I was recently exposed to Michael Bay's Transformers and I have a newfound appreciation for Good Character Designs

Proteus

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,663
Toronto
I am surprised Hasbro was ok with those initial designs. They seem like a harder sell in the toy market. You need the designs to stand out to push toys.
 

Pop-O-Matic

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
4,056
I am surprised Hasbro was ok with those initial designs. They seem like a harder sell in the toy market. You need the designs to stand out to push toys.
They were getting a mainstream blockbuster film out of the deal, possibly one of the best toy advertisements you could ask for. I'm sure they were more than willing to capitulate to Bay/Paramount's demands. Also, the movie toylines were about 70% Optimus and Bumblebee by volume, so it's not like they cared to have a lot of distict designs on store shelves.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,163
You're right, but it's kind of unfair not to mention that there were a ton of very distinct characters. Often stupidly so, like the Constructicon that was a huge thing on a giant wheel... and then I think they just reused him in a later fight, and they clearly just copy-pasted in models from the first movie, and...

Well. Starscream and Megatron were super poor designs, but Barricade was pretty good, Blackout was great (those blades on his back really gave him a silhouette), Brawl was fine. Only Jazz was a little messy but he was the only small silvery thing on the Autobot side.

Dark of the Moon really stopped giving a shit. They didn't even transform anymore, they just vaguely morphed into a new form. They barely gave the characters names. I think that's part of the problem, when the movie doesn't even care what the characters are, why should the audience?
 

NHarmonic.

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
4,912
Fuck it, I'll make enemies today.

I think the Transformer movie designs are really fucking cool looking, maybe not "Transformers", but they are pretty badass looking sci-fi mechs and watching them mess things up was really fun. The movies are bad though, don't get me wrong, but the action scenes were still fun to watch as much as people like to complain about them.
Action scenes were completely unreadable. You had this piles of gray moving junk, shape shifting as a mass, fighting with each other with no possible way of knowing what they were doing.

Terrible designs and terrible movies. OP is completely spot on.
 

Zutrax

Member
Oct 31, 2017
1,083
Action scenes were completely unreadable. You had this piles of gray moving junk, shape shifting as a mass, fighting with each other with no possible way of knowing what they were doing.

Terrible designs and terrible movies. OP is completely spot on.
Maybe I interpret things different visually or something, but people say this a lot and I didn't see that at all. I can get not knowing who's who due to the colors and designs being similar, but the actual action itself was pretty easy to follow and had some really awesome setpieces.
 

cj_iwakura

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,985
Coral Springs, FL
100% agree, and that's the main reason I never watched any of these movies despite Transformers being my favorite show as a kid.
You're missing what has some of the best high octane robot action in a western film, so there's that. The designs are messy, but you still get Optimus Prime beheading fools with an energon broadsword and Megatron unleashing a gundam cannon in downtown LA.
 

Firemind

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,743
My biggest problem with the Transformer movie designs is that a lot of the decepticons have the same paintjob. As cluttered as all the designs are, at least the Autobots look unique.

I think the clutter comes from trying to justify where everything would go if a truck turned into a robot
They don't actually transform though. Also they had the Prime toys to go to.
 
OP
OP
Garlador

Garlador

Member
Oct 30, 2017
6,200
You're missing what has some of the best high octane robot action in a western film, so there's that. The designs are messy, but you still get Optimus Prime beheading fools with an energon broadsword and Megatron unleashing a gundam cannon in downtown LA.
I'll disagree. Is the action frenetic, fast, and non-stop? Sure.

But in terms of being memorable? I have a few other robot action films I've seen that FAR surpass them.




Movies like Pacifica Rim and Real Steel are still highly underrated, even if they are beloved. I can remember every blow, every strike. I feel the weight of them. The camera tracks all the shots expertly so they linger in your head and become far more than just exploding noise. They're easy to follow, paced extremely well, and everything happening is serving a purpose of moving the narrative forward.

When you factor in ANIMATED robot fights, then you get a TON of great ones.




