August 18, 2009

Killing in the name of Optimus Prime

Filed under: Transformers, comment — fairplaythings @ 5:21 pm

I’ve already spoken extensive on Transformers: Revenge of the Bay here, here, here and here. I’m so done with that movie. The only redeeming thing about it is that the urge to buy toys based on the movie is very limited. Even the usually adorable Robot Heroes are of little interest to me. Aside from some G1 repaints, this represents the first line that will not be extensively represented on the shelf (and what will be represented will definitely be non-screen formers).

However, I was checking out seibertron.com today, and drooling over Jim ’s always-awesome repaints, when I stumbled upon his rant against the critics. Now this is not to pick on Mr. Saotome, who is simply echoing a lot of the backlash in the fan community to the near-universal derision to the film by critics, but it seems every time that damn film comes up among fans of said film and my opinions are made known, I hit variations of the following points:

(1) “Oh you’re just a G1 purist”;
(2) “You are suppose to suspend disbelief / put your brain on the shelf and enjoy the ride;” or
(3) “You are old and you just don’t get it.”

On this last point, allow me to elaborate the sentiment. To quote Mr. Saotome: “With each thumbs down and one-star rating they vengefully toss forth, these popular movie critics threaten the market and future of the genre we know and love. They have no business reviewing movies they do not understand and lack the intelligence and open mindedness to accept such films into the fray. This frame of mind is dangerous and impedes any sort of progress for the future of such films. True enough the critics of yesterday live to enjoy the classics, movies they claim have beautiful insight in to humanity and where a Patsy Cline score can be heard playing in the background. And that’s all well and good for that is their schoolyard playground where they can rule as king of the sandbox. But they fail terribly when they try to grasp the spectacular, or try and understand the love someone holds in their heart just to see their favourite giant robots walk across the screen for the first time. The movie critics will scream and yell, casting down upon the directors and producers of this abomination to Hollywood’s credit.”

Allow me then to rebut all three of these arguments.

G1 Purist

While it is true that my entry into the fandom comes by way of Generation One, no one can argue I am a purist. Allow me to demonstrate my credentials:

1. I am an enthusiastic collector of non-transforming Action Masters.
2. Not only do I like Generation Two, but, against my better judgment, I actually wanted to see General Optimus and Sergeant Hound released.
3. I embraced Beast Wars long before it was known to have G1 reference points and consider it one of the greatest story accomplishments aimed at a “kid’s” market.
4. I enjoyed and enjoy Beast Machines and, contrary to many fans, consider it to be sadly underrated.
5. While I find the cartoons for Robots in Disguise / Car Robots (2000) and the Armada-Energon-Cybertron trilogy (2002-2006) hard to deal with, I do enjoy the latter’s comic book run through Dreamwave.
6. I think Transformers: Animated is the best possible reimagination of a series I could imagine, and was greatly saddened by its conclusion.

It goes without saying that I have a collection of Transformers that easily enters into four digits and spans all generations prior to the movie. Interestingly, of all those lines, it is probably Generation One itself where there are the biggest gaps. So much for a purist.

But can I add more to this resume? Of course I can. Because I ACTUALLY ENJOYED THE FIRST MOVIE.

Yes, one can say that out loud and not be struck down.

Was Transformers a cinemagraphic epic? No, but it had a great first act and an enjoyable third act, both of which allow me to sit through the fart jokes and attempts at humour in the second act. It had enough touchpoints of my childhood, done in a way that I felt respected that memory, that I felt like watching the movie eight times in the theatre.

All this to say I can deal with variations and new thinking on childhood memories.

When I am asked to elaborate on my problems with the movie, however, I don’t focus on all my issues. The nonsensical plot. The plot chasms. The inherent sexism. The idiot robot twins. The inability to feel for the robots. The inability to distinguish one robot from another. I focus on the big ones for me. They used the sequel to turn Optimus Prime into a remorseless killer and Megatron into a toadie.

Optimus Prime is a hero. He is not an executioner. Like Superman, he would find a way to prevail without taking the easy way out through murder. Watching this Optimus Prime was worse than watching him die. He was already dead to me.

And Megatron? A second banana? Not Megatron. Never Megatron.

Brain on Shelf

I can tolerate plot holes and I can enjoy popcorn, but movie enjoyment does not mean I have to accept a film that insults my intelligence. If you look at films like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, Batman and Ironman, Superman and Star Trek, you can see how popular stories can be told on the big screen without offending their fans. Some films may be better than other but there is an effort to remain true to the essence of the characters. Take Watchman. Regardless of one’s thoughts on the movie, here is a film that respects where it came from and tries to ensure it can live up to its inspiration. I might have issues with this scene or that plot point, but I respect that. Because in a way, it is showing respect to me, as someone who went to see the film.

