JOP wrote:I could well be wrong, but that's very much the impression I took away from comments by RaH and 5150 Cruiser - that what we might think of as 'critical qualities' (excellence of script, narrative, dialogue) are no more than personal preferences; and preferences that conflict with those of other fans and the larger movie-going public. It is a model in which film-making is portrayed as a zero-sum game; and I reject this.
Well, I see both sides, but I'm biased, so I'm not the fairest party in this issue.
A better script is fine, I have no problem with that, but the movie going public and their money clearly prove our desires aren't even on the companies back burner, and more likely nowhere near the place to cook food.
Past a certain point, wishing and hoping do go to waste.
JOP wrote:I do agree with you that Hasbro, Paramount and their ilk are of a mercenary bent; however, this does not mean that they cannot - to stretch a metaphor - "Have their box office success cake and eat it too (with the spoon of critical success"). Now I can understand why, given the track record of such entities (as you suggest), it would be foolish to expect any better of them - but I don't understand why we can't at least hope for better.
"mercenary bent" I...like that. I really do. That's pretty good. We can hope all we want, there's nothing wrong with it, no laws against it, etc. My problem is, I hate to see so many people get their hopes up so high, only to have them dashed on the rocks below. And they will be dashed. HARD.
See, I read the leaked "scriptment" for the first film, in 2006, I still have it on my PC somewhere. I knew right then and there that if they went with it, it'd be a fun popcorn movie, but not a great TF movie. When the trailers and commercials lined up with what was in the leak, I started to put my hopes a little lower than I had them previously. I still wanted to see it, wasn't going to miss it, but my hopes were lowered.
I went to see it. I was wowed. I was overwhelmed. It was fantastic. What an experience and a joyride. ...then reality set in and multiple viewings showed me the flaws with a giant spotlight from Hell. The film was actually boring, the title characters weren't in it much, the human element was too much. Funny thing is, it was chock full of humans but had no humanity.
My hopes that were raised when the wow factor kicked in, were smashed on the rocks below. That set the mood and the tone for me, for future installments. I knew what to expect going in. ROTF came along and it had it's ludicrous G1 inspired plot, wall to wall action and more robot screen time. Admittedly, the humor didn't always work and the wow factor was gone, but it wasn't boring and it was fun. Granted, I went in with lowered expectations.
DOTM, changed all of that for me. It restored the hope I had for the first film, but actually delivered. It had it's zany G1 inspired storyline, but it had moments of humanity in it. It actually brought me to tears in some scenes. It did what the other two tried, but couldn't do. Wasn't perfect, but it dang sure tried.
JOP wrote:I understand where you are coming from, but but please consider this - Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau and JJ Abrams have demonstrated (with The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Star Trek respectively) that the traditional blockbuster movie can aspire for greatness beyond mere financial considerations.
I'm not aspirations are a waste, but in this case they seem rather pointless. Your comparison material is leaps and bounds above what TFs have ever offered.
Batman Begins/The Dark Knight: Always been a tour de force of emotions. Bruce watched his parents get murdered in front of him. It fractured his psyche. He runs around in a batsuit, scaring and beating the hell out of villains. I made it sound silly, but there's a very real dark component to it: Fear. What happened to Bruce can and does happen to people everyday, unfortunately. People want vengeance, people want their justice, even if it means taking it with their own two hands. That connects with us. It addresses a primal emotion.
Iron Man: A seemingly unloved alcoholic with too much money, too much ego and too much power is given a valuable lesson and shook to his core. Sees that his empire, his Father's legacy, has turned into a killing machine taking out innocent men, women and children. It fundamentally changes him and he uses his talents and gifts to change the world, little by little with what he has and is capable of doing. That also connects with us on a deep, emotional level. Most people want to embrace their inner good and do great works with it.
Star Trek: Uses alien species to show us that their is equality among the human race. It doesn't matter if you're White, Black, Purple, Green or whatever color you wish, you are part of the grand scheme and matter just as much as the rest. It was about tearing down the walls and uniting the peoples. Now, it's not just about color, but religion and sexual orientation. Everyone's an equal person in the Star Trek universe, which teaches us a lesson and along the way, we're wowed with special effects that are out of this world. (Pardon the pun.)
TransFormers: Giant robots have ripped their planet apart in civil war and crashed here by accident. We try to integrate them into our lives and adapt. We welcome them with open arms. (G1.) In the Bayverse, they come looking for the Allspark and need a pair of glasses, sighted on someone's eBay page, to help them locate it. Mass hysteria ensues, but not a single human dies during the final confrontation. (No realism there.) ROTF: Optimus dies, but comes back. DOTM: Actions have consequences. People DO die, people DO suffer, it's as real as it's going to get. DOTM should give you hope. It shows they're trying to branch out and go places they hadn't gone before, emotionally.
Michael Bay gave us some serious street cred when the movies ended up being profitable, but they weren't deep thinkers. Problem is, neither was the source material. Some stories were, but for the most part, this was a promotional item to sell toys. There's not a lot of work involved to do that. You make 'em flash, you make 'em loud and you make 'em exciting and that's exactly what the movies did and it worked.
I don't have a lot of emotional connection with the TransFormers. I know Optimus is capable of being a better person than his movieverse self, I know he's a big hero. Same with Bumblebee and the rest of the Autobots. But you can't always connect with alien robots. To a certain extent, you can, but only to a certain point.
You can connect with Bruce Wayne. You can share his fears and his pain. You can connect with Tony Stark. You can feel unloved and lost and then find out the truth and feel empowered and do something good with your gifts. You can connect with Kirk, Spock and especially Data. You can see there's more to attain to with being human and seeing there's only one race, that we're all human and while not perfect, we can help better each other if we give it a chance.
You can't connect all that much with alien robots that destroyed their planet with their stupidity, and now need a handout and a hand up. I mean, when it comes down to it, that's really what TransFormers boils down to.
Sure, you have your Christ figure with Optimus. Sure, you have your political and socioeconomic commentary with the Autobots VS the Decepticons, but... if not handled right, the former can be seen as offensive and heavy handed, and the latter can be seen as boring and heavy handed.
TransFormers stories have had depth before, they will again. But they're not well known for their "Wow. I just got that. How incredibly sad." moments. They're known for "WE WILL KILL THEM ALL!"
I knew this a long time ago, I know it now. I came to terms with it long ago. I'm fine with that. I love the toys, they're my foremost love when it comes to TransFormers, then comes the media tie ins that help sell it. Some of it's entertaining, some of it connects with you to some degree, but it's not deep thought material and never has been. The fact that we've been able to connect at all, is a miracle.
Maybe I'm too much of a realist, I don't know, but that's how I see it. What we've gotten so far has exceeded my expectations on some fronts, failed on others. It's just what I've come to expect.
NOTE: Realize that I am not a perfect Christian, nor do I profess to be. I apologize if anyone's ever offended by me, I'm not perfect. Don't hold my posts and opinions against other Christians.