Using traditional animation might be cheating, but they lay the principals of good action regardless. But being able to memorably and easily track a fight scene is so vital to a lot of viewers, like myself, no matter if it's robots, monsters, or people. I'd much rather watch Jackie Chan fight with a steady camera and all major players in the frame...


... than a non-stop frenetic camera-spinning screen-cluttering mind-numbing "it's just so dense" action scenes.

(it's just a fence...)
 
Oct 30, 2017
939
I actually like the movie designs. They're unique in terms of giant robot designs.

In regards to them all being humanoid, they really weren't. ROTF may have been a cruddy movie, but it did have a lot of non-humanoid designs. The bike sisters, for example. Ugly? Yep. But humanoid? Not really. Almost all of the Constructicons were non humanoid. You had a pogo stick mech whose toy also had a crab mode, you had Demolishor who was the big wheel thing, Hightower is a bizarre dinosaur looking monstrosity. There was also Ravage, the Reedman nanomachine construct he barfed out, the insects, and the little doctor that turned into a microscope. He was a spider. The woefully under used Dreads in Dark of the Moon also had Hatchet who was a quadruped, though I think he may have been the only non-humanoid in that movie outside of the Driller.
 

caliph95

Member
Oct 25, 2017
21,204
wait WHAT????? They changed the character designs????

oh man now I'm going to watch Bumblebee..... I thought it was going to be the same old crazy shit.
Bumblebee is directed by Travis Knight who made the great Stop motion Kubo

As a result while personally movie is ok and looks great next to Bayformers, it has more heart and humanity than the Bayformers combined

Also the two decepticons bad guys >>>>>> any of the previous villains and those two are not complex they just feel like actual characters

Keep in mind the movie is a maybe reboot or maybe prequel depending on how the executives like it and reshoots added stuff that contradict previous movies because they leaning more into reboot but honestly Bay retcon shit every movie
 

InfiniteKing

Member
Oct 26, 2017
138
It's sad that Bay doesn't get as much shit as Snyder does he basically did the same thing, with even worse designs.

Never forget the ogre TMNT either he must've came up with.
 

Pyramid Head

Member
Oct 27, 2017
586
I used to do a lot of Transformers artwork, even designed a bunch of official statues in the early-mid 2000's. Once the movie hit I lost interest. The movie designs are super fucking tedious to draw and I feel great sympathy for any artist who had to represent them in comics.
 

RPTGB

Member
Oct 28, 2017
947
UK
It's the same with 3D game art, I call it the "zbrush effect", where because it's so easy for an artist to add detail to the nth degree, they do so without ever stopping to see how all that extra detail harms the readability of a character.
All the artwork starts showing the same look because a lot of those same artists are populating the same forums, how-to pages and seminars.
The Bayformers are terrible, terrible character designs, breaking all the rules of what a good character design should be.
Someone once described those designs as ”looking like someone threw the contents of a toolbox at the camera" everytime the characters were involved in a particularly busy scene.
 

N. Tyranno

Member
Nov 6, 2017
1,417
The Bumblebee Movie extras are all kitbashes of main character models re-arranged and recolored with superfluous details thrown on top to make them resemble the G1 characters.

Shockwave is mostly parts of Optimus. His model still has an Autobot symbol on his arm for god’s sake. Soundwave is the most egregious, in that he’s a bunch of square looking model parts arranged in a mostly Soundwave-like shape with no consideration of what he might turn into at all.

The G1 characters all felt like they were carried more by their voice actors and writing than their designs, honestly. Between the fact that they were all repurposed from another toyline and then reimagined through the eyes of Floro Dery, who made a lot of them look like people wearing cardboard boxes, didn’t didn’t do them any favors. Like, what about Starscream and his silhouette or colorscheme implies “villain”? He’s white, red, and blue because the Jet Robo in G1 gave him those colors.

Now contrast with his design in Transformers Prime. He’s designed to be thin, weasely looking, his head is skull like, and he has claws, and his feet splay like out like the talons of a bird. His character designer has stated his torso is meant to look like the hood of a cobra. HERE is good character design, befitting a classical villain.

