Transformers: 5 Things The Franchise Could Do To Get Back On Top
No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st Century that a Michael Bay directed adaptation of a Hasbro toy line would take the world by storm. Yet, the Transformers movies have become a multi-billion dollar franchise, but not with much from its last two installments.
According to Box Office Mojo, while the three consecutive sequels to the 2007 original surpassed $1 billion worldwide, the fifth installment, 2017’s Transformers: The Last Night, and Bumblebee the following year, failed to repeat that achievement, even with the ‘80s-set prequel being the only film in the franchise to be certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Giant CGI robots used to be a goldmine, but now it seems that the brand is leaving more people with a metallic taste in the mouths they would like to wash away.
Well, I am not one to leave any franchise behind and, with two forthcoming installments on the horizon, I feel like the Autbots could use a little Allspark boost. I have taken to liberty to offer some suggestions as to how the Transformers movies could see metal-smacking, ground-rumbling, money-making cinematic glory again.
Bring In More Fresh Blood Behind The Camera
I think it was a step in the right direction for Michael Bay to move on from Transformers and onto projects outside of the realm of CGI robots… until Robopocalypse comes out, that is. Not just for the sake of the director’s career, but for the fate of the franchise as a whole. With all due respect to Bay, I think a fresh pair of eyes is something that has already been proven as a necessity for the series to continue.
With Bumblebee, director Travis Knight, a stop-motion animator who made his directorial debut with Kubo and the Two Strings, brought something to the franchise that made critics and audiences alike interested in mechanical mayhem again. With Knight already busy with pre-production on his third feature, The Six Billion Dollar Man, why not bring in someone else with the right kind of ambition and (especially) imagination to make the next Transformers movie something really special, and then give the following installment to the next great, deserving talent. The franchise had the same director for five consecutive films, so maybe passing the torch subsequently would be best way to keep things fresh.
Stop Trying To Make The Transformers Historically Relevant
The revelation in the first Transformers that Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) was a descendant of the first person to discover one of the alien robots on Earth was a pretty fun way for the character to earn his role in the story. Then, when it became tradition to open each following installment with a historical prologue, flipping back and forth from Ancient Egypt to 1969 and then the all the way back to the Cretaceous Period and so on, it just grew unnecessarily and confusingly bloated.
Being a prequel centered on one of the main characters, Bumblebee had good reason to take place entirely in the past, but sticking to one time period still helped the film feel more present and refreshingly contained than any of the previous films, which is unusual for a prequel. Moving forward, I would recommend to the writers of future installments to focus on just that: the future, instead of going back in time to set up the next chapter again and again. The Transformers movies do not need to be the Forrest Gump of sci-fi franchises.
Three Words: Transformers In Space
What does any franchise do when it runs out of ideas? They take their characters to space! Now, before you hit me with, “Uhh, the Transformers have been to space before - they’re from there. DUH!,” I am well aware of where the the robots come from, which is why I want to see more of it than what previous installments have allowed us.
Except for a few brief glimpses of Cybertron in the first Transformers film and in the introduction to Bumblebee, the bulk of each of the film has taken place on Earth and, as the success of Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy has proven, this planet is so played out. I think the natural thing to do is set the next installment at their planet of origin, or even beyond that by following Autobots transformed into space ships (which double as battle cruisers) on a trek through the stars. How has this not happened yet?
Crossover With The Pacific Rim Franchise
However, if the Transformers, must remain earthbound, how about bringing them to an alternate Earth? An Earth in which robots are not a threat, but a saving grace from monsters known as Kaijus.
You cannot deny that you've thought of it before: a crossover event putting the Transformers in the world of Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s live action adaptation of playtime with action figures in the bathtub that spawned a 2018 sequel, in which the Autobots join forces with Jaeger pilots to take down the next incoming threat of Kaijus. The concept could actually go one of a few ways, such as seeing the Kaijus’ interdimensional portal take them to the Transformers universe, leaving the bots on their own without Jaeger pilots’ help, or if the Autobots found themselves trapped in the Kaijus’ dimension (an unseen, but much-discussed, place that deserves to be a movie setting). However they are bound to meet, it would be destined to be the greatest display of machine vs. monster action yet.
Bring Back Shia LaBeouf
Of all of my suggestions for the future of the Transformers franchise, the return of Shia LaBeouf as Samuel J. Witwicky following his exit after the third installment, 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, is easily the biggest stretch. That is exactly why it would get people interested again.
Shia LaBeouf brought a fun, goofy, unlikely hero quality to his role as the first film’s main protagonist, who evolved into a more confident and willing participant in the war between Autobots and Decepticons in the subsequent films, but instead of seeing the next stage of Sam Witwicky’s story in the fourth chapter, we went right back to square one with Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager, another goofy, unlikely hero. Despite LaBeouf’s less enthusiastic opinion of the Transformers movies, he seemed to have a firm understanding of his character that is, arguably, the heart and soul of series, considering it all started with him purchasing a car that happened to be an alien robot. Speaking of, is is not time for a reunion between Sam and Bumblebee?
Whether or not these suggestions would be see an improvement to the future of the Transformers franchise is, of course up to the producers. Until we see what is next in store for the Autobots and Decepticons, be sure to check back for more news and updates here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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