A good film means that I can immerse myself in the experience as oppose to checking my watch, and contemplate whether I should try and get my money back.

We Are the Future

It’s interesting to me to see how many people have embraced this film. I cannot honestly begin to tell if it is because there is safety in numbers or that they just don’t see many movies. Because the critics that are so invisorated by the fans of this film are willing to take unpopulist positions and have seen and studied enough films to have valid opinions. There is nothing wrong with Roger Ebert’s writings on the film, but to say he’s missing the context of the movie is misreading what makes a good or a great film. A popular film is different than a great film. And a great film does not rely solely on the lowest common denominators of big tits, fast cars and mondo explosions to be great.

Michael Bay didn’t destroy my childhood. It’s still safely in a box, in my house and in my heart. He just embarassed me and ruined what could have been.


  1. I agree with most of your points. Mostly I just hate that all of the transformers are so completely forgettable. I really hate to push G1 into this and I havn’t seen most of the episodes (that I remember) but it always surprises me to learn that some character who SEEMS critical and intricate only really showed up in maybe 1 or 2 episodes.

    Meanwhile, every time Jolt appeared on screen I thought he was Ironhide and didn’t even realize otherwise until someone pointed it out to me after the fact.

    The other issue I have with these movies is that I believe at once point both the first and second film were BETTER but for whatever reason Bay changed it to make things “More explosiony”. I’ve heard a few commentary about changes that were made for no real reason (like Blackout/Soundwave in the first film). It’s my belief that before these arbitrary changes things were more coherent.

    However, I’ve seen this movie 3 times (not all necessarily in theaters (allegedly)). It actually didn’t seem AS bad the second two times.

    Comment by Josh Miller — August 18, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

  2. I found that I couldn’t tell where Jazz ended and Sideswipe began. Except for the killing part.

    I’d love to read those commentaries on the out-of-the-blue changes.

    And it certainly helps to enjoy the film knowing that you are not paying for it. :)

    Comment by fairplaythings — August 18, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  3. A thought-provoking critique. Perhaps the best negative reviews from a Transformers fandom perspective. There have been plenty from the film perspective, but not so many from the angle you came at it from.

    Comment by Jim Sorenson — August 18, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  4. Blushes…

    Comment by fairplaythings — August 19, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

  5. [...] It’s an odd way to start a review of a movie based on a beloved touchstone of one’s childhood, but it should come as no surprise to anyone who talks to me about my feelings on the first two live action films. Readers of fairplaythings.com are well familiar with my initial reactions to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and multitude of issues with the film. My reaction was clearly blasphemous in the robot collecting community, which lead to a separate lament on how I could call myself a fan and still want a movie worth my time and attention. [...]

    Pingback by fairplaythings.com » Dark of the Soul - a fan laments Transformers 3 — June 28, 2011 @ 1:38 am

  6. [...] readers of this blog know, I was (putting it mildly) not enamored with its sequels, Revenge of the Suck or Suck of the Moon. And despite these viewing, Transformers does not have a place on my 10 ten [...]

    Pingback by fairplaythings.com » League Assignment #1: It takes an assignment to bring out the writing muse — February 20, 2012 @ 12:32 am

  7. I must convey my appreciation for your generosity for folks who require help with in this situation. Your personal dedication to getting the message all through came to be particularly practical and has all the time enabled associates just like me to realize their desired goals. Your personal warm and helpful guide indicates a whole lot a person like me and even further to my office colleagues. With thanks; from everyone of us.

    Comment by Golden Goose Deluxe Brand — November 19, 2023 @ 12:15 am

  8. I wanted to compose a quick word in order to thank you for all of the magnificent concepts you are giving out here. My particularly long internet search has finally been rewarded with reasonable ideas to talk about with my colleagues. I would claim that many of us website visitors are undoubtedly endowed to live in a superb site with so many outstanding professionals with great advice. I feel rather blessed to have seen your entire web site and look forward to plenty of more entertaining minutes reading here. Thanks a lot once more for all the details.

    Comment by yeezy outlet — December 4, 2023 @ 7:23 pm

  9. My husband and i felt very thrilled that Peter managed to do his analysis with the ideas he made from your weblog. It is now and again perplexing to just happen to be handing out helpful hints which usually some people could have been trying to sell. And we discover we have the blog owner to give thanks to for that. All of the explanations you have made, the simple website navigation, the friendships you will help to engender - it is most great, and it’s assisting our son in addition to us consider that the article is entertaining, and that is truly important. Thank you for the whole lot!