And while the Bay designs have their problems, I feel you aren’t giving them enough credit, OP. For one thing, many of these characters are beholden to the colors of their alt modes. Secondly, there’s the fact that for the first time, for many of the first movie’s designs, actual consideration is given to things like scale. Starscream is a jet, which is much larger than a car. So he can visibly interact without towering over everyone, he basically folds in on himself and becomes wider instead of taller, so he can be of comparable height to the Decepticons and Autobots.

Furthermore, the movie gave us some of the first designs to experiment with characters having robot modes other than humanoid ones. They’re absolutely wasted due to lack of character focus, but things like the pogo stick-based Constructicon and the DOTM Decepticon that turned from a SUV to a lion like beast were wonderfully refreshing.

There’s a lot of stinkers in the movies, don’t get me wrong, but there’s some merit there too. And unfortunately, Bumblebee seems to have abandoned a lot of the practical things the previous movies did to feel more grounded. Blitzwing flies like Superman in robot mode where previous movies had jet based Transformers become grounded and less aerodynamic in robot mode, his robot mode is far too small for his vehicle mode, Shatter and Dropkick convert from robots into cars into jets and helicopters who should rightly be much larger than the other modes they have. Stuff like that feels disappointing when the opposite approach at least made them feel a bit more physically real before.
 

caliph95

Member
Oct 25, 2017
21,204
I don't even like Screamer. Galvatron did nothing wrong.
Lol

I remember when people got salty whr
Is Bumblebee any good?
Bumblebee is directed by Travis Knight who made the great Stop motion Kubo

As a result while personally movie is ok and looks great next to Bayformers, it has more heart and humanity than the Bayformers combined

Also the two decepticons bad guys >>>>>> any of the previous villains and those two are not complex they just feel like actual characters

Keep in mind the movie is a maybe reboot or maybe prequel depending on how the executives like it and reshoots added stuff that contradict previous movies because they leaning more into reboot but honestly Bay retcon shit every movie
.
 
Oct 26, 2017
196
Brasil
Besides the robots over design, the scripts were also a mess, the characterization is terrible.
e.g.:
Regardless of him turning coats, I can't understand how Sentinel Prime (a looked upon hero) would wield a weapon that not only is an 'one-hit kill', but also causes an extremely painful, slow, awful death.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,728
The reason things like the Bayformers happen is that we live in a system that doesn't prioritize in bringing in the best people suited for the job but the ones that can fake good enough that they're the best people.
 

N. Tyranno

Member
Nov 6, 2017
1,417
They did these flip change things that transform in like 2 moves and I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

That's one the simpler toys they designed for kids that were easy to Transform

Stuff like the Studio series realize these designs far better









Honestly, they've never had much trouble with designing toys of movie characters. The limitations have come from not being able to see the finished designs because they're designing the toys while the movie is in development. Stuff like the Studio Series, which deals with the finished looks of each character, don't have that issue as much.
 

Keldroc

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,233
Fuck it, I'll make enemies today.

I think the Transformer movie designs are really fucking cool looking, maybe not "Transformers", but they are pretty badass looking sci-fi mechs and watching them mess things up was really fun. The movies are bad though, don't get me wrong, but the action scenes were still fun to watch as much as people like to complain about them.
I agree the designs are mostly pretty cool, although as designs for the characters they're supposed to be they're terrible. If you just consider them new unrelated characters (not an unprecedented thing in the TF franchise), they're certainly impressive in some respects. The Bay-directed movies themselves are still 100% putrid trash, though, even if ILM gives 110% on those robot effects every time.
 

hikarutilmitt

Member
Dec 16, 2017
2,882
Not saying your opinion is invalid or wrong, but part of my frustrating was my inability to follow the action. There were legit scenes of Megatron and Starscream interacting and I couldn't tell which one was which.

It took me several seconds to figure out who was who in this scene, for instance. It has zero framing shots to establish who is talking, where the characters are, and the camera keeps breaking the shot so characters moving from left to right of camera so your eye is constantly trying to track them.
This scene just looks like crap anyway. It also really exemplifies how the effects they use are really nice looking, but nothing has any weight to it whatsoever. They just kind of float on the scene and have zero depth. It also doesn't help that they went with that goddamned circling camera shot that every movie wants to do since TDK.
 

