4 Things TRANSFORMERS 5 Must Do To Be Awesome
This past weekend, movie-goers flocked to theaters to see the newest iteration of the childhood classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For as long as we’ve known about its existence, we’ve been in a red alert of fear. Between the original idea of them being “Alien Turtles,” to Megan Fox being cast as April, to the actual design of the Turtles (they still look like Shrek to me), it was a scary year leading up. Until the recent flurry of TV ads popped up, then suddenly…
Overall, it seems the film was met by mixed reaction: critics panned it, some people felt their childhood was ruined, while others (myself included) felt that the film wasn’t as terrible as we had all hoped. For one, I think we all had rather low expectations going in. For another, while Michael Bay was attached as a producer, he wasn’t in the director’s seat this time. That privilege was left to Jonathan Liebesman, who in his own right has had his share of franchise sequel stinkburgers, yet is still fairly new to the movie game. In a small way, this proves that an 80s children’s cartoon can be done effectively without massive Bay-splosions or eye-candy sidekicks (even though Megan Fox was in 99.9% of TMNT, she was STILL the main character).
Despite the flaws and nitpicking, the movie grabbed $65mil at the box office this past weekend, to which Paramount was pleased enough with to announce a sequel to the film. While TMNT’s future looks bright, news also broke on Paramount’s other big 80’s cartoon franchise in Transformers. It seems the 7 year bromance between Michael Bay and the 80’s classic franchise that, while people still feel left their childhood in ruins and made over a billion dollars in four blockbuster films, is (at least) at a temporary end. Bay chatted recently with USA Today, and pretty much announced he not only would not be returning for the next installment of Transformers, but felt comfortable passing the baton to another director.
As a HUGE Transformers geek, I feel as though the first couple of films are mediocre at best. Dark of the Moon, at least attempted to tell a story, while also putting to rest a trilogy marred with racial-stereotypical Autobots, anatomically correct Decepticon combiners, and (of course) Megan Fox. Age of Extinction had its own mistakes (that I will be pointing out momentarily), but proved (at least money-wise) that Bay needed four movies to partially figure out his previous mistakes. With a new director at the helm of Transformers 5, be it a newcomer or someone we’re familiar with, the fact of the matter is, it won’t be Michael Bay. That being said, here is a list of things the future director of TF5 should attempt on which to capitalize.
SEMI-WARNING: I’m going to be spoiling a huge chunk (probably all) of the film. Not that anyone really seemed to care about the plot.
1: Have A Solid Plot
I’m probably one of the few people to notice the plot of AoE: It takes place shortly after DotM. Decepticons are all but defeated, and a small part of the government (overseen by Kelsey Grammer) are hunting down Autobots in assistance with Lockdown (a transformer with neither Autobot or Decepticon allegiance, but a bounty hunter to some unknown force that may or may not have created the Transformers). At the same time, Mark Wahlberg and family uncover Optimus Prime which leave them entwined with the entire fight between Grammer/Lockdown and eventually a new breed of human-built Decepticons, courtesy of scientist Stanley Tucci. Ultimately, Prime and the Autobots succeed in taking down the evil government, Lockdown, and the new Decepticons (now led by Galvatron… who if you know Transformers lore, is the reincarnation of leader Megatron). Optimus then leaves Earth to find out who put the price on his head. Honestly, it’s the second film in a new trilogy. As far as second movies go, it should be a bit darker (and possibly end on a downer/cliffhanger). Obviously at some point (either beginning or middle) Prime returns from wherever he was going, add in some kind of MacGuffin (a new cube, or matrix, or something else) that both factions want to possess, some conflict between the two, and then wrap it up with a big orange planet-sized bow.
2: Shuffle the Character Deck
Mark Wahlberg is clearly the only person (at this point) who we can expect to return, although Stanley Tucci made the last 30 minutes of the film, so not having him return would be a crime. Mix in some older characters like Tyrese and Josh Duhmael (in other words, bring back N.E.S.T. to help dispatch the new Decepticons). I really could have done without either Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor (don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they’ll do well on other films) but if I have to hear “I need to protect my daughter” another 50 times in another film, I may have to punch someone in the throat. Wahlberg in an action/comedy is honestly his best work (look at Ted or The Other Guys for reference). I would even consider cameos from John Turturro and Alan Tudyk for comedy purposes. Imagine Tucci and Turturro bickering back and forth on Transformers.
Lastly, if you really must have some kind of eye candy in a kids/scifi/action film, then throw in a Kate Upton-type that appeals to most ages. She can be a random damsel in distress who requires help from the evil Decepticons, Wahlberg can make a couple of advances at her, and then goodbye forever. Please don’t spend 90% of the movie trying to shove the camera down the female character’s blouse.
3: Get to the Point Early
I know that sounds like some Tony Robbins selling tactic, but here’s my main gripe with Age of Extinction: The TV/Movie ads featured much of the Autobots (which I’m glad Bay finally figured out after four films, that the focus of the movie should be on the titular characters) as well as the well-awaited reveal of the Dinobots. I know I for one was excited to see Grimlock, and the other renamed members of the team. Instead, we get a last-minute reveal where Optimus finds Ancient Warriors held captive in Lockdown’s spacecraft. After a brief rumble between Prime and Grimlock, the Ancient Warriors agree to assist the Autobots against the new Decepticons.
The Autobots, I thought, were probably the most fleshed-out in this film. The addition of actors John Goodman and Ken Watanabe were fresh (I felt like Hound was the Autobot version of Walter from Big Lebowski) as well as (finally!) giving John DiMaggio of Adventure Time and Futurama fame a big Autobot role in the film. The Decepticons were fine as they were. They were essentially starting from scratch after the mass-exodus in DotM. I can see them building more evil characters up. But please, for the love of Primus, don’t call the new substance “Transformium.” Lazy!
4: Reveale Pure Evil (or the 500 Ton Gorilla in Space)
In Age of Extinction, it is implied the bounty hunter Lockdown is working for “The Creators,” who we get a hint of at the very beginning of the film. Whether or not the Creators will be the Quintessons (an alien race who in the 1980’s cartoon, created the Transformers) remains to be seen. One thing that I found intriguing is the fact that when Lockdown is talking to Kelsey Grammer’s character at one point, he brings up the fact that humans need to see the “bigger” picture. This makes me wonder if we will finally be seeing the emergence of the big bad from the 1986 animated Transformers movie, Unicron.
For those not familiar, Unicron was a planet-sized Transformer who scoured the universe, looking for planets to feast on. Like Lockdown, had no allegiance towards either faction, however he convinced a dying Megatron to join him in the fight to destroy the Autobots by turning him into Galvatron. Unicron has been hinted at since the first Transformers film ended.
Most recently, Unicron appeared in the animated HUB series, Transformers: Prime, where instead of being a planet, he was a giant Golem who attacked the Autobots. Regardless, the next movie should have some kind of reveal of the character to set up the final film. Whether or not we see any or all of the above mentioned is anyone’s guess and the movie will still make a ton of cash regardless. However, without Bay in the director’s chair, it’s a whole new game. We’ll have to wait until 2016 to find out.