Without question, the single most talked about movie in the history of The Movie Blog has been “Transformers”. From some of the earliest podcasts years ago we were buzzing and talking about the (at the time) upcoming project brining our beloved Autobots and Decepticons to the big screen. We talked about it weekly, we posted about it almost daily. This went on for years until, and after, the film was finally released. A lot of people would complain that we were talking about Transformers too much, but I didn’t care. Aside from Phantom Menace, I had never looked forward to a movie more in my life, and I was excited to talk about it.
We were also pretty much the only website around that endorsed the news that you were selected to direct the movie. To be totally upfront and honest, I didn’t applaud your selection because I thought you were one of the best directors in Hollywood at all, but rather because I thought you were the right fit for this project. I always thought your style, and your particular set of strengths were what Transformers needed.
Then the film came out and unlike Phantom Menace, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I LOVED your incarnation of Transformers. I’ve never been in a theater where the whole audience stood and cheered so many times through the film. It was more like a rock concert atmosphere than a movie. I loved it, so much so that while I very rarely see any film in theaters these days more than once, I went to see Transformers on the big screen 8 times (including once at its Imax premiere here in Los Angeles. I bumped into you there, but I was honesty too distracted by how hot the chick you were with was to bother saying “hi”).
No, I don’t think Transformer will, or should, go down as an all time cinematic masterpiece, but you did exactly what I hoped you would do… you gave me an insanely fun time at the movies, and for that experience, as a film fan, I feel I am in your debt.
Having said that…
With the joyous news that Transformers 2 is already moving full steam ahead, I wanted to drop you a note, from the perspective of a fan of the first movie instead of as a critic, to humbly ask you to consider 2 things that stood out to me as weaknesses in the first film, and literally thousands of Movie Blog readers have emailed me about since the summer. I’m not going to knit-pick about everything everyone likes to complain about. Just two general items that everyone seems to agree on that I hope you’ll file away somewhere in the back of your mind as you develop and start to shoot Transformers 2.
REQUEST #1 - LESS SHAKY CAMERA DURING ACTION SHOTS
The set pieces in the first Transformers film were epic. The visual effects work by the wizards at ILM was Oscar worthy. However, many people have lamented that much of your designed set pieces and the visual effects wizardry was wasted at times because of the rapidly and violently shaky camera during some of those scenes. Since we, as an audience at times, couldn’t tell what on earth was going on up on the screen, your action design and the effects work were wasted. We loved the stuff you designed, we loved the ILM effects, we loved them so much that WE JUST WANT TO SEE THEM. It wasn’t nearly as bad as some other films (ie the Bourne movies) but I beg you… nay… millions of people beg you… when taking these fantastic action sequences from your imagination and start putting them to film for Transformers 2, please reduce the amount of violent shaky camera and hyper rapid cut edits, so that we, as your audience can appreciate what it is you want us to see and experience.
REQUEST #2 - MORE TRANSFORMERS DIALOG
The other major common criticism that even fans of the first film share, was the lack of significant Autobot, and especially Decepticon, interaction and dialog. Although the crowd I first saw Transformers with was overwhelmingly positive about the movie, I still remember the first negative thing I heard someone say as we were walking out which pretty much sums up the feelings a lot of people had:
“So let me get this straight. A Transformers movie, over 2 hours long, and there was just 1 fucking line said between Starscream and Megatron?”
The interaction between Megatron and Starscream exemplifies the problem. Starscream as a matter of fact, a much beloved character, only had one line of dialog in the entire movie (if you don’t count his one Cybertonian subtitled line). Several of the deceptions had no lines at all.
Hey, I totally understand budget issues. But when Megan Fox has more speaking lines in a Transformers movie than Starscream, Megatron and all the Decepticons combined do, well, it doesn’t sit right, and many people complained about it, and I think were justified in doing so.
TO SUMMARIZE: I loved Transformers and eagerly look forward to the next installment. As you are aware there are many out there who don’t share my enthusiasm, and they have some legitimate objections to the first film. I didn’t want to run down everything they commonly lament over, but just highlight the two major things that almost all Transformers fans and detractors alike agree on. 1) Less shaky cam and rapid cut edits in the action sequences so we can actually see and understand what is going on, and 2) Make the movie ABOUT the Transformers giving more dialog to the Cybertonians than to Megan Fox alone.
Doing these two things certainly won’t make everyone happy and this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think it would be a huge tip of your hat and acknowledgment to the fans out there if even just these two issues were addressed in your next Transformers installment… for which I will be in line for opening day regardless.
Both your fan and critic ~John