Dear Michael Bay and Transformers,
I just saw your latest movie, and I have some constructive criticisms. In order to make this simple, I’ll split my comments into three sections: what you’ve got going for you, what’s total crap, and what to do about it.
What you’ve got going for you
Really really great special effects and action sequences. Good work. Giant, photorealistic robots beating the crap out of each other? What’s not to like?
An awesome score. The main theme is akin to “Strength and Honor” from the Gladiator score, which might be one of the best songs ever. But really, the score all around is pretty awesome.
A solid leading man. Say what you will, Shia Labeouf is a great actor.
A beautiful leading lady. She’s attractive, all right? (please read my “what’s total crap” comments for more) And she’s not half bad at acting.
The general cast that doesn’t make me overly cringe due to poor acting. They won’t win any Oscars, but at least your cast doesn’t seem like they’re reading cue cards.
Potentially compelling plot line and story elements. A mysterious race of techno-organic robots, with a shadowed and tragic history, including an epic rift between those who would protect and those who would destroy? Sounds like a winner to me.
What’s total crap
Completely juvenile sexually obsessed dialogue and jokes. Seriously? That robot has testicles? And that one humps a girl’s leg? Really? It’s lame, unnecessary, and makes the whole movie feel like a joke. I kept imagining pimpled adolescents writing the script while giggling and elbowing each other. Or as Josh Willis said, “it was as if junior high boys wrote the script in a dirty locker room.”
Treating your leading lady (and any other female actors) like they’re nothing more than sexual objects and eye candy, to be goggled at instead of appreciated. Megan Fox is a pretty girl, but you don’t have to exploit her body for us to appreciate her beauty. I don’t have to describe any of the strategic camera shots. You know what I’m talking about. It’s degrading. It lowers two things: the value of women, and the legitimacy of your film.
Robots that are idiots. I remembered what I hated about Transformers 1 when it became clear that T2 had even more of it: silly robots who talk smack like middle schoolers, crack moronic jokes and are derogatory social stereotypes. It’s clear that you simply don’t believe in the potential goodness of your content. This is not funny. It’s not cool. It’s. Just. Stupid.
A barely understandable plot line. Okay so that “Allspark” thing was downloaded into Sam’s brain? And it creates robots out of appliances? But it’s also a map to the “key” or “dagger” or whatever that thing is called? And the “key” makes the big gun shoot the sun? But the “key” can also resurrect Optimus? And even though it disintegrated it can be reformed because Sam believes in it? What? Are there any rules here?
What to do about it
No more stupid robots. Make all the robots realistic characters like Optimus Prime and “The Fallen” or Megatron. Talking robots are hard enough to swallow without the handful of cartoonish caricatures. Silly robots are stupid. If you need comic relief, do something more realistic, like play up the robots’ lack of understanding of human culture, or utilize the great comedic timing you have in your leading man, Shia.
Which leads me to my second point: use your good cast to create compelling characters with compelling backstories. I’m not asking for Saving Private Ryan here, but I do think we could have a little more than what we’d expect from a Sci Fi Channel Original Movie.
No more crass, juvenile sexual content. If you want more kids to see this movie, get rid of it. It’s not necessary. The movies would be better without it. And I’m pretty sure everyone’s opinion of you would only go up.
Treat women with respect. What makes a woman great is not that she can work on a motorcycle with her butt hanging out of her shorts. What makes a woman great is her personality, story, love, support, strength, and relationship. Instead of demeaning the female actors, use these things to legitimize their characters. Have some respect for goodness sake.
Get some clear story lines. If there’s something complicated, please explain it to us. If it’s too complicated, please don’t include it in the final draft. But don’t just throw it out there and expect us to go along for the ride.
In conclusion, Mr. Bay, Transformers—you have all the elements of a good, fun, popcorn crunching thrill ride. Just use them. Leave the total crap behind.