This week, the fifth Transformers movie will be released onto out planet, this time titled, Transformers: The Last Knight. King Arthur is in this one. These movies are hugely popular, even though no one really seems to like them that awful much. It’s a weird thing, this is a franchise I should like – as a child I loved the animated series and had most of the toys – yet here we are. (Though, I will admit, I am one of those people who think the first Transformers movie is fine.)
So, I’ve been trying to pinpoint just why these movies are such a turnoff on a personal level – beyond the fact they are loud and abrasive and it’s often difficult to tell who is what and what is even happening at any given moment. But I’ve traced back the where I lost all hope for this movie franchise. It’s at the end of the first Transformers when Megatron just nonchalantly tears Jazz in half, horrifically killing him.
Recently, I rewatched a few episodes of the 1984 Transformers animated series and it’s almost startling how coherent it is. The characters are all distinct and colorful and nice. It’s obviously why humans would want to be friends with the Autobots because the Autobots all seem really pleasant to be around. Jazz, in particular, was a fan favorite. Voiced by the legendary Scatman Crothers, Jazz really loved humans and adapted to the contemporary culture and slang of the time. Everyone loved Jazz.
I mean, look at Jazz, horsing around as a snowman. See, he’s fun!
And how did the movie treat him?
I will never quite understand Michael Bay’s decision to dispose of lovable characters so willy-nilly. (Not to even mention how characters seem to come and go from movie to movie without any rhyme or reason. I know, this is a movie about talking robots from another planet. But still…) And, yes, a few fan favorites were killed off in the animated Transformers: The Movie, including Optimus Prime. But that was after many, many episodes building up to that moment. And the deaths in Transformers: The Movie were actually fairly poignant and sad – especially in comparison with how they are handled in Bay’s films.
Ironhide was another fan favorite; strong and stoic. Here he in in the animated series being tended to by Ratchet.
What happened to him in the movies?
Oh, speaking of poor Ratchet: yes, he and Ironhide were two of the Autobots killed in Transformers: The Movie, but Ratchet was always the nice, heroic medical Autobot. In the Marvel Transformers comic book series, at one point Ratchet is the only functioning Autobot remaining and has to rescue his comrades pretty much all on his own. If there’s one thing we knew, we could always trust Ratchet.
Then there’s Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Oh my gosh that’s horrifying.
Another childhood favorite was good ol’ mad scientist Wheeljack. Here he is calculating up some scheme.
And then I got to watch him be killed execution style in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Remember the beloved Arcee from Transformers: The Movie?
Well here she is being destroyed in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Oh, boy, I can’t even tell you about the excitement on my block when Jetfire was released. (Though, this was always a strange Transformer because in the animated series he was known as Skyfire. That’s a long story.) At first he was a Decepticon, then an Autobot, which is what made him interesting.
And here’s Jetfire pulling out his own heart and instantly dying.
Even Starscream: in the animated series was just kind of a buffoon who was always trying to upstage Megatron. It was comical. Viewers kind of, sort of grew a liking for Starscream – or, at least, felt sorry for the poor guy. I mean, look at the abuse he had to take:
Well, in Dark of the Moon his head explodes.
The truth is, I like Michael Bay movies quite a bit. And I’m certainly not saying that these characters can’t be killed off – and I never cared if the personalities were changed or if Optimus Prime had flames (remember that controversy? Those days seem so innocent now) but it’s done with such a disposable irreverence that it’s pretty obvious Bay doesn’t really care much for these characters beyond the fact that they are cool-looking robots who can become cool-looking vehicles.
And I guess why should he? It’s hard to argue with how much these movies make, but I just wish we got the chance to know some of these characters better (beyond Optimus Prime and Bumblebee) before they are killed off in the most disturbing and horrifying way a robot can be killed. I mean, he ripped Jazz in half like it was nothing. Look at this guy:
Jazz was nice! Jazz deserved better.
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