Anthony Breznican of USA Today has all-important details about the next entry in the Transformers franchise, including the release date, July 1st, 2011 (a.k.a. Superhero Summer), and the new villain, Shockwave (not to be confused with Soundwave), but none more important, at least to me, than the confirmation that Transformers 3 (in 3D, of course) will be the last film in the trilogy. When I sat down to see Transformers, the big-screen adaptation of the 80s' cartoon and the toy line, three years ago, a trilogy was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to see what even casual fans of the series and toy line wanted to see: giant, transforming robots, realistically rendered by the best CG Hollywood money could buy, knocking each other around, destroying property (but hopefully not taking lives) in the process. In that respect, Michael Bay (Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, The Rock, Bad Boys), the one-time Master of Disaster (a title currently held by one Roland "2012" Emmerich), delivered.
What Bay and his screenwriters didn't deliver were relatable characters or a storyline that followed the normal rules of logic or sense. Instead, Bay delivered clichés masquerading as characters, juvenile humor, the once-hot, super-tanned Megan Fox washing a car in slow motion (in short-shorts), and not much else. Moviegoers seemed more than satisfied with the results, filling Paramount's coffers to the tune of $700 million dollars worldwide and turning co-leads Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox into bankable stars, if only briefly in Fox's case (see e.g., Jennifer's Body).
Paramount rushed the sequel, working around the writer's strike to deliver Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, last summer. Let loose without supervision, Bay overstuffed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, with more than 2 and 1/2 hours of (mostly) robot-on-robot action. The end result left many moviegoers (myself among them) exhausted and numbed by the sensory overload. That didn't matter, though, not when Paramount counted up the box office gross, over $800 million internationally. With those kind of numbers, another sequel was inevitable. That, for better or for worse (most likely, worse), is what moviegoers will get next summer.
The best news for those of us tired of the Transformers franchise? It's the end, for now anyway. We're guaranteed even lengthier robot-on-robot actions, Shia and an ex-model-turned-actress-turned-unconvincing-love-interest, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (best known for her work as a Victoria's Secret model and action star Jason Statham's current girlfriend), dodging falling debris, all in sweaty slow motion, with the occasional pause for romantic clichés, and Skids and Mudflap, the most egregiously offensive racist stereotypes to appear in a mainstream blockbuster film since, well, Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 11 years ago.
With Bay and (presumably) LaBeouf stepping away from the franchise after Transformers 3 (subtitle yet to be determined), an a new storyline, if not a complete reboot, is practically guaranteed. Only the failure of Transformers 3 at the box office (a highly unlikely proposition) would delay another Transformers film. Assuming that's the case, what director and/or star(s) would you like to see take on the Transformers franchise? What new Autobots, Decepticons, or storylines would you like to see appear in an all-new, Michael Bay- and Shia LaBeouf-free Transformers film?Or is it too soon to celebrate the end of this particular iteration of the Transformers?