Mr Jones

Member
Oct 25, 2017
803
I agree that on their own, the Bayformer designs are great...when they are simply supposed to be generic sci-fi creatures with no personalities and are just there to blow shit up/get blown up. The problem is that the entire point of Transformers is that these robots all have UNIQUE CHARACTERS AND PERSONALITIES. Bay turned what was supposed to be a tragic war about sentient robots murdering each other into fucking video game enemies.
I dislike the Bayformer movies as much as the next guy, but Transformers was all about cool looking robots fighting each other that would make for great toys and merchandise. If Michael Bay WAS able to turn this kids cartoon into a tragic war about sentient robots murdering each other, that would be dope.

But uh.... that's not what we got.
 

a916

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,977
It's the case a lot of the time nowadays. A design is just way wayyy too busy.

Like the new Power Rangers suits. Just way too noisy.
 

The Sum of Zero

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,279
AL, USA
Some designs I like, some definitely need improvement.

But, weird person that I am, movie 1 Megatron is my favorite out of all the movies and I'll go to the grave still thinking so.
 

ultramooz

Member
Oct 27, 2017
157
Paris, France
Tell you what also bothered me, they didn't look like they actually transformed into trucks and cars and stuff, there seemed to be way to much metallic gubbins flying around.
They just took the easy way out. Animating an actual transformation from car to humanoid robot is way more difficult than making a morphing mess of swirling metal parts.

The actual toys were really ingeniously made - and transformed in a mechanical and logical way.

Beyond the atrocious designs, the cinematography is one of the worst I’ve ever seen - literally headache inducing.
 

N. Tyranno

Member
Nov 6, 2017
1,417
They just took the easy way out. Animating an actual transformation from car to humanoid robot is way more difficult than making a morphing mess of swirling metal parts.

The actual toys were really ingeniously made - and transformed in a mechanical and logical way.

Beyond the atrocious designs, the cinematography is one of the worst I’ve ever seen - literally headache inducing.
This isn’t solely endemic to the Michael Bay movies

Watch Transformers: The Movie. Hot Rod transforms several different ways throughout the movie. In the G1 cartoon, Ironhide and Ratchet’s transformations are categorically impossible and involve their vehicle mode parts dramatically changing in size to produce a robot mode that shows very little of the actual vehicle mode. Beast Wars Dinobot’s transformation has his head swelling to the size of his very broad chest and whole portions of his vehicle mode disappearing behind him.
 

RoninChaos

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,178
You're missing what has some of the best high octane robot action in a western film, so there's that. The designs are messy, but you still get Optimus Prime beheading fools with an energon broadsword and Megatron unleashing a gundam cannon in downtown LA.
Yeah. And the third film had some fucking INSANE action. 2 was shit but that Optimus fight in the forest was pretty awesome too.
 

More_Badass

Member
Oct 25, 2017
16,128
You're missing what has some of the best high octane robot action in a western film, so there's that. The designs are messy, but you still get Optimus Prime beheading fools with an energon broadsword and Megatron unleashing a gundam cannon in downtown LA.
Sure, Bay is fantastic at moments and crazy spectacle set-pieces. I just feel incomprehensible pointless but epic spectacle is bad action, regardless of how cool it looks. Like I enjoy a lot of moments throughout the Transformers movies but I would never rewatch them or classify their sequences as well-made action.
 
OP
OP
Garlador

Garlador

Member
Oct 30, 2017
6,200
This isn’t solely endemic to the Michael Bay movies

Watch Transformers: The Movie. Hot Rod transforms several different ways throughout the movie. In the G1 cartoon, Ironhide and Ratchet’s transformations are categorically impossible and involve their vehicle mode parts dramatically changing in size to produce a robot mode that shows very little of the actual vehicle mode. Beast Wars Dinobot’s transformation has his head swelling to the size of his very broad chest and whole portions of his vehicle mode disappearing behind him.
Look, that has nothing on Soundwave. We didn't care.