Believe it or not I am actually a fan of Michael Bay's Transformer movies, maybe even more than I am of the source material of which they're all based on. But that doesn't mean I like everything about them. For instance, I think that the so-called "hero'" of the first three films, Samuel James "Sam" Witwicky, played by the endearing Shia LaBeouf, wasn't what you'd call "good people." If you ever take the time to sit down and really analyze the character, he comes off as both egotistical and chauvinistic more than anything else. In fact it's this very behavior that apparently drove his love interest from the first two movies - Mikaela Banes (played by Megan Fox) - into breaking up with him. Why not make the character more like, oh, I dunno, Star Wars' Luke Skywalker or TRON Legacy's Sam Flynn? Both of them started out young and naive but naturally evolved into more mature individuals over the course of their respective stories. So there's that.
I also have some issues with the movie version of Bumblebee. First of all, what was up with that scene where he "evolved" into a 2008 concept car? Sure, Bumblebee is supposed to be the "kid" of the Autobots, but I don't think he would be dumb enough to do something like this. Not only was he endangering the lives of the two humans that he just saved, but he was risking drawing a lot of unwanted attention to himself! Honestly I think it would've made a lot more sense had he simply chosen to "repair" himself once they were out of sight of the public, meaning he would go from looking like this to looking like this.
Secondly, let's talk about Bumblebee's voice, or rather the lack thereof. I find it very strange that his coming into contact with the AllSpark didn't automatically repair any and all damaged inflicted upon him since his initial activation / birth. To me, they missed a prime opportunity to reunite the Autobot with his original voice actor, Dan Gilvezan. Honestly, I think only the Decepticons benefited from having completely new [voice] actors assigned to them. The Autobots should've remained completely untouched.
Thirdly, and this is more of a nitpick than anything else, I feel that "old timers" of the Autobot crew ought to've looked just as "hoopty" as Bumblebee did during the events of the first film. Why? Because Bumblebee set the standard by choosing to [initially] disguise himself as a car that wouldn't attract that much attention. Not only that, but Optimus Prime made it pretty clear that they were trying to do their best not to interfere with Earth's native inhabitants, unlike their Decepticon rivals. To me, I feel that Bumblebee's message to the Axalon should've included coordinates to an out of the way junkyard which just so happened to include the vehicles they needed to scan in order to assume their iconic forms. Forgive the pun, but here is a prime example of what I'm talking about. Notice how it blends the movie look seamlessly with the original source material? Yeah.
Now let's actually talk about the movies themselves, shall we? Oh, and keep in mind that as I'm writing this there's still 20 days until the fifth movie in the franchise, The Last Knight, hits theaters. And while I'm personally loathe to even mention anything post-Dark of the Moon, I can't deny the fact that it and said upcoming sequel have elements that could work if presented in a different narrative. So, with that in mind, let's begin with...
Admittedly there's hardly anything about this movie that I would change, apart from what I already addressed. But that doesn't mean that the movie is perfect. Hell, what Michael Bay movie is? But, still, if you ask me, it could have been so much better if only Bay had done a few things differently in regards to the finale. And that's what I'm going to talk about here, in chronological order.
1.) Rather than having the "final battle" between the Autobots and Decepticons take place in some fictional American metropolis, I would've had it take place in the Mt. Wilson wilderness area, since it's only 40 miles driving distance away from the Hoover Dam.
2.) During the montage dedicated to Decepticons rallying to Megatron's call to arms, I would have revealed that Brawl had chosen to assume the form of an M1A2 Abrams tank with TUSK equipment, not this blatantly conspicuous contraption. Said reveal would have come during the juncture where the U.S. military attempts to destroy Megatron, at roughly the same time that Starscream reveals himself to the audience as being the facsimile of an F-22 Raptor.
3.) When it came time for the Autobots to start suffering casualties, I would have preferred to see the likes of Hound and Trailbreaker fall in place of fan favorite Jazz. However, having Jazz sustain serious but non-life-threatening injuries during that same fight would have been a good way to really nail it home to the audience that there is to be absolutely no hand-holding going on during potentially world-changing battles.
