Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Childhood Reflections; Part 1: Transformers!

I will establish some points; a list of what I think should be done to a potential Transformers remake. These points I will make are what I truly believe will make it a better film, for both fans and critics.

1: Establish an original Sci-Fi story structure first. What I mean is focus on trying to make a good story first. Well writing the script just come up with your own original action film. Don’t even interject the Transformers into it until you have a complete story fleshed out. Beast Wars a transformers spin-off from the mid 90’s was conceived as it’s own standalone Si-Fi series. The producers of Beast Wars didn’t start referencing Transformer lore until about the second season. By which point the main characters already had their personalities well conceptualized; and the motive for the feuding factions had already been established. Take a page from Beast Wars and start out trying to make a good Sci-Fi film, then try to mix in the Transformers back-story. To be honest I don’t think it’s necessary to have a back-story per say. Just say that the Transformers are already on Earth and only a Witwicky knows about them at this point. The Autobots and the Decepticons don’t like each other, that’s been established, so move on no back-story required. This actually brings me to my second point.

2:  The Transformers need to be the focus, not humans! I don’t care about Sam Witwicky’s character (I don’t care much for Shia Labeouf as an actor either) humans hanging out with robots isn’t why we like Transformers! I don’t really need to explain why most kids liked Transfomers. Hell if I need to explain why Transformers is such a cool concept then why are you even reading this? Suffice it to say what we want to see is giant robots and the classic “good vs. evil” story line. I don’t need to see the exploits of a young adult as he leaves home and goes off for college. Personally I just believe the reason Michael Bay focused on Sam’s side of the story is because he didn’t know how to infuse the Transformers with any personality. I mean for goodness sakes how can we care about someone like Bumblebee, he can’t even speak! Michael Bay's idea of giving Transformers distinctive personalities is by turning them into gross stereotypes. The red and yellow Transformers from the second film (one was called Mudflap…the other, who cares?) were just a depiction of stereotypical black people. Jazz form the first movie was similar as well. You see the only people for the audience to relate to would be the human characters. Yet if you make sure well conceptualizing the movie to give concrete roles and jobs to each individual Transformer you can make the focus be on them throughout the movie. Once again I look at Beast Wars for ideas on how to give different personalities to each character. Ultimately I shouldn’t need to explain this though any scriptwriter should be able to conceive interesting focal characters. They just need to realize that it’s essential to making the audience care about talking robots from space!

3: Don’t over design the Autobots and Decepticons! Besides Optimus nobody from the films is someone I can recognize from the original series. I think that is a major flaw, because in the original 80’ s show most of the Transformers had very humanoid looking faces. Even though the animation was sub-par, it was easy to see emotion reflected on the Transformers because they had faces. Go back to the drawing board use the facial features from the 80’s show as a starting point, Optimus is good evidence of this being the right thing to do. Optimus most resembles his 80’s counterpart, and because of this we actual care for him. Sure our caring for him is just because of visual nostalgia but hey, it works, and people care about Optimus! Well I understand that most of the Transformers aren’t as iconic as Optimus I still think that people don’t want over designed 3D messes splashed across the screen. The fight scenes at the end of Transformers 2 are incredibly hard to follow, because you can’t tell anyone apart. Most of the Decepticons just looked like Megatron and Starscream anyways, I really couldn’t tell the difference! I couldn’t even care when an Autobot got injured because frankly I wasn’t sure who the hell it was in the first place! The Transformers War for Cybertron videogame is a perfect example of how a Transformer should look. You could tell that the concept artists were fans first and they wanted to design the Transformers with that type of fan service in mind. The Autobots and Decepticons maintained their faces from the 80’s show but their bodies and even their vehicle forms were all new. Yet because they kept the faces from the original series it was much easier to fall back into that old Transformers nostalgia that all us fans crave. Bumblebee’s car form doesn’t need to be a Volkswagen Bug, so long as when he transforms his face actually looks like Bumblebee did back in the 80’s.

In the end what the movie needs is a good cast and director to make the most out of a property that has more potential then most people think. Just because Transformers was originally a toy line doesn’t me that it didn’t eventually become a serviceable television series. I shouldn’t have to sit through a mediocre movie just because some director doesn’t think the source material is very good! Its up to the writers to make the most out of Transformers as an Intellectual Property. All movies start out with a simple idea, and Transformers on the surface is really as simple as an idea can get. “Transforming cars from space that wage wars against each other,” how could that not be a good film? Yet somehow Michael Bay found a way to screw it up…good job! Just go make Bad-Boys 3 and leave my childhood alone!

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