Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Monday, 17 October 2011 05:00
Ryan Johnson of GoozerNation takes blatant advantage during his review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon's "Prime" flaw to geek out on his childhood obsession with Transformers and how he has finally figured out what bothers him about the Michael Bay films.
Back in the day, Transformers admittedly began as a marketing tool, simply to sell toys. Many, myself included, grew attached to the characters, in particular that of Optimus Prime. His simply-written character was actually one of the most inspiring leaders in fiction's history: strong, calm in the face of crisis, and full of inspiring words. When the original animated feature came out in the 80s, to the crew involved, it was basically a franchise reboot. It was time to clean out the stale characters and introduce new ones in order to get some more sales. While I hold that film dear to my heart now, I remember being angry in the theater as a child. I could have cared less if Unicron was vanquished, Prime was dead! Also, Megatron "survived" to become Galvatron, so I felt like the ages long battle was won by evil. I must have not been the only one, as Prime eventually returned from the grave, along with a few other fan favorites. Rodimus even began doubting himself.
Through the years, other Transformers series have emulated Prime in their leaders, but always trying to be something deeper, giving Prime some inherent character flaw. While each was interesting in his own right, the original Prime held a strength that no new iteration has had since. Fast forward to the Michael Bay films, which are an attempt to get the attention of the original fans. For most of the films, Prime has his self sacrificial, "save the world" attitude, but Dark of the Moon hammered in a major disappointment that finally became apparent.
In Bay's first Transformers outing, Optimus battles Megatron, and for all intensive purposes, loses. Had it not been for Sam's last-minute thinking, he'd be dead by Megatron's hand. Movie 2: Prime flat out DIES. Returned only via the Matrix (which apparently can reconstruct, as it vanishes into dust, yet is in #3), and only really wins when powered up via augmentation. Movie 3 hit it home for me when Prime is being thrashed by Sentinel Prime, only to be saved by Megatron's insatiable hubris, which HAD to be placated at THAT EXACT moment.
By and large, I do enjoy the Bay films. But I ejected this DVD with the same feeling Young Me had walking out of the animated film. They have taken the heart and soul out of Prime. To me, that could be even worse than his actual death in the 80s. I do enjoy the Bay films, I'm just not sure how much he cares about canon. They are good generic summer blow stuff up fare, and you can always buy on Amazon and trade out/for them on Goozex. I know I am geeking out, but a generation did grow up wanting to be Optimus Prime. If you want a "popcorn movie" that's full of explosions and unnecessary sexual innuendos, you've found the right film. Just make sure you don't forget to check Amazon and Goozex for the original, heroic Prime, and remember him for who he SHOULD be. Transform and roll out!