4.) I would have abandoned Optimus Primes' plan of foolishly sacrificing himself to destroy the AllSpark in favor of a spontaneous decision that plays out exactly like this. (Seriously, what was Prime thinking with that whole "shove the cube into my chest" nonsense? That made no goddamn sense to me. None whatsoever.)
5.) I would have included a much longer post-credits sequence dedicated to Starscream that would've helped setup the events of The Reign of Starscream #2. Not only would it have helped establish that Barricade survived, but it would've given the audience a small taste of what was to come in...
My take on this movie would have regulated the titular character to a distant and painful memory, and acted more as a metaphor for the recently deceased Megatron and the bedraggled Decepticons that he left behind. The original Cybertronian known only as "The Fallen" would have been referenced during a expositing scene focusing on Sam, Mikaela and Bumblebee. As the Autobot treats the happy couple to an innocent joyride, he attempts to enlighten them all to key events in Cybertronian history. It would be during this segment where the audience would learn the origin of Megatron's name, as it was derived from the Fallen's original name before he was found guilty for "unspeakable crimes" and consequently executed by the Dynasty of Primes for them.
The actual story would've served as a lead-in to Dark of the Moon, with the Decepticons under the recently arrived Soundwave working together to reconstruct the AllSpark, which had been disassembled by Optimus Prime and converted into thirteen separate "shards," which were in turn sequestered inside thirteen different, undisclosed locations around the world at some point between movies. Scalpel theories that just one of these shards would be enough to bring their glorious leader back to life. But there's a problem in the form of the recently established Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty, or NEST for short. Unless the Decepticons can find a way to neutralize them, their hopes and dreams of seeing Megatron returned to life and glory will remain just that.
Now, in my treatment NEST is portrayed as a proxy to G.I. Joe. They would even be overseen by none-other than Major General Clayton M. Abernathy, and lead by Colonel Conrad S. Hauser. We would actually meet the latter following the battle in Shanghai, after he asks that William Lennox's team (which includes Robert Epps) meet him for a face-to-face in NEST's base of operations, which'd be located in Utah, underneath Graham Peak. S'more expositing on the Colonel's part would explain a few things to the audience.
1.) Graham Peak was chosen because of its close proximity to the Bonneville Salt Flats. As this area is no stranger to vehicles of a fast or unusual nature, it was assumed that Cybertronian activity would go largely unnoticed by the public. The assumption was correct.
2.) Following the battle at Mt. Wilson, Unit E Director Tom Banachek resigned. His appointed successor, one William Fowler, made it clear that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the so-called "Transformers" and their war. Thus, once NEST was founded in 2008, he all too happy to hand over all Cybertronian artifacts to them.
3.) A cover story was established between the Autobots and Sam Witwicky which allows Bumblebee to remain a part of the boy's everyday life while he attends college. This cover story involves passing off Bumblebee's holographic driver as a childhood friend of Sam's who's infamous for showing up at random times to borrow the car.
4.) NEST was created in part due to the backlash aimed at Optimus Prime and his Autobots following the latter's decision to invite all of his comrades still "taking refuge among the stars" to join him on Earth. Many felt that he had no authority to make such an offer, while many more feel that it is the reason why Decepticon activity is at an all-time high. (It's basically meant to draw a parallel to the very real open borders crisis that a lot of countries these days are having to deal with.)
Moving on. I would have made this movie the Aliens of the series, and focused more on the military characters and their lives rather than follow the continued misadventures of Sam and Mikaela. (Not to say that those two aren't still relevant to the plot, mind you. They are. They just wouldn't be as relevant as their canonical big screen counterparts were.) That being said, we would've transitioned into the base's primary hangar bay following Lennox's team's dismissal from Hauser's office. Here we'd be introduced to the new Autobots of the cast up close and personal; Bulkhead, Arcee, Slingshot, Sideswipe, Mirage, Jolt and Jetfire. A few things worth mentioning here...
