Four films in a row, over $3.5 billion at the box office and no signs of stopping, the Transformers franchise has been a massive success and there is no denying that. The first film opened to mixed reviews, some positive and some less so. Revenge Of The Fallen was panned by critics, and Dark Of The Moon was seen as an improvement upon the second but still received negative ratings.
Age Of Extinction got scathing reviews and was the longest of the lot with so much action and a lot of other problems. I'm a fan of Michael Bay with no shame admitting my love and fascination for the guy and his work. Whilst I disliked Armageddon and Pain & Gain, I enjoy all of his other films, but I recognise the flaws and see the problems and why a lot of people hate upon him and the films he works on.
With Transformers 5 on the horizon, the man only needs to do a few things to change the tide and peoples opinion on him, possibly. 13 Hours was his most mature and restrained film to date, he should take on that feedback and put this into the fifth and upcoming film. Here are ten things he can do to bring the franchise back to more lukewarm waters, and hopefully win over some haters, and make a film critics may just enjoy.
1. Shorter runtime - Age Of Extinction was 165 minutes long. Whilst I personally enjoyed the entirety of that loud, bombastic effects laden adventure, a two hour runtime is the longest a film like this needs to be. There's only so much punching and explosions audiences can take, and speeding up some of those unnecessary slow motion shots would even suffice, shortening the length.
2. Either improve/Reduce humour - The racist robots in the second film, the mating dogs, urine gags and childish humour doesn't work here and never will. Cut this out, it is eye rolling and no one has ever enjoyed this in the franchise. The humour that does work, in my opinion, is the friction and well placed moments between the government characters, Transformers themselves and the citizens, like Frances McDormand arguing with Witwicky and Prime. As with Stanley Tucci and Li BingBing in the fourth film.
3. No leering shots of women - Nicola Peltz' legs, Rosie Huntington Whiteley's bum, Isabel Lucas' backside and Megan Fox's entire body, we get more of this than we need to be fair. Whilst these actresses are talented and are very attractive, people detest the way Michael Bay lingers upon their bodies and curvaceous figures. Bay, calm yourself down, these girls are lovely as they are, we can see that in their faces and personality, capture that onscreen in future.
4. Balanced action - I love action, loud, messy, explosive and I'm sold. All four Transformer films boast this, some better than others. However, I know they are long winded and bloated, and it's not enjoyable for those looking for substance and necessary action. Everyone appreciates a good knockout battle, but tone it down and make it more personal, keep things balanced and don't overuse it as too much action loses its power and punch.
5. No more stereotyping - The cheap stereotypes in all the films have become exhausting. Anthony Anderson's screaming sassy talking computer nerd in the first, haiku talking and rowdy redneck robots in the fourth film. You can pretty much tick all the boxes of what to expect. There are others ways of making people laugh and giving your audience familiarity, instead of using stereotypes which seem to hover around these films.
6. Read the scripts - The fourth film is a prime example of Michael Bay clearly just going with whatever when it comes to these films. In Age Of Extinction, the film literally stops midway to explain statutory rape laws and underage sex. Another scene sees Stanley Tucci confront a work colleague about a jellyfish commercial and his "ex girlfriend who is sexy but a bitch". Pointless bits like this do nothing to drive the story, so cut this crap and read the scripts more thoroughly to cut out dull filler, we don't need to see this.
7. More Transformer screen time - As with the 2014 reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, give more screen time to the beloved characters. The human element has always entertained me, but it's clear to see why others don't enjoy the films as there is a heavy aspect of human stories, and less so with the Transformers who sometimes just to appear to save the humans. More interacting and dialogue exchange between the robots would balance out the story and keep others satisfied which is what they deserve five films in.
8. Less subplots, more focus - As mentioned earlier with the statutory rape laws, and pointless scenes where nothing happens, there needs to be more solidarity with the main story. If there is a feasible subplot that either gives the characters an arc or changes events of the main story in an interesting way then that is fine, rounding out and making the film feel tighter.
9. Less explosions - I can't believe I'm saying this, but less explosions. I am a child at heart, fascinated and left in awe at the explosions in most films but for Michael Bay, even I see at times where I think "why did that explode?". His most restrained film is The Island, in which he waits a whole hour before exploding something and the impact it has is worthy of the wait. If Bay decided to hold himself back and save the pyrotechnics till later on, and keep it on a low boom count, then maybe there'd be less headaches for viewers.
10. And finally, Bay, don't change your visual style - His gorgeous sun-swept shots, awesome low angles, striking use of lens flares, rarely static camerawork and epic pans around characters, Bay should still keep to his impressive and instantly recognisable flair onscreen. It is just the substance onscreen that needs a change up, majority of which have been mentioned above.
Whilst I can simply speculate and mention what he could do differently for the final Transformers film with him as director, sometimes there's no changing people and maybe that is for the better. These films make a megaton of money and will continue to do so, and it's thanks to his part as a well known and successful director. Who knows, could number five be the changing of tide?