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Blackjack
2017-06-21, 03:53 PM
So, I watched it! Haven't posted in the site a whole ton in the past few... months? Years? Maybe one of these days I'll finish the huge stack of MTMTE trade paperbacks and write some toy reviews.

It's been some time, is what I mean.

So, obviously, spoilers for anyone who hasn't watched the movie, if the big caps-lock word on the title hasn't warned you yet. I could use the spoiler tag, but I didn't feel like posting a huge block of white.

So, yeah, spoiler alert.

TL;DR version? It was messier than Age of Extinction. I liked it enough as a dumb popcorn flick and a Michael Bay movie, and being a huge fan of the movieverse in general I enjoyed the hell out of the movie... but by god, there were some really unnecessary shit in there. Age of Extinction was bloated and around 30 minutes too long, but at least it had focus, with two central plotlines -- the KSI stuff and the Lockdown stuff.

This one was a lot messier. While I don't think it ever got quite as bad as ROTF was in some places, the sheer amount of plotlines running in this movie -- Quintessa, Nemesis Prime, the junkyard refugee camp, Megatron doing his own thing, Sir Anthony Hopkins's big conspiracy, the descendant of Merlin... there are so much stuff going on that I really question if some of them couldn't have been cut out.

Isabella, the little girl from the trailers who is friends with Transformer refugees being hunted down by the latest in a series of anti-Transformer government black ops team, the TRF, gets her buddy Canopy killed by the TRF's AT-ST. She hangs out with her adorable buddy Sqweeks, but honestly is completely irrelevant and is only there to ask Cade Yeager about the state of the Autobots right now... both of which end up being completely pointless. The Autobots live in a junkyard and all that, being hunted by the TRF, but that bit gets thrown out of the window in act 2. Isabella and Sqweeks are also relatively pointless, being the true definition of 'tagalong kids'.

Cade himself was... okay? He's still a huge jerkhole despite how the movie portrays him as the hero, but, god, I really want to punch him in the face at some point. His huge out-of-nowhere rant in the underwater ship was kind of out of nowhere and rather dickish.

Sir Anthony Hopkins's character... Sir... um... shit, I forgot his name. Anyway, Sir Anthony Hopkins stole the show, alongside his badass sociopath of a robot butler, Cogman. Obviously, since, y'know, it's Anthony Hopkins. He made a role that would've been crappy and full of exposition work really well, as he goes through the whole talk of how, yet once more, the Transformers and humanity's history have been tied in together in the past, which is admittedly getting absurdly silly. The fact that there's a Witwickian Order going on and apparently the Witwickies are part of it raises even more continuity problems than answers it. So is the revelation that the likes of Bumblebee have been participating in events like WWII, which, again, raises even more questions. But hey, Anthony Hopkins is amazing.

The main lady, Vivienne, is more plot device with a British accent than anything, though we're slowly moving away from the female lead being just eye candy -- I don't think we got any blatant fanservice 'masturbate to this, pre-teen boys' shot. The way she was introduced to the movie felt wonky and odd, though.

A big complaint I have is that none of the returning characters end up doing much. A lot of hullabaloo is made over Josh Duhammel's Lennox and John Torturro's Simmons returning, but Simmons just enters and exits the plot for what accounts as a glorified cameo. And for all Lennox did in the movie as (theoretically) the main face of the human villain organization, other than a brief conversation with Bumblebee in the beginning he also doesn't do much and really even up to the end we didn't get the obligatory "Lennox sees the error of joining this asshole organization" moment. General Morshower shows up too, but, shit, he didn't even do anything. Not that he did much in ROTF and DOTM, mind you, but still.

The robot bits, now.

One of the good things I appreciate and dislike is that the movie this time around focuses around the central cast of Cade, Vivienne, Bumblebee, Anthony Hopkins and Cogman, leaving the rest of the crew waiting until they show up for a big hurrah reinforcement army at the end. So yeah, Hound, Drift and Crosshairs show up in the junkyard with a couple of others (the baby dinosaurs and Wheelie) and have some funny lines, and Hound gets to fight Megatron twice, but they end up just staying out of the action. Which is a boo.

Ut Rud, er, Hot Rod, is more there for jokes than anything. He has a French accent, they make fun of it a little, and he apparently carries around the Chronosphere from the G1 cartoon, allowing him to create fields where time slows down. He doesn't actually do much, but I like him more than I think I should.

Grimlock and Slug are the only ones who make an appearance among the Dinobots, and Grimlock is just there to vomit out a car like the trailers, and later take out an entire squad of TRF vehicles, but afterwards disappear from the plot.

There's also this random... Daytrader dude, who's like a Junkion that holds a bunch of stuff on his back and trades it with Cade's little community. And shows up with Lockdown's ship to bring the Autobots for the final battle. That was weird. You'd think Grimlock at least would show up near the end, especially after AOE put so much talk on them being the knights of something or other.

Topspin survived, gets actual lines in this movie, and is in Cuba playing volleyball with Simmons. Yay! Now where are Sideswipe and Dino?

Also, a bunch of dudes -- Scrapper in the junkyard, the random old tank guarding Anthony Hopkins' castle, and a different old dude -- literally show up for a couple of shots and disappearing.

Now you notice I've barely spoken about Optimus Prime, because he's actually barely in the movie. He lands on the wrecked Cybertron, and meets his maker, Quintessa... who quickly brainwashes him into Nemesis Prime. He fights with Bumblebee a bit, and Evil Peter Cullen, in the words of Crosshairs: "goosebumps everywhere". He then goes back to being heroic Optimus Prime, disappears for half of the climax (it's not tangled in construction wires, but apparently he's just happily riding a dragon in the middle of the apocalypse) before going all sword-fighty kill happy.

There are some cool bits of revelation which is taken from Transformers: Prime, where Earth is revealed to be Unicron, and Quintessa is bringing Cybertron to drain Earth of energy but Unicron himself doesn't appear and it's muddled just what the true mission of the ancient knights are. One of them calls Quintessa the great deceiver, but it's really unclear what the hell's going on with the Quintessa/Cybertron/Unicron bit, or why Megatron changes allegiances to serve Quintessa halfway throughout the movie. I guess it's building up for a sixth movie where we actually fight Unicron, but the introdumps just kind of pile over each other and it ends up being a bit weirdly confusing.

We get a Starscream cameo! He shows up as a head, and Megatron mocks him.

Megatron is awesome, though in the fifth movie in a row he gets second billing. At least he doesn't look like a hobo, though, and I'm sure this is my favourite iteration of Megatron's body ever. It's really weird because the Decepticons are basically reduced to him and Barricade, who also looks cool but don't do much, and for whatever reason the military, despite hunting down Decepticons, decides to cooperate with Megatron so long as they get information about the incoming Cybertron? I'm certainly sad the Decepticons aren't in it more.

Rather strangely, Megatron and Lennox go through a bit of a roll call moment to introduce the new Decepticons, and it is so cringe-inducing to hear that lineup include names like 'Dreadbot', 'Mohawk' and 'Nitro Zeus'. Just... why, filmmakers, why? You have easily a couple hundred Decepticon names to use, and you pick 'Dreadbot'? The only ones with a borderline acceptable name are Onslaught and Berserker, but Berserker doesn't get released. The Decepticons act more like weird gangsters in this one, which is... weird, but not one I completely dislike.

Also not sure why the TRF are keeping at least five Decepticons prisoner when they shot Canopy dead for no real reason. Nearly everyone dies in the big Autobot-Decepticon clash in the abandoned city, easily my favourite part of the movie -- only Megatron, Barricade and Nitro Zeus survives. Nitro Zeus makes it throughout nearly the entire movie before Bumblebee blows his head off in the climax, gets a couple of thuggish lines, which isn't bad for a character that screams 'redshirt'.

Barricade, following the tradition he set in the first movie, gets a couple of brief fight scenes, and then disappears from the plot halfway through the climax. Well, that was pointless.

Megatron, meanwhile, gets an epic fight with Prime, and at one point he gets dogpiled by Bumblebee, Hot Rod and Hound, and thankfully he doesn't die or walk away, but gets kicked out of the collapsing planet all 1986-Galvatron style. That's a more dignified way to go out while still saving him for Movie 6.

The Unicron-esque horned dudes are called Infernocons, and they're combiners that combine into a big bug-faced Unicron clone. Meanwhile, the three-headed dragon (who's never named here) ends up being made up of the twelve knights, whose motivations and why the hell do they give control of their combined form to Merlin, is weird. Honestly, the whole 'staff of Merlin' thing is not something I'm a big fan of.

There's a mid-credits scene where Quintessa apparently didn't implode, but survives as a human and is telling a bunch of researchers about the horns of Unicron that appeared all over the Earth.

