An Open Letter To Michael Bay Re: Transformers 2

Without question, the single most talked about movie in the history of The Movie Blog has been “Transformers”. From some of the earliest podcasts years ago we were buzzing and talking about the (at the time) upcoming project brining our beloved Autobots and Decepticons to the big screen. We talked about it weekly, we posted about it almost daily. This went on for years until, and after, the film was finally released. A lot of people would complain that we were talking about Transformers too much, but I didn’t care. Aside from Phantom Menace, I had never looked forward to a movie more in my life, and I was excited to talk about it.

We were also pretty much the only website around that endorsed the news that you were selected to direct the movie. To be totally upfront and honest, I didn’t applaud your selection because I thought you were one of the best directors in Hollywood at all, but rather because I thought you were the right fit for this project. I always thought your style, and your particular set of strengths were what Transformers needed.

Then the film came out and unlike Phantom Menace, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I LOVED your incarnation of Transformers. I’ve never been in a theater where the whole audience stood and cheered so many times through the film. It was more like a rock concert atmosphere than a movie. I loved it, so much so that while I very rarely see any film in theaters these days more than once, I went to see Transformers on the big screen 8 times (including once at its Imax premiere here in Los Angeles. I bumped into you there, but I was honesty too distracted by how hot the chick you were with was to bother saying “hi”).

No, I don’t think Transformer will, or should, go down as an all time cinematic masterpiece, but you did exactly what I hoped you would do… you gave me an insanely fun time at the movies, and for that experience, as a film fan, I feel I am in your debt.

Having said that…
With the joyous news that Transformers 2 is already moving full steam ahead, I wanted to drop you a note, from the perspective of a fan of the first movie instead of as a critic, to humbly ask you to consider 2 things that stood out to me as weaknesses in the first film, and literally thousands of Movie Blog readers have emailed me about since the summer. I’m not going to knit-pick about everything everyone likes to complain about. Just two general items that everyone seems to agree on that I hope you’ll file away somewhere in the back of your mind as you develop and start to shoot Transformers 2.

REQUEST #1 – LESS SHAKY CAMERA DURING ACTION SHOTS

The set pieces in the first Transformers film were epic. The visual effects work by the wizards at ILM was Oscar worthy. However, many people have lamented that much of your designed set pieces and the visual effects wizardry was wasted at times because of the rapidly and violently shaky camera during some of those scenes. Since we, as an audience at times, couldn’t tell what on earth was going on up on the screen, your action design and the effects work were wasted. We loved the stuff you designed, we loved the ILM effects, we loved them so much that WE JUST WANT TO SEE THEM. It wasn’t nearly as bad as some other films (ie the Bourne movies) but I beg you… nay… millions of people beg you… when taking these fantastic action sequences from your imagination and start putting them to film for Transformers 2, please reduce the amount of violent shaky camera and hyper rapid cut edits, so that we, as your audience can appreciate what it is you want us to see and experience.

REQUEST #2 – MORE TRANSFORMERS DIALOG

The other major common criticism that even fans of the first film share, was the lack of significant Autobot, and especially Decepticon, interaction and dialog. Although the crowd I first saw Transformers with was overwhelmingly positive about the movie, I still remember the first negative thing I heard someone say as we were walking out which pretty much sums up the feelings a lot of people had:

“So let me get this straight. A Transformers movie, over 2 hours long, and there was just 1 fucking line said between Starscream and Megatron?”

The interaction between Megatron and Starscream exemplifies the problem. Starscream as a matter of fact, a much beloved character, only had one line of dialog in the entire movie (if you don’t count his one Cybertonian subtitled line). Several of the deceptions had no lines at all.

Hey, I totally understand budget issues. But when Megan Fox has more speaking lines in a Transformers movie than Starscream, Megatron and all the Decepticons combined do, well, it doesn’t sit right, and many people complained about it, and I think were justified in doing so.

TO SUMMARIZE: I loved Transformers and eagerly look forward to the next installment. As you are aware there are many out there who don’t share my enthusiasm, and they have some legitimate objections to the first film. I didn’t want to run down everything they commonly lament over, but just highlight the two major things that almost all Transformers fans and detractors alike agree on. 1) Less shaky cam and rapid cut edits in the action sequences so we can actually see and understand what is going on, and 2) Make the movie ABOUT the Transformers giving more dialog to the Cybertonians than to Megan Fox alone.

Doing these two things certainly won’t make everyone happy and this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think it would be a huge tip of your hat and acknowledgment to the fans out there if even just these two issues were addressed in your next Transformers installment… for which I will be in line for opening day regardless.

Both your fan and critic ~John

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31 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Michael Bay Re: Transformers 2

  1. Hello from China,

    I would love make some more requests (if allowed):

    #1: make the robot mode more like human with handsome face, more intelligent, do not make them like ape, worm, etc.

    #2: do not re-use transformer model/role. A blackout is dead, bad luck, dont use it again and next time don’t make transformers dead easily especially killed by human weapons.

    #3: Don’t make another microwave transform again, focus on G1 actors.

    #4: No cheap humour, no sex scene, no hot robot chicks who cannot transform, no balls under any transformer’s legs, please.

    #5: prioritise! Soundwave is more popular than any GM cars.

    #6: Study 80s transform textbooks! Not again, one mixmaster fighting here, another one combining there. Understand who is who.

    #7: story/film script can be very easy to write, no creativity is required. Just repeat 80s cartoons is ok.

    thx, :)

  2. Reduce the quick shots and shaky cam crap!

    I want to SEE the CGI and special effects! Not just hear the audio and watch a blur of colors on the screen.