    Comment by palm angels — December 22, 2023 @ 10:33 pm

  10. I really wanted to develop a simple note so as to thank you for those unique guidelines you are placing at this site. My incredibly long internet research has at the end of the day been honored with reputable insight to talk about with my family and friends. I ‘d assume that many of us readers are undeniably blessed to live in a useful community with so many wonderful professionals with insightful tips and hints. I feel quite privileged to have come across the web page and look forward to many more entertaining minutes reading here. Thanks again for everything.

    Comment by golden goose — December 27, 2023 @ 6:37 am

  11. I intended to create you the very small observation to help thank you very much once again for these amazing principles you have shown above. It was so open-handed with people like you in giving openly exactly what most of us might have marketed as an ebook to help make some bucks for themselves, precisely now that you might have done it in the event you considered necessary. Those suggestions additionally worked like the great way to understand that most people have the identical zeal the same as my very own to understand whole lot more with regards to this issue. I’m certain there are a lot more enjoyable instances in the future for many who scan your site.

    Comment by palm angels — December 28, 2023 @ 11:27 am

  12. Thank you so much for providing individuals with an extremely marvellous chance to read articles and blog posts from this site. It is always so awesome and also full of amusement for me and my office co-workers to search your site at minimum three times weekly to find out the newest items you will have. And of course, I am just always fulfilled for the magnificent knowledge you give. Selected 3 ideas in this post are undoubtedly the most impressive we have ever had.

    Comment by supreme — December 29, 2023 @ 1:26 pm

  13. I precisely needed to thank you so much again. I do not know the things I would’ve followed in the absence of the suggestions discussed by you regarding this concern. It became a very scary dilemma in my opinion, but witnessing the very specialised avenue you solved that took me to cry for delight. I am grateful for your information and hope you are aware of a powerful job that you are getting into instructing some other people via your blog. Probably you haven’t met all of us.

    Comment by kyrie irving shoes — December 30, 2023 @ 7:06 pm

  14. I intended to post you a very little remark to help thank you very much as before for the beautiful strategies you’ve provided on this site. It’s tremendously open-handed with you to offer publicly just what numerous people could have advertised for an e-book in making some money on their own, certainly considering the fact that you might well have tried it in the event you considered necessary. These smart ideas in addition acted like a great way to fully grasp many people have the same fervor much like my very own to grasp much more when it comes to this matter. I believe there are lots of more fun opportunities in the future for individuals who read through your website.

    Comment by off white — January 1, 2024 @ 7:54 pm

  15. I wanted to write down a brief note in order to appreciate you for some of the nice ways you are giving on this website. My time consuming internet investigation has now been rewarded with beneficial tips to share with my friends and family. I would express that many of us readers are undeniably blessed to dwell in a wonderful community with many lovely individuals with very helpful solutions. I feel pretty happy to have used your webpages and look forward to so many more thrilling times reading here. Thanks once again for all the details.

    Comment by chrome hearts outlet — January 3, 2024 @ 7:03 am

  16. My husband and i ended up being now comfortable Chris could do his web research by way of the ideas he obtained out of the web pages. It’s not at all simplistic to just be offering helpful hints which a number of people have been trying to sell. And we all acknowledge we have you to thank for this. The specific explanations you’ve made, the easy website menu, the friendships you make it possible to engender - it is mostly fabulous, and it is assisting our son and our family understand that topic is pleasurable, which is extraordinarily vital. Thanks for the whole lot!

    Comment by jordan outlet — January 5, 2024 @ 8:01 pm

  17. I am commenting to make you know of the extraordinary experience my wife’s princess undergone checking your blog. She came to understand so many details, with the inclusion of what it’s like to have an amazing teaching style to get men and women without hassle completely grasp certain hard to do things. You undoubtedly did more than our own desires. Thank you for providing such warm and helpful, dependable, revealing and also unique tips about the topic to Ethel.

    Comment by nike sb dunk low — January 7, 2024 @ 2:07 am

  18. I just wanted to write down a small comment to express gratitude to you for those nice strategies you are giving on this site. My rather long internet investigation has now been rewarded with extremely good points to exchange with my neighbours. I would assert that many of us visitors actually are very blessed to be in a really good site with very many special individuals with very helpful principles. I feel quite fortunate to have seen your entire webpages and look forward to many more enjoyable moments reading here. Thank you once again for all the details.