Overall, the plot is kind of too messy for my liking -- messier than any non-ROTF Transformers movie, and I'm a little let down by the lack of answers that we get in the movie in response to some of the plot threads that are supposed to be answered here. But the fight scenes are cool, the big set scenes of the underwater ship rising out of the ocean and Cybertron's tendril-tentacle things raking cities off the face of the planet is cool, the continuity cameos (the Ark, the Fallen's pyramid, Sam Witwicky's face, Starscream's head, 'we were brothers') are cool... but they tried to fit in too much with too little payoff. It's not terrible, but it's not good. I'd actually rank this second-to-last if we're ranking the five movies in a row.

Summerhayes
2017-06-22, 03:55 PM
Odd- I actually felt like it had less easily-trimmable fat than AOE. The disparate plotlines were all facets of the same main story: Cybertron is coming to kill Earth, because Earth is Unicron. The stuff with the Autobots hiding out is just natural fallout we've been moving towards for a few films in a row.

I enjoyed it. It was big and dumb and over-the-top, but it looked incredible and the jokes made me chuckle and the message about helping refugees and immigrants even when the authorities call that a crime was a valuable one.

Honestly, though? My ideal Transformers film now would go smaller, not bigger. I know that won't happen with the way this one teased extra Unicron action, but for my money the best action in this series has been a small number of robots having cool fights for understandable stakes. Prime fighting three Decepticons to protect Sam? Fantastic. Prime and an army of Autobots, human soldiers, knights and all this fighting the Decepticons, and the Transformer devil and her army, on an exploding planet in the sky, to save all life on Earth? Bit much.

Overall though, I enjoyed it and I'm up for more. I don't even mind a lot of the transformers being forgettable. How many hi-and-bye cameos were in the classic cartoons and comicbooks?

Blackjack
2017-06-22, 05:21 PM
Odd- I actually felt like it had less easily-trimmable fat than AOE.

Isabella and Sqweeks are honestly the big glaring easily-trimmable material. You can cut the entire thing out and just start off the present-day stuff with Cade dealing with the TRF and the Autobot refugees.

I'd also cut out the WWII flashback, which felt really necessary to turn into a full scene. Ditto for the Merlin prologue, which ran on for a fair bit longer than it needed to be.

but it looked incredible

Indeed -- the big money shots were the Cybertron tendrils raking cities off the face of the Earth, and that one scene when the big submerged ship rose up from the ocean. But there were so many great smaller shots too -- the random little dudes combining into a big-ass three headed dragon and a little Unicron made me squee so much.

the jokes made me chuckle

Cogman and Anthony Hopkins are a lot, lot funnier than the human cast in Age of Extinction, that's for sure.

and the message about helping refugees and immigrants even when the authorities call that a crime was a valuable one.

That's... that's very relevant to America, isn't it? Huh, didn't catch that.

My ideal Transformers film now would go smaller, not bigger.

Agreed! I felt like the strongest action scenes that kept me on my seat was the standoff between Megatron's crew and the Autobot refugees... Part of what made AoE so enjoyable for me personally (the problems of smushing two movies into one aside) is that the plotline is relatively small and self contained, to "Lockdown hunts down Optimus Prime, humans gets caught in the middle."

How many hi-and-bye cameos were in the classic cartoons and comicbooks?

None of them were named Mohawk and Dreadbot, though.

Summerhayes
2017-06-22, 06:58 PM
I'd agree on Izabella and Squeaks, though at the same time they weren't in it that much. They never had a scene that went on forever like the tightrope or the magnet in AOE. The Nazi bit was really dumb, as putting any of the 2007 Autobots on Earth before that film makes no sense and adds nothing to the film.
I really liked the Merlin bit though so I'm gonna disagree with you on that one.

Brendocon 2.0
2017-06-22, 09:15 PM
Your posts are all too long so I've not read them. Imagine finding that much to write about from that movie.

The plot is absolutely batshit insane and I think I'm a little bit in love with the massive trolling involved?

But it all drags on far too long and far too slowly before the big explodey action stuff finally bothers to turn up and let's be honest that's the only reason we're here.

No Prime = No Party.

2 and a quarter stars. It's not the worst of the sequels yet it's easily the most boring.

[EDIT]
as putting any of the 2007 Autobots on Earth before that film makes no sense

No reason Bumblebee can't have been knocking about on Earth since the 40s as far as I'm concerned.

Clay
2017-06-23, 12:11 AM
Just saw it. I mean... yeah. I don't think the movie justified its four and half hour runtime. Act one, or the first couple of hours, could have been trimmed way the hell down. The little girl did fine, but absolutely every bit she was in should have been cut at the scripting level. The junkyard stuff showed what cade has been up to since the last movie I guess, but I was bored more than anything through this part and the following "mini-TIE bombers follow the people through the abandoned city" bit. And the whole "megatron bargains with the military to get some troops" bit seemed forced and pointless. I mean, if robots are falling out the sky, why have more scenes to have more robots come from somewhere else? Especially if they're going to have terrible, terrible names? Just have Megatron and co show up and get going.

Act two, or the middle hour that starts with anthony hopkins, was actually pretty enjoyable. Anthony Hopkins was ****ing awesome in this. Cogman too. The whole "secret history" and Merlin's descendant part was ridiculous, but at least it was straightforwardly ridiculous. "Got to get a thing and the lady is the only one that can do the thing, got it," I remember thinking.

Act three, or the last hour and a half, was okay I guess. Biggest problem was the lack of establishing shots and cybertron being covered in moss the exact shade of green of stone henge. I absolutely could not keep track of whether they were on the ground, on a chunk of ground levitated up, on a helicopter inside the knight ship, on a helicopter on a chunk of cybertron, on a where the **** are the characters? Is the ignition chamber on a chunk of cybertron up in the air or is it in stone henge? If it's in stone henge then why is it so far up in the air? Shouldn't the ignition chamber be in the big ship that was underwater that looked like a key? Wouldn't that make it the key to awakening unicron instead of restoring cybertron? Then why are the two ignition ports drifting so close together? I mean, are there two ignition sites? If not, then what's the point of the big key ship thing, that was on earth, going to stone henge, which has something nebulously to do with unicron, if the bad guy plot is to get it to a chunk of cybertron where quintessa is?

fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

The worst thing I can say about this movie is that it was, more than anything else, boring. I also noticed a distinct lack of epic quotes by Prime. Bumblebee finally talking again was fine, but "sting like a bee?" They took three years to come up with that?

With the other movies, as dumb as they can be, I always left the theater feeling excited. With this one, I left feeling drained.

Blackjack
2017-06-23, 08:08 AM
No Prime = No Party.

+1

No reason Bumblebee can't have been knocking about on Earth since the 40s as far as I'm concerned.

It's not impossible, of course. It's just kinda weird because everyone seems to be acting in the 2007 movie that this is the first contact they have. They could just have spotty memory or just be pretending for the sake of Sam, though, and it's not that it causes and sort of huge glaring error.

Just saw it. I mean... yeah. I don't think the movie justified its four and half hour runtime.

The runtime was the biggest problem, I agree. And like you, I definitely agreed that the first act could've been trimmed the hell down. The Mini-TIE stuff took forever and while I get that they wanted some human action scenes, and it's better than Cade's weak attempts of joking around, I'd rather they quickly moved to the Anthony hopkins stuff.

And the whole "megatron bargains with the military to get some troops" bit seemed forced and pointless. I mean, if robots are falling out the sky, why have more scenes to have more robots come from somewhere else? Especially if they're going to have terrible, terrible names? Just have Megatron and co show up and get going.

This. Especially after a couple scenes ago they just established that the TRF are hunting down and shooting random Autobots (or, well, whatever Canopy is) for being barely-threatening, but they're keeping Decepticons that are actively causing harm and mayhem prisoner? That's just weird.

Also forgot that there was an actual montage that shows protoform meteors falling all over the planet, which makes it even more weirdly glaring. It's not like Megatron making a deal with the TRF was such a huge part of the plot either.

Act two, or the middle hour that starts with anthony hopkins, was actually pretty enjoyable.

Oh, yeah, the man chewed up scenery like no one's business. Cogman's also insane and wacky, but they're the right kind of wacky to be entertaining.

The worst thing I can say about this movie is that it was, more than anything else, boring. I also noticed a distinct lack of epic quotes by Prime. Bumblebee finally talking again was fine, but "sting like a bee?" They took three years to come up with that?

There was that speech before the Autobots went into their big 'everyone charge the ignition chamber' rush, but that felt like a weaker version of the Dark of the Moon WE WILL KILL THEM ALL speech.

Not enough Prime in this movie, I think.

