The toy line has become a movie juggernaut. Will it keep the momentum after its fourth film?
In 2007, I was so overwhelmed by emotion, a tear streamed from my eye before a movie even started. Yes, I admit it, as a full-grown adult I was enamored by the mere prospect of a film, one that I had waited my entire life to see.
“Transformers” finally got a big screen treatment that year and since then audiences have spoken by coughing up more than $2.5 billion at the box office for that movie and its two sequels. This was an adaptation that didn’t bomb. Director Michael Bay has kept it faithful to the original material; it also helps that an insane amount of special effects and explosions have kept every single one of those films as lively as possible. Keep in mind this was based on a cartoon created just to sell toys.
I loved the hell out of those toys. I remember playing with my Optimus Prime toy in the bathtub, messing up what would one day become a collector’s item. As a kid, the original movie in 1986 fascinated, yet confused me. Take a look at this intro:
Whoa. This was serious stuff. What an intro! Those random robots and their doomed planet never had a chance. Unicron, the most destructive Transformer ever conceived, wasn’t messing around. But take a look at those credits. Who were these Transformers with top billing? Hot Rod? Kup? Ultra Magnus? These weren’t any characters I knew of.
Just trying to sell new toys, I guess. But that would mean the beloved characters — both good and bad — were tossed aside. The most atrocious was the death of Optimus Prime. Look at this scene:
How shocking! Prime’s eyes literally go blank and his entire body turns black. He dies. I had a friend in high school who told me that his dad took him to the movie theater to see this film. When Prime died, he started crying and ran out of the theater. My reaction was different. I watched “Transformers” on VHS. Every time I watched it, I secretly hoped that somehow the end result would change. But deep down, I knew it wouldn’t.
This franchise did well enough that a third sequel starring beefy hunk Mark Wahlberg got green lit. How will it fare? The second “Transformers” was a disaster; the Writer’s Guild strike torpedoed the continuity of that movie. What a ridiculous, messed-up story. I remember being so upset, when it ended, stupid fans cheered and clapped. I stood up and yelled, “No, stop clapping, that was horrible! Stop clapping!”
The third “Transformers” was good, nothing mind blowing. But it seemed as if the Shia LaBeouf-led films had run their course. Enter Wahlberg. Nobody knows much about the fourth movie, but there is speculation. We know that Grimlock and the rest of the Dinobots are in it (I think there are other Dinobots). A huge force threatens the human existence; Unicron would fit that bill well. And with an ailing Megatron on his last breath, the transformation to Galvatron seems like a no-brainer.
I’m optimistic about the new one. It should continue the tradition of Bay movies that blast and burn and leave you numb (in a good way) when it’s done. Flex those muscles, Marky Mark and team up with Optimus Prime. There’s work to be done.
Oh, and Prime riding Grimlock … how is that going to work out?