so bad as to destroy my love of all things Transformers? That my friends is the power of film when used on the opposite end of the scale; a masterpiece can inspire a generation, and the opposite can destroy faith in the things you care about most. 1987′s animated Transformers: The Movie was one of the very first films that I ever watched, and I still think it’s an awesome film that not only does justice to the franchise but has more emotion and heart than anything Michael Bay has ever created. It had balls, a killer soundtrack, and treated the Transformers with the respect they deserved, and in my opinion is the only film that should bear the Transformers name – it has the touch, it has the power, and watching it today still brings back a torrent of loving memories of a childhood well lived.If Michael Bay could capture what that film did, then we would have something worth watching.

confessions-screen2

The only balls that you’ll find in a Michael Bay Transformers flick

This week, I will be attending the South African premiere of Transformers: Age of Extinction (the fact that there isn’t a critic screening is worrying); my expectations couldn’t be lower and I can only hope that the film will surprise me now that the entire human cast from the previous films has been expunged from the franchise. Based on numbers alone, the Transformers series is anything but extinct in spite of the lot of them stinking to high heaven (lame pun is lame), so when I walk into The Grove Mall’s newly assembled IMAX theatre, I will hope that the Age of Extinction leaves me with something akin to a pleasant disposition that Michael Bay has ceased his desire to destroy childhood memories, and for once delivers an experience worth talking about without having to resort to expletives.

  • Anthony Nell

    I feel your feels. The first movie had me and my mates out of our seats in the cinema, high-fiving the guys infront of us. The 2nd movie made me want to turn my popcorn into bullets and my tube of rolos into a shotgun.

  • Kervyn Cloete

    Fun (or not so fun) fact: The Writer’s Guild Strike of 2008 meant that the second Transformers movie had no script, but it still had a scheduled release date. You would think this would be a problem for a movie, but instead Bay took the handful of pre-vis action scenes he had been dreaming up using elements that were scrapped from the first film and started production anyway. Using those animatic scenes and a rushed script treatment that was handed in the night before the strike as a framework, Bay expanded the treatment into a 60-page script, introducing new characters, plot points and comedy elements.

    Eventually, the film’s three writers – Orci, Kurtzmann and Kreuger – were able to “finish” the script, after Bay allegedly locked them in two hotel rooms, where they would write on their own, and then check on each other’s progress twice a day.

    And people wonder why the movie was such a horrible mess.

    • http://inthekan.net Joel Kanar

      So then I suppose Megan Fox’s comments about Bay being a “little Hitler” weren’t really an exaggeration after all! I guess crappy writing became a tradition after Revenge as Dark of the Moon is said to have a shocking script as well and there was no writers strike to blame it on.