By: Russ Matthews
Transformers have moved into a post-Michael Bay era, and most audiences may agree that this has positive and negative repercussions.
Even though the apparent influences of the infamous director can still be seen in the new chapters as he sits in the producer’s chair. Yet, Hasbro looks like they have taken back the reins of their beloved franchise, and they have toned down the bombastic nature of the Baydem and are looking to make more accessible films for the next generation.
Just as was done with the Bumblebee reboot, this storyline has us go back to the 1990s before the world was aware they had been invaded by aliens who transform into vehicles. As Optimus Prime (voiced by legendary Peter Cullen) and the crew make their way incognito on Earth, another battle is being waged across the galaxy. The jungle planet of the robot-beast creatures, the Maximals, is being invaded by the planet eater Unicron (Colman Domingo) and his lead hench, the Terrorcon Scourge (Peter Dinklage). Before devouring the planet, Their goal is to acquire the Transwarp Key that will give them unlimited travel around the universe. The only thing keeping it out of their evil hands is Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman) and his team of Maximals, who use the key to escape to Earth.
Back in New York City, Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) is a former army electronics expert who has fallen on hard times and is convinced to steal a rare car for a friend. Unbeknownst to him, the Porsche is actually the Transformer, Mirage (Pete Davidson), and this illegal act introduces the former soldier to the Autobots and their plan to acquire the Transwarp Key. As he must obtain the artefact from the local museum, his actions cause museum intern Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) to be teamed with the once-anonymous robots. They must all work against time to keep the portal key from allowing Unicron to enter their universe and destroy their world.
What will be familiar to audiences who have enjoyed this toy-inspired franchise over the years will be your favourite Autobots back on-screen. This motley crew of robots turned automobiles still capture the imaginations of fans who have played with the action figures and watched them speed across our screens. Along with these characters, the movie devotees will get enough explosions, chase scenes, and battling robots to satisfy them until the next instalment of Hasbro’s version of the story. Yet what is noticeably different is these films carry less sexual tension and fewer humans involved in this adventure. Where Michael Bay would prefer to take the story down a more mature path, this new version is more family-friendly despite the extensive action violence.
Realistically, for people to enjoy this string of films, it goes without saying that the suspension of disbelief must be fully engaged. Only then could anyone believe these creatures could exist without being noticed for so many years. Also, as the relational tension moves from the romantic to the familial, the tone changes in this series as it is less emotionally charged and more reliant on pure action. Despite being set in the 90s, these elements move the target audience to teenagers instead of adults. This seems to be a conscious move by the toymaker to return this to their desired market. The question will be whether this will translate into box office returns.
With the recent successes of Super Mario Bros. and Spider-man films, this may be the adjustment this franchise needs to find a new audience for future films and Transformer sales.
REEL DIALOGUE: Trust
Trust is at the heart of this story as it takes us back to the beginning of the partnership between the Autobots and humans. Neither side seems to trust the other, but necessity forces them to count on one another. The reality is that for any relationship to truly succeed, trust must exist for things to work.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. – Psalm 37:5
This film shows society moving towards more interconnectivity while exposing the fact that it is hard to find people you can trust. The ongoing challenge is knowing where to find trustworthy information and justice. The government, schools, and even churches have proven to be suspect regarding trust. Thankfully, there is one place where the truth can still be found. Not to sound cliche, but the Bible answers this question and more.
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.