(We’re a few days late on this but I figured I’d weigh in all the same and make sure you’re all well informed of what’s going on in the world of Transformers. And give you chance to discuss this bit o’ news.)
The months before and after Transformers: Dark of the Moon seemed to be filled more with Michael Bay telling everyone this would be his last hurrah in the world of the Transformers than talking about the actual movie. When I heard him say this over, and over, and over, and over, and over again there welled up in my three reactions with varying degrees of cynicism:
Uber cynical: Bay heard Christopher Nolan pull this card out with The Dark Knight Rises and was hoping he’d receive the same amount of love, support, and supplication to reconsider his decision and keep spilling his genius all over everyone through his beloved franchise. Of course Bay is no Nolan, Transformers is no Batman, and Shockwave (unfortunately) is no Joker. But it wouldn’t be very Bay-esque to recognize that.
Cynical – disguised as practical: Michael Bay may have been saying this all with a clean conscience. There is a possibility that he totally believes it when he says it. In his heart of hearts he could be thinking that he has accomplished all there is to accomplish with this franchise and wants to move on. It’s good to go out on a high note, he muses to himself. But when the movie makes enough money to end world hunger*and Paramount starts talking another a guaranteed payday it will be easy for Bay to let go of any semblance of artistic integrity and return back to his cash cow**. Plus, how in the name of Sentinel Prime’s beard would Bay pass up another opportunity to make a movie that allows him to smear his misogyny and bigotry in our faces so proudly?
Hopefully cynical – the back door approach: Bay has no affection for the Transformers as characters, their mythology, or even in coherently depicting them on film. He went through pains to avoid allowing them to be part of the narrative at every turn and this last film didn’t even bother having a story where all three acts acted like they were even aware of one another. So maybe he has meant it… just, maybe.
I was really hoping Bay would keep his word on this one. But it’s not looking like that is the case, and the “cynical – disguised as practical” route was the correct one. Hasbro has claimed they are in “active discussions” with Paramount, Michael Bay, and Steven Spielberg on how to move forward with a sequel. Now Showblitz is hearing that they want to make two Tranformers films back to back AND Ehren Kruger is back to write AND Shia LaBeouf won’t be back AND Jason Statham is the main name in the hat to take his place AND (shock of shocks) Michael Bay would like to return to the director’s chair.
It’d be great to have a Transformers movie that actually centered on Transformers and showed some sign of caring about story and characters. I was hoping that Michael Bay gone the door might be opened for such a possibility. Perhaps he takes the production credit and easy paycheck and allows someone else to make a different Transformers. But this isn’t likely. Hasbro and Paramount are going to do everything they can to make sure all the same elements are in place to bring the cash in hand over fist. Why mess with the formula?
If you were hoping that Bay would be a man of his word and let someone else over Transformers you can start tampering your expectations. Even if Bay doesn’t take on directing duties the studio bringing back Kruger to write shows that they are aiming for more of the same with the next two Transformers. The real question is what will be worse, Bay coming back again or someone coming on to ape his “style”***?
I’ve been going to each of these movies with the hope that maybe the next would be better than the last, I think it’s time to finally cut the cord. How about you?
*Possibly a minor embellishment, I don’t have the facts to back this up.
** Bay going back on his word to pull in some extra money isn’t all that shocking; before Transformers: Dark of the Moon went into production Bay swore up and down that he didn’t want to work in 3D only to retract that statement quicker than Megan Fox could say “Michael Bay is like Hitler.”
*** 10 to 1 odds the first name on the list for replacements is Brett Ratner.