Before I start there are few points I would like to make clear. 1) Michael Bay is an excellent “Action film” director. 2) It is very necessary to update characters from the original source material to fit the times. Especially when that source material is a cartoon. 3) I am not a rabid “fanboy” obsessed with his “own” vision of the movies. 4) I have A LOT of issues with this so, to forewarn you this is going to be LONG.
With that said, I will now delve into the unwarranted blatant disregard for source material that I’ve witnessed over the past 4 years. I’ve seen some pretty bad instances in the past were source material has been ignored. Like when Tim Burton said in an interview one time that he had never read a Batman comic book due to it interfering with his own “vision” of the movie and character. Another example would have been in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, when they decided to create their own villain to face off against Superman. Like Superman had a shortage of villains?
The source material should be used as a guide. All the ground work and character development has already been done. If you stray too far from that then you have people like me writing blog post’s like this. Yes, I know the movies have been out since 2007 but with the last one just releasing on DVD, it was the straw that broke the transformers back. In my opinion. Just because you have a character named Optimus Prime and a few other character “names” in the film doesn’t make it a Transformers movie. “But they made a lot of money!!” People will shell out dollars to go watch huge action sequences with huge robots destroying stuff! It’s just what people love to see. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Let me start at the beginning.
When the first film came out I had already had doubts from some of the concept art and conversations they were having about the “look” of the characters and everything but I wasn’t fully disappointed until I got to see the movie. I had waited 20(+) years for this film and this is what I got. Call me a Nerd all you want but, I rushed home from school everyday to catch Transformers on TV and even when they moved the series to Saturday mornings at 5am it was me that was getting up at dark thirty to catch my favorite cartoon. Now that they have full length feature films and my friends and family have watched these films I wish they could feel the excitement I had for the characters. Nope, they know completely different characters with no real “character” and they reference things as Transformer fact that is just made up for the movies. How frustrating! Do you think I’m frustrated by Michael Bay & Hasbro? You haven’t seen anything yet.
2007 – Transformers
1. Bumblebee: They made Bumblebee a voiceless Chevy Camaro. One of the best things about Bumblebee from the cartoon is that he had a huge heart. He was still a soldier but always considered the “little guy”. But when things were on the line he always came out on top and made the biggest contribution because it wasn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the fight in the size of the dog… or something like that. He cared about Spike and all human life and he could voice that concern with his VOICE. Not one time did he lose his voice in the cartoon. By making Bumblebee a Camaro takes away from his character. He’s not flashy, He’s not big, He’s not a highly trained war veteran. He is and always be that underestimated VW bug with a huge heart. Not, a 2007 Chevy Camaro that kicks major ass and communicates with his car stereo.
2. Spike Witwicky: They changed this human character’s name to “Sam”. Why!? What, Spike was too corny or unbelievable for the average movie goer? Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series seemed to make the cut for those movies but “Spike” gets the axe? BS!
3. Sparkplug: You made Spike’s dad a pansy! I can see why they didn’t stick with the name “Sparkplug” for his father. Even though I understand that it’s only a nickname based on his personality. But even more important is that they made this guy who in the cartoon would rather spend his time working on a car engine more interested in working in his garden to make sure his flowers looked nice. That changes the whole Father/Son dynamic relationship going on there! Not to mention they brought his mother into the picture so, that they both could be SUPER annoying and make Spike some jittery kid that is more annoying and hard to follow than most down south rappers. There was no reason for the change. But if you think about it I think Megan Fox’s character took over the role of Sparkplug… just a bit.
4. Megatron was not a gun. Ok, I saw this coming because back in 1993 they made a Generation 2 toy line that got rid of Megatron as a gun. Only because they were having problems with the gun looking too real and really wasn’t right for kids to be playing with. I can accept that. But that is when you take a look at the character and you take something from him that stands out and adapt that. Oh, I don’t know how about the huge freakin’ cannon he has on his right arm!! Maybe? Nope. I guess that means “Hey, let’s make him a Jet, like Starscream and then later we can make him a beaten down old truck with no gun at all.”
5. Optimus Prime’s Flames and Lips. I didn’t care to see that Optimus Prime had lips. I had never seen them before so, why would I need to see them now? It was just his look! But, I guess we are making movies for the lip readers of America and not the fans. I understand. Why did Optimus Prime need to have flames painted on him? Flames to me says “flashy”, “cocky”, “fast”. Optimus Prime is neither of these but yet it is decided that he is now? BS! At least they got Peter Cullen as the voice. At least.
6. Supporting Transformers: IronHide, Ratchet, Jazz, Starscream, Frenzy, Barricade, BoneCrusher, Blackout, Scorponok, Devastator all did not look anything like their original characters. Take a look at the links I provided. Not even a color accent or nothing. All directly affecting their character which in turn made them completely different characters. My most dissapointing was Starscream. They did make him a Jet but that’s about it. We never got to see the power struggle between him and Megatron. And there are some awesome voice actors out there, Bay couldn’t find one to give Starscream an original voice? With all these characters being completely different just makes me think of their transformations. In Robot form everything looks so complicated and “organic” that while they are moving you almost lose sight on the moving parts. Arms, Leg’s and things get all confused with each other and just looks like a metallic mess of parts flying around hitting each other. Even though some of the character’s span across some of the different versions of Transformers at least these “names” belong. Something Bay later forgets about. Not to mention that to change appearance they could just scan something and use that as their identity at any time. Teletran 1 was responsible for this in the cartoon series and it made it a 1 time thing.