1.) There would be no sign or even mention of the twins in this version of the story. Like, at all. They simply wouldn't exist.
2.) I "mislabeled" certain characters up there on purpose. If you're at all familiar with Transformers Prime, you'll know why.
3.) Jetfire would be portrayed here as a younger Autobot capable of assuming the form of a Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23 single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter rather than the aged Decepticon that you saw in the movie.
But I digress...
Once all of NEST's major players have finished congregating, the story would progress through the introduction of a new piece of technology designed by one Blaine Parker with the help of Maggie Madsen & Glen Whitmann that allows people (humans) to interface with and subsequently extract information from a Cybertronian's brain. While several of the Autobots express disgust at the notion, Optimus Prime laments that it's the only way that they and their new allies will have any hope of discovering what the Decepticons' plans are.
This leads to the grand (and somewhat literal) unveiling of the Decepticon corpses recovered from the Shanghai operation. As they're in the process being daisy changed and linked into a portable supercomputer sporting the aforementioned decryption software, Hauser reminds his team that policy had originally dictated that any and call Cybertronian remains were to be dumped into the Mariana Trench, just like the bodies of Megatron, Brawl, and the others who perished at Mt. Wilson were. But all of that was scheduled to change, depending on whether or not the hypothesized data retrieval proved to be a reliable method.
Enter: the Decepticon Pretender, Alice. In the movie canon Alice is depicted as a college student with an unrealistic infatuation with Sam Witwicky. Of course this was all just a cover; an attempt to learn what Sam knew about the AllSpark. In my story she's portrayed as the cinematic version of Pepper Potts to Hauser's Tony Stark, being his trusted personal assistant and certified technical genius. Why is that worth mentioning here and now? Because the audience would be falsely lead to believe that Hauser putting her in charge of running the data retrieval experiment has absolutely no barring on it failing. From everyone's collected perspective, it would simply appear as though her skills in negotiating the "dead" Decepticons' neural pathways aren't up to par, resulting in the activation of a fail-safe that finds them self-destructing before everyone's very eyes.
Ideally this scene would end with a transition to the scene that I talked about before, with Sam and Mikaela on a joyride and Bumblebee talking about his people's history. This scene would end with Bumblebee being called to duty just blocks away from the college that Sam is attending, leaving him to drop his human friends off, "pop" his holographic driver, and then speed off into the sunset. Once out of the view of the public, we'd see a GroundBridge appear in front of Bumblebee. But rather than slow down, the Autobot speeds into it, reappearing just seconds later inside a sub-hangar located in the Graham Peak installation. After providing his fellow Autobots with the obligatory "Sam and Mikaela say 'Hi.'", we'd begin the next act of the movie, which kicks off with an abrupt transition into Earth's orbit. Here we see Soundwave, in his satellite disguise, combing through the transmissions being broadcast to and from NEST HQ. While all of them are automatically rerouted to the Nemesis on Mars, there's one in particular that catches his optics. One that is actually sent directly to him in the language of his people...
This leads into a scene where the country of Jordan requests NEST's aid in destroying Scorponok, which has apparently been terrorizing the Middle East ever since the events of the 2007 film. Unfortunately its ability to slip underground and go completely undetected thereafter has rendered it almost impossible to track, meaning that NEST has been forced to take a "wait and see" approach to the particular subject. If the exposition provided by Lennox is any indication, this would be his team's fourth time attempting to dismantle the mechanical monstrosity.
However, Optimus and Hauser agree that its better to air on the side of caution and not send Lennox with the full roster of available Autobots. Lennox of course protests, but not to an outrageous extent. He quickly agrees that the likes of Arcee, Bulkhead, Mirage and Sideswipe should be more than enough "bot power." Of course, it turns out to be a trap. While they are successful in dealing with Scorponok at long last, they aren't prepared for the ambush sprung on them by the Constructicons. By the time the smoke clears, Mirage, Sideswipe, and more than half of the humans on Lennox's team are dead. To make matters worse, when they finally are able to reestablish communications to NEST HQ, they discover that several other teams were victims of similar ambush-style attacks off-screen. While there are no reports of any other major character being killed, the body count is still significant, and one that doesn't go unnoticed.
