Building a movie series on top of a toy franchise is often a losing proposition.
It's easy to think that director Michael Bay got lucky with his first Transformers movie, as the film has images that delight kids and horrify parents. But what if this crappy Volkswagen is actually a heroic robot or just a cell phone, a ruthless space alien? With the advent of artificial intelligence, this last argument seems more horrific than ever.
If the first film allowed Bay and company to remember how fun it was to play with toy robots, then the subsequent films in the series remind me of what happens when we ourselves grow toys. Most of the people involved took their cue from Hasbro and it seemed too tedious.
Stephen Capell Jr. (Cradd II) isn't very enthusiastic about this new assignment, and the five writers behind him (that's right, five) aren't giving him or us any new human or cyborg characters to love or hate.
As with previous films, the battles between the Autobots and their enemies are loud, furious, and hard to watch. It's hard to worry when one piece of metal beats another because neither of them dies. The characters are so detailed that the emotional investment runs through them. If the car can then be recycled, it's like participating in a demolition race.
The verb is neither ascending nor descending. It just stays at the same speed.
Of course, a new generation of evil robots called Predacons worship gods who want to eat the universe like Pac-Man. Their leader Scourge (Peter Dinklage) is trying to find the key to this.
The second group of cyborgs, known as the Maximals, hid important parts of the Earth that look completely ridiculous even from a human point of view.
Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen, who voiced the role for decades) wants to help them escape the Predacons and hopes the key will help his tribe return to their home planet. Somehow, a struggling veteran (Anthony Ramos, "Hamilton") and an art critic (Dominic Fishbeck, "Judas and the Black Messiah") meddle in history, but neither seems ready to play second fiddle.
However, the casting seemed counterintuitive when the voices of famous artists such as Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh and Ron Perlman were electronically mixed. Why let an Oscar winner like Ye talk or not see his face? This was a crazy trend in previous films, and now it looks even more stupid.
This prevents new bots from interfering with the artist's identity. It's fun to guess what Bumblebee's speaker might say. Now he gives examples of the best films, reminding viewers that they are watching a higher quality film right now.
Hasbro even had the audacity to add a second line of toys at the end of this story without realizing that their sales were failing here. It's easy to imagine that watching a 6-year-old play with toys could be more fun. They don't know the cliché yet and will be more enthusiastic about the process than the grown-ups making this pile of junk.