With Bumblebee out and about, it’s time to look back at the entire Transformers franchise. It’s been quite the checkered history for the franchise with some of its entries ranking as some of the worst modern blockbusters. But with a change in leadership and a few recalculations, me might be looking at a new age for humanoid robot films. Let’s see how all of the Transformers films rank in comparison to each other:
#6: Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
I struggle calling this a movie. Honestly, it’s closer to an advertisement for Bud Light or Oreos.
Ditched is Shia LaBeouf for Mark Wahlberg and others. Unfortunately, we were given the worst of Michael Bay’s cringeworthy dialogue and a lack of any kind of cohesion. The film even stops dead in its tracks to discuss child sex laws in an attempt at a joke! If that wasn’t bad enough, it has a completely incomprehensible plot that’s just plain annoying, not to mention that the Dinobots were the big draw for the film and were only on screen for all of about five minutes.
Like the others Transformers films, the runtime of the film is bloated by completely annoying, frustratingly tedious melodrama. Michael Bay has never been an “actor’s director,” but this movie proves that he really doesn’t have much of a touch with actors at all.
But what makes Transformers: Age of Extinction truly horrendous is its strong sense of pandering. The final act takes place in Beijing only to gain a stronger international box office. We deserve better.
#5: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
After the disaster that was Age of Extinction, Michael Bay and company created a writers’ room to come up with new ideas for the franchise that would hopefully seem fresh and inventive. However, The Last Knight gave us more of the same.
We have yet another attempt by Cybertron to terraform Earth into a new planet for a crop of Transformers to take over. However, our “heroes” uncover another plot device that can stop it. You can also count on another round of downright atrocious humor and dialogue between the characters that’ll make you wish that the film ends long before it gets close to the final act.
The most damning negative against The Last Knight, however, is how lazy the entire production feels. There’s an incredibly cynical attitude that’s ever-present throughout the film, mocking moviegoers for seeing the film. It’s as if the executives behind the film said, “We know that this movie is terrible, but it doesn’t matter because people will see it anyway.”
*To read the site’s full review of Transformers: The Last Knight, please click here.
#4: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
After the massive success of the first film in the franchise, everyone was clamoring for another Transformers film. But Revenge of the Fallen quickly quelled that desire — at least from a fandom perspective.
Revenge of the Fallen has all the usual Michael Bay-isms such as an absurd amount of slow-motion, firework explosions, and pervy shots of Megan Fox. However, this time around it has practically none of the fun and many, many more eye-rolling moments. Once again Michael Bay and company prove that they are completely tone-deaf in how to stage a proper joke with moments such as Sam Witwicky’s mom eating a pot brownie, Devastator having robot balls, and John Turturro in a thong. (I hope Turturro enjoyed that FAT paycheck.)
Revenge of the Fallen failed to realize what everyone loved about the first film: the robots. This time around, we have to sit around and wait for insufferable human characters to simmer down before another bloated action scene can occur.
To top it all off, the film includes two horribly racist robots that are stand-ins for illiterate African-Americans.
#3: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Dark of the Moon can be characterized as a pure guilty pleasure. Continuing with the theme, the first half of the film is terribly boring due to annoying characters and painful jokes. Do we really want to see Sam Witwicky try to find a job in a film also containing robots as tall as skyscrapers? I certainly don’t think so.
However, after an hour and a half of inconsequential interpersonal drama and army jargon, the action picks up considerably and packs a wallop as all of Chicago is destroyed. Michael Bay is certainly an easy target for criticism, but the one thing you can never complain about is the visual experience that his films create when he is engaged (which isn’t often anymore). Once the destruction starts occurring, Dark of the Moon becomes much more watchable.
You will never find MovieBabble praising Dark of the Moon for being a good film, but you can absolutely sit back on a lazy day and let your brain cells melt away as giant robots punch each other and devastate one of America’s largest cities.
#2: Transformers (2007)
Referred to by many as “the good one” up until Bumblebee‘s release, Transformers has a more streamlined plot that allows for you to sit back and enjoy one of the most stereotypical “popcorn films” to come to the big screen in the last twenty years. The difference between this film and the others in the franchise is its script that acts a base for the destruction. The other benefit of a serviceable script in this case is that it lessens the Michael Bay-isms that plague the other films because Bay didn’t feel the necessity to improvise during production. Every beloved Michael Bay film has either a workable script or actors that are great at improvisation (or a combination of the two).
But that’s not to say that there aren’t those eye-rolling moments that run rampant in the other films. Does the camera linger too long on Megan Fox? Yes. Is there annoying dialogue attempting to be funny? You betcha. Are there racists remarks passed off as humor? Definitely.
The difference? There’s enough fun and thrills to compensate for many viewers.
#1: Bumblebee (2018)
It’s amazing what a few simple changes will do. Bumblebee isn’t the most remarkable movie of 2018. However, it never needed to be a life-changing experience, only a palette cleanser from what came before. Travis Knight of Laika replaced Michael Bay this time around and the differences are very, very clear.
Bumblebee is the shortest and cleanest Transformers film to date, boiled down to the bare essentials of what makes a solid blockbuster: great action and a bunch of heart. Though some of the Michael Bay spectacle was intoxicating, it was always a bit busy with many similar-looking Transformers flying all over the screen in a jumbled mess of metal. In Bumblebee, with less robots and a clear understanding of motivations, the action pops.
What I’ll remember most from Bumblebee is the relationship between Hailee Steinfeld‘s Charlie Watson and the titular, giant robot. It’s essentially a human-pet relationship with a $100+ million budget with the added element that these two need each other to fight through their own bouts of grief. It’s equal parts cute and kind; we need more relationships like it in popular media.
*To read the site’s full review of Bumblebee, please click here.
Thank you for reading! What are you thoughts on the Transformers films? Comment down below!
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