Ho-hum. Anyone who's read this site for any length of time is aware that I have no love for the Bayformer movies. As is now our tradition, Dollface and I sallied forth to the theater, armed ourselves with beer and snacks, and dug in for yet another installment. I went also armed with the foreknowledge that Age of Extinction was garnering the lowest rating yet in the series on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic — which, considering how poorly reviewed the previous three installments were, is almost a feat in itself. But perhaps my greatest dread was watching my most-disliked actor, "Marky" Mark Wahlberg, for over 150 minutes.
So what did I think? Spoilers ahead ...
Honestly, I'd have to say that more than anything I was bored. There was barely anything interesting about what was going on. I knew the core characters were never in any real jeopardy — hell, they barely got dirty. I had no investment in any of the Autobots, they were just hollow tin men (the gruff sergeant, the wildly stereotypical samurai, the Aussie hothead, etc). Stanley Tucci had the best dialogue in the film and his character had a little bit of depth, but not enough to carry things. It's always nice seeing Kelsey Grammar play a bad-ass, but his role had little meat. In general, the movie was just an excuse to go from one pointless action scene to another. I was bored.
With each of the two previous Bayformer movies, Dollface and I made a point of venturing to the theater on opening weekend for our lone viewing of each spectacle/disaster. (I say "lone" because to date neither of us have rewatched either film.) Seeing no reason to buck this little tradition, we sojourned out on July 4th to repeat the process. Anyone who has read my reviews of the first and second movies knows that I have not been a fan. Armed with 3D glasses and a flask of rum, I sat prepared for disappointment. So what did I think?
I do not mind admitting that I thought it was the best of the three movies.
Two improved pieces have been donated to the Back of the Box Art gallery. First, Rickie Westbrook pointed me to a greatly improved version of the 1988 Back of the Box image, featuring Powermasters and Pretenders, that was sitting in the Wallpapers section of Madman's sweet Transformers site. I figure I provided back-of-the-box image for Madman's DVD sets, it's totally fair to borrow back from them! Secondly, Ginraii offered up a more complete version of the 1990 Back of the Box Art featuring the Action Masters. Thanks, guys!
Of course, the real "widescreen action" news this week is that the third live-action Transformers movie is hitting theaters. Like the previous two movies, I feel obliged to see this new film at least once, but as I did not like the first movie or the second one, and since I really hate Michael Bay movies and the "Bayformer" aesthetic, I expect to once again be underwhelmed. It doesn't help that I am a very critical viewer. Special effects are all well and good, but nothing is more important than a good script. Sadly, that's where the Bay movies fail the most spectacularly.
So! Aren't you even more excited now? Yeah, I know how to warm up a crowd.
Everything I disliked about the first movie, I continued to dislike about the sequel. Allow me to elaborate. [spoilers ahead]
I still HATE the designs for these Transformers. They look like Terminators, or Predators, but not Transformers. Their transformations are so ridiculously busy, they effectively "morph" from one mode to another. They are ugly, and so overly-detailed that they become a blur -- the busy-ness of the forest obstructs the trees. While I thought the CGI was very cutting edge, the designs of the robots nonetheless prevent any fight scene from actually looking good. It's just red/blue blur versus gray blur. Fail!
The design of the robots in the last movie was, in my opinion, hideous. They were unrecognizable as Transformers (you know, such as they have been for over 20 years), but even apart from the drastic non-traditionalism, they were just ugly, confusing to look at, horribly derivative of other alien cinema designs, and did I mention ugly? And stupid.
According to Michael Bay, the rationale was thus: "I just didn't want to make the boxy characters. It's boring and it would look fake. By adding more doo-dads and stuff on the robots, more car parts, you can just make it more real." There are so many reasons this is just wrong. Updated, modern designs of the classic characters have been done successfully in recent toys, comics and even amateur digital animation. And all of them look better than the visual crap that was featured in the 2007 flick.
Most of you know that I have been dreading the release of Michael Bay's Transformers movie. There were many reasons: Michael Bay generally makes critically unfavorable movies that I think suck; the scriptwriters' credits were unflattering; the new designs of the robots were non-traditional and (to me) unattractive. With all of this in mind, I had practically composed my negative review in my head several days in advance.
Yesterday, Heather and I casually opted to go see the film. We settled into our seats in a surprisingly empty theater for a 7pm holiday showing. Walking out of the theater, my simple review was thus:
• It was not a great movie, but it was an enjoyable kids' flick. Shia LaBeouf carries the film entirely, far more likeable than any other human or robot on-screen.
• The Transformer robot designs are horrible and I wonder what came first: their distracting physiognomy or Bay's decision to shoot every action scene in a confusing blur.
• In my heart, this was a Transformers movie... but not the Transformers movie, and certainly not our Transformers movie.
• Worst. Fucking. Musical Score and Soundtrack. Ever.
In fact, I just watched the teaser trailer for the upcoming Transformers movie. It doesn't matter, though. None of it matters. I will tell you what I have told every person who has asked me what I think about the upcoming movie:
It is going to suck so fucking much. Why? Two words: Michael Bay. And now follows the rant...
The majority of Transformers fans online seem to be, at best, concerned about the (theoretically) impending Transformers movie. The fact that Michael Bay is slated to direct (the most critically reviled director in Hollywood); the script credits keep changing and have never been in laudable hands; one of the producers commented that the notion of using the original voice actors was "silly" because they're only "TV cartoon guys"; the general state of Hollywood today, etc.
But I have heard a few fans comment that, firstly, they are going in to the movie with low expectations and will be pleased if they simply see some cool CGI Transformers. Well, I suppose that's a a good attitude for avoiding disappointment, but personally I think the characters, the global scope and the melodrama are every bit as integral to the Transformers as the special effects. Secondly, even among those who expect a thoroughly shitty movie, some comment that at least it will be Good for the Fandom.