I watched the third Transformers movie recently and it sucked. Ok, to be fair it was a very valiant attempt to remake the second Transformers movie with a coherent plot. And, in this respect, it succeeds in the sense that there is a mostly coherent plot. It combines the plot of a first season transformers cartoon episode with the idea that we found aliens on the moon.
And as an alien invasion movie, it wasn’t half bad. But that is the issue, isn’t it? That’s been the issue the whole time. They aren’t Transformer movies, they are alien invasion movies. Mikey Bay himself admitted that he had never seen any Transformers and thought the idea of making a movie about a toy was stupid UNTIL someone said “well think of it as an alien invasion movie.”
And he did. Now to be fair, the first movie almost gets it. While it is about an alien invasion, it still has, as its focus, at least one of the transformers: Bumblebee.
The second movie is the amazing adventures of Shia Laboof and his Air Force buddies with some fancy cars that show up at the end to fight something buried in the great pyramid.
By the third movie the fact that these large robots can transform is inconsequential to the plot as a whole. They are no longer Robots in Disguise, but Robots that are also their own transportation.
More importantly, they are not the main characters of the movie. I understand the desire to have a character that the audience identifies with, who in this movie is played by the LaBoof, but that should not overshadow the actual characters of the movie. You know, the ones the movie is named after.
Think of it this way. There is a movie coming out called BATMAN. And the previews all have a dude in a suit kicking some ass. But then you go see it and it is actually a police procedural with Gordon as a detective still hunting down a murderer in Gotham and sometimes this guy dressed up as a bat shows up and helps.* That isn’t a BATMAN movie. That’s a Detective Gordon movie with a cameo.
And these are not Transformer movies. Robot alien invasion movies with valiant humans fighting to keep their planet, yes. Movies about robots in disguise? not at all. And that is my real issue with them. Not the Bay-isms, the gratuitous ass shots, the exploding toaster ovens or even the off handed ‘humor’ that just sucks. It is that he didn’t even really try to make a Transformers movie.
So why bother? sure there is product recognition, sure there is a pre-existing audience, but they are all familiar with this world. And if there is anything to learn about nerdy fan boys is that we know our stuff. This is part of the fan-fiction discussion I made earlier. Even for Mikey Bay there are rules to this world of Robots in Disguise, and instead of making a great Transformers movie by living in them, he chose to make a mediocre movie about alien robots.
* BTW, i think this movie would kick ass. So if you are a DC guy with Batman pull and you like it, steal it, and make it.