It has never particularly been the strong suit for a Michael Bay feature. It has never stopped his films from success and it won’t stop this one. But the real question is what kind of success. Sure… the imagery and the fidelity of the imagery is so strong, so powerful, that you can not imagine the sheer excrement and utter disregard for what it is these films are about…
Well, no. Not really. TRANSFORMERS may have begun that way, as a toy line in search for a soul… but along the way this pesky cartoon show happened and on that show, which had really shit animation… there was something more at play – the voice casting and the silly writing on those shows made the transforming robots… Fun. Iconic. The canned phrases and situations became heroic and important to those that watched. Then there were comics, which were really the best written versions of these characters…
I wasn’t a devout follower, I’ve always been a bit of an animation snob… TRANSFORMERS didn’t come close to the visual bang of shows I preferred like SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, ROBOTECH, G-FORCE… the real anime works, but I had friends that LOVED Transformers – and I did like the toys. And because I liked the toys, it made me want to know more about the characters and so I waded in and I found a fantastic mythology. It isn’t embedded in a single episode – it’s something you discover watching them all. And the best TRANSFORMERS movie is TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE with Orson Welles.
The previous 3 films have been… speckled with astonishing imagery. Bayhem is a phrase for a reason. Michael does bring the sound and the fury. And when we began to realize that this film was going to introduce the DINOBOTS… I kinda couldn’t help myself. I started to care again. Then I saw a credit on the poster…
“Based on HASBRO’S TRANSFORMERS ACTION FIGURES”
Technically, it wasn’t even a poster – it was one of those enormous standees of Optimus riding astride a fairly amazing looking GRIMLOCK. The credit has been the same from the very beginning – but it made sense. This is about the toys. It’s like Hasbro sent over the Toys – and they started to just design more intricate, visually busy characters… but without an ounce of care into the soul of these toys.
GRIMLOCK isn’t just a metal dinosaur… He’s the leader of the Dinobots. Not only that… but on the show… in the comics… he’s fucking cool. He’s the HULK of the Autobots, and he could have been AMAZING on film. The same kind of amazing that HULK was in AVENGERS. His speech pattern is pure Hulk speak, and he can turn on Optimus as quickly as he can help. He’s brave and is willing to throw his body into a fray without fear. AND NONE OF THAT IS IN THE FILM.
In fact… you won’t even see him until… oh… two hours and fifteen minutes in. He’s unleashed… Optimus makes the roaring non-character his bitch… he bites a bunch of characterless enemy robots to pieces… he breathes fire… and… Then Optimus sends him and the other Dinobots to explore China on their own.
So… 2 hours and 15 minutes to DINOBOTS… what do they do in all of that time… Well, they have trouble with elevators. Mark Wahlberg’s daughter is becoming sexual and that freaks him out… You have Kelsey Grammer as a CIA Black Ops guy hunting and killing all Transformers to get the raw Transformanium to Stanley Tucci – so he can have a golden parachute when he leaves Govt service… Wahlberg’s girl’s boyfriend is introduced by making his car punch out a CIA agent with the front passenger tire… and its just a souped up regular car.
We spend a whole lot of time out on Wahlberg’s homestead, where he makes shitty robots and repairs junk for money. And… WHO FUCKING CARES!!!
WHO FUCKING CARES about Government Agents and their Golden Parachutes? WHO FUCKING CARES about all this busy crap that is just making this experience longer, more pointless and BORING!
Sure, once the action is going, you’re in full BAYHEM mode… but you don’t care. There’s no thrills if you don’t care. And selling this movie on the DINOBOTS and them only showing up for a few minutes at the end… and have ZERO PERSONALITY… yeah, that’ll go over great.
The film mainly takes place here in Texas, out in John Ford country, CHICAGO and then Hong Kong. The 3D and beauty of the imagery is absolutely there… but the dialogue makes this a movie to take earbuds to. I mean, nothing that anyone says matters at all. If you just put on your favorite music and watch the Bayhem play out… as long as you’re not epileptic… you’ll possibly think it was passable. But if you’re listening to this shit… you’ll be mortified.
The first three films were at least fucking weird. This one, Bay doesn’t muster much of anything… Wahlberg? His inventor has some amazingly primitive notions on what one could patent. But the character is dead on the page. Wahlberg is naturally charming… but his daughter and her boyfriend are awful characters. Tucci & Grammar are completely pointless.
And… frankly… I miss Megatron. Everything about this film is about dazzling your eyeballs, but it’s complete and utter misdirection, to make you perhaps forget that paid to see this thing? I’m not sure.
This one isn’t outwardly offensive, it’s just not good. There are a million things you can pick apart on this one. A group of critics were standing around flabbergasted that Optimus could have just flown away at any number of crisis situations where he seemed to think his best option was driving away quickly.
I won’t declare myself done with this… I’m not. It’s terrible terrible writing, but that is just natural for Ehren Kruger… I loved him back with ARLINGTON ROAD… but that’s 15 years ago now – and in-between is a whole helluvalot of shitty movies. The draft he turned in on JOHN CARTER OF MARS when I was producer was one of the worst pieces of shit I’ve ever read – and I warned everyone at the studio that he shouldn’t touch the fucking property… he wasted months of development time and delivered something that nobody but a hack would have ever filmed. After that experience, I couldn’t imagine anyone going back to him. And PARAMOUNT has him hard at work on the next iteration of this amazing Transforming Turd… which through some astonishing alchemy has turned into GOLD at the box office.
Audiences should stay at home. Wait for this one to stream, cuz it is cinematic piss that is only worthy of streaming.