Saturday, February 18, 2012

Transformers 4 Cometh

UPDATED: 9/16/2012
There's been a a lot of talk about the next Transformers movie, which is tentatively scheduled for a June/July 2014 release. Despite vehement denials that he wouldn't return to the TF movie franchise, Michael Bay is indeed returning to direct the flick - looks like Paramount made an offer he couldn't refuse. With TF3 making 1.124 Billion, Paramount and Hasbro are compelled to keep the film series going, and whatever Bay did to bring in that kinda dough can't be turned away. But is it really ALL thanks to Michael Bay's genius, or is brand recognition, and the simple theme of giant alien transforming robots helping to rake in the cash too?

It is too early to know what TF4 is going to be - a continuation of the previous movies, a total reboot, or a mixture of both of these. Many fans are hoping for a turning point in how these movies are approached. Indeed Bay and his producers are promising a fresher take, taking out the questionable humor, and maybe offering more character and action. Only time will tell - my fear however is that we'll only get more of the same.
UPDATE: Due to a drop in toy sales, Hasbro is looking to bring in new Transformers, and more of them. The new movie will likely focus more on the new characters.

Who's coming back?
As mentioned, many fans are hoping for a change. What we DO know is that Optimus Prime and Bumblebee will be mainstays in the film franchise for the foreseeable future. Hasbro learned a crucial lesson when they tried killing off Optimus in the '86 animated film - BIG MISTAKE. Plus, killing off Optimus again in the live action movies should be avoided at all costs (he died and was resurrected in REVENGE OF THE FALLEN) - it's become a running theme for any version of Optimus Prime to die off, and return in a great resurrection. As for Bumblebee - he's always been a popular part of the brand, being one of the only Transformers to get a figure released in all but one of the years of the original 80s line.

So, we know Optimus and Bumblebee will be there, what else is there? Based on comments from Bay and the producers, as well as some of the actors, most of the human cast of TF will not be returning. This could mean one of two things: 1. The human cast will simply be replaced with new humans (perhaps Marissa Fairborn and Daniel Whitwicky), or 2. More focus will be placed on the Transformers themselves, who admittedly have been backseaters in their own movies. Hopefully, the latter will occur - these movies just have too many humans clogging up the plots, leaving little opportunity to explore and focus on the true Cybertronian narrative. IF Bay and his cohorts are true to their word, this is the fresh take that a lot of fans new and old are looking for. Doing a movie without Spike...ahem, I mean Sam, will not hurt the movies - it just might push us into a direction where we get a more ideal TF movie. If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can have a successful movie, not having humans in focal protagonist roles, then the TFs can do it too.

The Decepticons
Michael Bay made it a point to close out his TF trilogy by killing off ALL the big Decepticon baddies: Soundwave, Starscream, Shockwave and Megatron himself are all destroyed by the end of the film. But we HAVE to have a Decepticon threat. Most fans have been screaming for GALVATRON to take up command of the Decepticons. Galvatron is a reformatted, souped up version of Megatron - typically, Unicron is the force that resurrects Megatron in this scenario, and it seems to be the most logical direction to go. Megatron got a huge proverbial shafting in all 3 previous TF films: he spent most of the first movie on ice, only to have Spike...oops, Sam hand it to him after not even 20 minutes of screen time. In Revenge of the Fallen, Megatron is resurrected, but plays second fiddle to the Fallen, the true Decepticon Master. By the end of the film, a Matrix-powered Optimus wipes the floor with Megatron, succeeding in ripping off his cannon arm, and tearing off half of his face. Instead of coming back in DARK OF THE MOON all bad ass,
Megatron spends the film in pretty bad shape, again playing second fiddle to Optimus's jaded predecessor Sentinel Prime. Optimus again hands Megatron his own head, decaptitating him and ripping out his "spine". I don't know what Michael Bay had against Megs, but he never came off as the villain he should have been. Resurrecting him as Galvatron may be a good way to redeem the character, and offer a solid antagonist that audiences can root for.

