The Transformers series does the least amount of transforming of any long-running movie franchise we’ve seen. But can that change?
Loud, bombastic, metal, debris, explosions, hyper edits, characters who have names maybe, robots that have names maybe but are indistinguishable from one another, destruction, chaos, and no plot.
Every. Single. Movie.
four five of these things now, and each film is longer than the one before it. If that trend continues then we’re possibly looking at a total runtime of 13 hours. 13! Nothing 13 hours is ever good, and that includes 13 Hours that Michael Bay already gave us! If I’m ever kidnapped and tortured I hope they don’t have these movies on a loop. Please physically beat me instead. My body may not recover, but my mind would be salvaged.
The thing is, I WANT to like this series. Always have. I remember searching toy stores as a kid in the 80’s for an Optimus Prime. I cried when he died in the cartoon. Shit was HEAVY. But I gotta stay honest about these things… I can find next to no redeeming qualities about any of these movies. They are shot very well (when the camera is still longer than .25 seconds) and Michael Bay is one of our most technically skilled action directors, but I want more. I want good. If I’m a savage asshole with his nose up in the air based off of that, then so be it.
So what happens in the Transformers: The Last Knight trailer? A bunch of this!
A bunch of blurry, confusing fights of characters that are good and/or bad. Apparently Optimus Prime is a bad guy now, you know, because he murders the shit out of BumbleBee in the trailer. Why? I have no idea! I thought Optimus Prime was already a bad guy. He let all of Chicago be destroyed, killing thousands of people just to prove a point that the humans needed him. Maybe if he showed up tooting a trumpet like the Cavalry at least it’d be a good gag to distract you from how horrific it all is. And then there was another movie where a bad guy begs for mercy and Optimus rips his head and spine out like a total psychopath. Ooh, and then there was another one where he told a Dinobot Transformer that they were now free, but they had to align with the Autobots or be fucking murdered by him.
Optimus Prime is one of the best villains of all time, basically.
We also have Mark Wahlberg returning as the everyman character. He has what I think is another daughter or another new model chosen by Bay to replace the other one. Josh Duhamel is back as the military guy for fans that like returning characters in things. I’m one of those people, too! I’d personally like to see them bring back Rachael Taylor from the first one. She started out as an integral part of the story when she blew the lid off a signal pattern that kept the US from going to war with the wrong country, and then she inexplicably disappeared.
Fresh off of doing some amazing work on Westworld, Anthony Hopkins says a lot of things that sound important, but give you no idea about an actual plot to the story. Sometimes that’s okay, but only if there actually is a plot later on in the movie (I’m doubling down on this not being the case). It looks like a metal planet or something destroys our moon? And if it doesn’t then it’s attacking earth like the other things did in those other Transformers movies. Hey, remember that one time there was an Autobot heaven and Shia LaBeouf went to it? Good stuff. I think that was in the one where the Decepticon had metal balls and climbed on a pyramid too.
I’m not saying every film has to also contain a functioning narrative, compelling and fleshed out characters, have their facts straight, or even follow through on the ideas it presents you as the basis of it’s story…
But it should at least make sense and not do the opposite of those things to distract you from the way it looks. Transformers is the celluloid version of Donald Trump.
Despite the vitriol that I feel towards the series it’s coming from a good place. I actually want these movies to be good. Fun movies with transforming sentient machines from another planet that fight evil versions and work with our planetary race. Sounds like my kind of thing. And maybe this will surprise me and this new formed Transformers universe will be something that’s good. Call me optimus-tic about that or some shit.
Transformers: The Last Knight comes out June 2017.