Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Rank the Films: Transformers

As any regular reader of feeling fuzzier will know, lists are pretty darn nifty. We have a profound appreciation for straight-up lists. This is the thinking behind Rank the Films, a regular feature that pulls apart the pros and cons of a series of films, ranking them in order of bad to good. 

In this edition, I put the Transformers films under the microscope - from 2007's original to this week's new release, Age of Extinction. What'll come out on top? Well, read on...

4th - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Damn, I really wish they would just trip over...
In my opinion, 2009's Revenge of the Fallen is the benchmark against which all god-awful blockbusters should be measured; is a film just bad, or Revenge of the Fallen bad? If it's just the former, then it ain't truly awful.

Crammed full of cringe-inducing Bayisms (leering low-angles, porny shots of Megan Fox, super slo-mo explosions), this overblown follow-up is like a lesson in how to batter an audience into submission and leave their head aching.

This second film sees Sam Witwicky (an annoying Shia LaBeouf) and his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) faced with the complications of a long-distance relationship after he enrols at college. Meanwhile, the Autobots have joined forces with the US to hunt down and destroy the remaining Decepticons - that is, before an ancient enemy called the Fallen arrives on Earth to seek his revenge...

Whisking the audience away from the US for a final showdown in Eygpt should have been a refreshing take, but instead the film is just littered with the same issues as we have come to expect from Michael Bay. Not-so-subtle racist gangsta robots? Check. Alien scrotum jokes? Check. Porny shots of Megan Fox leaning across a motorcycle? Check. It's like the film was directed by a randy 12-year-old.

The movie also throws in all sorts of new elements without ever touching on them again or explaining them - Isabel Lucas' humanoid Transformer, which seduces Sam before trying to kill him (why not shoot him right away?), is the only one we see in the whole franchise - don't you think if the Decepticons could turn into humans that would completely change the game? Nope, guess not. We'll just throw it in for one set-piece before never using it again.

After an hour and a half of unending carnage, the film screeches to a halt to tease the next instalment - and audiences everywhere collectively shot themselves in the head. Make. It. Stahp.

3rd - Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

This week on The Hills - oh wait, no, this is Transformers
The third entry, Dark of the Moon, sees Sam Witwicky head into the world of job hunting and continue to date way out of his league (see right). Oh yeah, and there are Transformers in there also. But you'd be forgiven for forgetting amongst the amount of time spent of watching Sam dither around and whine about dating ridiculously hot Victoria's Secret models (seriously, his new girlfriend is played by VS model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley - yeh, this dude has it sooo tough).

Dark of the Moon also suffers from being weighed down by an almost incomprehensible plot - there are so many different MacGuffins crammed into the narrative that it's easy to lose track. We've got some sort of Space Bridge, an ancient Ark, Pillars of some kind and a Matrix thingy of Leadership...still with me? 

The action in this third film is equally as overblown and headache inducing as you'd expect, with nearly an hour and a half of Chicago getting ripped a new one thrown in for audiences to soak up. It sure looks awesome, but fatigue quickly sets with explosion after explosion after explosion...

2nd - Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Expecting Shia? Good news, it's Marky Mark instead
The most recent entry into the franchise hit cinemas this weekend, and whilst it isn't super amazing, there are some positives to take from it - no Shia! No Megan Fox! No VS models! Hooray!

There are some redeeming factors associated with this new entry; The fresh cast sends the series in a new direction, and the Autobots are more distinct. And Nicola Peltz ain't too bad to look at either...

Apart from that though, there really isn't a super amount from Age of Extinction which puts it far ahead of the previous two movies. 

At the end of the day, we've been served up the same thing three times before. It'll take more than a new lick of paint and some new locales (Texas, Hong Kong) to totally rejuvenate the franchise. It still feels as bloated and excessive as the rest, with indulgent action sequences cluttering the final half of the film to the point where the audience feels disorientated and desensitised from it all. 

The dialogue is cheesy, the slo-mo is laughable and the CGI isn't that crash hot - the whole thing just blunders along trying to stitch together action set-piece after action set-piece with some kind of comprehensible plotting. 

But hey, at least Sam, Sam's girlfriend(s) and Sam's parents aren't in this one. So that's a plus.

1st - Transformers (2007) 

Rotten Tomatoes: 57%

Sorry, I couldn't resist
Sigh. It's kind of sad when the best Transformers movie we've seen so far is still the completely mediocre first film.

Transformers introduces us to Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), a socially-awkward teen who gets caught up in a war between two warring alien robot factions (the Autobots and the Decepticons) after buying his first car - which turned out to be one of the said aliens. In between managing school, homework and girls (Megan Fox as Mikaela), Sam must find a way to help save the world from being caught in the ensuing crossfire.

It might not feel like it now, but there are still some plus sides to this first movie. LaBeouf and Fox don't feel overly forced, whilst Rachel Taylor and Anthony Anderson provide some comic relief. The script has a few funny moments in it (and some other not so funny moments mind you). Sam's parents aren't the completely wacky duo they are in the later movies, whilst the action is manageable. Still overblown, but not completely mind-numbing like the rest of the movies.

When judged alongside the rest of the movies, Bay's first Transformers film isn't half bad - the camera still leers at Fox's midriff (right), the comedy is shaky and the action is messy but I can get through it without wanting to bash my head against a wall. And if that ain't a recommendation for a Transformers film, I don't know what is.

So there we have it, my take on Transformers; the good, the bad and the ugly. Let me know what your favourite Transformers movie is in comments section below. Thanks!


  1. I suppose Transformers 2 and 3 are a bit of a tossup, depending on who you ask. Me personally, I didn't mind 2 too much, but loathe 3, but eh. And though I personally feel 4 is the best, I can understand still rating the first above it. However, my own list is pretty straightforward enough:

    1. Age of Extinction
    2. Transformers
    3. Revenge of the Fallen
    4. Dark of the Moon

    1. Yeah, the hardest part was which was best - the first or the latest one. Wahlberg is much better than LaBeouf, but I just think that Age of Extinction was too overlong to be the best of them all. Shave off 45 minutes and it'd easily be a 5-6/10 and the best so far. Thanks for commenting Chris!

  2. The first is the best, with the third following, the fourth being next and the second one last. That movie will always suck in my eyes and hardly ever change. Best believe that!

    1. Only movie (along with Sucker Punch) that I've completely given up hope on mid-way through and considered walking out of. I didn't, because I'm an optimist ;)



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