7. Humans: I didn’t mind the perspective being from the humans but couldn’t they have used 1 human character from the cartoon series?
2009 – Transformers: Revenge of the fallen
More like, fallen sense of pride when I say that I’m a Transformers fan. I gave this movie an honest chance to make a comeback with me. I truly wanted Michael Bay and company to make right the liberties they decided to take on the first movie. I might as well have looked for Pirate Gold in my back yard because that never happened.
1. Devastator: In the cartoon series a group of 6 decepticons united to form Devastator. Not only did Bay ruin that by naming the tank Devastor in the first film but then he tries to bring the name back like nobody would notice. But this time it’s not the tank but a series of vehicles that are never really seen and without doing research I wouldn’t have known there was more than one, because it happened so fast. What’s wrong with bringing robots together to unite and make a larger robot?? Not a larger “thing” that rolls around or scoots using his arms. Lame.
2. Skids & Mudflap: Two of the most stereo-typical racist characters I’ve ever seen. I was disappointing to see them lower themselves to this level of humor. Pathetic if you ask me. Skids was a name that was used from a Generation 1 character and Mudflap was a name used in a later incarnation of the toy line in 2005. Either character like most of the side characters look or act like anything like their counterparts. This was much more worse than a Jar Jar Binks move.
3. Soundwave made it! But he’s relegated to being a satellite in space and has like 2 lines. Too bad, Soundwave was one of my favorite characters and I understand that you can’t make him a boombox but at least a satellite relates a little more to his position (Communications Officer) than what happens in the next film. Wait for it.
4. Arcee is a motorcycle? Also, not really mentioned but accompanied by 2 others (Chromia and Elita One ) Elita One just happens to be Optimus Prime’s girlfriend in the cartoon series. It’s a real shame that characters are thrown around the way they are in these films. It’s like they write the script and then write a bunch of “Transformer” names down and thrown ’em in a hat. When it comes to naming their characters they pull from the hat and stick with it. Isn’t this right? Sure seems like it.
5. The girl “Pretender”? Not even going there. Let’s just stick with one Transformers series please? I’m surprised he didn’t bring in some Beast Masters. (I’m sure it was close though)
6. Wheelie was a seriously annoying character that again looked nothing like his “name” counterpart. Is there a reason they needed to bring in a dog sized robot into this? Like there would be any contribution at all?
7. Jetfire: He just had to be “British” didn’t he. I can imagine the table discussion over bringing in this character. “hey, what about Jetfire!?” “He’s a scientist that is also a pacifist”. “He could be a kick ass Red & White Jet with some awesome booster like things that could take him into space”. Michael Bay: “No, No, No, Let’s make him an old british man that can’t do much of anything but give Optimus prime some kick ass armor that he really doesn’t even need”. “yeah, that sounds more like the disrespect I’m going for here”.
8. The fallen: Actually taken from some newer comic books from 2002-2003. Hated it. And it made Megatron a secondary character.
2011 – Transformers: Dark of the Moon
****Spoilers Alert**** If you haven’t seen the film yet don’t read this. until you see stars again letting you know it’s ok.
1. Basically more of the same of what went on during the first 2 films. Michael Bay bringing in characters’ names but not the actual characters.
2. Soundwave is a car now? In the last movie he was a satellite but now magically he’s a car? That’s the opposite direction when relating to his character. (Communications Officer). Not to mention bringing in a “talking” lazerbeak.
3. Shockwave: Ok, they kept the “uni-eye” but everything else was wrong. What was that worm thing anyway? I hate the organic feel to this whole series. They aren’t robots their metal plants that grow how they want to make whatever shape they want.
4. Killing Starscream – Wasn’t that Megatron’s job? Oh, sorry… Galvatron’s Job? No, let’s give that one to Sam (Spike). It was a lame death for a lame reiteration of a character that wasn’t even developed. Speaking of killing. Iron Hide: Wasn’t that Megatron’s job? Que: wasn’t that… wait, who cares we don’t even know this character to be emotionally involved in whether he lives or dies. Shoot em! He was made up anyway. Go ahead and kill that “Dino” character… the italian red car? yeah, him too. He was made up for the movie as well. Because Michael Bay must have run out of names to use so he starts makin’ em up as he closes this one out.
5. Sentinel Prime – Now, why in the world couldn’t he just have been named like his counterpart. Sentinel Major. And not made so much to look like Alpha Trion. The whole time before I saw this movie I was actually excited to see if they were going to include the father of the autobots. Nope, just the guy who was leading stuff before Optimus.
And I’m sure I could go on, and on, and on, and on. But that’s most of my thoughts on these movies as it stands. I’m glad that this is supposedly the final film and I’m going to sit back and wait for a “reboot” to happen. In all my dreams, it would be better than the trash that was made here. This is hopefully the last time that anyone hears me speak of this movie travesty series. It really exhausts me even thinking about these. So, in hopes of “letting it go” this will be my last snarky remark. “Michael Bay should stick to original material because if he remakes it, it will become his original material anyway.” That’s it. I’m done.
***It’s ok now*** 🙂
- Reblog: Cullen talks about voicing Optimus Prime (danceswithworfs.com)
- ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’ On Blu-Ray: Optimus Prime Speaks! (moviesblog.mtv.com)
- Affiliate Link – Transformers Rescue Bots Transforming Figures Wave 2 (battlegrip.com)
- 2PM’s Taecyeon poses with Bumblebee & Optimus Prime (allkpop.com)
- Reblog: Video Verdict: ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ (foresthartman.com)