But what's more troubling is the pattern that Alice "discovers." According to her, each of the attacks occurred within a region of the world where an AllSpark shard containment facility was known to be! When questioned why the facilities weren't attacked directly, Optimus cuts in, explaining that they (the Autobots) had provided the architects in charge of designing the facilities with plans for a state-of-the-art defense system capable of detecting and neutralizing any and all Decepticon threats once they got within a certain range. When the questions of "how did they know where the facilities were, and how did they know to stay just out of range of their countermeasures" arise, Alice "theorizes" that perhaps they were made privy to the information during the short time that their deceased comrades were hooked up to NEST's database.
Hoping to avoid a potential disaster, Hauser suggests that Alice take a team to one of the installations that haven't been hit yet and preemptively beef up security there. Alice thinks that this is a brilliant idea, but advises that the team consist only of humans, as there's a risk that a quick fix could inadvertently put the lives of the Autobots in danger. While rightfully hesitant to agree to such a course of action, he isn't smart enough to fault her logic and instead splits the Autobots up into groups that're in turn assigned to the other unvisited locations. This brings us to Diego Garcia. To make a long story short, Alice chooses this time to reveal her true nature to the world. She betrays and kills most of the NEST operatives that accompanied her to the installation, then deactivates the installation's defenses so that Soundwave can reenact this scene.
Inside the base, Alice begins to monologue to the people that survived her initial rampage, telling them everything that you would expect a villainous like her to. Among these people is the aforementioned Blaine Parker, who, as it turns out, is just as much a soldier as the rest of his team. After he feels that he's heard enough, he gives the order for his men to attack. They spring from cover and riddle her with electrified shotgun slugs, which were shown to slow her down before but which couldn't be deployed in large quantity due to the sheer ferocity of her initial surprise attack.
As she falls to her knees, convulsing and screaming in pain and trying desperately to dislodge the projectiles from her person, Blaine personally rushes forward and decapitates her with a fire ax. But this victory is bittersweet, if not hollow. And the audience would be quick to realize this during the during the montage that follows, which interjects scenes of the AllSpark shard being used to revive and upgrade Megatron between shots of NEST in its entirety arriving at Diego Garcia to personally assess the situation.
What occurs next follows a well-known formula. Blaine takes the body of Alice back with him to NEST HQ and subjects it to the data retrieval procedure. The information that they gather not only notifies our heroes of Megatron's resurrection, but gives them the location of all active Decepticon assets in Earth's solar system, including that of the Nemesis. Oddly enough, before Soundwave catches on and blocks the signal, a presumed glitch pings several "ghost signals" from the surface of Earth's moon. Blaine is instructed by Colonel Hauser to ignore these and focus on the task at hand. After supplying the Autobots with the last known location of the Nemesis, Optimus Prime orders everyone not presently active in the field to board the Axalon and prepare to roll out. Everyone that is, except for Bulkhead, who is instructed to rally the Wreckers and prepare the Xantium for launch, for it would be up to them to destroy the Nemesis should Optimus and the others fail.
To make a long story short, the Nemesis detects the Axalon as it makes its approach to Mars. Megatron orders all hands to stations, and soon the two Cybertronian vessels are duking it out. But, being that the Nemesis is a dedicated warship and the Axalon isn't, Optimus quickly concocts a plan to board the vessel and disable it from within. He asks that Bumblebee, Ratchet and Ironhide accompany him while Jazz, Arcee and Jolt are tasked with watching over the Axalon. This leaves Jetfire the unenviable task of single-handedly keeping Starscream and his fellow Seekers at bay.
When it becomes clear to Megatron that Optimus and his Autobots actually have a chance of accomplishing their mission, he personally joins the fray, but not until after ordering Soundwave to plot a course for Earth. The battle only escalates from here. While Optimus engages Megatron directly aboard the Nemesis' bridge, his companions are forced to keep several other prominent Decepticons and an army of Protoform soldiers at bay. Meanwhile, outside, Jetfire proves himself to be the finest "flyer" that the Autobots have at their disposal; taking down each of the Seekers one after another until only Starscream remains, all the while sustaining damage that would normally incapacitate the average Cybertronian.
