There’s been some debate as to whether the Transformers films should be rebooted. I hate to say it, but this is probably coming and coming soon. Now, others have their thoughts, so I thought I’d share mine. Warning: there are some spoilers to The Last Knight so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t go past the fold.
Everyone else: let’s get started, shall we?
First off, I’m not going to address the idea of “Drop Michael Bay” or “Time travel can solve it”. Both of these things are happening–to a degree–in the Bumblebee solo film. I also won’t go into the “Use the G1 designs” because let’s be honest here, those designs might work in animation and comics but they may not look so great in a live action film. However, here are a few of my ideas.
Characters Over Cannon Fodder
This is the biggest one and probably my biggest pet peeve: Let’s have some Bots and Cons that we actually care about on the screen. You know why Bumblebee got to be so popular? Because we spent almost an entire movie with him in 2007 and we got to know him. We cared about him. That’s why it was painful as hell to see Sector Seven taking him down in order to use him as a potential experimental subject. We cared about him. It really is that damned simple.
Now, a lot of these lists are saying “Moar Cybertronians!!” but I’d be fine with fewer. As long as we have actual characters that matter to us, that we get to know and feel a kinship with, I’m fine with fewer characters. Having more characters that aren’t properly fleshed out just leads to disappointment. Case in point: Hot Rod. His backstory in The Last Knight was supposed to be similar to Bumblebee’s; he was meant to be Vivian’s protector, like Bumblebee watched over Sam. But we never got to see that side of his character in the film at all. Hell, there are people who are accusing him of being a kidnapper because of what happened between him and Vivian! Talk about a major disservice to a potentially great character. (I say “potentially great” because we barely got to see poor Hot Rod at all in the movie and that isn’t fair. A lot of hype that just didn’t deliver.)
Fix the characterizations and the rest will follow. Double this in the case of the humans.
More Attention to Plot
I hate to say this, but The Last Knight had some real continuity issues and let’s be honest, fans are getting tired of that. Cade was stuck in a junkyard even though Joshua Joyce promised to help get him a home. There was no mention of what may or may not have happened to KSI in the movie at all. Nothing, nada, zippo, zilch. It wouldn’t have taken much–just a blurb on the radio when Cade drove into his scrapyard home would have done the job perfectly–but we weren’t even given that. It left a plot hole big enough to drive Ultra Magnus through and that is being very generous. I’m not even getting into some of the retcons that I saw.
Hone the story. Focus on the continuity. If something was said in the last film, cover it in the next. It doesn’t take much but pay attention to those details. That’s how you build a cinematic universe.
Focus on the Bots, Not the Humans
There will always be a focus on humans. We’ve had it since G1. It will always be there. But the filmmakers need to tone that focus down quite a bit. Put the spotlight back on the Cybertronians and we’ll solve a shit-ton of these problems. We’re not here to see Mark Wahlberg or Shia LeBeouf. No, we’re here to see Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. The filmmakers would be wise to remember this.
This again, seemed to be one of the bigger problems with The Last Knight. We had human characters that were there for little to no reason. Cade’s assistant? He could have been dropped and we could have had more of a focus on Izabella, who was far more compelling. How she met up with Cade could have been told in a brief flashback. Again, it wouldn’t have taken much. Drop the more superfluous humans. Tone down the human cast. We don’t need half a dozen people running around in a movie that is meant to feature Cybertronians. If that human character is there, it better damn well be because they have an actual role in the story and not be a set dressing or a joke character.
Make the Decepticons the Actual Villains
I am dead sick of seeing another damned human-led team as a villainous group. It’s tired and it dilutes the menace of the Decepticons. It should be Megatron and his group that gets the spotlight, not some paramilitary group that takes down Autobots. Unless this team is something straight out of Marvel, I don’t want to see it. It’s been done in two movies and it’s tiresome now. Let’s drop it and move the hell on, okay?
I should be quaking in my seat because of Megatron. I should be shooting the various Decepticons dirty looks and muttering, “You bastard” whenever I see them. I should not be doing this when it comes to the humans. Yes, humans are bastards but it’s a tired trope and we would do well to not have it in any future Transformer films. I want the Decepticons to be bastards, like they were in the first three films.
Drop Some of the Gimmicks
Remember how Bumblebee tossed Sam in Dark of the Moon, swatted away the shrapnel that might harm him, then caught him again and transformed? Well, Age of Extinction upped the ante by pulling that same stunt with both Optimus and Bumblebee. Yes, it was cool but can we tone down the gimmicks in order to focus on the story? It’s a thought.
I get it: the filmmakers want to give the audience really cool visual effects. But unless those effects are meant to forward the story, they are hollow. How about toning down on the set dressing and giving the audience a reason to care about the characters?
Tone Down on the Subplots
This dovetails into continuity. We don’t need four or more separate stories in one damn movie. Focus on one with maybe a side plot or two and go from there. Having multiple threads in one film gets confusing and leads to loose ends, which leads to things unraveling and unraveling fast. Loose threads, if any exist, should be taken care of in either the film itself or used as a subplot in a future installment. But they need to be taken care of because if they aren’t, they could lead to disaster.
Now, this isn’t a complete list by any means, but this hits some of my major pet peeves. I don’t want to sound negative–I did enjoy The Last Knight–but I can’t lie and say that it was perfect. There were serious problems and they were showing, which is probably the reason why it did so lackluster at the box office. The thing is, these problems are completely fixable. It wouldn’t take much to work out these kinks. I’d be willing to wait a few years if Paramount decided that yes, they needed some extra time to fix things. I could deal with a soft reboot. I can deal with a new director.
There are a lot of things I can deal with here. But seeing my beloved Autobots failing to get the films they deserve is not one of them.