DOTM is the only one of the Transformers movies which really irks me because of what I see as many lost opportunities. Here’s only some of how I would’ve changed that sucker if I’d’ve been in charge!
1. Get rid of Sam’s parents entirely. True, I found them funny in the first two movies (so sue me), but they were too toned down here to be amusing and added nothing of consequence to the plot. Only possible reference needed: Sam maybe muttering, “Mom’s gonna be sooo disappointed…", when you first see him at work. Bag all the rest.
2. Get rid of Sam’s dog. He paid no attention to the poor thing anyway. Animal neglect…not funny… If it’s a Bay law that there must be one mastiff cameo per movie, then use the mastiff in place of the two salukis owned by Carley’s creepy boss.
3. Get rid of Wheelie’s new pal…Brains, was it? I couldn’t even figure out what the heck that thing was supposed to be. Looked like a Transformer troll doll. Maybe a good enough design for a toy, but for my extra special, guest director’s cut of Dark Of The Moon? Gone! As for Wheelie himself, he needs to hide out with Simmons, not Sam and his new squeeze. Would make more sense—he helps Simmons ‘research’ his books—and I like the thought of him sparring with a VERY disapproving, stiff-lipped Dutch. Oh, and Wheelie’s potty mouth and cheap hood persona? They stay in full. (So sue me a second time.)
4. The John Malkovich character, he’s gone too. On a certain level, I do think he was funny, but it was a performance which belonged in a comedy about office shenanigans, not in a Transformers movie. There’s no need to even show Sam being hired or interacting with a boss at all. Those job interviews alone were enough to explain why Sam, decorated hero though he was, winds up working in a mailroom.
5. As for whacked-out co-worker Jerry Wang? Needs to stay, if only to draw Sam into the Decepticons nasty evil plans and to give Laserbeak (who looks like a Muppet designed by Satan) a chance to strut his stuff. Besides, the ‘suicide’ cracked me up.
6. Now that the padding’s been cut some, it’s time to switch over to the TRANFORMERS’ big moments and rewrite some of their key scenes! First one I’d change is when Ironhide dies. That’s a huge scene—a major death and Sentinel revealing his true intentions right after he’s ‘rescued’—and needs to be expanded. I’d borrow from the novelization, add Sentinel killing the Twins right after he kills Ironhide, then a good ol’ long one-sided rampage before confronting Mearing. Can’t remember for sure…did Sentinel address her by her first name in the movie? If not, I’d add that line: “You don’t want me for an enemy, Charlotte." Just the fact that Sentinel would know to do that at all to express disdain…it’s just creepy and disturbing. Scene could effectively end on a nice tense note with Sentinel raising his foot and threatening to crush Lennox and co. unless Mearing gives up the pillars…
7. Scene of Optimus arriving at the NEST HQ, discovering the awful truth, could also use expansion. THIS is when some acknowledgement of Ironhide’s and the Twins’ deaths could so easily have been made. I’d show Optimus kneeling down, reaching towards Ironhide’s minimal remains, then withdrawing his hand, his affect stunned throughout. Then a whole gamut of emotions flit across his face—disbelief, grief, shame, rage—before he stands and rushes off. Coulda been a shining opportunity for the animators too, to try and convey all that without a single word being said, seriously…
8. Other big ‘fix’ I’d want to do is get Megatron more involved in the story and have him decide to backstab Sentinel all on his own, none of this crap with him needing Miss Exposition Fleshbag to point out the obvious. At least two quick extra scenes of him squabbling with Sentinel over their respective positions in their new power hierarchy would be needed to make it believable, I think, before you get to the one where Sentinel actually hits him. And was Starscream there when Megatron ‘redecorated’ the Lincoln Memorial? He should have been, just to encourage plenty of gloating as Megatron sat there watching the Prime he THOUGHT was working for him set up his teleportation pillars. Lines like, “Look at him, Starscream. A greater fool even than Optimus…"…yeah, that’s the stuff. Of course, Hugo Weaving always does such a good job of voicing his role that Megatron could probably read numbers out of a phone book and still make it all sound menacing and slimy and evilly charming.
9. I’d also change the ending some. During the big final battle with Sentinel and Optimus going at it, I picture Megatron being drawn out by the sounds of the fight and approaching at first just to watch, angry enough with Sentinel by this time to toy with the notion of betraying him but also too aware of his own weakened state and afraid of Sentinel’s strength to act. Maybe he also feels some righteous indignation because Megatron believes in a weird way that he owns Optimus, Optimus should be HIS to kill and no one else’s, or perhaps there’s something still deeper there at work which Megatron isn’t even consciously aware of anymore. Sentinel spots Megatron watching at some point but ignores him. He’s doing just fine fighting Optimus on his own, thank you, and doesn’t need any help. As per the movie, Optimus is eventually maimed and falls. Sentinel, with some regret, prepares to kill him. But then—a crisis erupts! The space bridge is failing! Sentinel immediately shifts his priorities and snaps a command at Megatron to “Finish him off!" Then he makes the biggest mistake of the rest of his life. He assumes Megatron will accept his order to kill Optimus and TURNS HIS BACK ON HIM to go attend to the imminent collapse of his space bridge.
To be addressed like a common drone by a hated Autobot is the last straw for Megatron, I should think, and he retaliates at last, injuring Sentinel badly and incapacitating him. Then it’s Megatron’s turn to commit his own last serious lapse of judgement. He assumes that the Optimus lying at his feet is still the Optimus of old, the one who’s so good-hearted and naïve that he’ll buy any show of fake mercy and pleas for peace. Maybe he even puts his hand out, to help him up, at which point…well, the movie does fine as it is at depicting the rest. Coldly pragmatic, self-appointed jury, judge and executioner Optimus Prime, yes indeed… You can call this movieverse version of him a lot of things now, but boring sure ain’t one of ‘em!
No. Wait. There’s one more change I need to make. That very last scene? That should belong to Optimus too, so he can stand somewhere out in the open and look hopefully up at the sky as he does his end voice-over, just as he did in the last two movies. Simmons will just have to reschedule his grab at his one-time shagalicious Intel bed buddy or drop the attempt entirely as a bad idea.
Even in the movieverse, Kickback remained unclear on the concept.