You read Funkhouser, which means you are a man/woman of discriminating tastes, accustomed to the finer things in cinema. If I asked you, “what would you most like to see out of Hollywood in the next few years?” Would you say, “another Transformers movie”? I doubt that .5% would. Even then, I doubt that that 1 out of 200 would have said, “another four Transformers movies!” Actually, I take that back immediately. If you said you did want another Transformers movies, I suspect you’d be cool with four.
(Note: the headline and a sentence in the article state that four new Transformers movies are planned, while another sentence, unless it has been changed by the time you read this, says, “…the fifth through ninth Transformers movies will be released over the next 10 years.” Installments five through nine would be five movies, not four. If true, this would have been even worse news, but CNN reports four. Further proof that anything that touches the Transformers movies, even Huffington Post articles, becomes dumber.)
How is this possible? HOW?! Ok, we know how this is possible. Money. $3.8 billion worldwide in sweet, sweet ducats for the first (gulp) four. Transformers: Age of Extinction grossed $320 million in China alone. (Listen, China: if you stop selling us your worthless crap, we’ll stop selling you ours.) It’s telling that Hasbro, the toy company that owns Transformers, announced the next four first. Not Paramount Pictures or the director–a toy company. This whole franchise has been about sharting out saleable movies, not good–or often even watchable–movies. Yeah yeah, I know making movies is about making money, and I don’t begrudge anyone that. But can you at least try, Paramount/Michael Bay/writers? Maybe if the first four had tried to be more than just eye candy rather than muddled, confusing, quickly deteriorating sequels, they could have grossed four or five billion. They’re just rubbing our faces in it now. The arc of the Transformers movie universe is short, and it bends toward suck.
Alright, I’ll try to be a little even-handed here. I ain’t gonna lie: I dug the first Transformers movie (2007). Eye-popping. Fantastic effects. Fun story line. Even the acting was passable. My wife, who’s not a huge fan of that kind of movie and whom I somehow tricked into seeing it, said, “wow. Those effects were amazing. I kind of liked it.” I’ve actually watched it a few times since then. It even led us to watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen two years later. Wow, indeed, but for slightly different reasons. (I will go to my grave asserting that Megan Fox was completely serviceable in the first two movies.)
Then another two years later came Transformers: Dark of the Moon, aka Transformers: The First One Without Megan Fox and the Last One with Shya Luhboof. I really can’t remember what happened in this one except buildings getting knocked over and Shaiaia Layberf looking flustered. I’m a bit surprised Michael Bay made this glorified Victoria’s Secret commercial with explosions and big machines since he actually made a Victoria’s Secret commercial with explosions and big machines and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and no words a year before this.
And then there’s 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, the one where Mark Wahlberg woke up in a panic realizing he forgot to pay his mortgage for the month and thus accepted Michael Bay’s offer for temporary work. Personally, I felt that T:AoE committed the cardinal sin of being kind of…boring. This was on Netflix a while back, and I got 45 minutes in and turned it off because the mail came or I got an interesting email regarding refinance offers or I got hungry or something. I haven’t yet finished it. Are you all with me on this one? I don’t care about daddy-daughter relationship dynamics or her rebellious trysts with her X-Games reject boyfriend. If I’m watching a Transformers movie, I want constant, ridiculous action. Remember, we’re not asking for Citizen Kane, but we expect something we can feel OK about spending $10 or 165 minutes (!) on. Damn, Bay, I thought we understood each other.
So four more movies, with the plots already mapped out. What? What grand, transformative epic could possibly be spelled out over the next four Transformers: Something After the Colon movies? This is getting as bad as the last several Terminator movies. Our fault, really. They’ll stop making them when we stop watching them.