Banter: “Bayformers”

Speaking as a fan, as someone who will defend Michael Bay’s Transformer films (or the Bayformers, as they are called without affection) I will say right now: There’s a myriad of awfulness scattered throughout the franchise. There are scenes that are so bad that I still cringe and feel my childhood withering under their vast stupidity.
I am making an individual blog post about these scenes, to prove to you all that despite my apparent love for the films and my defense of their existence I agree with those that do not. I am not ignorant and I am not a fool (or “retarded” or a “fanboy” or an “idiot” or someone who doesn’t appreciate good film-making!)
These scenes and these characters are so unnecessary, so hideous and often completely terrible that one can easily see why people hate entire movies because they are included.

I want you to know that I sympathise with your hate. If you argue with me about how bad they are, I won’t try and convince you otherwise. I will however feel bad for you that these scenes I am about to list are exactly why you find so much venom and hatred towards films about giant robots fighting each other.

Word of warning, this post does contain spoilers for all three films.

Let us begin.

Transformers (2007)

 


Glen:

Played by Anthony Anderson, an American comedian I’d never heard of before watching the film.

This character’s main narrative addition was to provide data analyst Maggie the means to decrypt the Decepticon transmissions. For some reason this meant stealing the data away to his house, interrupting his cousin’s game of Dance Dance Revolution (or similar) and shouting at his momma, only to climax with a SWAT team breaking in and tackling his cousin into a swimming pool. For some unknown reason, he was brought along for the film’s third act to witness the All Spark… he then disappears from the narrative. Oh, he does help solve the crucial “We have no microphones” problem I suppose.

This guy does provide the odd laugh (the doughnuts) but ultimately he does not need to be there.

Miles:
Let me summarise everything the character Miles contributed to the film and its story, simultaneously reminding you what you know of him: He hung upside down from a tree.

That’s it.
Honestly, if the term “narratively expendable” was in the dictionary, his picture would be there! Even Glen was given a reason to exist by the wandering plot but Miles… he literally did nothing but give the line: “Bros before Hos”.

The Police Sheriff:
This is probably the first point in Bay’s Transformers trilogy were audiences genuinely felt alienated; a momentary lapse in the senses that brings with it the thought: “What am I watching?”

Utterly needless. One isolated scene, one isolated character who never returns. The joke of the scene is Sam’s dog is taking painkiller medications, the pillbox has “Mojo” printed on it (the dog’s name), the Sheriff misunderstands that Mojo is slang for drugs… “hilarity” ensues…

Relevance!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

This might take a while.


The “Kitchen Bots”:
While Revenge of the Fallen opened (naturally) with a big action sequence, the Shanghai battle, we’d expect to get a healthy sequence of character development afterwards? Hahaha, not in Bay’s universe. Enter one of the most cluttered, awfully designed fight sequences in the entire series, in my opinion.

To show Sam’s shard of the All Spark has transformative powers, we get an ensemble of kitchen appliances changed into murderous Decepticons that proceed to chase him through his home. While these are probably a callback to the Transformer “minicons”, they are really really badly designed. Taking the already “mangled metal” look to new extremes.
But then, if I told you that Michael Bay (due to the writer’s guild strike) designed some of the RotF robots himself… well there’s your answer.

The sequence is both awkward and unwelcome, and is the beginning of the end of RotF’s credibility.


Sam’s Mom:
Oh yeah, because everybody who saw 2007’s Transformers demanded more of Sam’s parents, I couldn’t get on with my life for the endless comments, blogs, articles and forums based entirely on how incredible these characters were. Especially Sam’s Mom’s “masturbation talk”.

The film introduces our family again not only with his Mom crying over Sam’s move to college and his toddler-sized shoes she found, but continues relentlessly with their arrival at the college grounds…… and frankly, the rest is history.
This exaggerated and overlong scene destroyed all possible credibility for this film and remains the spearhead of many haters’ arguments against the film.
Why is it included? I actually have no idea.