When it becomes clear that Megatron intends to awaken the Yellowstone Caldera by crashing the Nemesis into it, Jetfire makes the ultimate sacrifice. He aims himself at the warship's center of mass and engages his afterburners, becoming a massive projectile that explodes when it comes into contact with the massive vessel's engine core. This in turn causes the Nemesis to start disintegrating at an alarming rate, just as it comes within visual range of the Earth's moon. But just before the ship can completely break apart, Megatron instructs Soundwave to request assistance from the captain of the Leviathan -- Shockwave.
Whether or not Soundwave received these instructions in time to act on them would be left a mystery to the audience, because seconds later the Nemesis starts to come undone at the seams. Several large pieces are flung off and left to crash down upon the surface of the Moon, while others are ejected violently into the hull of the nearby Axalon. This paves the way for Jazz to be the next Autobot to sacrifice his life for the greater good, as he is the only one present aboard the ship capable of flying it. This leads to some sorrowful farewells as escape pods are launched all around. From here the audience would be forced to watch Jazz do everything that he can to minimize the damage to the planet below, starting with the disabling of all of the Axalon's non-essential systems. But, in the end, following Jazz's comment of "Well... it was a good ride while it lasted...", the ship'd be seen slamming into the side of Mount Ararat in Turkey and exploding upon impact.
The end of the movie would reunite the rest stars of the first film, as they honor the lives of those lost serving NEST. All of the Autobots, all of the humans, all memorialized on a piece of the Axalon's hull that was transported back to Graham Peak and mounted on the back wall of the main hangar. This would lead into Optimus' obligatory closing monologue, and ultimately a smash cut to the film's credits. There of course would be a post-credits scene, albeit one that's far more like the ones that appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. It focuses upon a conversation between John Keller, General Abernathy and Colonel Hauser. In it, Hauser is telling his superiors about how they need to prepare for the fallout that's to come once Optimus Prime and the others find out that they haven't been completely transparent with them since NEST's formation. "Bring in Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins," Keller would say. "Tell them that it's time for the world's best kept secret to finally be made public." And that's where this movie would end, and in turn setup the story of...
Admittedly this would be the film whose story changes the least out of those comprising the original trilogy. Because of that, I'm only going to address the key changes that I would've made via bullet point.
- The prologue sequence would've been vastly different than the one seen in theaters. It would've recreated key scenes from the official prequel to the original 2007 film, albeit modified to keep in accordance with Dark of the Moon's story. Here, the audience would've found out that Sentinel Prime had volunteered to whisk the AllSpark away to safety aboard his ship. Unfortunately Megatron caught wind of this plan shortly after he finished crushing Bumblebee's voice box, and was quick to take off in pursuit. Sentinel would attempt to flee through a hastily constructed space bridge, but said bridge wouldn't close fast enough. His ship and Megatron both appeared in space, just beyond Earth's moon. In a last ditch effort to keep the AllSpark safe, Sentinel orders it ejected into the "unknown planet's polar region," knowing that the extreme could was likely to freeze Megatron solid before he could reach it. In his anger, Megatron fires upon Sentinel's ship, forcing it to crash land upon the Moon's surface. Beyond that, the remainder of the prologue would play out the same as it did in the film.
- Sam Witwicky and Mikaela Barnes would still have been a couple. Not only that, but Sam would be depicted as a Junior Agent in NEST who's been tasked with infiltrating Accuretta Systems and making contact with a potential informant, one Jerry Wang.
- The character of Wang wouldn't have been portrayed as a completely over-the-top caricature of his actor, Ken Jeong. He would have been paranoid of course, and maybe a bit on edge, but not to the extreme degree depicted in Revenge of the Fallen. ("You messed with the wrong Wang today!" Really? F*cking really?!)