Brendocon 2.0
2017-06-23, 09:22 AM
It's not impossible, of course. It's just kinda weird because everyone seems to be acting in the 2007 movie that this is the first contact they have. They could just have spotty memory or just be pretending for the sake of Sam, though, and it's not that it causes and sort of huge glaring error.

Eh, in the first movie it was all "we're only here because of the cube", then in the second one we discovered they were here in Egyptian times and the Matrix was buried here; in the third one the Moon Landing was specifically to investigate the Ark crashing on the moon; in the fourth one we discovered that the dinosaurs were wiped out to create metal to make Transformers... and now we've got "Merlin was mates with some Transformers and Earth is actually Unicron".

Gonna be honest, from where I'm stood, "Bumblebee was here 60 years before hooking up with Sam and summoning Optimus" is the least contrived historical retcon we've been fed.

Summerhayes
2017-06-23, 12:13 PM
I only had a concern because, like Blackjack says, the character's themselves acted like they'd only just discovered Earth. I suppose, in Transformers time, Bee being here for 60 years is "only just arrived". He could have been hanging about waiting for a sign of where the cube is -which he got when Sam put the glasses online - before calling Optimus and co. To Optimus, Earth was an unknown planet when Bee called him but then they discovered all the closer ties. I GUESS.

Not enough Prime in this movie, I think.
Definitely. We didn't get long enough for Nemesis Prime to be a threat. The "bad Optimus" thing was all over the trailers, and with him and Megatron both having Quintessa's brainwashing facepaint, I was looking forward to them working together. But actually, we got one fight scene then he went back to being a good guy. I was hoping for the Transformers equivalent of F8 of the Furious.

Then we also got a whole film teasing heroic Optimus before he ended up not doing all that much anyway.

Skyquake87
2017-06-25, 09:35 AM
I enjoyed this! Perversely, I enjoyed how busy it was with all the meandering and random plots. Even with half of them not going anywhere. It kept my interest and stopped me having the feeling I had during DOTM and AOE - 'when will it end?'. It just felt a bit more pacy to me than the last two.

I really liked Izabella and it was a shame she was reduced to kid sidekick by the end, as she was ace and I enjoyed her acting Mark Wahlberg off the screen, but by the time Cade gets her back to the junkyard there's not a lot for her to do - although fixing Sqweeks with all the tech lying about might have been nice.

Totally agree on the awful names given to the Decepticons and the whole TFR thing was a nonsense. They were like a less effective Cemetery Wind.

Liked Quintessa and all the macguffin stuff and the Knights, with their mysterious mission. I wonder if they stole the staff with the intention of keeping it away from Quintessa, but f**k their luck if they didn't end up crashing the one place they really shouldn't. Her plan to drain Unicron to restore Cyberton made sense to me and reminded me of the sun harvester thingy from ROTF (presumably any suitable energy source would have the same effect at restoring Cybertron).

Anthony Hopkins was clearly having a ball and I really enjoyed his character and Cogman (voiced by that dude I can never remember the name of, but was the butler in Downton recently); as well as Hot Rod. Although his bug eyed face was a bit horrible to look at.

Optimus Prime. Sigh. He really felt like a caricature here, and I kept laughing every time he bellowed "I am Optimus Prime" (which he did a lot). After all the character development he got in AOE, this felt like a massive step back. And the Nemesis thing was just guff. They didn't even make him BLACK. And far too easily defeated by the power of friendship. Or something. And that whole fight scene with 'bee felt really undermined after we'd seen 'bee now has the ability to put himself back together...

Enjoyed the rest of the human cast for what they were (did like all the scenes with Vivienne's family, and the ever great Rebecca Front getting some nice funny lines) I don't really like Hound, Crosshairs and Drift who all come across as... dicks. In fact throughout all the live action films, a lot of the Autobots come across as arseholes and I can never get with them. I can't root for a bunch of prattling idiots who seem more interested in fighting amongst themselves. I did like seeing Topspin chilling out in Cuba and just wanting to go play ball on the beach (!). Why couldn't we have more of him instead?

burnitall
2017-06-26, 08:46 PM
Yeah, the Autobots weren't very heroic, were they? Crosshairs is just a cock. Drift is supposed to be all zen and disciplined, but then he has his sword to someone's throat a second later. I've hated Hound ever since he shot that caged creature in AOE. Optimus Prime, now saint of killers. These are the good guys? WTF? No wonder Bumblebee gets his own spin-off. He was the only decent bot.

That Topspin in Cuba had Leadfoot's head? Onslaught and Canopy were Long Haul clones, Nitro Zeus (gag, this ain't Pacific Rim) was a grey Shockwave, lazy.

How the hell does Bumblebee get completely dismembered, and just fly back together? That would have helped in the first movie. Why does Megatron have a new body every movie? Wasn't Cybertron destroyed at the end of DOTM? It sure looked like it, as it was being sucked into that vortex.

That, and more, is why I didn't enjoy this one. What a wreck! I went in with low expectations, and they still disappointed me. Sure, there were some cool sights to see, and Cogman playing the organ was amusing. But it's just not enough.

electro girl
2017-06-30, 10:56 PM
Jesus.

I did enjoy Antony Hopkins ragdolling across a field though and there was a good dog in it.

Shrapnel
2017-07-02, 10:19 AM
I went in with low expectations, and they still disappointed me.

Yup.

I was sat there wondering how the entire US navy makes its way to the UK in just one afternoon, and how Anthony Hopkins goes from London to Oxford to Dover and back to London again all via Bank junction and in the space of about ten minutes.

Then I realised how utterly ludicrous everything else in the movie was and decided to give up.

My main bugbear was the final battle and where the Autobots were. Prime gives a big speech about "doing the thing" then inexplicably blasts off somewhere to go off with his giant three-headed dragon and wait until he could re-appear at the final crucial moment. It strikes me that both Prime and King Arthur's robot knights would have been pretty useful during the whole "crash-landed helicopter" part. But no, just leave it to the humans. Did I miss the part where he said that they all had to go off and do something? Or were they just getting a Frappucino?

As Blackjack mentioned though, there was a lot of this. Barricade is hanging out to start with and then seemingly has to urgently go off to file his tax return or something.

I can really only enjoy these movies if I switch my brain off.

inflatable dalek
2017-07-02, 07:35 PM
I wound up liking that more than I thought.

Big flaw is that it is two films badly stapled together, even more blatantly than the last one. Half the characters vanish for an hour! Just starting the film with Cade and team being brought to England and incorporating meeting an orphan (which is really the only actually semi-relevant thing to happen in his plot at the start) and it'd work much better.

The actual film was just such huge messy fun though. Especially Tony Hopkins who really threw himself into with gay abandon and was utterly shameless but lovely.

Didn't mind Prime being mostly absent, each of his showings felt like they had weight to them. The evil eyes were a late addition though weren't they? Without they Prime would seem to be doing all this by his own choice.

Megatron vanishing for an hour on the other hand felt weak. If only because they idea of humanity having to work with him to stop a threat in Prime's absence is a much better one than anything else in the film but only lasts for once (easily cut, it's trying to pretend the new Decepticons are actual characters, but for what they contribute the "And lots of Transformers have come to Earth" line covers it) scene. Megs must have some serious blackmail photos of Bay to keep being put in these films so reluctantly.

On the other hand I thought it was hilarious Megs knows all about who created them and (seems to) work for them when Prime didn't have a clue in the last film.

And it's nice he got over the whole Galvatron thing.

Oh, and did I miss something with Cade and Lennox? They don't seem to exchange names during their first meeting, but second time Cade is all "YOU'RE MAKING A BIG MISTAKE LENNOX!" with a passion that suggests he has a clue who he is.

Mind, feels like a lot was cut from the Lennox plot, Morshower mentions he's undercover with the Bastard Soldier Brigade but that then never comes up again. Plus Skinner from the X-Files is loitering in a couple of brief shots, making it look like something with him was cut.

The new mythology stuff was clearly designed to work first and foremost for folk that watch a Transformers film every couple of years and don't have exact recall of every detail. Which is fair enough (it's the sort of thing that's always worked for The X-Men movies), but I didn't feel especially invested in Unicron or Quintessa as big new ideas.

The lower domestic box office has of course been mama from heaven for the "Not only do I not like these films, but in fact no one really likes these films!" folk of course. I do think the ones who are expecting the Bay style to be abandoned are fooling themselves though (I saw someone who wanted a more family friendly film suggest Flint Dille should be put in charge! That's the guy whose TF film was not only a disaster but had small children crying in cinemas). They're more likely to pay Shia and Megan a lot to come back for the 6th and taking things back to Baysics.

