What’s the Story?
Many years ago, Cybertron – home planet of the Transformers – was at war. The leader of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime, left Cybertron with the mugguffin de jour and crash-landed on the moon. For forty years, everyone conveniently forgot about the crashed alien spaceship. They just remembered.
What’s the Problem?
This Robot Film Isn’t About Robots
As with previous instalments, Michael Bay has centred his film around a human instead of the alien robots we all paid $20 to come see. The first film was about a boy and his first car (also, in the background, an alien war over the All-Spark, which allows Transformers to breed or something); the second was about a kid going to college (and, in the background, the death and resurrection of Optimus Prime using the Matrix of Leadership); the third is about a young man trying to land his first job (and, in the background, a vast teleportation grid that could be used peacefully but we all know won’t be).
I know why Bay does it. Especially for the first film, it makes sense to give your audience a point of reference; something familiar that they can relate to before you bring in the giant transforming robots.
But this is the third film. We know who the robots are and what they do. We don’t need a character to introduce us to them. Especially when that character…
is still a bit of a tool. I get that he’s not about to become a totally different character, but the whole last film was basically a big kick in the pants for him to man up and stop being such a whiny bitch.
So why is he such a whiny bitch again?
On the upside, at least he’s realised that it’s awesome to have a robot car and save the world, and wants to join them in doing so. I couldn’t really understand at all his decision in the second film to say “I don’t want to fight in your awesome war; I just want to be a normal kid and go to college.”
Is it just me, or do the Transformers have a real problem navigating space? In the first film, Megatron crash-lands in the Arctic (because, oh shit, this planet has a magnetic field! You probably should have seen that coming, robot).
And in this film, Sentinel Prime crash-lands on the moon (his ship was damaged, true, but still. Space is big. If it didn’t take him long to get here, his ship must have been travelling so fast that it would have obliterated the moon like a nuclear strike; if his ship was travelling slow enough to gently crash-land, the trip would have taken many (hundreds of?) years – plenty of time to fix the thing).
Even the Autobots arriving in the first film didn’t gently land; they all crash-landed in their pods and left flaming wreckages in their wakes.
It just seems odd that a space-faring race hasn’t worked out how to park yet.
are back, because this is a Michael Bay film. And once again, the action centres around them instead of around the giant robot aliens. Because, you know, there are already too many films about giant transforming alien robots, but there aren’t nearly enough samey action sequences with guys holding rifles.
Also, why does the military even bother? A single Transformer is pretty much always too much for them to handle, so why do they keep trying? One Transformer gets into their base and destroys their planes and helicopters. One. What would they do if the Decepticons actually got their shit together and attacked in force?
More importantly, why do they all carry rifles which are utterly useless against giant robots instead of, say, rocket launchers?
If you’re on Transformer detail, why don’t they give you a rocket launcher as your primary weapon? Why a gun that has no effect on your enemy whatsoever?
Nonetheless, despite all the odds and despite dying in their hundreds, they keep trying. That’s the Can Do attitude. But it does make me wonder if there is a brain to share between the whole squad.
finally transforms into something other than an alien tank or alien plane. It’s a truck with a tarp over the top, which becomes an off-the-shoulder cape (Count Dooku-style) when in robot-mode. However, he’s missing half his face (which I don’t remember from the second film) and keeps killing the tiny robots that are attempting to fix him, which makes it easier for everyone to hurt him.
Also he seems to have gone insane for no reason, and has given up on attacking in favour of sitting in the corner picking his scabs and being insulted by women.
Another big problem with this (and indeed, every Michael Bay film) is that there isn’t really a likable character (actually, Tyrese Gibson and Josh Dumahl are okay). Everyone is shades of arsehole. Every new character – both human and robot – is a jerk in some way: petty, annoying, bureaucratic, arrogant. There’s a new woman who is all bitch to Sam (because, you know, he hasn’t done anything useful like single-handedly kill Megatron or resurrect Optimus Prime to deserve your respect. Oh wait, yes. He did both those things) right up until the moment the story decides it needs him around, at which point she has no problem with him and their enmity is never mentioned again.
The End (Spoilers)
At the end of the film, Sentinel has turned traitor and is teleporting Cybertron into space just above earth. Putting aside that their planet is so big it would probably tear earth in half or tear her out of orbit or crash right into it thanks to gravity, or that they never tell us what the benefit of moving the planet has (something about using us tiny squishy humans as slaves, I think. Because, you know, we’re so good at breathing in outer space), there are other dramatic problems here.
They begin teleporting in Cybertron, but the process is interrupted, leaving a quarter or less of the planet hanging above the earth. But the process is restarted, then interrupted again. This time, though, instead of Cybertron sitting up there patiently waiting, it explodes, as do all the Decepticons that were on it.
Why did it explode the second time but not the first? Assuming you’re not allowed to use “Dramatic tension” or “Because they needed it to to neatly wrap up the story” – assuming you’re only using explanations that make sense within the universe of the film – there is no reason. It just happens.
Fuck your logic; it’s the end of the film. No one will notice.
What’s the Solution?
Make the robot movie about the robots. We don’t need Sam anymore, especially if he’s going to keep doing the same things in every film either let his character grow or kill him off.
Megatron used to be big and scary. Stop making him a bigger bitch than Sam.
Stop using magical mugguffins instead of tactics to decide your battles. If you do use magical mugguffins, make sure they follow their own damned rules.
Eh. It’s in proper 3D and it’s big robots fighting, but the shots are still too close and messy to really get a good idea of what they’re doing.
If you enjoyed one and two, or if you want to leave your brain at the door and hate everyone in a film for two-and-a-half hours, sure.