    I had no idea Bumblebee was shooting when being dragged by the tow truck, until I slowed my DVD player down to 1 frame per second. Geez what a waste of CGI.

    Next worse film I saw after transformers for shaky cam crap was, “I am Legend”. What another waste.

  3. finally,someone noticed the same problems i did.
    also though,how about treating bumblebee like a person instead of a big mute pet.

    shia refers to him as his car more than his friend.hes not an object.

    and why did shia get to kill megatron instead of optimus?

    and what was with all the pro army stuff.the decepticons got there ass’s kicked but a buch of humans.

    lame…just lame.

  4. The first film was incredibly stupid, but tons of fun. It’s hard to imagine Bay making Transformers 2 even more silly than it already was in the first film.

  5. you love Bay don’t you? used a form of the word love 7 times. TF could not have been butcherd any more. i almost walked out on it. Bay is aiming for 2009 cause he will get stomped by other giant robot movies in 2010 and knows it.

  6. Please get Megatron’s voice correct. Half of Meg’s dialog is incomprehensible because of crappy sound mixing/editing/whatevering. For example, I still can’t figure out what Megs says when he rips Jazz in two. WTF?! It was a terrific scene but you adfs;ljadslfjadsfa it all up because your crappy sound mixing.

  7. I agree! We are not asking for a lot, just a few things. There are room for improvements when doing sequels (look at Terminator 2 and Aliens).

  8. @KRISTINA CHRIS AND MELBYE,

    AGREED 300%.
    Not a bay supporter but lets see with he can improve in his first sequence.

    p.s.john you hurt me when you critisize bourne movies comparing with transformers.

  9. Hey John you forgot to add – Less tight shots – zoom out more so that I can see who is fighting who? or is it whom?
    The camera was zoomed in too tight a lot of the times and it was hard for me to figure out which specific autobot was fighting which specific decepticon.

    Also, please oh please god do not fuck up Soundwave. Hell I’ll even accept him as a boombox, or a cd player, or hell even a freakin Ipod – just don’t mess with the vocoder too much. Make him awesome as he should be.

  10. LOL “ravage, get off the couch” i would gladly pay to see soundwave say that in a live action movie. even if hes speaker or an ipod or coke machine….or whatever fuckin machine bay turns him into…

  11. I personally saw no problem with the shaky cam and the quick cuts, I was able to perfectly see what was going on. However, I will agree with request #2. As much as I love Megan Fox, (I want her to end her engagement with Brian Austin Green and marry me instead, but that will never happen, DAMN IT!) I would like to see more dialouge between the robots, and maybe even put in the Dinobots. (Onece again, that won’t happen. DAMN IT!)
    That’s what I have to say.

  12. My biggest problem with Transformers was that while Megatron and Prime was fighting it out in the backround, the scene everybody has been waiting for, we see these damn humans who shouldn’t have been there kill Blackout. Autobots kill Decepticons, Decepticons kill Autobots, Decepticons stomps on humans in their way, the only role humans should have in a Transformers-movie is pissing their pants and run in the other direction. My point is no more soldiers

  13. i dont know why people think bay was made for transformers….he wasnt, speilberg was….look at war of the worlds and the indy movies….steven wouldve made a much better movie…

    im no bay hater, i just dont think he was the best director to do this…..most of his movies are lacking acting and story wise….and im kinda tired of the slow motion military planes flying or a car chase on the same freeway….some of the scenes in transformers were cool…..but after second and third viewings, it wasnt a great movie

    john i hope he follows ur advice and can make a better movie…and kristina i agree a 100 fuckin percent

  14. 1. Yes, 2 hours worth of Autobots on screen, at least.

    2. We will forgive whatever lame excuse you need to come up with to get Megatron out of the ocean if you just get him out early in the film and have him be a proper villain and a proper screen presence (and Optimus has to be the one to defeat him this time, not Sam)

    3. No John Turturro. I’ll take Australian computer wiz woman again but not him.

    4. It would sure be nice to go back to Cybertron.

    5. Soundwave must say
    “Yes Megatron”
    “Eject” &
    “Ravage, get off the couch”

    6. Peter Cullen gets top billing on the poster;)

    7. Record a new version of Stan Bush’s ‘The Touch’ and play it to a scene of Optimus kicking ass by himself. I’m serious, people will lose their minds.

    Thank you for your time Mr Bay:p

  15. i loved how all the action was shot from the streets and from the point of view of the people. that really put us there with a point of view perspective and i liked that, but i do agree john, that effect can still be done with less shaking.

    and wow i cant wait for this sequel. bigger budget, more action, i cant even imagine what we’re gonna be waiting in line for.

  16. but john….rapid cuts and shakey cam IS his style…

    if you don’t like that aspect of his film making what is it about him that made you happy he was choisen to direct transformers???

    thats all he ever does…rapdi cuts and shakey cam….always has and alwasy will…

    sounds to me like you want someone else to direct transformers because that complaint right there pretty much sums up bays entire output

  17. John

    I spoke with Mr. Bay and he says “you’re crazy”! LOL. Kidding. As an avid lover of Transformers, I wholeheartedly add my name onto this letter to Mr. Bay, and concur with you 100%. More Transformers dialogue, please (for as hot as Ms. Fox is, we’re there for the robots), and let us see the talented work of the CGI folks. “HOLD THE CAMERA STEADY!!!”

    On a personal note…Please leave Anthony Anderson out of the next one. Thanks.

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