On a semi-related bit of whorish self-promotion, I've just guested on a podcast talking about that casual fan/"real" fan tension, in which the Bay films do come up:

https://civildpodcast.com/2017/07/02/civil-discourse-1-casuals-gatekeeping-and-full-frontal-discourse/

Shrapnel
2017-07-06, 12:27 PM
On a semi-related bit of whorish self-promotion, I've just guested on a podcast talking about that casual fan/"real" fan tension, in which the Bay films do come up:

https://civildpodcast.com/2017/07/02/civil-discourse-1-casuals-gatekeeping-and-full-frontal-discourse/


Thanks, enjoyed that pod.

However, I don't find myself disliking the Michael Bay TF films because I think it slaughters my childhood or because Bumblo isn't a Beetle.

I mainly just struggle because they are rubbish. Basic coherent storytelling would work for me. I'd like to one day see a TF movie where I don't come out of the cinema with my wife asking me "So did all of that just not make any sense to me because I don't know Transformers?"

Because with the Bay movies I can only answer "no, it made no sense to anyone, it was just batshit crazy."

Still, I've got used to it now, the early films I went in with expectation, now I go in thinking: "Set brain to standby".

inflatable dalek
2017-07-07, 01:26 PM
Oh sure, as with the 86 film there's plenty of objective criticisms that can be made of the Bay films, however much I enjoy them.

Hell, personal opinion doesn't even have to be objective really, the dislike of Martin Freeman I express in the podcast is basically irrational.

But there's certainly a lot of folk across various fandoms who are actively scared of anything new,and that brings out the worst in them.

Heinrad
2017-07-09, 05:08 AM
I saw it, and I liked it. Yes, the plot's a bit of a mess, but this one also seems like they decided halfway through that they wanted to do an expanded cinematic universe, hence the whole Unicron bit, and from all of the Bay movies I've seen, when he makes a movie it's beginning-middle-end. Admittedly, prior to Transformers, all I'd seen of his work was The Rock(which I really like), Crimson Tide(I think that's one of his), and Pearl Harbor(well, 2 out of three ain't bad, I guess). I don't think he'd actually done anything with a sequel(as far as I know) before he did ROTF.

One thing I really liked was the humor. Hot Rod being stuck with his accent in a similar way to Bumblebee being stuck with talking in sound bites(although watching the Lego Batman Movie after watching Bumblebee's reaction to his new voice is kind of weird), and the fact that Cogsman is so utterly distracting when Hopkins is explaining stuff was actually pretty funny.

I wound up missing the first few minutes of the movie, though. Is there an explanation as to why Megs is back to being Megs and not Galvy?

Red Dave Prime
2017-07-09, 12:15 PM
Mr bay did both the bad boys movies and it was Tony Scott who dis crimson tide ( he of top gun )

Heinrad
2017-07-09, 03:23 PM
Ah. So one for two instead. Probably means I should watch Bad Boys at some point....

But I was thinking more in terms of he makes the movie(I have no clue how closely he works with the writers on the script), and he's not thinking "gotta set up for a sequel" as much as "hot chick, stuff goes boom, military does stuff, more stuff goes boom, movie ends". If talk of a sequel comes up, more stuff goes boom, and the writers can sort out how everything ties together. This time, Last Knight is setting up not only TF 6: HOLY CRAP!(working title), but at the very least the Bumblebee standalone movie(I'm actually hoping for a 'Bee and Roddy buddy pic) and any other standalones they want to try.

Cliffjumper
2017-09-03, 10:09 PM
It was pretty lousy, though, wasn't it? Like all the worst bits from the first four just thrown up there. Even I wasn't that crazy about it TBH. Marky Mark was still Marky Mark enough to Marky Mark, the DJD spoof was genuinely hilarious and it was nice to see that Roadbuster and Topspin just ****ed off and left Leadfoot to die but wow, a mess. Though I did like the way they didn't actually junk the doomy possibilities left at the end of AoE; it's almost like that was done on purpose.

I absolutely absolutely hate that kind of secret history bullshit, the whole "Oh yah you know how you never saw Bumblebee come to Earth even though it was heavily implied by basically everything he did that he had well surprise he was in World War 2 and there are all these other Transformers kicking around and they just did **** all while Megatron was scouring the Earth in the second one". Hate it.

Whole Optimus plotline was screwed. He's talked over to Unicron in five seconds and talked back out in five more. After a good set of well-written Autobots in 4 it's back to everyone bar Bumblebee and Optimus ****ing off with the added twist of Optimus also ****ing off. And the numerous Autobots who seemingly just sit this one out was... weird. Not sure about it; bit of a shame we didn't have a genuine face arguing their case. It felt like any minute now the Cuba thing was going to kick into the main plot.

Cogman was shit, boring battle butler cliche, like Willikins in that shit Terry Pratchett book. Anthony Hopkins wasn't the funny sort of bad either, more the kind of "when is this overrated **** going to just **** off and retire and let someone else do this rubbish", i.e. the same thing he's done since about 1995 - Look At Me I'm Anthony ****ing Sir Hopkins And I'm Turning Up In This Prole Film For The Proles With My Superior ****ing Attitude.

Hilariously bad attempt to disguise the actress playing Tessa pegging it. Just say she's in hiding somewhere and be done with it, don't come up with some idiocy about how she's sitting down for her exams a few states over from a ****ing robot war without anyone going "hey, you know the guy we're after who'll do anything for his daughter? Why don't we, like, make some use of that?".

EDIT: Looking at the box office it's not *that* bad, is it?

inflatable dalek
2017-09-08, 12:24 PM
Hilariously bad attempt to disguise the actress playing Tessa pegging it. Just say she's in hiding somewhere and be done with it, don't come up with some idiocy about how she's sitting down for her exams a few states over from a ****ing robot war without anyone going "hey, you know the guy we're after who'll do anything for his daughter? Why don't we, like, make some use of that?".

I was surprised to be told that was actually the actress from the last one on the phone as I'd assumed they were working around her telling them to **** off. Which means she actually beats Simmons in the phoning in her performance stakes.

EDIT: Looking at the box office it's not *that* bad, is it?

I hope the dip does make give them a kick up the arse, all the problems with this one are basically the same problems every single person pointed out with the last only turned up slightly. I quite enjoyed the film still, but there was a bit too much of a sense of them thinking they could get away with anything. Simply a tighter plot (or at least tighter editing) would make a world of difference.

Mind, I think the "AT LAST PEOPLE KNOW THEY'RE SHIT!!!" folks (which is the equivalent of, saying "The box office failure of Star Trek V proves no one ever really liked Star Trek") are going to be disappointed. If Paramount do a knee jerk reaction it's far more likely they'll make the next one more like the earlier proven Bay films--which come to think of it, the Bumblebee film probably will be but set in the 80's--than suddenly going all G1.

Red Dave Prime
2017-09-08, 01:46 PM
I know! They should merge it with the battleship/ gi now franchises and create a Hasbro universe. That's worked wonders for the comics (firmly believe idws upcoming first strike event is the nail in the coffin for me)

Cliffjumper
2017-09-08, 06:54 PM
Cinema in general is on a bit of a downturn and I think a lot of franchise stuff is on the cusp of if not a slump then a steady downturn. Superhero stuff for example just isn't special anymore - Homecoming took millions but I think Marvel were expecting Spidermania. This stuff just isn't *special* anymore. Regarding Transformers, a downturn was always inevitable. I'd agree Hasbro/Paramount are much more likely to look at reigning spending in (no need for Marky Mark as films with unknowns in the lead didn't do badly, calm down the plots). More than any of the others TLK wastes an ungodly amount of money on Transformers that really, really don't do anything. At the same time it might just be that this is it, the wider public have had enough of transforming robots for now. While I think the film was terrible neither that nor Bay's style had been a problem in itself before and IMO it's delusional to think a back-to-G1 "Batman Begins" approach will work because G1 simply doesn't have the following or credo Batman does.

They also need to make them shorter, really. TLK must have been three hours with trailers; lots of people will stay at home and just watch three episodes of Thrones instead. TV is probably the most serious threat to cinema it's ever been with closing production values and casting pull, the response is not to fatigue the audience. I spent about the last hour of TLK just hoping it ended soon.




If Bumblebee's been part of a clandestine Autobot organisation since at least WW2, with Hot Rod kicking around, wouldn't it have been easier to use their huge resources to recover Archibald's glasses or just have the ****ed-out old luvvie buying them rather than Batsignalling for Autobot High Command? If Bumblebee's been on Earth sixty years for the first film he's a ****wit who basically loses the Allspark; the only way the '07 film has even a strand of logic in its' set-up is if the Autobots are ignorant of Earth. This is why I hate these sort of retcons.

Red Dave Prime
2017-09-08, 09:14 PM
I'd fully agree with the above and add in that companies should stay away from this franchise approach as a standard. I know Ive a few friends who have stopped bothering with the Marvel stuff because they cant be arsed keeping track of all the different movies. AoE really didnt need the 'to be continued...' approach and transformers is a great fit for a dumb popcorn movie - except now you need to know what came before.

