Transformers 5 (Last Knight) Discussion Thread [SPOILERS]

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Clay
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Post by Clay » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:16 am

Cliffjumper wrote:Seriously good read Denyer put my way - https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwcKvxy ... RZSXc/edit

Little bit mad in places but some serious food for thought.
Long, but thoroughly enjoyable.

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Skyquake87
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Post by Skyquake87 » Sun Apr 01, 2018 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!".

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Post by Cliffjumper » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:35 pm

Clay wrote: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.

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Post by Auntie Slag » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:37 pm

Skyquake87 wrote:...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.

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Post by Skyquake87 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:21 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.

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Post by inflatable dalek » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:41 pm

Cliffjumper wrote: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.
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Post by Cliffjumper » Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:33 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.

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Clay
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Post by Clay » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:31 pm

Cliffjumper wrote: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.

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Post by Cliffjumper » Wed Apr 11, 2018 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.

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Post by inflatable dalek » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:32 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!"
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Post by Clay » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:49 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.

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