Optimus Crime

I consider myself a pretty positive guy.  I try to not dwell on the negative.  I try to be upbeat.  But try as I might, I can’t convince myself that the new Transformers film will be worth seeing.  I should be willing to give it a shot.  I liked (didn’t love) the first one.  But the second one, it seems to have torn away a bit of my soul.  I don’t seem to know how to get it back.

Watching the latest trailer, it should appeal to me.  A fulll-fledged Decepticon attack with spaceships and everything.  Optimus Prime beating the tar out of bad guys.  Giant tentacles destroying buildings.  Shockwave!  Oh, by the light of the Mighty Robot King, how I do love Shockwave!

Yet I feel nothing but an emptiness here.  I’m not even mad anymore.  I just don’t care.

The real annoyance here is that it has almost nothing to do with the previous films weaknesses in terms of story and characterization.  Yes, I’d love it if the films named after the Transformers actually had more of the Transformers in it, and less of sweaty humans running around in a panic.  But I understand that we don’t live in a perfect world, and that Hollywood doesn’t know how to sell giant robots.  Not really.  It relies on actors and name recognition and while if you could tell me, definitively, that Optimus Prime is the star of the film, it’d be a nice surprise, it still wouldn’t sell me.

I just can’t stand Bay’s direction.  The way the camera shakes and never really focuses on the action, it just pisses me off.  I could forgive almost anything.  I could watch a two and a half hour film for twenty minutes of decent robot-on-robot action.  I can tolerate lots and lots of overblown caricatures and goofy humor if I get to watch Optimus Prime punch Megatron in the face for five minutes.

But damn it, I cannot tolerate Michael Bay’s direction.  About the only thing I can’t forgive is having to sit through an hour of people I couldn’t give a crap about, only to get a blurry image of a robot possibly doing something to another robot that I can’t possibly see.  Call it a pet peeve if you will, but a giant robot movie where I can’t see the giant robots is like a martial arts flick where they drape a tablecloth over the camera and just foley in punch and kick sound effects.

Also, and I don’t usually mention this, but the new female lead looks like she’s made out of plastic.  Couldn’t find her less attractive.  I wasn’t a big Megan Fox fan either, but they somehow managed to find a woman I find even less attractive in this new one.  Taste is subjective, but she does nothing for me.  So in addition to not getting to see robots that I want to see, I’ll be stuck looking at people who don’t even give me a vicarious thrill.

Maybe it’s paranoia speaking, but it’s almost like this movie was designed to both draw me in and slap me down.  At this stage, I know exactly what I’m getting.  With two previous Transformers films by Bay, I’ve played this game before.  The promising trailer leads to a disappointing film leads to more heartbreak.

It’s hard when you lose something you used to love.  I learned to write from Transformers.  I had boxes of the toys and played with them for hours and hours, telling my own stories.  And maybe I’d still be here, doing what I do, without the faithful companionship of the brave Autobots and sinister Decepticons.  But they’re still a big part of who I am today.  And yet, I don’t read the new Transformers comics.  I want to like them but they just seem so dull for stories about giant space robots.  And I just can’t get interested in the new films.

It’s no tragedy.  It’s just life.  It’s how it works.  We grow and change and maybe I’ve outgrown Transformers.  Then again, I do write stories about monsters and robots for a living.  So I can’t be too far removed from the material, can I?  I’m actually pretty excited about Hugh Jackman’s upcoming robot boxing film, Real Steel.  It might (okay, it probably will) disappoint, but at least I can be optimistic.

But Transformers?  I guess I’m just going to have to give them a pass.  Maybe in the distant future, when there’s a new reboot of the Transformers (without Bay) I’ll be ready to trust again.  Given the nature of Hollywood at this point, it probably will be around 2014 when they decide to reboot the whole thing.

But if I hear anyone say the word “gritty” or “dark” . . .

Hang in there, Optimus.  If Megatron couldn’t beat you, then maybe you can weather Hollywood’s abuse.  I’m rooting for you, big guy.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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