Since the late 2000s, Michael Bay has been at the forefront of the Transformers franchise and has produced five installments of the lucrative series. While the franchise was never a critical darling, it didn’t stop the movies from making over $500 million worldwide. By the time the series got to Transformers: The Last Knight, domestic audiences had enough of the long-running franchise, though it still managed to make over $600 million worldwide. The spinoff, Bumblebee, actually garnered the highest critical ratings of the Transformers movies; however, it failed to make it to the $500 million worldwide clubs. Reportedly, the new film titled, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, will be released on June 24, 2022, with In The Heights star Anthony Ramos and Judas and The Black Messiah’s Dominique Fishback already cast in the upcoming movie. There are no details on what the plot of the latest movie will be, though Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II, The Land) will direct the reboot with Joby Harold (Army of the Dead) confirmed to pen the Transformers film.
As previously stated, the original Michael Bay installments were far from state-of-the-art films, though there was clearly high interest in the property due to the crazy amount of money the films made back. However, making good films is still important, and if the reboot falls back into the Michael Bay trappings then fans might not be so forgiving. With each passing film, the box office numbers dwindled, thus audiences were clearly getting tired of the action extravaganza. Let’s be honest, the human characters in the Transformers franchise were bad. I mean really bad. The characters either range from unsympathetic, annoying, unlikeable, sex objects (applies mainly to women), and a racist stereotype. Oftentimes, the human characters don’t add anything to the overall plot and in the case of Shia LeBeouf’s Sam Witwicky and Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager, there was little to no character development.
The Rise of the Planet of The Apes Trilogy proved that humans need to always steer a movie forward. While there were always human characters within that franchise, the Apes were front and center as the story was clearly about their journey. The humans just simply played in a world full of apes. Given the fact that the Transformers speak clear and fluent English, I don’t see why they can’t be the focal point of the series. No one came to see Sam Witwicky or Cade Yeager. Fans came to see the Transformers and it’s amazing that Michael Bay always sidelined the machines for weak human characters. Bumblebee solved that problem by striking a nice balance between humans and the title character. There’s nothing wrong featuring humans within the Transformers universe; however, none of Bay’s characters were compelling in the slightest. If Steven Caple Jr. can manage to strike a nice balance of the two or highlight this as a Transformers journey featuring humans then the film is off to a great start. Oh, and please throw out any stereotypical, racist, or juvenile behavior. It’s one of the more disgusting parts of a movie that’s unnecessarily over two hours long. If we can get through an entire movie where dogs or robots aren’t humping something then the movie is a grade-A winner.
Of course, the action. There’s no denying that the action is a beauty to look at. Granted, the shaky camera isn’t for everyone and the slow-mo cuts are old at this point, but more often than not the action was the highlight of the Transformers films. The problem? Incredible action doesn’t equal a compelling story. Bay tended to bombard his films with action sequences. Unfortunately, constant action scenes don’t help with character development or compile an intriguing story. Bay’s films often tend to be a jumbled mess because of this, with characters we could care less about fighting in an over-the-top sequence that can at times be too loud, confusing, or over-edited. Couple in the fact that he tends to inject his juvenile humor within the action then his sequences end up being loud, boring, and uneventful. The quieter moments of a film are often the most impactful. Getting to know or understand characters helps audiences invest in a person’s journey.
Die Hard isn’t a great film because of the incredible action. It’s an amazing film because the writers do an excellent job of humanizing several characters, including John McClaine. The same can be said for the first two Terminator movies. In order to have great action then it’s a must to build up to that moment first. Hopefully, the new filmmakers behind the reboot will learn from the mistakes of the Michael Bay films and finally give audiences a steady flow of great Transformers films.