Transformers, more than meets the eye indeed. Once an iconic 80s cartoon and toyline, Hasbro’s biggest franchise has shall we say transformed (sorry) into a dollar-printing machine with the success film series. But, yet, as we have explored through our reviews of all four movies, the Transformers films aren’t exactly good in the storytelling department. They are ridiculously loud, noisy, chaotic, and filled with infinite explosions when you have Michael Bay in the driver’s seat. Over the past year, ambitious plans were announced to make a Transformers cinematic universe, and even more recently, the fifth film Transformers: The Last Knight was announced. With these new plans in store, maybe it is time to bring some fresh minds and ideas to the films. So, here are seven potential ways to improve the quality of “Bayformers”, covering fan complaints and personal choices.
7. Bye, Bye, Michael Bay
First things first. Michael Bay has directed four films so far and is set to direct the fifth. Though he has said The Last Knight will be his last Transformers film, he said that about the third as well. Say what you will, Bay is a good filmmaker at least on the technical side. He knows his cars, stunts, and how to make something look awesome on screen, but storytelling is not exactly his forte. Bay has never really been suitable for this franchise, and openly claimed he didn’t want to direct “a stupid toy movie” when first offered the role by Steven Spielberg. And unfortunately, a lot of the films’ problems stem from him and his style over substance habits. There are a number of suitable directors to replace him, like Jon Favreau, James Gunn, Brad Bird, maybe Spielberg himself, or even someone more fun like Stephen Sommers.
6. Continuity and Logic
Another big issue of the movies is the lack of consistency in both logic and inter-movie continuity. A lot of story elements are heavily retconned or altered with each film, making it a real headscratcher for those of us who try to keep track of what is going on. Take Megatron for instance. In the first film, he and the Allspark crashlanded on Earth by chance, but in both the second and third films, it turns out he, The Fallen, and Sentinel Prime all planned to meet on the planet and use it to restore Cybertron, and it is a mere shrug of the shoulders to how convoluted their alleged long-time plan is. There are countless examples of plot holes and things that don’t make sense. Proofread your scripts before you finalise them. Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Transformers should have more firm interconnecting stories and logic than just throwing new things into each new sequel without any rhyme or reason.
5. Focus On the Transformers
Perhaps the biggest problem with these movies is that the titular characters are neither the stars nor the focus. For every film so far, we have followed human characters who either unlikeable or underdeveloped. So far Mark Walberg’s ‘s character Cade Yeager amongst a couple of others have given me reasons to care for them, but it is not good enough. Just about everyone who sees these movies come to watch the Transformers, not Shia LaBeouf mumble and scream his way through these films, trying to mirror Peter Parker, and flirt with interchanging pieces of cardboard called love interests.
Half of the humans are annoying, unfunny, and drive me up the wall with how utterly pointless they are too the plot. I want to care about Optimus, Bumblebee, and Megatron, and their own motivations and relationships. Not learning about why some Irish idiot can legally have sex with an underage teenager.
This isn’t like a Godzilla film where the Kaiju don’t speak, the Transformers are characters who can speak, have personalities, relationships, and come from a world of superior technology, mythology, and has been at war for a billion years. In every animated series of Transformers, the characters are all three-dimensional and go through some sort of character arc. Here, they are all canon fodder. Beyond Megatron and Lockdown, zero Decepticons have gained any form of identity and are dead before we even name them. The same applies for most Autobots. I suspect out of the five Autobots we got in Age of Extinction will get the same treatment, even if they have had the most characterization so far.
Transformers is filled with countless interesting characters, with big, larger-than-life heroes, villains, talking dinosaurs, talking insects, a shark who reads Shakespeare, a warrior who is a Shakespeare character. The list is endless. But half of the potential characters get killed off before we even know them. And mixing characters together who are opposites or a ragtag ensemble could do wonders for the films’ credibility. Look how well Guardians of the Galaxy did. And even the humans can be made into good characters. Even Transformers have given us some great Earthlings over the years. One such character is Chip Chase from the 80s animated series – he is wheelchair-bound but incredibly smart and fearless.
4. Go Beyond the Earth
So far, every film has taken place exclusively on Earth. I commend them for the worldwide scale of the Transformers’ presence, even if Chicago, Hong Kong, and Cairo’s tourism industry were destroyed. It would be nice to take the stories to other planets. Unfortunately, Cybertron is space dust, so unless they do a prequel, we may not visit the Transformers’ homeworld. There may be Transformers colonies on other planets, previously explored in the original 80s cartoon and the extremely flawed Transformers Cybertron. With the introduction of the Creators and Optimus’ flight into space to find them, there may be an exploration of their homeworld. We could also follow other characters aside from Prime, like the characters of Beast Wars, the Wreckers, or other surviving Autobots.