In the first of a new feature, two Flickering Myth writers go head to head to debate a hot topic from the world of a film. Here, Oliver Davis takes on Chris Cooper to decide whether a new Transformers trilogy is a good idea…
The Motion: ‘A New Transformers trilogy is a great idea. Michael Bay can do no wrong.’
For – Oliver Davis
Against – Chris Cooper
Oliver Davis: Many people argue that the essence of cinema, what makes it different from other art forms, is the inherent truthfulness and objectivity of the image – what Andre Bazin, the père of the French New Wave, called celluloid’s ‘ontology’.
But there’s a conflicting school of thought that takes montage as film’s defining feature, the ability to manipulate and edit that ‘reality’. This argument can be traced back to the Soviet Montage movement in the 1920s, in particular, one Lev Kuleshov. For my money, and that money is in rubles, he’s responsible for uncovering the single most important device in all of cinema – the Kuleshov effect.
However, before he realised that, he had to stumble upon editing itself. You see, in the 1910s, Russia made very static films. They were theatre pieces shot with a camera in the stalls. The only cuts were scene transitions. Audiences would get bored. It was all very pompous.
Digest that… more bang for their buck.
Because that, ultimately, is what Bay’s Transformers is. A hell of a lot of bangs, bought for a hell of a lot bucks (say what you will about Transformers, but financially the franchise has been very successful). And on a deeper level, with its dizzying cut rate, the franchise encapsulates the central idea behind Kuleshov’s theories – that montage is the true essence of cinema – whilst simultaneously and unabashedly embodying his inspiration, the American action movie.
Not to mention all the cool robots and stuff.
Devastator’s ‘Wrecking Balls’
Skids and Mudflap
Fights where you can’t tell who is who
No one fixed Bumblebee’s voice!
The Arcee triplet bike mess
He killed Ironhide and Jazz
Megatron and Starscream’s relationship whittled down to one line
Can anyone explain what that drill thing in Dark of the Moon is?
Too many humans
What I can only think of as ‘Robot heaven in a sock that brings people back to life’
Megatron in a hoody?
Oliver Davis: There was a time when a lot of people would bash Matthew McConaughey. He had a run of not-very-good films where he’d lean on his co-stars in the posters. A lot of people found him smug and annoying. I always liked him. Sahara is severely underrated.
Chris Cooper: So you admit it is a farce! In all seriousness though, that you consider the human characters stronger ties into my problems with the films (I can only agree with you on Sam’s parents). Surely Optimus, Bumblebee and co should be the main characters?
Oliver Davis: The notion of making Transformers the central characters is admirable, but it wouldn’t work in practice. Unless the film were to be entirely animated, I could never fully empathise with the robot characters. And the issue isn’t even one of humanity. I feel for Mogwai and Johnny Five just as equally. My heart is wired to always side with entities onscreen that exist in the real world. It’s too cynical to believe in pixels – pixels that will always be the building blocks of Transformers, robots too complex to be realised in animatronics. But you know what won’t be difficult to relate to..?
Does the franchise really showcase supporting actors? I’ve always felt it shoehorned them in when they need a pay-cheque!
I’m not a huge fan of sequels that become trilogies that become franchises. But the next Transformers film interests me. A new cast, a reported “complete redesign” – there will be a lot of ‘new’ for Number Four. Yet the most intriguing aspect is Bay’s presence. Who’s ever lasted longer than three films as a director? The fourth is uncharted territory.
Chris Cooper: Do we really need more robot peeing jokes? More borderline racist stereotypes? More dust filled socks? More Michael Bay?
He has already given us a trilogy. I think it’s quite enough.
Yes there is a possibility that a new cast and a redesign of the Transformers will inject some freshness. But this guy promised a lot whilst making the first trilogy, and he didn’t deliver. He’s had his chance! He might have made some entertaining films, but these films are not them. Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon are terrible films.
By all means make more Transformers films. In one way I’m glad so many people have made the mistake of seeing all three films at the cinema (sadly I fell for the promises) because it means there will be more, and we might get a good one at some point. I yearn for the day where we will all get to see the Dinobots on the big screen. But damn it, let someone else do it. Bay won’t be left wanting for work, so let someone else hold the matrix of leadership.
Who do you think won this Flickering Myth Debate? And what do you think about Michael Bay and the new Transformers trilogy? As always, comment below with your thoughts…