Reboot to the Skidplate

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?

Transformers-Logo-Transparent

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.

Advertisements

About Silverwynde

I'm a Transformers fan, Pokémon player, Brewers fan and all-out general nerd. I rescue abandoned Golett, collect as many Bumblebee decoys and figures as I can find and I've attended every BotCon since 1999. I'm also happily married to a fellow Transfan named Prime and we are both owned by a very intelligent half-Siamese cat. Life is pretty darned awesome.
This entry was posted in And Now For Something Completely Different, Transformers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Reboot to the Skidplate

  1. DeviceDude says:

    Yes, Silverwynde, changes must come to the Transformers franchise or we may not see good films for a long time again (remember the gap between 1986’s TFTM and 2007’s movie1)?

    Characterization is important because if you want people to see your movies, MAKE US CARE about the characters, whether they’re heroes, villains or miscellaneous. Villains like Megatron, Magneto and Lord Voldemort have their fans because they have motivations for why they are who they are. TLK Hot Rod’s portrayal left plenty to be desired.

    Plot is also important. From early reports, I knew Stanley Tucci was going to be in TLK yet when I finished watching it, I wondered, “Where was he?!” (I’m a fan of his characters). It was only when I read Wikipedia that I learned he wasn’t KSI’s Joshua Joyce but Merlin the Magician?! Honestly, it didn’t occur to me that was Stanley when I saw it. I don’t who made the decision to have him play someone else. On the other hand, while it was nice to see some characters from the 1st 3 movies like Morshower, Simmons and even a glimpse of Sam Witwicky, these plot holes are getting exhausting.

    There is more focus on the humans than on the robots. There is a reason the franchise is called Transformers, not Humans (imagine that in the G1 font ;). I can accept that a celebrity or 3 will be part of the cast to drive moviergoers. But make their performances salient to the storyline. I still remember from DOTM Ken Jeong’s characterization. I thought, “Why did they include that?”

    Yes, the Decepticons should be the actual villains. Recall the dread we felt in Providence when we saw Megatron breaking out of his frozen state in movie1? After all, were there Cemetery Wind characters being sold as toys years ago? No, because the Decepticons are the toy villains being sold by Hasbro. Talk about misplaced priorities.

    Gimmicks have their place as these are Sci-Fi movies but characters and story must have precedence. Subplots must be kept to a minimum. To illustrate, as much as I enjoyed Spider-Man 3 (2007), I remember going, “Okay, okay, okay, etc.” when it came to the Venom symbiote, Peter’s dark side emerging, Sandman’s introduction, MaryJane’s and Harry’s side-story, and the New Goblin. I made me wish for the more linear storylines of the 1st 2 Spider-Man movies. I get they want to expand storylines so these movies aren’t 1-dimensional. But the producers should not get carried away as they’ve done with the TF franchise.

    I think I can accept if with movie 6 in 2019 if that would “wrap-up” the characters and stories from the 1st 5 movies and have the franchise take a hiatus. The brain trust used by Hasbro and Paramount need not be so big as it became with Akiva Goldsman (who has left) and company. There are just too many cooks (or kooks?) in the kitchen. Simplification and getting back to basics can still do wonders. I hope the powers that be are listening…

    ~daiAtlas

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s