I'm a transformers fanboy, and I make no apologies for it. I grew up watching it on TV (along with other classic animated series of the time, like Ghostbusters). I had dozens upon dozens of the toys. I have an original VHS version of the 1986 animated movie, which I must have watched well over a hundred times. Until recently, I even had the soundtrack from said movie on my ipod. I even exchanged emails with Scott Lynch on the subject, and from the sounds of it he's an even bigger geek than me.
So, yeah: I'm a transformers fanboy.
Which is why I'm so pissed off at the recent films. The 2007 film was - in my humble opinion - distinctly mediocre. Just big-ass robots lumping the shit out of each other, with a really poor excuse for a storyline barely holding the whole thing together. For the average person, it was probably a decent film. But for die-hards like myself, it was a massive disappointment.
The reason that the film riled me so much (pointless re-design of some of the robots aside) was the fact that the script writers had such a huge wealth of background material to draw upon. The transformers universe is massive; there's reams and reams of history and background material. Not only did they not even scratch the surface of this in the film, but they didn't even try. It's unbelievable that the best they could do was think up a pissy storyline involving some cube and the yawn-inducing struggle to retrieve it. One-dimensional barely covers it. Now, sure - I know that there are certain considerations when making a film. There's far too much material here for a trilogy of films, let alone one, to fully explore. But they could have made far more extensive use of it than they did.
Look at the 1986 animated film. Now that is Transformers the way they are meant to be done. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's animated - this is a brilliant film. The animation is superb and even holds up well today, 23 years on. The script is packed with brilliant one-liners (such as Prime's "One shall stand, one shall fall" line) and sharp dialogue (the exchange between Prime and Megatron just before their smack-down is a classic example). The soundtrack is pure win: big-hair 80s rock by the mulleted Stan Bush, that complements the movie perfectly. The characterisation is excellent, with some impressive development (such as Hotrod's rise to prominence). The plot (Decepticons and Autobots having to unite against a monster planet that devours everything in its path) is inspired, and allows for some seriously epic sequences.
But the main reason the animated film is a triumph is because it fully embraces the transformers millieu, it makes extensive use of the possibilities and material. The result is a film that enthrals and excites, and even though I've seen it countless times I still enjoy every second when I'm watching it (the sight of Unicron devouring another planet still excites me, as do countless other memorable moments in the film - of which there are many).
But we got none of this in 2007 'proper' film. To my mind, it wasn't even Transformers. You see, the point of the transformers is that they are robots that are fully sentient. They have feelings. The robots in the movie, by and large, were just dumb machines kicking the shit out of each other (you can almost imagine the studio execs in their flashy suits - "Whoah, now hang on - robots with feelings? No, you misunderstand. We want explosions...lots of them."
So that's what we got. Explosions. Lots of them. It was boring. Possibly the worst moment was when a woman with a large bust screamed as two robots duked it out above her - memorable for all the wrong reasons.
I had a small hope (I needed a magnifying glass to find it) that maybe - just maybe - Michael Bay had got all the explosions out of his system and thought "Hang on, there's a lot more to transformers than this." Or that maybe Steven Spielberg would simply realise the first film was pretty crap and that they could do a lot more with the second.
Having seen the latest trailer, any hope I had of potential redemption vanished. Based on this trailer, we can expect more of the same. In other words, more robots trashing things...and little else. Yawn.
Unless I see any evidence to the contrary (I'm not holding my breath), then I won't be wasting my hard-earned pennies on a viewing of the new film. Instead, I'll watch the animated movie for the umpteenth time and think about what might have been.
*I originally posted a nice pic of the animated movie, but had to remove it due to it screwing up the formatting...seriously google, sort it out these formatting issues...blogger is such an epic fail at times. (Is it just me, or does everything google take over just turn to shit?)