- The Auotbots' equipment would've once again come to them courtesy of Blaine Parker, as opposed to the bizarre movie version of Wheeljack that we got. While Wheeljack would've been present, he would've shared his voice, personality and role with that of his Prime counterpart, and his looks with the subject of http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/attachments/7777-jpg.27413914/.
- The character of Sentinel Prime would have been portrayed as a sympathetic and reluctant antagonist, rather than the murderous sociopath that appeared on screen. His motivation would be the same, but would stem from the knowledge gleamed from the history lessons he receives from Optimus and his team of Autobots, as well as all the information NEST has accumulated over the years. Furthermore, he never once would've killed any of his fellow Autobots, nor would he have attacked them unprovoked. During the few times that the story demanded he do battle with the likes of Optimus and the others, he would have made sure that he aimed to disable them. This inability to follow Megatron's lead and engage them with lethal force and unbridled tenacity would've proved to be a fatal mistake on Sentinel's part. Even when poised to end Optimus' life, angered that his plan to see hope revitalized for the people of Cybertron, he wouldn't have been able to bring himself to do it. This would've lead to Megatron killing him, while at the same time serving as an explanation for the inexplicable brutality that Optimus demonstrated when killing Megatron in turn.
- Sentinel's ultimate plan wouldn't have involved the summoning of Cybertron, but instead the reassembling of the AllSpark and the construction of a Star Harvester. Using both of these things, it was Sentinel's hope to transform the Earth into a second Cybertron capable of not only supporting Cybertronian life but giving birth to it as well. This plan ends when both of those things are destroyed by Optimus Prime, who simply cannot bear to see another genocide committed in the name of Primus.
- The final battle would have taken place in New York City rather than Chicago. Not because it's more iconic, but because Sentinel's plans required him to use an adverse form of binary bonding to "break down" and "reforge" the metropolis' numerous buildings into the materials and components needed for the Star Harvester's construction.
- The scene where the Autobots pretend to abandon Earth and leave it in the hands of the Decepticons would've been completely omitted. In its place would've been a sequence depicting the Autobots and several of their buddies from NEST boarding the Xantium, taking it up into Earth's orbit, and then leaping from its open cargo bay with the intent of infiltrating NYC via HALO.
Like many others I didn't like this movie as a whole, but I do appreciate what it was trying to do. So, once again, I'm going to talk about what I would've changed through the use of bullet points.
- There would've been no prologue sequence set during the Cretaceous period, nor any hints dropped by anyone that would've suggested that the Ancient Astronaut Theory has always been correct.
- Jolt would have been the Autobot to fall victim during the start of the movie, not Ratchet.
- In the same scene where Bulkhead and the others discover that Jolt and Leadfoot have been murdered by Cemetery Wind, footage from past operations would've shown the likes of Arcee, Ratchet, Roadbuster, Topspin and Wheeljack all evading "capture."
- Bumblebee would have told Optimus and the others that he has distanced himself from Sam and Mikaela for their own safety, and that while Sam has tried to contact him several times over the past couple of years, he has never responded.
- The whole living metal subplot would've only produced three successful results: the Dinobots, the Junkheaps, and the Vehicons. The characters of Stinger, Galvatron and "Two Heads" wouldn't have shown up at all, while the so-called "KSI Boss" would've been portrayed as a unique individual working for Lockdown.
- Optimus Prime's decision to seek out the Creators would have occurred at the end of a post-credits scene that saw him meeting with Maggie Madsen and Glen Whitmann at the abandoned Graham Peak facility that once served as the headquarters for NEST. Thanks to their mutual friend Blaine Parker (who does not show up in person), they are able to secure access to the device used to probe the minds of the deceased Decepticons back in Revenge of the Fallen. They hook the remains of Lockdown up to this device, and the information gleamed from them is enough to generate in Optimus a burning desire to confront those that made him. And just what is this information? Well apart from a set of coordinates pointing to an uncharted region of the Milky Way, there's "found footage" of Lockdown accepting the body of Megatron as a down-payment for his services to Harold Attinger!