The dogs:
It is a sequel see, so while we had one dog in the first film we naturally need TWO dogs now. Seriously, why? I didn’t pay admission for precious seconds to be wasted on two dogs humping on a sofa. You aren’t filming Youtube: The Movie.

Sure, having the two animals running away from their… kennel… birdhouse… thing… as it explodes is kinda funny, but I ask again, why?


Leo:
Leo’s inclusion to the story was a screenplay choice. Because Sam has first hand experience of the Transformers and his no longer amazed or shocked like he was in the first film, the writers felt the need for another audience surrogate in case people hadn’t seen the first film ahead of time.

What does this mean? Leo spends most of the second and third acts crying, moaning and screaming hysterically. Oh… joy.
Again, who cares if people haven’t seen Transformers 2007? I doubt even those people do! This character could have been completely cut, from every scene he features. He doesn’t feature in Dark of the Moon either.
He helps Sam locate Agent Simmons, but honestly, the film does include GIANT ALIEN ROBOTS that could have helped instead.

But I suppose we need internet culture and kitten calendars, wait.. what am I watching again?


The college Dean:
She only appears for one shot…………………………….. But what I want to know is WHY she even needs to exist? Why did the screenplay progress to such a degree that this was necessary?

This single shot is actually my definition of what’s wrong with this film.


Skids and Mudflap (aka The Twins):
I don’t feel like I need to explain these two… surely everyone hates them by now?

Skids and Mudflap’s inclusion is another device similar to Leo’s, the screenwriters believed that Bumblebee, like Sam, had evolved with experience and that younger Autobots were required to fill the gap of inexperienced characters.
Because actual story evolution over a film franchise is so overrated!

What we get are Autobots created solely for the film series; they never featured in the original cartoons. More than that, they do next to nothing asides fight with the gestalt Decepticon Devastator, and spout as many racist cultural terms as possible. The film’s finale actually forgets to mention what happens to them, and they do not feature in Dark of the Moon because of the massive audience backlash. Possibly the worst things to happen since Jar Jar Binks.


Alice (aka the Pretender Transformer):
Even some fans of the entire Transformers franchise (and I mean toys, comics, cartoons and films) had never heard of the Pretender Transformers. Pretenders were a toyline Hasbro invented that bombed quite severely, and involved ugly plastic Transformers to be hidden inside a shell of plastic that looked like a human character. So Bay decided… paradoxically… to add this to his “bigger and better” second film!

Sure, we had Scorponok (an homage to Beast Transformers) in Transformers 2007, but the character of Alice is an obscure reference and also knocks a massive plothole in existing lore. If a Transformer could be so advanced that it could perfectly disguise itself as a human being…. why don’t they all do that? Why not kidnap/kill Mikaela and replace her to get close to Sam?

Her inclusion provided a poorly executed lovers’ quarrel between Mikaela and Sam, which did absolutely nothing for subsequent scenes asides prove Mikaela is incredibly dumb by not noticing the girl was a homicidal killer robot.
Perhaps if they knew Megan Fox was going to drop out of the series they could have capitalised on the story arc. Then again… why am I trying to justify this?


Agent Simmons and too much information:

Do I need to write about this?
Okay, so sequels follow a trend of “more of the original, only better”. We saw John Turturro disgraced by Mikaela (with plenty of reason, I might add!) by stripping down to some ugly, baggy Hawaiian boxer shorts.
But in Revenge of the Fallen… Simmons proves not only that the previous fashion was an off-day for him, but also proves he doesn’t care about exposing himself, willingly undressing in broad daylight.
With a ridiculous foreground shot.
Thanks Bay… Thanks.

Completely avoidable, added nothing but a cheap laugh and an image scarred into audiences’ collective minds forever. Why the scene exists, can never be answered.

(I really am very sorry I had to show you that again)


Egyptian checkpoint guard:
Did we really… really need a scene were Agent Simmons convinces an Egyptian police guard that Sam, Leo and Mikaela were is family so they could proceed? Would anyone think the film was unbelievable if they hadn’t been shown this??

WHY does this exist?? Solely so Wheelie could make a “little people” joke?? Really??


