So I’ve heard that the new Transformers movie is terrible. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise. I really enjoyed Michael Bay’s first Transformers when it rebooted the franchise a decade ago but to be honest I didn’t bother with the last one and I’m in no rush to see Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), which is unbelievably the fifth instalment.
See the only thing the series has ever had going for it is the special effects. The way that the robots change into their disguises was pretty clever and in the days of 3D, IMAX and mega budget blockbusters, shape-shifting giant robots are literally a no-brainer. But once you’ve seen the trick a few times the magic starts wearing off. Then you’re literally left with the dumbest shit you’ve ever heard in your life.
Let’s not forget that the original animated series was conceived to sell toys. So the fact that these alien robots from a planet called Cybertron would each change into one object, an object from Earth, usually a vehicle but only ever the same one, is pretty easy to explain (in marketing terms) even if embarrassingly childlike in logic. The film series then really embodies that spirit by selling… well everything. At least one film has been heavily criticised for product placement.
But surely the most obvious product placement for Transformers is cars. What I didn’t realise until I looked it up is that Bumblebee was changed from a Volkswagen Beetle to a Chevrolet Camaro for this franchise. But as car product placement goes the Transformers films are no James Bond. Maybe that’s cos they aren’t really car films but isn’t that what they are missing. I mean giant fighting robots should really be a boys film (sorry, I know that’s sexist but you know what I mean) but these films really feel too, well… wholesome.
Take the Fast and Furious franchise. The films have exactly the same certificate but the appeal to the mostly male audience is much greater. I know a lot of women who are big fans too but lets face it these are boys films. It’s clear from the fact that Michelle Rodriguez threatened to leave the series over the way female characters are represented in the franchise as was reported earlier.
I don’t wish to excuse casual sexism on the big screen but The Fate of the Furious or Fast and Furious 8 (2017) has a clear target market where The Last Knight tries to offer something for the whole family and fails spectacularly (or so I’m told). They are never going to fix the plot issue, the premise will always be ridiculous, so Michael Bay should just give the boys (little ones and big ones) what they want; girls, explosions, fast cars and robots.