Humans, I’m kind of a proponent of subjectivity when it comes to films. That is, I feel that there’s usually some enjoyment to be gleaned out of pretty much any movie out there, so long as you’re willing to be open about it. However, I also know that there are good movies, and there are bad movies. The Transformers movies are bad movies. They’re bad. And dumb. And stupid. And bad.


Yet, I find myself coming back to them, time and again. To give y’all a little background, I’m a film junkie; I watch a lot of movies, and I like to think of myself as pretty well informed on the subject. One would think I would have been stung by the first Transformers movie, and then stopped. Well, no: I paid money to see the second one in theaters. Though, as a consequence I avoided the third until it came out on DVD. I know they’re all terrible movies, so… why do I keep watching them?

Actually, I do know why: sheer spectacle. When it comes to pure, brain-turny-offy action, it’s really hard to beat a Transformers film. You’ll have to note how I qualified that, there: I’m well aware that there are plenty of smart action films out there. In fact, I’m aware that, in the same year Revenge of the Fallen came out, District 9 also hit screens, and that’s one of my favorite movies. It does action well, whereas Transformers just does action large. And damned if that isn’t worth a look.

Also, I like giant robots. A lot. In fact, I like robots in general a lot. And I like Transformers; I grew up watching Beast Wars, I got into the original cartoon when I got a little older, and liked that for what it was. I’m not one of those diehard fans, but I know my Soundwave from my Shockwave. So, there’s at least some tertiary interest for me there.

But here’s the thing: the Transformers movies are fucking atrocious, as movies. The fact that I can review all three at the same time without breaking stride is pretty fucking telling. And as far as I can see, there has been literally no effort, throughout the entirety of this trilogy, to make them good.

I’d like you to imagine that you’re standing on train tracks. You can see a train approaching, but instead of hopping off the tracks like a sane person, you make the conscious decision to square your shoulders and walk right up to the train. And you are crushed. This, gentlehumans, is an accurate representation of the creative processes invoked in the production of the Transformers trilogy.

I say this because there are things in these movies that are fucking inexplicable. Like, basic things. Things that are so obvious they had to have occurred to someone in power, but nobody changed them. Things that these movies would have been much better without are left in, despite it taking less effort to simply not include them. It almost seems headstrong, validating my suicide metaphor above.

I won’t go into too much detail about the main ones here, because other reviews have covered that when these movies were just coming out; the characters are boring or annoying, the Transformers are sidelined in their own movies to make way for Michael Bay’s obsession with the US military, the plot is often an incomprehensible wash. Shit like that. However, I will go into the things that I just don’t understand.

For instance, why does Sam have parents? I get it the first time, because he was a high school kid, and so that makes sense. But why do they take up so much screentime? Like, why do they have any screentime? They’re fucking awful characters; annoying wastes of space without any value to the plot. Is there a single reviewer out there who liked this pair of walking intellect vacuums? If there is, I haven’t seen him. And reviews mean something, people do read them. Is there a person alive today that finds these two characters funny? Do the actors that play them enjoy doing so? What the fuck is going on?

In fact, there seems to be an insistence on bad comic relief characters all over these things: John Turturro, that fucking kid from the second one, John fucking Malkovich in the third. Why do that? Are the writers, the director, and the actors all stupid, or just misinformed about what comedy is? Or even where comic relief should be deployed in a narrative, because if we’re being really honest, Sam himself is comic relief. And he’s just as bad as the rest of them.

I… ugh, you know what? I’d get exhausted if I went through all the reasons why these films are bad. I’d exhaust myself, possibly you out there reading this, and certainly this isn’t something I want either of us devoting much time to thinking about, dear reader. We have better things to do.

Sure, I could rail on the outright baffling decision to turn the Transformers into side characters in their own films, but if I were to think about it, it wasn’t like original Transformers was any better. Remember the animated movie, where Optimus dies (fucking love Optimus Prime) and goddamn Judd Nelson’s character, Hot Rod, becomes the replacement Prime? Rodimus Prime (Yes, really.) Jesus Christ.

And yes I could blink in disbelief at the number of awesome guest actors in the third movie; why are Frances Mcdormand, John Malkovich and Alan Tudyk in that movie? But everyone makes a bad movie at one point. Yes, it’s a bit weird they all decided to make this bad movie, but we can’t have all the answers in shit like this.

I could rant angrily about the racist portrayals of certain Autobots in the second film, because it’s truly baffling that a film crew in the year 2009 could spend so long making something like that without stopping and thinking “hold on…” But then, Skids and Mudflap were removed from the third film, so at least that incredible lapse in judgment was temporary.

I could even go on about how most of the Transformers in these films are throwaway characters that don’t even have names, but then, why bother? The key Autobot and Decepticon figures aren’t characterized in a way so as to make me want more of that, and besides, the original series once had two characters that looked exactly alike due to an animation error that wasn’t changed, and nobody cared then.

Yes, these movies are all of them, fucking terrible. The first one had a bit of heart, but that heart was removed and replaced with stupid. So, why do I keep seeing them? Why do I keep enjoying them, at least until I think about it a little? Well, it’s because I’m accepting of the fact that every movie has faults. Some more glaring than others, sure, but I want to find the things a movie does well, and enjoy it on those terms. And shit blows up good in Transformers. Part of me feels like I’m betraying my inner film buff here by liking them at all, but my wife said something very smart to me once, that I’ve sort of held close ever since. She’s tired, she said, of hating things just because dumb people like them. Just because something is reviled by the culture at large doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it on my own terms, as weak and sickly as those terms may be. In the end, I guess I like liking stuff more than I do hating it, though in some cases my rage boils over, like it has in some previous reviews. But then, I’m allowed to be internally inconsistent, too. I’m only (almost) human, after all.

You might have noticed I haven’t gone into any detail about the acting, script, score or plot, or anything like that. Well, that’s because I needn’t bother; it’s all about as generic as you can imagine, if you haven’t seen the films. And if you have, you already know it’s bad. You don’t need me to reiterate that any more than I already have.

I promise I’ll be reviewing something more worthy next time, humans!

Kurokami, signing off!