I enjoyed this third installment much more than the second, but the following nagging issues are what keeps Transformers from being a great action movie. Yes, it will always be awesome to hear Optimus Prime give his rally speech and watch giant robots tear each other apart, but this movie has a few moments in it where you find yourself thinking, “This is powerful stuff. This is more than just a money-grabbing blockbuster.” Unfortunately, they are too few and the following is what I would do to make the movie shine but not shine in your eyes (more on this later).

1. Have Shia tone it down a few notches – He goes to 11. The thing is, Shia does a good job of doing the adrenaline-pumped half-scared, half-crazed, half-heroic lead, but his bursts of crazy happen too often and for some scenarios that don’t seem deserving.

2. Do away with robot facial hair (and other pointless physical features) – Why do old transformers have old man features (balding, scragly metal beards, etc.) Why do the Decepticons have sharp teeth? Why do any of the robots have teeth, or human-like moving mouths, or hair? This makes absolutely no sense and those physical features offer no function other than to signify age, align the bots with good or evil, or simply tell one from the other. The cartoon had an awesome way to deal with the above issues. 1. They used Autobot and Deceptacon symbols to show allegiance. 2. They used color schemes and amazing voice acting to distinguish characters and signs of age or weakness.

of all the things to be accurate with...

EDIT: perhaps I’m being too harsh. The cartoon did make use of human-like features such as facial hair and moving mouths. Though it was far less prominent.

3. Pick and American accent and stick with it – How do these alien robot beings determine which slant of English accent they are going to adopt? Just pick an accent and go with it. How about a nondescript American accent? You know…since they are all in America.

4. No more robot ‘bodily’ fluids – Starscream spits (oil?) when he talks. Why? Does he have a leak? This goes back to T1 when Bumble Bee pees on Agent Simons…but robots need to pee? Why do they have this function?

5. Get rid of the characters that don’t do anything – Stop parading characters and actors around on the screen just because you can. I like John Malcovich but his character was useless and annoying. Senor Chang (Ken Jeong) in Transformers – they didn’t even bother to let this guy be anything other that the roles he’s famous for. It would be like asking Bruce Willis to be in Transformers and then just telling him to just be John McClane (ok that actually would be awesome). Sam’s parents offer nothing in the way of plot, character development, or humor. There is so much rampant, useless plot points that are in there just to showcase meaningless characters…and the movie is 2.5hrs long!

6. Straighten out John Turturo’s character – Agent Simmons couldbe cool. An ex-intelligence operative removed from duty because of his questionable involvement in extra-terrestrial warfare and cover-up? Woah, that’s gonna be awesome! Hey, instead though, let’s make him awkward, goofy, incompetent, and ironically intimidating – sort of like a live action Darkwing Duck without the silly costume…eh, let’s give him one of those too!

awkward, incompetent, pant-less...

7. Space out the humor – comedic relief is good. Not every character has to take a shot at it though. Give us enough to space out the action but don’t devote too much time to it. Avoid low-brow (farts, nut shots, leg humping, etc.) at all costs.

8. Give Bumble Bee a voice -Bumble Bee doesn’t have his own voice, his talking consists of him (on the fly) piecing together sound bits from various sources. It’s a creative thing to give an autobot (and originally done in the 80’s Transformer movie only not with Bumble Bee), but not for Bumble Bee. Bee is maybe the 3rd most important character after Sam and Optimus, but more importantly, Bee is the ONLY robot that has a significant emotional relationship with our main character. It is important that the relationship be held up so that you identify with Sam’s concern with all things Cybertron. Bee, aside from weird robot groans and whines can’t emotionally respond to Sam because his voice is nothing but pieced together clips from radio/television broadcasts. I mean, he can, but to the viewer it has little impact because of the means of communication and the confusion of what he’s saying (it’s hard to tell sometimes).

note the lack of acting career

9. Sam’s love interest doesn’t need to be a model. I’d settle for an actor– This new girl is nothing different than what Megan Fox gave us. A pair of legs to look at with unconvincing and shallow emotional ties to our protagonist.

10. Have Sam interact with the Autobots in more meaningful ways – For some reason, Sam and the autobots rarely cross paths in this movie. It’s too bad really. In the cartoon, Spike used to just hang out with the bots. They were his friends. In this movie they are detached. There’s a scene where Sam complains to Bee that they never hang out any more, but other than a reference that they used to have meaningful experiences, they don’t really interact much.

11. Use more of the original voice actors for the robots – are these actors unavailable? Those voices were paramount to the cartoon’s characterization of what would otherwise be a myriad of stand-in robots to exist next to Prime and Megatron (which is what you get with these movies).

12. Don’t make star trek references – Leonard Nemoy voices the character of Sentinal Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. And they just couldn’t help themselves giving him lines on 3 separate occasions where he directly quotes Spock from various Star Trek movies. It’s campy but that’s not the biggest problem. Transformers and Star Trek are completely different in terms of mythology, history, and character universe. Allowing them to so blatantly intersect only forces you to be intellectually pulled out of the current context. This is bad. When that happens you typically are pointed to the absurdity of it all. Every time a movie is tongue-in-cheek about the content, the universe, or the genre it takes away from the enjoyment of suspending belief for a few hours and allowing your mind to imagine a different kind of world. Just let us get sucked into the moment so we can enjoy ourselves. I just want the film makers to take their content seriously. I don’t want some kind of awkward wink or smile paying homage to a character in a totally different film series who happens to be the same actor who is voicing a character in the one I’m watching.

an extra!

13. Enough with the lense flares – seriously, why shine lights in my face? This is not an enjoyable effect.

I give this movie 2.5 TPACS (out of 4)

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3 thoughts on “12 (yes, twelve) Things I Would Change If I Were Making Transformers: Dark of the Moon

  1. I haven’t seen the 3rd movie yet, but I have a comment on #8… Don’t forget that at the end of the 1st installment Bumble Bee could talk… Out of the blue… and it wasn’t Kasey Cassem…. Then when the 2nd movie starts, all of the sudden he can’t talk again. Are these huge robots that can morph into anything they want too REALLY unable to fix him?

    1. Oh yeah I haven’t forgot! It’s what makes #8 so darn frustrating. He HAD a voice for all of 3 seconds and then without explanation it was stripped away for the 2nd and 3rd installments. Dan Gilvezan, who voiced the original Bumble Bee is, as far as I can tell, still alive. I would have loved to see him reprise his role for the live action movies.

      Here’s more interesting stuff. The idea of speech coming from clippings of radio and television programs was (first?) given to the Junkions from the 1986 movie:

      “Junkion culture is centered on one thing: Earth broadcasting. Their speech is a hodgepodge of television and radio clippings, making them oftentimes hard to understand.”

      However, in checking all of this out, I’ve discovered that Bumble Bee losing his voice permanently happens somewhere in a book or comic. Figuring out where that comes from is kind of difficult but I guess it wasn’t Bay’s idea. I still don’t like it.

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