Warcry
2018-01-04, 08:49 PM
I've finally gotten around to watching this. I think it might have been the worst movie I've ever sat all the way through. Definitely significantly worse than any of the previous movies, and it's not like all of those have been amazing. The plot was an ROTF-tier nonsense mishmash, and it did nothing but repeat the exact same themes as every other TF movie. To top it off, there wasn't a single likeable or relateable person (or robot) in the cast even though there were, like, fifteen "main" characters in the thing.

Even by the remarkably low standards I have for the TF movies, this one was a real disappointment.

Clay
2018-01-04, 09:32 PM
It's something, isn't it?

inflatable dalek
2018-01-05, 05:47 PM
I think it might have been the worst movie I've ever sat all the way through.

I wish I lived a life where that was true for me.

[I hope you'll be listening to the Podcast Maximus episode on it now ;) ]

optimusskids
2018-01-06, 09:04 AM
Worse than Warbirds ? (B29 vs Pteradactyls)

Auntie Slag
2018-03-23, 11:40 AM
Is there an explanation how Bumblebee is blown apart and magically pulls himself together?

Skyquake87
2018-03-25, 11:05 AM
No. He's a Junkion...? (Has the speech pattern for it) Sucks any jeopardy out of the fight with Prime later in the film, though.

Cliffjumper
2018-03-28, 09:45 PM
Is there an explanation how Bumblebee is blown apart and magically pulls himself together?

Is there even any sort of explanation for why anyone thought that was a good idea? Visually it looks naff and surely the film is certificated too high to make anyone fall for it even for a second?

I... can't watch it. I watched the shit out of the first three and I've probably seen 4 more times than I've watched most proper films. But I've watched TLK twice - once as a dodgy cam, once on a proper DVD. I've got a four year old and I've seen the Captain Underpants film something like 20 times now and I cannot bring myself to watch TLK again.

I think history's going to be kind to the first three, maybe four films in the same way a lot of older action films took ten years to really get their credit. But I think 5's always going to be seen as an absolute pig.

Overall though I'm just staggered at how complicated the films make things for themselves, with 5 the biggest offender. Do cinemagoers really care about Unicron and Arthurian shit? I genuinely think they'd have been happier with Megatron's Suicide Squad just trying to kill the Autobots for two hours with a bit of mild government intrigue. I know I would have been.

Hound
2018-03-29, 07:51 AM
I still haven't seen the 5th movie. It's weird, cause I feel like I should watch it but I'm like absolutely sure I will think it's crap and I just really don't want to go to the effort or expense of getting it to watch or spend the time watching it.

I mean, I'll probably watch it at some point but it's in the queue with other movies that I'll get around to watching that I'm not that motivated to watch yet like Dark Knight Rises.

Red Dave Prime
2018-03-29, 02:05 PM
I think history's going to be kind to the first three, maybe four films in the same way a lot of older action films took ten years to really get their credit. But I think 5's always going to be seen as an absolute pig.


I certainly think the first holds up very well. Numerous great set pieces, characters are mostly well defined and the effects, I assume due to a smaller budget, are not quite as OTT as they would grow to be.

Sure, the plot is silly but it's enough to keep things running along. And yes the humour grates often. I'm not really a politically correct person but it's often racist in portrayal of Black Americans.

Overall though, the first film is a great example of a good, solid blockbuster popcorn movie.

Going through the other 4... I think 2 is dreadful and the only reason its not the worst is because 5 is so much poorer. 2 has one decent moment (yes, it's primes death) but even that is thrown away with his silly return. I've never clicked with 3 but I can see a good bit of value in it and I think it will age reasonably well. I never really feel it earns its moments but it's closest to the first in terms of quality. Number 4 I think has some strong moments and ideas but is buried under a huge amount of unnecessary junk. And as much as Sam and his crowd aren't great, the human factor in AOE is pretty dislikable.

But yeah, 5 is the absolute pits. It feels like it was scribbled today each day of shooting and then patched together. It's so lazy in ambition despite trying to lump on so many different things.

Certainly the idea of a somewhat back to basics film with Megatrons Suicide Squad going on a rampage sounds much more interesting.

Warcry
2018-03-29, 04:48 PM
I think history's going to be kind to the first three, maybe four films in the same way a lot of older action films took ten years to really get their credit. But I think 5's always going to be seen as an absolute pig.
It's crazy to think, but it's already been eleven years since the first movie and nine since ROTF. I don't think opinions have changed all that much, though.

Red Dave Prime and I may actually be the same person because his thoughts on all five movies are basically identical to mine. The first one was very enjoyable for what it was, aside from a few black characters who felt like they walked out of a minstrel show (and I don't have a problem with stereotypes being played for laughs, but it has to actually be funny and this just wasn't). And I think the reception of that one has always been fairly good as far as silly comedic action movies go. More than anything it seems to attract flak from TF fans who are still mad at it for not being an adaptation of the 80s show. And I think he's right that the lower budget is a big part of the reason why, because they had to choose their spots instead of making it wall-to-wall Bayhem and it made the Transformers seem so much more amazing and special.

ROTF was a car crash, not a surprise what with starting filming before they had a script. It had a few good moments but nothing to tie them together, and I think it's best-enjoyed by spending twenty minutes watching YouTube clips of the good action scenes. DOTM is alright, easily the second best of the bunch, but I really feel like it lost a ton of its potential impact by replacing Mikaela with some other random girl. AoE had enough plot for three movies, and really undid itself by trying to do too much (plus Walburg just isn't very likeable).

TLK was just so much worse than any of them, though. I only sat the whole way through it the first time because it was a Christmas gift from my wife, and I don't think I could bring myself to do that a second time. I can't even think of any action sequences I'd want to see again.

Cliffjumper
2018-03-29, 08:04 PM
Seriously good read Denyer put my way - https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwcKvxyHHsZ9V18ySTVEblRZSXc/edit

Little bit mad in places but some serious food for thought.

Cliffjumper
2018-03-29, 08:13 PM
I'd say film-by-film those are a fair analysis from both, though I think 1 takes far, far too long to get going. Really the first three needed a good edit and would be passable; mileage varies as to how much you can ignore the bad bits or let them spoil things I suppose. 4 felt like it made far too many of the same mistakes given the clean break it could have been, and 5 is a genuine disaster - as Warcry says there aren't even any good bits to savour; ROTF's saving grace for me is that the world would be a poorer place without the night-time Shanghai battle, the forest fight and Jetfire - there's nothing like that in TLK.

I just cannot figure out this incessant need of Bay/Paramount/whoever to consistently over-complicate these films with Arthurian guff, dinosaur rubbish, secret history and so on - is Bumblebee as a WW2 armoured car something a casual audience was after, is it the difference between someone buying a ticket or not? I'm honestly thinking not. The whole archaeology thread in 4 seemed like he just wanted to do something with dinosaurs as it serves no plot purpose other than to make people think they could see the Dinobots coming before they come from somewhere else...

The last two especially have suffered from this excess of money; has Bay been inserting these things as requisites for returning? Surely not? The idea that he's some sort of subversive auteur ****ing with Paramount and even the audience actually makes more sense than anything else.

Red Dave Prime
2018-03-29, 09:46 PM
Looking back on the 5 films, whats disappointing is that there are some very good high points. All they really needed was some restraint really. They could have made the same bags of money and spent less. Would a better director kept things in check and produced films that not only made hugh box office but would be well received.

I will give them a thumbs up for the designs of the bay formers as well. I hated the original reveals but the style and execution has won me over. They'll never beat the G1 iconic originals but they deserve to be respected.

inflatable dalek
2018-03-30, 02:51 PM
Whilst I agree with Cliffy the films have become blatantly over complicated in a needless way, I think the Arthurian opening was a highlight. I think the real problem is you don't need that and the World War II stuff filling the "History of the Transformers flashback" part of the film. Or at least not with no obvious throughline between the two (but then, it's not as if Nazi's are famous for being obsessed with mythological artefacts of great power is it?).

As I've been listening to the (really good!) Die Another Day extended soundtrack, it occured to me it and Last Knight have a lot in common. Like Goldeneye the '07 film basically reinvented the genre in which it was in (even if Bay gets no credit for creating a lot of the Marvel film staples), but by the 4th/5th film in the series, the freshness is gone and attempts to top themselves are getting increasingly desperate. Especially as the Marvel films have been trying and mostly succeeding to push the envelope in new ways this last year beyond just finding new ways to put bigger explosions into the same old action scenes (though, for all it showed that just thinking a little outside the accepted box can pay great dividends with audiences, I did think the final act CGI in Black Panther was awful).

