With Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie released last week, I thought it would be fitting to revisit some of my favourite custom Optimus Primes that I hand painted and modified.
You can see all my customs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcsum/ But here are a few of my favourites.
First, the one that a lot of people know me for. A transformable Battle Damaged Power Up Optimus Prime. The biggest custom I have done. You can see the full specs here.
One of my personal favourites, because it is a great mold, is the Voyager Class Optimus Prime from the Hunt for the Decepticons series. You can see the full specs here.
An army-themed Optimus Prime with military weapons and a real working flame thrower! You can see the full specs and watch the video of the flame thrower in action here.
Old-School Prime was another creative theme by repainting the 2007 movie Prime with his Generation One colour scheme. This was a popular custom too. You can see the full specs here.
Now, the movie….
I should start off that I enjoy Michael Bay’s movies, visual style, trademark filming angles and almost-campy stylized moments. I take them for what they are… entertaining summer block buster movies, eye candy, visual bubble gum and just good fun.. So, I think it is silly when people criticize his story development, character development or fantastical plot or action scenes.
However, TF3 was just one incoherent almost-3-hour crap fest. Multiple subplots and seemingly unconnected & disjointed scenes. In fact, different scenes seem like they came from different movies and this happens throughout the movie. I don’t expect a perfect seamless story but at least tell the story well. We sit through the movie for 15 minutes worth of action and maybe 4 or 5 Michael Bay moments.
Characters… I think we don’t expect much from a Michael Bay movie in terms of intricate characters BUT characters from his movies have always been well-defined albeit one-dimensional. In TF3, the Autobots seemed less effective at killing Decepticons than the humans and in fact often turned up after the humans killed or fended off the Decepticons. This happen significantly at least twice. Where were they? I know Optimus Prime was literally hanging around for an unimaginable point of time. For a robot who has energon laser swords and axe, it is strange he can’t cut himself free from entangled cables.
Speaking of OP, his character was reduced to an almost unimpressive incompetent second-in-command. Even Megatron had to save his a** at the end. How is Hasbro going to move OP merchandise if OP is made to look so weak. Megatron… the once all mighty Decepticon leader is now a brooding robot who lacks confidence and sits around to mope during the final battle. It takes a girl who has no previous knowledge about the robots to use psychology on an alien race to talk him into getting off his a** and do something about it.
I thought TF3 would be a sure hit… hard to screw up. After all, you have a great fan base, impressive-looking robots and cool transformations & actions scenes and a ready summer movie audience. But… I guess this was his last TF film so he just “Michael Bay-ed” it.
A fellow Singapore magician, Alexander, made good analogies to TF3 and magic. You can read his thoughts here. Basically, TF3 is a lot like a trend of magic stage acts. You probably know the ones I’ve talked about previously … endless barrage of canes, parasols, cards, snowstorm, confetti and kabuki streamers.
Show a 2min highlight and it looks awesome and impressive. Watch a full show and it becomes senseless flurry of incoherent actions and effects that do not result in a magical experience. Good movies are supposed to do the same, suspend the audience’s belief and get them immersed in the movie world.
Bad magic and bad movies keep the audience unsettled and even distracted because they have no idea what is going on and why certain things happen. I’m often distracted by magic acts that have a flurry of stylish poses and gestures that do not even end in a magic effect. Half the time, it is to look cool or to match a beat or timing in the music.
I’m all for visual bubble gum, flashy moves and effects, but at least have it make some sense and bring the audience on an enjoyable journey.