Devastator’s junk:

This example, is the most telling and most devastating (ba-dum TISH) for Michael Bay’s creativity, or lack thereof.
Revenge of the Fallen was written and produced during the writer’s guild strike, and as a result Bay himself “helped” with the script. Already that explains a lot, no?
Well, go onto the blu-ray extras for RotF and you will find documented footage of a concept artist showing Bay artwork for the Decepticon Devastator (sans testicles) Bay is seen looking at it before having a stroke of creative genius…

(seriously, go check it out: the RotF Special Features disc, under “The Human Factor” feature and in the “Seeds of Vengeance” chapter. It is truly depressing.)
Funnily enough, despite Devastator himself being made of several robots/construction vehicles, not one of those vehicles are equipped with wrecking balls.

Again, provides nothing but a cheap laugh at the robots’ expense. If I were a robot with the name DEVASTATOR you know what I wouldn’t do with two giant wrecking balls? I WOULDN’T HANG THEM USELESSLY BETWEEN MY LEGS FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON AT ALL.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

 


Carly’s butt camera:
Now… normally this sort of thing wouldn’t qualify in a list like this, especially given this is a Michael Bay film and this is expected. But this example, this scene, is Bay at his most deliberate and self gratifying.

Dark of the Moon opens with the Autobot and Decepticon war that destroys most of Cybertron, important and valuable history never shown in the film series in such detail. This follows with the serious, inspirational (and not to mention, a proud American moment) NASA moon landing that is sanctioned by President Kennedy to uncover the Transformer Ark space ship, integral to the plot of the film. You can imagine, serious overtones, dark foreshadowing, lots of men in suits talking and looking grim.
Then BOOM. One cut later and we see Michael Bay’s camera practically climbing up and inside his not-Megan-Fox starlet-of-the-day Rosie Huntington-Whitely.

There’s juxtaposition, then there’s just smashing the audience in the face with how much you don’t care.


Carly, herself:
So between Revenge of the Fallen and the third film, Michael Bay and Megan Fox fell out over creative differences. Fox was quoted as saying something like: “I want to be in films that require actual acting” – only to go and star in Jonnah Hex. Good job, Megan.

So because Bay needs a hot girl, the third film introduces Carly as Sam’s new girlfriend, and that is about all she is to the storyline. My gripe is that, in terms of character development (and making the best of an actress leaving your franchise) having Sam single during Dark of the Moon would have been far more powerful!
Sam is lost and angry: he has lost everything, lost his girlfriend, lost his hero status, lost Bumblebee, lost his purpose. He has nothing and he hates himself for it. Oh, but he does have this supermodel-hot girlfriend for no discernible reason. Wait… how?

Something we suffer from with Bay, he doesn’t understand that sometimes having less is to actually get more.


Dutch:
Alan Tudyk, what are you doing?

This character is a mystery to me. So at some point Agent Simmons required to get a butler/bodyguard, played by cult favourite Alan Tudyk. He seems relatively meek and straightforward, a background character without much purpose. But during Simmons’ unmemorable subplot, Dutch goes berserk and awakens some dormant military training that Simmons had been repressing… what am I… what even is this?


Sam Vs Starscream:

During the film’s finale, we see much loved Decepticon Starscream attempt to destroy Sam, to not only fail… but to be killed in the process.

Dark of the Moon did a lot to show that humans could also fight Transformers. That’s fine… the original 1980s cartoon did as much (sometimes, and usually with robot suits) but a line is crossed when you kill Starscream. Another line is crossed when you kill Starscream with Shia LeBeouf.

Compared to everything else on this list… this scene was horrible to watch. I don’t mean horrible to watch because it was frantic and badly photographed no, I mean it was heartbreaking to see a character (regardless of his new appearance) from my childhood getting killed slowly by metaphorical paper cuts.
You have to understand. In the cartoon, both Autobots and Decepticons were given personalities (term used loosely) and as such you had your kids who sided with one or the other because the characters were all uniformly awesome. This, narratively, is presumably revenge delivered on Starscream and Decepticons in general. While in every other story this would be met with victorious cheers as we support the hero… no fan should see this! Starscream has died before in the history of the franchise but this… this is just an awful way to go, it is a bloody, nasty way to die. Why Starscream?? Why not a dime-a-dozen Decepticon instead?