So what the series needs is a Casino Royale, not in style or tone but in terms of bringing the style of the series up to date now the old is fraying at the edges. Which makes it a shame perhaps we've got to get through the already seemingly disowned by Paramount Bumblebee first.

Cliffjumper
2018-03-30, 07:45 PM
I think you've hit on something there; basically in terms of a purely cinematic endeavour the films peak early. TF1 is about holy **** actual cars turning into actual ****ing real looking robots and fighting. You can maybe get one sequel out of not having to introduce them and having bigger fights with more robots. So there's limited scope of where to take the spectacular angle, and I think that's where the random different spectacle (Pyramids! Moon! Dinosaurs! Dragons!) comes in. Scaling back is an obvious answer but it's a risky strategy; we already know through simple ticket sales that Big Big Action is what made the films successful.

That said I think it was the *only* way to do it as a film franchise. It's Transformers' USP. I mean, if you name the best Transformers stories how many of them actually feature a huge amount of transforming, especially with the wow factor of real life present day vehicles rather than abstract 'Cybertronian' vehicles? Last Stand, for example - how many transformations are seen and how many that couldn't be written around if someone was to say "these characters can't transform"? Legacy, Target, even G2. As fans we consume these stories knowing their Transformers (with all that entails as a species) and that's good enough for us but really if the universe required it Impactor could just pick up a huge ****ing gun (instead of turning into a set of blocks we only recognise as a Cybertronian tank because we've had years of characters turning into Cybertronian tanks because the engineers got ****ing lazy) to shoot Overlord and the narrative would be unchanged. Transformers hasn't really done Transformers stories about how cool transforming is, not since G1 S1 and maybe the opening comic limited series. For most of the franchise's history after that when someone transforms it's largely to make travelling somewhere else slightly more convenient.

Marvel have somewhere to go in that they can do a solo film for someone and then just drop them in with the sketchiest characterisation to another film and remix things. This doesn't work with Drift or Hot Rod or Sideswipe because people don't care. But the Marvel films on a wider scale seem to be eating themselves; the big trick is increasingly towards team-ups, and the more you team people up the less room there is for characterisation. But it doesn't matter because Iron Man's had attention in three other films, so he can turn up in Civil War, Homecoming and Infinity Wars as a quipping shithead and that flies. Really this is the advantage of having five, ten properties on tap that are genuine pop culture shorthand and the Fox thing means they've got the X-Men, who are probably bigger than any of their current ones bar Spider-Man, coming in to take over the baton after the Infinity cull.

Regarding Bay himself I've still yet to hear a viable alternative who'd have taken the gamble in 2007, let alone someone who'd take over. A different director would have been on my wishlist for 4 but the relationship is a lot more symbiotic than many fans seem to think. Would Paramount have basically stumped up money for him to make a whole other film as a bribe if there had been capable replacements queuing up. The homogenous mess of the GI Joe films shows what could have happened; at least the TF films have some sort of coherent linking identity and a director who pushed back against studios and corporate sponsors. And from Hasbro & Paramount's point of view I think they got three or four more films out of the thing than they expected to, which isn't bad for something they farmed out to a junior partner a decade before because they were done with it.

Copy & paste from a blog article I wrote around the release of 5: -

Six Reasons You Will Never Get The Transformers Film You Want

Initial box office figures for the fifth Transformers film, The Last Knight, have been underwhelming while the reviews have been the usual lazy hackwork, though this time it seems that even fans of Michael Bay's envisioning have been left unimpressed. I've yet to see it so I'm reserving personal judgement but as usual it's taken fandom little time to crack out the knives, further fuelled by the apparent exit of Bay from the franchise. Putting aside that it seems to be a familiar pattern slash negotiating tactic from Bay (who only took the assignment on Age of Extinction as leverage to raise money for Pain & Gain) many seem to be heralding this as an end to his style of Transformers films and the chance for something more cerebral. It won't be, and here's why.


1. BAY PROBABLY WAS AND IS THE BEST DIRECTOR INTERESTED


The talk of Bay stepping down has led to the usual unimaginative genre-familiar suggestions from social media critics - JJ Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Joss Whedon, Zach Snyder. These people will not get involved in something like Transformers. However good some Transformers media has been over the past thirty-plus years Transformers exists to sell plastic toys to children; any artistic merit is a mere by-product. Film directors do not know the ins and outs of the franchise and see it as such, without even the cultural kudos of Lego. They are after prestige from their peers and critics and creative control; helming a multi-million movie where the demands of a toy company, a studio trying to hang on to heavy hitters in the face of the superhero onslaught and secondary licensees such as car manufacturers ticks neither of those boxes.

To even risk relinquishing either is a major risk for a serious director; the Nolans would see even their acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy as something like corporate whoreage. Most of the names mentioned have already 'done' franchises and are firmly looking to get back to doing their own ideas. There's a chance that the approach taken by Marvel, where the films are given an overall house style under Kevin Feige and given to jobbing safe hands, some of whom stand out (e.g. the Russo brothers) and add something but really even with a possible Bumblebee series Paramount have less chance to unearth one.

It's more likely that if Bay goes we will get an unabashed franchise whore who is likely to ape the style already in place - someone like McG, Jon M Chu or Jonathan Liebesman. While few would admit it, Transformers in 2007 was lucky to land Michael Bay, a largely successful action film director with box office clout and a filming style that connected with the audience. Since then he's claimed to be leaving a couple of times and been begged back with greater financial incentives; would Paramount really do that if they had a queue of more credible directors begging to take over the films?

2. HUMAN CHARACTERS ARE NECESSARY AND WON'T BE GOING ANYWHERE


The complaints about the time given to human characters started in 2007 and haven't stopped since. But get used to them because as long as there are live action Transformers films there are going to be major roles for humans in them. And why? Because people like them. Not necessarily the fans, but the hundreds of thousands of people who go to see them and don't buy IDW comics. However their careers have turned out since Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox were a big reason a lot of people went to see Revenge of the Fallen; Sideswipe and Arcee not so much. Later, the established built-in following Mark Wahlberg has which has propped up films before Transformers and will likely continue to do so later was a big factor in the box office success of Age of Extinction. And the comedy characters - Simmons, Lucas, the Indian call centre guy, Judy Witwicky - normal people love them. Cinema audiences have little tolerance for relentlessly serious films, which is why no-one in Marvel films can shut up. So there will always be funny characters you think are detracting from the serious business of cars turning into robots who hit other robots and for simple connection they are most likely to be human.

The other major factor is budget. Age of Extinction cost $210m, with the vast majority of it filmed on real locations or constructed sets plus considerable stretches where there were no visual effects on screen. Ramping down the Earth/human focus would cost an extortionate amount of money; to film something like - for the sake of argument - Last Stand of the Wreckers would involve sets being built for everything - not just spaceship interiors but alien planets - plus robots being animated for the entire length of the film. Budgets for summer blockbusters are high but not that high, hence you are always going to have a fair percentage of screen-time featuring no robots. Not to mention that once you eliminate humans and Earth settings you might as well just do the thing with cel animation and save a fortune anyway.

3. BOX OFFICE FAILURE MIGHT SAY MORE ABOUT TRANSFORMERS THAN BAY


It's early days for The Last Knight's box office of course, and there's a difference between being a flop and just not a runaway success. If the take is disappointing it might well be fatigue to Bay's style, sure, but then the bubble was always likely to burst one day and for the taking to go up a fifth successive time would perhaps have been a big ask. However, it's worth remembering that the last three featured all of Bay's excesses and were slaughtered by both the critics and the bulk of fandom, none of which seemed to put off audiences - as well as the box office, exit polling for all of them has been a lot more positive as have DVD sales (both of which would be poor if cinema goers had been hoodwinked by fancy trailers and hated Bay's style). It would seem that among the deluge of franchises, remakes and reboots the public have found a place to fit a single film about transforming robots; the franchise's USP. There's no Star Trek to their Star Wars, not any more.

However, if this little arrangement with ticket buyers has ended it is unlikely to be because of anything in particular Bay's done - they've been happy enough with the past four films, why would toilet humour, overcomplicated plotting, skeletal robot designs, arbitrary name reuse, explosions, creeper shots and militaristic Autobots suddenly be a turn-off? If audiences have had enough it is more likely to be that they're no longer wowed by transforming robots themselves than the style in which the films have been made. There might not even be a Transformers 6, or it might not be any time soon - Sony didn't keep slinging out Spider-Man films until they lost $100m, they took a downturn in takings as a sign to step back and see what would happen; Paramount are as likely to take a break or quit altogether as to radically retool the series.

