An open letter to Michael Bay

Dear Michael,

Tonight, I took the time to watch your latest blockbuster film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF).

I would like to preface my comments by saying that I am a member of Generation X, the thirty-somethings who were raised on Transformers toys and cartoons in the 80s, and who are your film franchise’s breadbasket (through dragging their kids in gaggles or individually leering at Megan Fox). I am a particular fan of Transformers, especially the original Generation 1 series. Hell, one of my claims to fame was owning the original G1 Megatron toy, even though it was banned in my home state of NSW. Needless to say, I have an expansive and loving knowledge of all things Transformers, which has instilled in me a certain level of goodwill to your franchise, aided by my child-like enjoyment of your 2007 film.

Having now seen ROTF, I am still somewhat stunned by the effort put into the special effects and action sequences, which are clearly your forte. However, given the previous genre success of your team of scriptwriters – Orci, Kurtzman, and Kruger – I can only conclude that you either sidelined their creative talents altogether or that they share your love of gloriously dumb action, which somehow blinded them to the nuances of character consistency, common sense, and continuity between films.

Not sure what I mean? [Spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t seen the film – and probably Michael, too, as I’m not sure he fully understands what the characters were doing while he was masterminding all those explosions]

Optimus Prime: It was brilliant to see a Prime who, much like his G1 counterpart, was an heroic, battle-hardened leader (and who didn’t crumble against Megatron ala the first film). However, it struck me that his actions in executing the gravely wounded Demolishor were very cold, almost Decepticon-like. This inconsistency was particularly noticeable when contrasted with Optimus’ attitude of freedom in the first film, especially when Decepticons Jetfire and Wheelie were shown to quite easily turn to the side of good. G1 Optimus would almost certainly seek to redeem a fallen Decepticon rather than blast a hole through the back of its head.

Megatron: Would he EVER willingly submit to the authority of any bot, Decepticon or otherwise? Megatron was the G1 ‘Emperor of Destruction’, Supreme Commander of the Decepticons. When others challenged his leadership, he either brutally batted them aside or temporarily allowed them to lead until he could show them the error of their ways with the smoking barrel of his fusion cannon. From a logical point of view, what is the point of resurrecting Megatron when he is simply a glorified footsoldier and not the leader of the Decepticon operation?

Starscream: Much better characterisation, Michael, but I don’t see such an egomaniacal schemer calling two other Decepticons (The Fallen and Megatron) ‘master’.

Constructicons: Just curious, but why did we have one set of Constructicons formed into Devastator while another, seemingly identical set of Constructicons were assaulting the Autobot/human soldiers. Just how many Constructicon clones are running around in this movie, Michael?

The Twins, Mudflap & Skids: The stupid black racial stereotypes were awesome work, Michael. I especially like the bucked bling teeth and dialogue about them not being able to read. These bots are definitely from the block, right? You’re allowed at least one brain explosion in a film of this size, and if all other factors were ignored, then this would be that brain explosion.

The Autobots: Umm, yeah. I think we saw them in a few blurry battle scenes, but if I had trouble picking the good guys from the cardboard bad guys, then I guess most of the audience will too.

Soundwave: Yes, very cool concept, but why reprise the voice talents of Frank Welker’s ‘Dr Claw’ voice and not give it the vocoder treatment to actually make him sound like Soundwave? Did you hear the un-vocoded voice and think ‘That shit is whack, yo. Let’s stick with Dr Claw, man’? Fans may have appreciated you much more for it, but as it stands, it looks like you’re lazy, ignorant, or making bad choices (or all three). Uncool, dude.

Testicles: Ok, what the hell is going on in that head of yours, Michael? Did you and the script team think greater characterisation entails more toilet humour? Seriously: the dogs constantly having sex, Wheelie dry-humping Megan Fox, that annoying roommate of Sam’s constantly injuring his balls (being tasered and having Megan/Mikaela fall on him, from memory), and Devastator’s dangling wrecking balls (and John Turturro’s comment, just in case anyone was stupid enough to miss the giant dangling metal gonads)… What. The. Fuck. Dude? Leave the toilet humour in the toilet, for everyone’s sanity.

Humans: Michael, does every person you have ever met have ADHD? They appear that way in ROTF. For such a long, and at times, tedious movie, why does everyone have to jam their dialogue into 10 second snippets. When Shia LeBeouf does it, it’s part of his everyman charm (although it seemed a little forced, at times, this time around), whereas when everyone does it, you have a bunch of people babbling insanely. When they weren’t jamming out sound bytes, your characters were either high on drugs or had borderline personality disorders. Normality helps ground the characters and action, especially with all the giant, scary robots buzzing around.

Plot: I get it, after introducing the Allspark, you had undermined the oft-used G1 trope of the Matrix of Leadership held by Optimus Prime. I actually thought the use of the Matrix as a key was kind of cool, but while I was being dazzled by that sub-plot, I vaguely recalled that the whole ‘Allspark is now in Sam’s brain’ plot arc was ignored, possibly because having a giant Sun-detroying machine hidden somwhere was way cooler than some goofy kid with knowledge and shit in his brain. Also, given that Soundwave was pretty damn effective in tracking everyone, including locating an Allspark fragment, the whole ‘map in Sam’s brain’ thing (which was telegraphed into ‘go find Jetfire, who will then tell us what to do’ plot coupon), then I think this whole plot element was quickly made redundant.

Given all of the above, particularly the last note, I would like to extend (in all seriousness) the hand of professional friendship. As a writer of modest but palpable achievements in my own particular pond, I offer my services as a scriptwriter to you for the third installment. Surely, with the world-eater Unicron and the Dinobots mentioned by you and your team in interviews, I suspect (based on ROTF) that the script will be a rambling, incoherent mess (with probable racial slurs and inconsistent, sometimes dumb characterisation for good measure).

I am certain that I can lend elements of, how shall I put this, logic and common sense to your explodey goodness. Drop me a line sometime, Michael, and we’ll see if we can come up with something that does not entirely make a testicle joke out of whatever is left of the goodwill in the Transformers franchise.

Professional regards,

Shane Jiraiya Cummings
shane@jiraiya.com.au

3 Comments

  1. Brian G Ross says:

    Well written and well thought out disection of the movie, Shane. Not seen it yet, and I wasn't particularly impressed with the first one anyway.

    I. like you, grew up with the Transformers. It's a shame our memories have to deal with stuff like this, eh?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Friend,

    I'm afraid I'll have to leave you alone with your hand.

    Don't quit your day job just yet.

    Michael Bay.

  3. Shane Jiraiya Cummings says:

    Thanks 'Michael'. Funny that no one from the US west coast was dropping by this blog when you wrote that comment.

    Will the real Michael Bay please stand up!

    (and call me, man, I'll buy brunch).

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