At the time of this writing it is my intention to go see Transformers: The Last Knight within the next 24 hours. It doesn’t make much sense that I would plan a 3 hour block of my life and spend $20.98 for an IMAX 3D ticket to support a franchise that consists of one movie I like, one movie that was pretty fun, and two movies that are absolute garbage of the worst kind. Yet here I am, not ordering a pizza because I know that I need Transformers money.
Why is this?
My guess is because, try as I may, I am a helpless victim of the nostalgia machine. I know I’m being manipulated. I know I’m being robbed of content in favor of recognizing familiar things and I. Don’t. CARE. It just feels too good. But here’s the thing, my love for Transformers has nothing to do with any sort of mass media. I didn’t watch the show, nor have I ever seen the animated flick. The ONLY reason I love Transformers is because I had a bucket full of Transformers, Go Bots, and Voltron toys that I loved to play with. It’s just fun to turn a truck into a dude and back into a truck again. Something about it just massages my fun glands. I remember first hearing that there would be a live-action Transformers movie and all I could think was “It’s gonna look so cool when the trucks turn into dudes and back into trucks again.” Then the movie came out and it was big and dumb and appropriately full of moments in which trucks turned into dudes and then turned back into trucks again.
So of course there would be a sequel, and it was 14 hours long and it was terrible. For some godawful reason I went to see it with a recent ex and her new boyfriend and we were late so we had to sit in the very front row. For some other godawful reason the filmmakers decided to make this one about other things besides trucks turning into dudes and back into trucks again. The truck-dudes had personalities, goals, and any litany of narrative baggage that goes well beyond “fight other truck-dudes” and it was unbearable. Luckily Shoe LaBoo is a gifted performer who can yell “OPTIMUSSSSSS” with an inhuman degree of believability, and even though the action was a garbled visual mess in which one could barely see the trucks turning into dudes and then turning back into trucks again, LaBoo somehow held it together. I remember watching a truck-dude v truck-dude sequence and thinking “I hope that the blue and red portion of this unseeable mash-up of gears and sparks wins the fight, because that’s the extent of what I can actually see.” But Shoe LaBoo cracked some zingers and made the whole thing less-unwatchable for me. What can I say? I’m a LaBoo fan. A LaBoomer.
You should be too. Why does everyone hate Shoe? He’s just weird is all. Hardly a crime. Plus, he’s a really good actor. See American Honey and then shut your hating face.
So even though Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen failed on almost every count, the promise of more Shoe LaBoo and wing-suit henchmen got my butt into an IMAX 3D seat for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I got drunk with friends beforehand and prepared to watch Shoe LaBoo slide down the floor of a collapsing skyscraper. Despite multiple pee-breaks (beer goes right through me) and the aforementioned inebriation, I remember really enjoying it. Funny thing about Transformers: Dark of the Moon is that I remember very little about the Transformers themselves. I was the people I “cared” about. Not the truck-dudes. This entry also had three out of the four things that every Transformers movie should offer:
- -Shoe LaBoo
- Trucks turning into dudes and then turning back into trucks again.
- Impressive action sequences.
- The line “keep on truckin.”
That we can be waist deep in this franchise and no one has fulfilled that last bullet point is equivalent to a war crime. Heck, TJ Miller is in the fourth one and he would have CRUSHED that line. But nope, he got turned into a metal statue by a truck-dude space grenade.
Which brings us to the thoroughly awful Transformers: Age of Extinction. Much respect to the filmmakers for resisting the urge to call it Trans4mers, but also, what the hell is wrong with you idiots?!? Why didn’t you call it Trans4mers?!? Missed. Opportunity.
This one was all about the truck-dudes and much of its runtime (1.5 eons) was spent showing the truck-dudes superimposed over hi-def photography of canyons. Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager, which is inexplicably but undeniably the hardest name to say out loud without getting marble mouthy. I love Mark Wahlberg as much as the next guy, but when it comes to fighting alongside and against truck-dudes, he’s no Shoe LaBoo. The first few years of this movie are concerned with setting up the idea that Cade Yeager is a scientist who lives on a farm with his daughter, eking out a meager existence of “inventing things.” Just when it looks like they are about to lose the farm, Optimus Prime moves in and then spends the next portion of the film chatting with other truck-dudes.
And then the robot dinosaurs show up and it’s not even remotely as cool as “truck-dude riding a robotic dinosaur” should be. Frankly, I don’t see how one could screw that up, yet they did. By the time the robot dinosaurs showed up all I could really think about was the idea that somewhere along the line a brain came up with the name Cade Yeager and then a roomful of brains agreed that it was the perfect name for the main character of a movie. But then again, is he really the main character? Optimus Prime seems to be the focal point of everything, and he’s harder to care about than … you know what? I can’t think of anything that’s harder to care about than Optimus Prime. The only thing that gives his character any sort of depth is Shoe LaBoo yelling “OPTIMUSSSSS,” which never happens in this movie.
So tonight I plan to see Transformers: The Last Knight and I am pumped and I don’t know why. Will it have Shoe LaBoo? Will trucks turn into dudes and then back into trucks again? Will the action be visible? Will somebody finally say “keep on truckin”???!?!?
Okay I did it. I saw it. I’m glad I did it.
Pssst, you don’t care. Keep reading.
No, nobody says “Keep on truckin.” Yes, there were trucks turning into dudes and then back into trucks again. The action was impressive too. As for Shoe LaBoo? He does make an appearance in the form of a photograph, which pops up in a scene that makes reference to the fact that his character, Sam Witwicky, is dead. They don’t say how he died. They don’t say when. They don’t even really say that he’s dead, but they do make it clear that he is indeed dead. It’s kind of unforgivable, but I’m willing to forgive it on account of the fact that I just don’t care. I just sat in an IMAX 3D theater and watched Mark Wahlberg and truck-dudes shoot laser guns. At this point – five movies deep, mind you – what is sacred? There’s a dragon in this one. He’s made of twelve combined truck-dudes who helped King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table fight whoever the hell it was they fought. This dragon has three heads. I now know that truck-dudes helped kill Hitler (actually a watch-dude if you want to split hairs). Harriet Tubman was buds with truck-dudes.
It’s only occurring to me now that truck-dudes predating the existence of trucks might mean that Henry Ford knew some truck-dudes.
Mark “Cade Yeager” Wahlberg wields Excalibur, which grows from an ancient medallion that lives on Cade Yeager’s bicep. In the first 15 minutes Optimus Prime meets his creator. Like a truck-dude goddess witch thing. Stonehenge is involved at some point and a robot butler drives a nuclear submarine. He fires himself out of the torpedo hatches to catch fish so he can feed Cade Yeager. It’s totally bonkers.
None of it made any sense at all, none of the characters were written even slightly well, and when part 6 comes down the pipeline I will absolutely be spending money to go see it opening weekend in IMAX 3D.
Oh and I’ll say it. Optimus Prime is a jerk.
Author: Dan Scully
Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.