4. THE FILMS HAVE BEEN GOING TEN YEARS


The five films have appeared over a decade, meaning the Movieverse has lasted longer than the original Generation One. Naturally there have been years without movies or even much in the way of new related figures but DVD releases, streaming services and the like keep them in the public eye. And it is the public eye now; we've all had to explain to friends and family that Transformers didn't blink out of existence in 1987 and reappear 20 years later but that you have to explain about Beast Wars and the Dreamwave sales and how Cybertron was running right before the first film came out says it all for the actual cultural footprint Transformers made between 1986 and 2006. The likes of Armada were successes on their own terms but there's a difference between being a solid but unremarkable hit with the target demographic of children aged 6-10; the 2007 film and its' associated line turned the franchise back into a smash.

It's not just the profile either; Animated, Prime and Robots in Disguise have done much the same rough level of business as their predecessors - decent figures with kids and fans but the people seeing the films have gone home from the threatres and watched Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, not Prime. Bay's version is Transformers still to the casual audience and his versions of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee have transcended to well-known genuine household character names like Captain Jack Sparrow or Elsa; they're features at Universal Studios, you can get Halloween costumes of them. They've built up their own following that dwarfs the fandom and are likely to be a prerequisite for any film continuation in much the same form as they are now, the cool truck guy with the guns and blades and the cute yellow one who talks through his radio.

5. YOU ARE TOO OLD TO MATTER


This one shouldn't really need explaining. But it does. That clumsy term G1 has many applications; against all logic the most common definition is up to about the original 1986 film, which was thirty years ago. There has, of course, been a steady stream of 'G1' media from comic publishers and figures from Hasbro via the Classics sub-series and these have drummed up some new fans who believe the original is the best. But for most G1 fans here is the hard truth - if you are old enough to remember G1 these films are not for you. You're welcome to like them of course - but your satisfaction is not the reason they exist. You're in your mid-thirties, forties, whatever.

Hollywood does not give a shit what you think. They're more interested in the 16-30 demographic because that's where the biggest chunk of disposable income is - with people who don't have families, cars and mortgages eating into the budget. Even if you take your family they won't cater for you, they'll be catering for your kids. Let it go.

6. HASBRO AND PARAMOUNT DON'T WANT TO CHANGE ANYTHING


Studios love Michael Bay. He brings in films within budget and on time which then go on to do excellent box office. Good reviews would be nice but bad ones have yet to harm the bottom line; Paramount and Hasbro have been in the business long enough to know critical scorn is no obstacle to commercial success. Hasbro are in the same boat; with toy sales shrinking the Rhode Island giant are viewing Transformers more and more as a multimedia property. Numbers are of course impossible to quantify but the ever-downscaling tie-in lines for the films suggest that Hasbro are making enough from whatever chunk of the box office gross goes their way for it to be worth their while.

Both will be happy with a continuation of this arrangement. Paramount have other films that win awards; while a Best Picture Oscar for Transformers 6 would be great they know it's never going to happen, regardless of quality, and that critics are unlikely to seriously praise a film based on a toyline out of pure disdain for such commercialism. So they'll take the box office, while Hasbro have even less artistic pretension. This means either Bay or his replacement will be issued with a remit to keep things much the same regardless of whether the next film is a straight sequel or a reboot.

Clay
2018-04-01, 01:16 AM
Seriously good read Denyer put my way - https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwcKvxyHHsZ9V18ySTVEblRZSXc/edit

Little bit mad in places but some serious food for thought.

Long, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Skyquake87
2018-04-01, 10:41 AM
I'm actually a bit disappointed there won't be a sixth film (save the Bumblebee spin-off, whatever that'll be about - fighting Nazis in the 1980s, perhaps..?) as I would have liked to see where Bay would go with the Quintessa/ Unicron thing. I've mostly enjoyed the last ten years of explosions and nonsense. The toilet humour and 'comedy' humans does grate on me, but I've enjoyed the human cast more in the last 2 than the previous 3 (save Megan Fox, who escapes from having any irksome comedy tics.). I think I'm the only person on here who enjoyed The Last Knight, for its all go-nowhere plots and too much going on, I just found it ...fun. And as far as Transformers on the big screen, that's as much as I was hoping for.

The films would be much improved for having just one central plot and sticking to it. The Arthurian stuff and the lore was genuinely decent, making a good attempt to explain why the Transformers keep coming to Earth. It would have been good to have Megatron and his Decepticons dovetail into that storyline, rather than being an unnecessary sideshow that's swept away 5 minutes after being introduced.

I do think that with these films, there has been some acknowledgment that there is now some kind of mythos underpinning the toyline, but it's been applied in such an EVERYTHING!! way as to get lost amongst all the spectacle, which is a shame.

I agree with pretty much what Cliffjumper wrote above - the films aren't made for me as a fan, and I absolutely don't mind that. I want Transformers to be something that endures and that people with less insular pursuits can get something out of. It's nice to be able to talk to colleagues at work about these films and not feel like a muppet, because I'm still into the toys and comics. And some of them are girls too! That is what I've liked most of all about these films - they've just opened up something I've long enjoyed to other people, and I like that very much :)

Most of all, whatever happens next, if they still keep him onboard, I want Peter Cullen to be given more lines than "I am Optimus Prime!".

Cliffjumper
2018-04-01, 01:35 PM
Long, but thoroughly enjoyable.

I think maybe a little too much is hung on the "Sam is overwritten by the Allspark at the end of ROTF" and I'd always taken that the Autobots had lost the war but there really is some thought-provoking stuff in there and I'be pencilled in a re watch of the three in order as a result. The Carly stuff especially is incredible.

Also the comments on Mikaela and gender traits in action films totally crystallised one of my major problems with superficially feminist characters. It's like the Black Widow, who is probably the most prominent and worst offender. She gets /nothing/ wrong and is always sensible but at the end of the day she actually does nothing, is a foil for flawed male heroes and her arse is randomly foregrounded in unrelated shots. She looks, sounds and acts like an equal to the male characters but she really isn't.

Auntie Slag
2018-04-02, 09:37 PM
...I want Peter Cullen to be given more lines than "I am Optimus Prime!".

Yeah, he said that line three times in TLK. I agree with you in that I like these last two films. In order of best to worst I'd rank them:

1) The 2007 movie
2) The Last Knight
3) Age of Extinction
4) Revenge of the Fallen
5) Dark of the Moon

I like a bit of daft and wackiness, and appreciated that's the way TLK started with a sozzled Merlin. I enjoyed Anthony Hopkins who seemed game for a laugh, and the settings were varied and fun. Some things seemed pointless, and I had to watch with the subtitles on to get everything, but I thought they made some cool choices.

Hot Rod as French, and a Citroen was really cool. Only five seconds of screen time, but that's much like everyone else who isn't Prime or Bee. Earth being Unicron was a good move, and I'd love to have seen how Optimus would have got on with him in the next movie.

I thought Hound was a shoe-in to die in this film, and so was really pleased when he didn't. The trailers showed Megatron swinging a massive sword at him and there's at least one Autobot death per film, but they all put up a good fight against him.

Characters like Sqweeks could have been forefront in this film, so glad they weren't. Even Wheelie got a single scene and didn't become someone's sidekick.

Dark of the Moon I could happily never watch again. That was too long, too po-faced. I LOVE Sentinel Prime, but the run time was tortuous.

I'm still patiently waiting for action films to return to Men In Black length movies (the first one). MIB was short, nicely edited, fun and did everything in 80 minutes or so.

Skyquake87
2018-04-03, 08:21 PM
Yeah, I can't fathom this two and half hour run time most films go for these days. I watched Sleepless and The Take, both daft action flicks, but get the job done in 90 mins.

DOTM is a miserable slog. It's the one I really can't get on with, mainly becasue watching it is like being put in a washing machine on spin cycle whilst someone bashes it with hammers.

inflatable dalek
2018-04-06, 08:41 PM
Scaling back is an obvious answer but it's a risky strategy; we already know through simple ticket sales that Big Big Action is what made the films successful.

Mind, I don't think they can go bigger, at least not with current effects tec. Indeed, I thought a lot of the last two didn't look as solid as the earlier films, so they many have overreached themselves. A film with just three or four big memorable set pieces that are fairly well divided by lots of funny stuff would probably go down a lot better and especially avoid the problem Last Knight had of having a climax that felt three hours long. If they'd just gone to Stonehenge and found the magic wand there and skipped the entire underwater sequence (or if they wanted to do a sea battle because it's new to the franchise, have the whole climax happen there) it would be a hell of a lot better.

But then, as I think we've all said before, the big big problem with the last two and especially the fifth has been the editing. There's much tighter films to be made out of both, especially when so many characters are voiceovers whose plots and motives can be changed until fairly late in production easily to rework things. Was it actually a different editing team on these two? The first three are long but flow so much better.

