TR’s Transformers 2 Pre-Review Rant

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I’m two or so hours away from watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It is safe to say I am not looking forward to it. You all have seen me mock and genuinely freak out about the potential awfulness of this film for the past few weeks, and while it might be possible I’ll change my mind after seeing the movie, I’m not expecting to, given the general consensus.

Of course, my opinion hardly matters; Revenge of the Fallen made $60 million dollars yesterday, the second highest grossing movie in history… and that was Wednesday. That’s despite having a mere 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (the first Transformers movie has a fair 57%). It’s going to make so much money this weekend it won’t even be funny. It will be, financially, an incredibly successful film.

So I wanted to get a few things off my chest before I see the film and review it tonight (it’ll go up at noon tomorrow, FYI). First off is that I reject the notion that “financially successful” equals “good” in any way. Many awesome films have been box office bombs. Many terrible films can make a ton of money. I refuse to believe that the money that Transformers 2 makes has any bearing on its quality as a film.

Second — and I said this earlier on the site– but I also reject the notion that because the film is based on a toyline, the movie has zero responsibilities. Frankly, Transformers is not just a toyline, it is a franchise. This includes the cartoons and the previous movie and so forth, which is very important because franchises includes characters and story elements and so forth. If they make that movie about the Battleship game, that will be a movie about a toy — there are no characters and no story (other than “ships shoot at each other”) to deal with. I think a Transformers movie did and does have a resonsibility to the certain portion of the characters and the personalities, although it does not need to be slavishly devoted. We definitely needed an Optimus Prime and a Megatron and transforming robots, sure, but we also needed a sense of the series — that hard-to-define aspect that made us ’80s kids fall in love with the franchise.

Yes, the cartoon could be goofy as hell. But it could also be serious and action-packed and cool and sometimes even a but moving. Yes, the cartoon had an episode where Seaspray began a relationship with a mermaid. But it also had awesomely cool moments, too. But I honestly think the movie has a duty to showcase the best of the franchise its based, not to get away with anything because the goofiest shit that came before. I think nerds/TF fans had the right to get that, and be angry when they didn’t. Because cartoons come and go, comic book teams change every few months — movies are finite. Fans had one shot at a Transformers movie series, and this is it. I say nerds have every right to freak out when a movie fucks with their franchise.

I wonder if this is because I am a nerd. I’m not a big Transformers fan — I don’t even own any of the toys — but what makes me so furious about Bay’s movies is that they don’t seem to be for the fans at all; if this shit happened to my beloved Masters of the Universe (and it very well might) I would have a brain embolism. I don’t know how much of that is coloring my opinion.

So you folks that liked the movie — and I know you’re out there and reading TR, because you’ve told me to go fuck myself a lot recently — do you consider yourself nerds? Furthermore, do you consider yourself Transformers fans? Not just of G1, but of any part of the franchise? I’d honestly like to know. The rest of you, wish me luck… that I don’t purposely drive into a tree or off a bridge on my way to the theater.