The Story
The story could be anything. At this point though, the great MacGuffins: The Allspark, The Matrix, and The Space Bridge have all been used - it's probably time to change the formula a little...if you want to truly go for a fresh approach. I and many other fans have suggested a UNICRON TRILOGY. We know that TF4 will be successful, so there is room for some risk. I fear that "playing it safe" with the MacGuffin formula that was used and res-used for all 3 previous films COULD lead to a decline in the series. Why not plan for 3 films at once - at least create a loose treatment/plot line that carries through all 3 films, culminating with the third act of the third film. The Unicron Trilogy could ultimately be about the resurrection of Cybertron - as apparently there is still hope for the planet, despite Optimus's claims that Earth is home to the TFs now. Perhaps after the events of TF3, the Autobots are allowed to establish territories on Earth and the moon, seeing the rise of Autobot City, and the influx of new characters. With the scaling down of human casting, we could shift focus to more TFs - Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod, Kup, Springer and Blurr could be the new batch of Autobots to focus on.

Galvatron comes to Earth - in search of Dark Energon. Under his command are new Decepticons: Cyclonus, Scourge, the Stunticons, the Quintessons, Seekers and Vehicons. The Quints are his scientists and engineers. Unbeknownst to the audience, these Decepticons are all Heralds of Unicron. The first film is about half of the Decepticons distracting the Autobots, while the other half track down Dark Energon - fuel needed to fully resurrect Unicron.

Perhaps TF5 takes the story into space, with the previous film acting as a launching pad for this new turn. The Autobots discover that the Decepticons have returned to Cybertron, and are attempting to reshape the dead world for unknown purposes. Half of the Autobots remain on Earth to stop the Decepticon incursion, and their extraction of Dark Energon. The other half venture to Cybertron. TF5 could be the first time we the audience actually experience Cybertron in the story. TF5 comes to be about the Autobots finding the Key to Vector Sigma, a device that could resurrect the Allspark and reboot Cybertron. The Decepticons seek the Key to power the Heart of Unicron. Unicron could then take control of Cybertron, becoming it's new sentient core. In an ultimate clash, Hot Rod sacrifices himself to prevent Unicron from taking over Cybertron.

TF6 sees the Decepticons fail in implanting Unicron as Cyberton's core, but succeed in establishing him on one of the moons. The Quintessons, having developed a distaste for Earth, look to use the planet's sun as an energy source to fully restore Unicron. Galvatron, finally giving up his ruse of loyalty, betrays the Quintessons, opting to destroy the sun, rather than drain it of its energy. The two Primes - Optimus and Rodimus work together to stabilize the sun, and use the excess energies to reboot Cybertron. Unicron awakens by siphoning energy from his "brother", and manifests to destroy his enemies. Rodimus and Optimus merge with the Allspark and send Unicron and his minions through the space bridge, and into a black whole. Transformers begin returning to Cybertron to repopulate it.

In Conclusion
We don't know what the next film(s) is going to be about, but with the above illustration, there's many possibilities and potential for the next outing. Only time will tell...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

G.I. Joe 2 Sets to Redeem it's Predecessor

Though G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra did well enough to warrant a sequel, the film itself has been panned by critics and fans alike. Unlike its sister Hasbro franchise The Transformers, G.I. Joe has yet to find a niche for itself as a multimedia juggernaut. The strong sci-fi elements of Transformers, plus the transforming gimmick in itself, lend a lot more flexibility to the Robots in Disguise brand taking a gamble at successfully reinventing itself.

One of the factors that made G.I. Joe successful in the past was the fact that it could happen - despite some of those hokey terrorist plots. The first live action Joe movie strayed away from that, and didn't take itself seriously enough. Sure, you need some wiggle room - not wanting to take yourself too seriously - but the plot reeked of 80s cartoon was dated and contrived. For longtime fans, attempting to inject character conflict by making Cobra Commander the Baroness's brother, and Duke the Baroness's fiance was painful, forced and a major slap in the face. The corrosive nanobite tech, and the underwater sea base pushed limits as well.

Though I enjoyed the first Joe movie, I see its flaws, and welcome a more serious and faithful take on the Real American Hero. The sequel's director promises to give us the fans what we want, along with bringing non-fans in with action stars like Bruce Willis and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson - it's a smart combo. We've already gotten glimpses of Cobra Commander, and a slightly redesigned Snake Eyes. And with characters like Lady Jaye, Flint, Roadblock, Stormshadow and Firefly, this film looks like it's on the right track. A sneak glimpse of Destro - perhaps leading into a third film also has my interest peaked.

Either way, I will be returning to the box office, and buying this film on DVD as well. I predict G.I. Joe: Retaliation will put this franchise back on track, and open up the brand for a much-deserved expansion.