A rant about Transformers (Michael Bay edition)

I am presently watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the second of Michael Bay’s unspeakably bad Transformers movies. It has taken me a week and a half to drag myself through even part of its two and a half hours, and I haven’t even gotten to the wrecking balls scene. Yes, the infamous scene that is considered one of the worst scenes in the history of mainstream film.

And honestly, one thing that these movies should never be is boring. They have giant robot fights, explosions, constant talking and action… but it feels like it drags on forever. I have watched all the Peter Jackson Middle-Earth movies, and every single one of them felt shorter than both of the Transformers movies I have watched, even though I’m pretty sure they’re all substantially longer.

And I think the reason for this is simple: I hate all the characters.

Michael Bay seems to write three kinds of characters:

  1. Soldiers.
  2. Hot girls who are really smart so objectifying them isn’t creepy.
  3. Violently annoying idiots who do stupid stuff in order to be funny.

Those are the only kinds of characters in these movies, I swear. And that last category accounts for 95% of the characters, including almost all of the giant alien robots.

I think I realized this when the Autobots first revealed themselves to Sam Witwicky, and they started saying stupid things for the LOLZ. For instance, Ratchet just randomly announces that Sam wants to have sex with Mikaela. He has no reason to do this. It’s incredibly cringy and stupid. He simply says this stupid statement because… it’s meant to be funny.

And unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Once Sam goes home to find his glasses, Optimus Prime and all the Autobots come over to his house while his parents are sleeping. Now, Optimus could have ordered the Autobots to remain in the street outside in their vehicle forms, waiting for Sam to uncover the glasses and bring them out to them. That would be the kind of intelligent decision that you would expect from the wise, calm leader of the Autobots.

But that wouldn’t have provided several minutes of irritating comic relief! So instead the Autobots remain in their giant-robot forms, bumbling around causing property damage, making noise, and Optimus jams his enormous face up against the windows just so he can nag Sam a little more effectively. This does not make Sam find the glasses any faster, by the way – it actually slows him down considerably, because he has to stop to tell Optimus to stop doing what he’s doing. Because it’s funny when Optimus acts like a doofus!

And of course, almost all the human characters are annoying comic relief – the biggest perpetrators, of course, being Sam’s parents. I wanted to shrivel up in the second movie when Sam’s mother eats pot brownies and, like all stoned people, becomes hyperactive and loud, and starts yammering about him losing his virginity to total strangers. Because haha funny.

And I swear, it feels like every character is like this.

I’d be okay with the characters doing funny things if it were like the comic relief in the Marvel movies. At least nine times out of ten – excluding the Fat Thor gags in Endgame – the jokes are in-character and do not involve the characters doing stupid things in order to produce the joke. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was absolutely hilarious, and he didn’t need to constantly do stupid things that make no sense in order to entertain us.

But in Transformers, it isn’t like those. Most of the jokes require people to be stupid and act like morons. And if it doesn’t amuse you to watch people running around screaming…

… or stuffing their faces with doughnuts…

… or jabbering at each other…

… or making juvenile sex jokes…

… or farting…

… or humping…

… or leching on underage girls…

… you’re going to sit there like a stone, getting progressively more irritable as this seemingly endless parade of annoying idiots are flung in your face. Some of these characters literally have no personality aside from their stupidity – I can identify exactly one thing that Ratchet did in Transformers aside from make that stupid sex joke. And that’s not just because I have trouble identifying anybody aside from Bumblebee and Optimus Prime.

And apparently this type of writing is contagious if you want to copy Michael Bay. It is an integral part of his storytelling, it seems. Years ago, I saw the movie Battleship (and have been regretting it ever since), which followed the Michael Bay formula so closely that many people thought it should have been a Transformers movie. What stuck out at me was that except for the Japanese commander and the veterans (only two of whom speak), I loathed every person in the movie. They weren’t constantly doing idiotic things for comic relief, but they were so obnoxious. The main character could not have been less endearing if he had worn a necklace of baby heads and a dead puppy for a hat.

Anyway, the too-long-didn’t-read edition of this rant is simple: the Transformers characters are as likable as scabies, and as funny as a wildfire. If, as I do, you find them to not be amusing, then these movies will be absolute torture.

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