I was gutted, to the pit of my stomach.
Poor Starscream…


Carly Vs Megatron:
This scene is bizarre, and frankly shows how little Bay cares about character progression throughout the franchise, and how he takes scenes as isolated incidents.

During the penultimate scenes of Dark of the Moon, love interest Carly discovers a battered and despondent Megatron in an alleyway. Carly manipulates him into join the fight, calling to his tyranical nature, to destroy himself in the process.
Carly is new to the series, Carly doesn’t know Megatron. Carly is naturally terrified of most Decepticons.
Megatron is the leader of the Decepticons, a leader of evil robots who are named with the art of deception in mind!
How does this scene make sense? It feels like a leftover from when Mikeala was still involved. This scene ultimately becomes important as it seals Megatron’s fate, but for Carly to be the one to do it?? Carly didn’t even show this side of her character; she never came across as manipulative or deceptive before now. The scene comes bang out of nowhere!
Megatron has had zero luck and zero compassion from these screenwriters and I think it reaches a new low here. Like a lame dog he is forced back into the light of day only to be put down… again… by a random-hot-chick!

Poor Megatron…

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Product Placement
Oh my god this film and its rampant product placement! It gets worse and worse as the film progresses, and these are only some of the heavy hitters; there are smaller ones dotted throughout, including Gucci sunglasses and Good Year tyres.
Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony? Seriously? Bud Light? AN OREO TRANSFORMER?

transformorph1
Transformium
A big one here. But seriously. Humans find metal that paradoxically “has no value only it is what Transformers are made of”, that turns into gravity-defying particles and can be programmed to take on any shape. A ball can turn into a functioning gun, or any product placement you want. It also allows your animation budget to be cut by 60% since you don’t need robots to turn into cars anymore, they just transition with a mess of particles.
Really?

Transformers-4-romeo-and-juliet-law
“The Romeo & Juliet Law”
This scene is nothing but disgusting.
If you need to show the audience why a character can “lawfully” date an under age girl, and use it as a metaphor for sexualising said girl… how about DON’T HAVE AN UNDERAGE GIRL IN YOUR MOVIE, LET ALONE BRING THIS KIND OF ATTENTION TO THE FACT.
The film has had a lot of heat brought down on it for this scene and other scenes related to father Cade’s distrust of Shane dating his daughter. While the law in question is not something I am going to discuss here, the fact this was even written into a Transformers film is brainless and shameful. What’s wrong with simply having her “in age” but Cade being protective?? IT IS NOT HARD TO WRITE.

transformers-galvatron-statue-prime1-902503-02

“Galvatron”
In quotation marks because this is not Galvatron. That design is hideous. Can you tell what he turns into? No? That’s because Age of Extinction doesn’t care about the act of transforming in a film about Transformers.
Plus, “Galvatron” is completely pointless in this film. He serves no purpose other than to set up a return in a sequel that might not even follow this storyline anyway.

He turns into this truck, FYI:

transformers-4-freightliner

Yeah. No, he doesn’t.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. D.T. Nova says:

    You forgot Bumblebee peeing on a man. The first movie is actually the only one I like, but I also think that’s probably the worst scene in any of them.

    Are you sure Pretenders really bombed? They were the only Transformers group/gimmick from 1988 that also got new toys in 1989.

    Like

    1. cinemacocoa says:

      While the peeing scene was, at the time, bad (I couldn’t believe what I was seeing) Simmons kinda deserved being taken down several pegs by that point in the film. All the things I mentioned were not just tasteless but down right “what the actual **** is happening right now?” moments. Moments that have zero relevance to anything.

      Perhaps “Bombed” is too strong a word, but considering there has never been a resurgence of the line for twenty years suggests it wasn’t as well received as others. As a big fan of the toys back then, I certainly didn’t remember Pretenders.

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