    Comment by kd shoes — January 9, 2024 @ 4:28 pm

  19. My wife and i felt so satisfied Emmanuel managed to complete his inquiry out of the precious recommendations he gained through your web site. It is now and again perplexing just to choose to be making a gift of secrets and techniques some other people have been trying to sell. Therefore we figure out we need the writer to be grateful to for that. Most of the illustrations you made, the simple web site menu, the friendships you will aid to engender - it is many amazing, and it’s really facilitating our son and our family feel that the article is entertaining, which is pretty essential. Thank you for all the pieces!

    Comment by off white hoodie — January 10, 2024 @ 9:58 pm

  20. I am just writing to make you be aware of what a great encounter my princess developed reading your web site. She discovered a lot of issues, including what it’s like to have an amazing giving nature to let the others just know precisely specified hard to do issues. You actually did more than visitors’ desires. Many thanks for producing such good, dependable, edifying and even fun thoughts on that topic to Mary.

    Comment by goyard — January 12, 2024 @ 4:13 am

  21. I truly wanted to construct a message to say thanks to you for those remarkable hints you are placing on this site. My time consuming internet look up has now been honored with good quality knowledge to talk about with my contacts. I would suppose that most of us website visitors actually are quite blessed to be in a superb site with so many lovely individuals with great secrets. I feel very much fortunate to have encountered your entire weblog and look forward to some more awesome moments reading here. Thanks a lot again for all the details.

    Comment by off white x jordan 1 — January 13, 2024 @ 9:38 am

  22. I wish to express my thanks to the writer just for bailing me out of such a circumstance. Just after looking through the the net and getting strategies that were not helpful, I thought my entire life was over. Living devoid of the strategies to the difficulties you’ve solved by way of your report is a critical case, as well as the ones which could have in a negative way damaged my career if I had not noticed your website. Your own understanding and kindness in dealing with all the pieces was priceless. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t encountered such a point like this. I am able to at this point look ahead to my future. Thank you so much for this impressive and sensible help. I won’t think twice to recommend the blog to anyone who should have direction about this situation.

    Comment by supreme — January 14, 2024 @ 4:25 pm

  23. I have to show thanks to the writer just for bailing me out of this type of matter. Right after looking out through the the net and coming across basics that were not beneficial, I was thinking my entire life was over. Being alive devoid of the strategies to the issues you have resolved by way of this post is a serious case, as well as ones which could have adversely affected my career if I hadn’t noticed your site. That competence and kindness in touching all the pieces was priceless. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not come upon such a step like this. I can at this time look forward to my future. Thanks for your time so much for your skilled and sensible guide. I will not think twice to recommend your site to anyone who needs to have guidelines on this situation.

    Comment by jordan retro — January 15, 2024 @ 6:59 pm

  24. I want to get across my affection for your generosity in support of those people that require assistance with in this question. Your real dedication to passing the solution along came to be certainly beneficial and have frequently empowered regular people just like me to reach their aims. Your entire useful guide entails a great deal a person like me and far more to my office workers. Warm regards; from each one of us.

    Comment by off white hoodie — January 16, 2024 @ 6:57 pm

  25. I enjoy you because of your entire labor on this site. My mother really likes doing internet research and it is obvious why. A lot of people learn all about the powerful mode you provide reliable tips and hints by means of the blog and improve response from website visitors on this content plus our favorite princess is actually discovering a lot. Have fun with the remaining portion of the year. You have been performing a splendid job.

    Comment by bape — January 17, 2024 @ 7:30 pm

  26. Needed to put you this bit of remark to be able to thank you again for the pleasant strategies you have shared on this website. It was certainly extremely open-handed of you to deliver extensively all that a few individuals would’ve distributed as an electronic book to help with making some cash for themselves, most notably given that you might have done it if you ever desired. The strategies additionally acted to become a easy way to understand that many people have the identical passion just as my personal own to figure out good deal more when considering this problem. I know there are millions of more enjoyable opportunities in the future for folks who go through your blog.

    Comment by bapesta — January 18, 2024 @ 9:29 pm

  27. Thank you so much for giving everyone an exceptionally special possiblity to discover important secrets from this website. It can be so pleasing and as well , stuffed with a lot of fun for me and my office mates to search the blog really thrice in 7 days to find out the newest tips you have. Of course, I am also at all times satisfied concerning the dazzling guidelines served by you. Some 1 facts on this page are in truth the most impressive we have had.

    Comment by bathing ape — January 19, 2024 @ 10:25 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress