WHY THE MICHAEL BAY TRANSFORMERS MOVIES HAVE RUINED THE FRANCHISE

By Adam Facey on January 26, 2015

o you ever wonder how self aware some people are? Have you ever wondered if people knew what they were doing when they were doing it, or were they simply just blindly charging forward, ignorant to all they were leaving in their wake. What I am asking in essence is, did Michael Bay know that he was making one of the worst movie series ever crafted by human hands, or was he simply bumbling around in the vain and misguided hope that he was creating good films.

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THE FANS ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE SUFFERED THE MOST

Because he didn’t, he didn’t even come close to creating a good film. Not once, not with any of these movies. The transformer films have been panned, both by critics, and by fans of the franchise, and practically no one is sticking up for them. I’m not gonna go into detail into why these movies are bad, that’s not the purpose of the article. If you want the short version, they are overly long, poorly acted pieces of crap, with overdoses of explosions, plot holes big enough to drive Optimus Prime through, and writing so bad that it could have caused Shakespeare to come back from the dead just so he could die again as a metaphor for the death of creative writing that these movies represents.

 

But, do you know who has suffered the worst during Bays death grip on the franchise, the fans. Yes, I know, as hard as that is to believe, there are still a few of us fans lying around, despite the fact that Bay has done his best to kill us off.

 

Imagine, if you will, a 6 year old child. It’s the mid 90’s and your older cousin has just told you all about transformers, about how they’re cars and tanks and jets and dinosaurs, but really giant robots in disguise. How there’s this group of good guys called the Autobots who have to save the universe from the evils of the Decepticons, with whom they have been waging a war for over a 1000 years. And that the super evil bad guy is really a robot named Unicron, who’s so big that he transforms into a planet that eats other planets. To my six year old mind, this was the coolest thing ever, cars that turn into giant robots; it was any kids dream, like Batman having to fight Darth Vader.

So what did I do after hearing all about Transformers? I made my parents take me out to the local video store and rented every episode of the old Transformers show (the 1980’s version) that they had; I also started to wake up early on Saturday so I could watch the new Transformers show, Beast Wars, which was current at the time. I grew older, but my fascination with Transformers continued, through all the animated series, Robots in Disguise, Armada, Energon, and Cybertron. I liked them all, sometimes even loved them. Even the worst of these shows had at least some good things to offer. Then, after a decade of watching Transformers on TV, I hear the news that they are going to make a big budget, live action movie based on one of my favorite series. My little brain almost exploded with excitement.

So what did I do after hearing all about Transformers? I made my parents take me out to the local video store and rented every episode of the old Transformers show (the 1980’s version) that they had; I also started to wake up early on Saturday so I could watch the new Transformers show, Beast Wars, which was current at the time. I grew older, but my fascination with Transformers continued, through all the animated series, Robots in Disguise, Armada,

Energon, and Cybertron. I liked them all, sometimes even loved them. Even the worst of these shows had at least some good things to offer. Then, after a decade of watching Transformers on TV, I hear the news that they are going to make a big budget, live action movie based on one of my favorite series. My little brain almost exploded with excitement.

So when the first movie came out I went to see it, excited as all heck, and I left the theater feeling satisfied, if nothing else, I thought it was….good, not great, not everything that I had hoped for, but not nearly as bad as I feared. It was just a simple, stupid, but highly enjoyable romp of an action movie. Its sequels were…increasingly less so; even for a transformers fan, as they made some decisions that felt like a betrayal to everyone who love the franchise. The design of some of the transformers, the portrayal of both long time fan favorites and main characters (Megatron in particular got the shaft), and the quick deaths of others, made fans feel as if no one working on the movies really cared all that much about them.

Now granted, the original 80’s cartoon was by no means perfect; it was often dumb, with little thought being given to character development or consistency outside of the broad characterizations of good and evil. It was a series meant to push toys and nothing more. But that was well over 20 years ago, and the franchise had done A LOT of growing since then. Just look at the epic plots and highly memorable characters of Beast Wars or Transformers Animated, or Transformers Prime; those were good shows with strong protagonist, intelligent and [un]likeable villains, and well handled, thought out stories. Were

these shows always perfect? Heck no, as not even my favorite show, Beast Wars, always got it right. But at the same time there was a lot to like about the franchise, repeat characters to get attached to, and story lines to get engrossed in. That’s not even counting the various comic series or video games that kept the ball rolling when the TV shows lost traction. What I’m trying to say is that Transformers is a lot like other franchises, like Star Trek, Star Wars, Power Rangers, Pokemon, etc, in that its had its downs, but its also had its ups, and its ups were something to be lauded. At its core, it was a franchise that people, both fans and the creators working on it, cared about, they cared enough about it to create good shows, games, and comics, that did proper justice to the characters and stories that the fans had come to love.

IT WILL BE A LONG TIME BEFORE TRANSFORMERS HAS HEALED FROM THE WOUNDS THESE MOVIES HAVE MADE

THEN TRANSFORMERS 4 HAPPENED. I know it’s hard to really point to an example of something ruining a franchise, but I think Transformers 4 is as close as you can get while still seeming credible. No, to answer your next question, it won’t really affect the way that I feel about the great cartoons, comics, and games that I’ve experienced, nothing ever will. But it has tainted public perception of the franchise. From now on anytime anyone mentions transformers, instead of thinking of Animated, or Prime, or Beast Wars, or heck, even the old school 80’s cartoon, they’ll instead think of these crappy Bay films. These movies have hurt the franchises’ public image and it will take a very long time for the public to get over that.

If you want an example of what I mean then all I have to do is turn to Aquaman. If I were to mention Aquaman, most people would think of the stupid, funny, laughable version from the 1970’s Super Friends cartoon. But the character has changed since then, he’s been gruff, noble, kingly, brooding, etc. Heck, when DC comics rebooted all their titles in 2011, Aquaman had one of the best series produced by the company, one that presented the character in the fresh new way of a person tired of all the grief he gets about said laughable Super Friends image. But despite all these changes to the character, all the great stories that he’s gotten over the years, all the respect that he has rightly achieved from comic fans, Aquaman will still be remembered by the public at large as that foolish bumbling hero from over 40 years ago.

It is the same with Transformers; the general public won’t remember, or even think of all the great moments the franchise has had, like the Death of Dinobot in Beast Wars, or the last ride of Optimus in the 1986 movie. Now, anytime anyone mentions Transformers, all most people will think of are these movies, with their stupid plots, terrible acting, bloated action scenes, and excess of explosions.

 

This is what the Bay films have done; they have ruined the image of the franchise. Is this the killing stroke for the Transformers? Probably not, as new shows, games, and comics, will always be there to satisfy fans and bring new kids into the fold. But at the same time the public’s perception of the series has been affected. It’s an image of a franchise that no one really care about, not the actors, not the producers, not the boom guys, not the key grips, not the CGI guys, certainly not the director, and now, not even the fans. It’s an image of poor quality, one that the franchise will be hard pressed to transform out of.

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