Where We’re Going, You Won’t Need Eyes

October 25, 2011 § 8 Comments

Don’t watch Transformers 3.

This is not a strike against the many good people who, I’m sure, worked on it. I don’t imagine they are all baby-eating monsters, and we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they tried to make a good movie.

Actually, scrap that. They doomed themselves, knowingly, by not falling on their swords the moment this movie was completed. And if you’ve already seen it, then may your torment be eased knowing that another has suffered as you have.

It’s not that it’s a surprise, really. I mean, considering the horrible abomination that was Transformers 2, why wouldn’t we expect the worst?

Here’s my twenty second primer on why Tf2 was bad, which also explains much of why Tf3 sucked.

First, the humans were the stars of the movie. That was wrong and stupid. I did not pay good money to go to a Transformers movie to see humans talk about human problems. I went to see Autobots, preferably in disguise, wage their war against the evil forces of the Decepticons. Period. The human drama is irrelevant. And if you think such a thing is impossible, read IDW’s transformer comics about the war in Cybertron. Not only is Megatron a sympathetic character in it, you get an enjoyable story that features no humans. It’s not that I have anything against us filthy humans, but I’m going to watch a robot movie to see the robots. At least Real Steel avoided it by having the robots exhibit near-zero personality, but the Transformers are living, breathing (?) entities that have complex relationships with each other. I know more about Laboeuf ‘s(hereafter “That Douche”) trouble with his girlfriend than I do about the nuanced relationship of Optimus Prime and the rest of his team. Why oh why, in a a Transformers movie, are the Transformers secondary characters?

"Do you think my boobs lend emotional capital to the movie?" "Why are you even talking, Megan Fox?"

Second, in tf2 they screwed up Devastator. Badly. This a crime that affects the whole movie, and as grievous as well, this.

For reference, this is the first Devastator (or at least the one that appeared in the animated movies). He is strong and fierce, and his leg is a cement mixer.

And this…thing was in Tf2:

He is...made of wires and stuff? I don't even see a cement mixer.

It looks kind of cool. Sort of. But in fairness I would ignore my displeasure because they made a conscious decision to have the Decepticons appear more animal-like, so having a hulking monster is somewhat appropriate. Alright. Fine. I’ll grudgingly give a point to Bay and team that they thought about Devastator before they made him.

Oh! That's a yellow flag on the field!

Oh wait, no I won’t. Because yes, those are balls. Balls, as in the vernacular for testicles.

On a robot. 

See, that’s why I don’t trust Michael Bay with anything, because he has a habit of doing enough right to really piss me off when he wrecks the rest of it.

Case in point: Transformers 3 actually has a lot more about the robots than the prior movies. Although whenever the humans are on-screen they suck away all my capacity to care, when the robots are on-screen it’s actually pretty cool. Not amazing (let’s be honest here, it’s still the Transformers by Michael “not enough explosions” Bay), but good enough that I can just enjoy it.

And then this happens:

I TOLD YOU NOT TO WALK IN A SIMPLE PATTERN!

At first glance, you might go “whoah, that’s a leviathan-robot eating a building! Cool!” And you’d be right. Except that that scene takes about fifteen minutes, which ends with that gigantic machine dying like a wimp to a single attack from Optimus. And what’s more, inside that building are, yep, you guessed it, the humans. Who then go on to kill Starscream. And who probably go on to save the day. I don’t know, I didn’t watch the last 15 minutes. Stuff probably blows up and the Decepticons lose. Whatever.

But this happened during the climax of the film. Of the limited time that we have to see the actual Transformers mess stuff up, a great chunk of it is spent on watching the humans instead. Yes, if you do watch it, you will wonder why we’re supposed to care about these guys with the M16A4s and the ‘can-do’ attitude when there are Autobots not half a mile away blowing up Decepticons.

The reason, I think, is that they felt like they needed to apologize for having robots in the first place. Here’s an exampl, and more of my rage explained. They actually got the Decepticons, vicious warriors with a “do-anything-to-win” attitude, correct. Laserbeak, who originally was a cassette that could turn into a vulture-like bird, actually stone-cold kills humans in front of their families because he’s a stone-cold killer. 

Those are the eyes of a killer. A plastic, and surprisingly fragile, killer.

He doesn’t faff about or fail hilariously at the last second. Ken Jeong (WHY IS KEN JEONG IN THIS MOVIE IN THE FIRST PLACE), a double-agent (oh screw spoilers. It’s not like the movie deserves it anyways) working for the Decepticons outlives his usefulness and is visited by Laserbeak. Sam Witwicky tries to gallantly save him…only to watch him be thrown out of a window dozens of floors off the ground.

Why did I like that scene? Because it took itself seriously. Michael Bay’s problem is not that he can’t take things seriously, although when he doesn’t the humour is at best atrocious, it’s that it looks like he didn’t believe the franchise was worth taking seriously on its own merits. So far as I can tell, they put in humans because they couldn’t imagine it would appeal to audiences without the human element tying us to the giant robots, hence the crummy humour and reliance on human drama.

AND WHY IS ALAN TUDYK ONLY IN THIS MOVIE FOR LIKE, TEN MINUTES?

When it takes itself seriously, however, and not in the sense of including violence or mature themes but when the filmmakers and writers didn’t try to excuse or have us laugh away the idea of giant robots, the movie works. Sadly, those scenes are short, irrelevant to the longer plot, and in the end, not enough to carry this old fan’s expectations.

Still a badass, 27 years later.

So in the end, I wouldn’t recommend you watch this unless you’re a transformers fan. Or a Shia Laboeuf/That Douche fan, if those exist. I guess? While it was nostalgia that made me like/tolerate Transformers, that was completely spent in the abomination that was Transformers 2. 3 just isn’t good enough to enjoy on it’s own merits, and the Transformers licence just doesn’t carry it when Bay inevitably fails.

Oh, and they kill Soundwave. That shit is not cool. 

Soundwave superior. Death...inferior.

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