Hell, there are still signs of drastic last second changes (I'm pretty sure all the Nemesis Prime stuff was being fiddled with right up to release), but a competent ruthless hand going through it would probably make a lot of difference.


Regarding Bay himself I've still yet to hear a viable alternative who'd have taken the gamble in 2007, let alone someone who'd take over.

I'd presume after this one Paramount won't be as keen on having a director with a free hand (which might not be a bad thing if it avoids the excesses), so I'd guess it'll be either someone young and keen with a couple of successful medium sized films under their belt, or an old reliable Joe Johnston style pair of hands.

I suppose it's not impossible some of the big current action directors might take a punt, Star Trek managed to get the Fast and the Furious guy (though I suppose that says a lot, there are very few directors now who are household names in that genre, however successful their films are. Or maybe I'm just old?), and the fan reaction alone to replacing Bay with another big explosions auteur would be hilarious.

I think we forget actually how beloved Bay was before all this. Same year as the first TF film we have Hot Fuzz treating Bad Boys 2 (2!) as a peak of action cinema. And yes, it's a comedy, but it's a gag that depends on most of the target audience nodding sagely in agreement.

I've not seen it myself, but I've seen a lot of folk say they'd love a TF film from the Thor Ragnarok director as it apparently does the big light hearted SF spectacle thing very well (and perhaps more importantly he doesn't seem too snobbish to be automatically against doing giant robots). Probably going to be too busy with Disney for a while though.

I think the key thing is, whoever they get, everyone makes sure they know what they want and what's expected before filming starts so we don't get a rotating Star Wars directors situation.

Cliffjumper
2018-04-06, 09:33 PM
I think that's going to be the problem, though - between Marvel, Star Wars and DC a lot of the competent but not too big directors have been and will be quite tied up and not wanting to work on another franchise when they aren't. Blockbusters are a 2-year process now.

There's probably mileage in doing an eighties-set 'classics back on deck' film at about 2 hours, especially as rebooting is part of the common lexicon now (we'll have Marvel doing X-Men and F4 again soon, plus there's every chance DC are going to start from scratch again as everyone bar comedy tumblr feminists hates their films). Stranger Things, synthwave, Russia being dicks - the 21st century version of the eighties has never been hotter and you could get serious viral mileage and easy goodwill from the "ding dong, Bay is dead, let's do it proper!" angle.

But how much of a hit with the public it would be I don't know. As I say, how good the films are has never been a factor and TLK was floundering at the box office happened in exactly the same circumstances that saw DOTM thrive. I genuinely think we're hitting a point where a fair chunk of the casual audience have just had enough of transforming robots the same way they went off westerns, kung-fu and dinosaurs. IMO Paramount are better off resting the films for a few years and letting people miss them rather than chasing diminishing returns.

RE: TLK and editing, it's so badly put together. So much can be trimmed and it's just ordered in such an awful fashion. Marky Mark and Sneertwat having a meal on a submarine at that point in the film - whoa, bring on the excitement. You don't put submarines in action films, you put them in suspense films because water is as slow as ****.

Agree about Nemesis Prime. It's clear the original script was for Optimus to genuinely want to redeem himself by destroying Earth for Cybertron and later realise he's wrong but someone lost their balls and so it's mind control or whatever Nemesis Prime was meant to be as they felt he couldn't swim back from actually being outright the bad guy. I wonder if Prime's tiny screentime was because there was a bunch of stuff cut that they couldn't patch around.

Clay
2018-04-10, 10:31 PM
I think maybe a little too much is hung on the "Sam is overwritten by the Allspark at the end of ROTF" and I'd always taken that the Autobots had lost the war but there really is some thought-provoking stuff in there and I'be pencilled in a re watch of the three in order as a result. The Carly stuff especially is incredible.

Yeah. The counter-reading of Prime as a fascist demagogue works well, even to the point that I started to get uncomfortable. The familial image playing toward a patriotic feeling (instead of nationalism in this case, it's a play/ploy with a nostalgia for a giant robot), the "we are always at war" ending narrations, the insistence that everything bad is the boogeyman Megatron's fault (to be fair, a lot of it is), the cult of personality... it all adds up, and is really interesting to consider in juxtaposition with his other point that these movies are supposedly presented as big dumb action fair with nothing to ever question about the good guys, nosiree.

It runs counter to my reading of Prime as essentially a cartoon character boy scout in the first movie being dumped into a real-world military conflict, with the following two movies showing him getting worn down from an idealist to a pragmatist, and the fourth one being basically Prime with PTSD. But, I'd be interested to see this guy's take on AOE with Prime as a deposed warlord.

Also, "giant undead nuclear communist robot hate phallus" is a ****ing awesome name.

Also the comments on Mikaela and gender traits in action films totally crystallised one of my major problems with superficially feminist characters. It's like the Black Widow, who is probably the most prominent and worst offender. She gets /nothing/ wrong and is always sensible but at the end of the day she actually does nothing, is a foil for flawed male heroes and her arse is randomly foregrounded in unrelated shots. She looks, sounds and acts like an equal to the male characters but she really isn't.

I remember one of the youtube film analysis channels I follow (folding ideas, maybe?) making the point that the script treats Mikaela as having agency and control over her circumstances (much more so than Sam), but the camera treats her as an object. I'll try and find that clip... can't remember if it was part of a longer reading or not.

Cliffjumper
2018-04-11, 10:33 AM
My reading of Prime and to the lesser extent the Autobots is, and to the best of my recollection has been since '07, that they're losing or have lost the war - even in ROTF and DOTM Earth is a defensive base they successfully depend, and on both occasions the Decepticons summon armies effectively at will whereas new Autobots are a handful of stragglers who've likely broken through lines somewhere. Therefore what we see - largely, with a couple of cases aside - are Survivors with a capital S. Hardened warriors who know and have possibly experienced that mercy in war against an enemy with much larger numbers is a folly.

And yes, I would say Optimus Prime having that arc is a fair reading - his battles with Megatron fit in with it well. In the first film's showdown he never really cuts loose or underestimates Megatron or takes too much care with his surroundings and is saved by Sam doing the exact opposite of what he was instructed. Second time around in ROTF he's more brutal and sets out to physically disable or destroy Megatron but crucially lets his guard down and again gets bailed out by Sam. So, come DOTM he knows Megatron, despite being against Sentinel, will always always be a threat and therefore eliminates him surgically in about three seconds flat.

I wonder how much viewing habits and personal politics play into interpretation of the Autobots as well. Speaking personally (and not saying it somehow makes me more qualified to appreciate the films or anything along those lines) I've grown up watching and reading fiction where there's a degree of ambiguity to the protagonists - Blake's 7, Clint Eastwood films, Alan Moore comics like Miracleman, V for Vendetta & Watchmen, Ideon, etc, etc - stuff where the heroes are either heroes by default because the other guys are worse or where the heroes do some questionable things for the goal of self-preservation. Whereas many who greatly dislike the actions of the Autobots seem to have more of a proclivity for a greater division between white and black hats, like the Marvel movies, Saturday morning cartoons and so on.

The fascinating thing about discussing mise-en-scene for the Transformers films is that, perhaps uniquely, just about everything a huge chunk of the cast does has to be done on purpose and the filmmakers' explicit intention. There's no chance of an actor doing something that seems deeply meaningful but is actually an accident or whatever when the actor is a CGI puppet.

An interesting companion piece to this sort of reading is Peter Berg's Battleship, which I cannot believe is anything other than a subversive satire of the assignment.


EDIT: It's interesting how Mikaela and Carly are treated by the camera, isn't it? The first film's not so bad (perhaps because Megan Fox was relatively unknown) but in both ROTF and DOTM both are introduced with almost absurdly sexual opening shots and then treated with relative respect. Mikaela especially spends most of ROTF sweaty and plastered with bits of debris even if her makeup is still impeccable; I get that there's a niche for the "grease girl" look but it probably isn't a big chunk of the audience. Carly meanwhile is introduced by a literal shot of her arse and then physically all but ignored. In both cases Bay almost goes out of his way to make them unsexy (a different thing from unattractive); when you compare it to the way Black Widow or Mystique or Harley Quinn are shot in more recent films it's almost chaste.

inflatable dalek
2018-04-13, 06:32 PM
I think the first one has the advantage I think that most of us, men and women, can emphasise with being 16 and seeing that person who knocks the legs out from under you, so that scene with Sam and Mikaela works on levels beyond "Way hay!". That being tongue tied feeling is very familiar and I at least can squirm along with him. The sequels going for more objective shots mean the only context becomes "Look at that bum!" Or, during the end of ROTF, "Look at those bouncing boobs! In slow motion!"

Clay
2018-04-15, 01:49 AM
I had a big long reply in my mind as I was falling asleep a day or two ago, but now I can't remember what it was.