I’m just going to jump right in and state that the Transformers cinematic franchise as it exists needs to die. “The Last Knight” was the final nail in the coffin, for me, as a long-time fan. I’ve given the franchise everything that I have and I’ve bit my lip so much there is a scar. Mister Bay has left his mark on the Transformers and we are not soon to forget him. The box office numbers are starting to drop, which is making a lot of folks anxious; the folks that make the big decisions. The Bumblebee spin-off is already happening and Travis Knight seems like a suitable name to put at the helm, but if he cannot save the dumpster fire that Bay and his “writers” have started, it’s going to be time to return the drawing board.
So who should done the torch, and hopefully save the honor of the Cybertronian race? Well, whomever dons the crown will have to possess a few specific qualities as a director:
- Respect for established lore and an ability to expand upon existing story elements.
- Experience with digital characters and large amounts of CG that integrate into their live action.
- A strong eye for how to film action sequences.
So let’s take a look at a few directors that are currently out there that could give the world a fresh look at Transformers and hopefully not leave fans with a battery-acid taste in their mouthes.
You probably know him from District 9 fame, but this director has been spear-heading the modern aesthetic of sci-fi since he hit the scene. He is launching his own film studio and putting out amazing bite-sized sci-fi shorts like Rakka and Firebase, which are conveniently located online for the masses to devour. His films have a gritty real-life quality all while relying heavily on CG plot-points and even, in the case of Chappie, main characters.
Sure, it seems like all of Blomkamp’s efforts have slipped a bit since the initial bombastic reception of District 9, but he has the tools and he has the talent. Fans of the Alien franchise, this Collecticon included, were salivating over the concept art that was displayed online for a Blomkamp reimagining of a post-aliens universe without the miss-steps brought on by Alien 3 and Ressurrection. Unfortunately for the universe at large, Sir Ridley Scott took his toys and went home at the thought of someone else once again out-classing his little sci-fi story.
The short and thick of it is that this guy is the real deal. He knows how to tell a story and he knows how to make things look real. He relies heavily on CG in his films and has a taste for lore as a fan, as in the case of how he wanted to jumpstart the Aliens story in a more compelling way. The real question here is if our lord and savior has any interest at all in the Transformers mythos or if he even wants to deal with big-budget Hollywood types at all. All I can say is Neill, if you’re out there, I think you’ve got the touch and you’ve got the power!
You almost can’t have this debate with another geek without bringing up J.J. While Star Wars and Trekkies received a healthy dosing of Abrams to save their sorry asses, Transformers & Ninja Turtlesfans were stuck in the corner being bullied by Michael Bay asking for all our plastic crack money. While not everyone on earth was ecstatic about Abrams’ takes on two of the holiest of holy stories, it’s hard to say that he did a bad job. Lens flares be damned, there was grit, there was glory and he made everyone a lot of money. Of all the directors listed here, he has the strongest pedigree from an executive standpoint.
What would a J.J. Abrams Transformers universe look like? I would hope that it would be a return to form, mostly revolving around the key aspects of robots in disguise, but perhaps we get a better establishment of locations away from Earth, like a real Cybertron setting. Abrams is all about easter eggs and keeping fans at least somewhat happy, a rule of franchise-building that Michael Bay would rather rip out of the book.
Again, is rebuilding a fan-hallowed franchise the sort of annoying challenge that an established director like this wants to take up for a third time? Ultimately, I believe it depends on his affinity to the brand and after tackling both Star Trek and Star Wars, what else is there? He’s not my first pick, but I’d definitely raise an eye brow if he showed interest.
Guillermo del Toro
If this guy isn’t a Transformers fan, then I’ll eat my left arm clean off. He’s done so much visionary film-making that I won’t even bother mentioning it all except his most relevant for this conversation, Pacific Rim. Of all the directors on this list, Guillermo probably has the biggest predisposition to telling stories about giant robot and the battles that tend to follow them around. He loves color, he loves sound, he loves wowing the audience visually! I don’t think he puts as much stock into practical effects as Michael Bay might, but his ability to make memorable and unique visual moments in his movies is hard to beat.
This guy loves making movies, and loves the fans of his movies. Of all the directors on this list, he seems like the one that would say yes to saving Transformers the fastest. He and Michael Bay even had a short press beef debating the finer points of their robot movies! Guillermo, just take Paramount’s call and show Bay how a real man choreographs giant robot battles.
Never heard of this guy? Well why are you even reading this blog then? Jordan single-handedly blew the minds of monster movie fans across the world with his incredible entry into the King Kong mythos, Kong: Skull Island.
The film places big-budget action in lush exotic locations with A-list stars, and of course, the beast himself, King Kong. Vogt-Roberts blew it out of the park so hard with this movie, any studio in Hollywood exec would have to be taking drugs not to consider him for the job. He flawlessly told a story with giant CG creatures on his first at bat, and he clearly had a lot of respect for the franchise. In fact, he probably made the best entry into the Kong pedigree of all time. This is the guy. He is my number one pick to take the matrix, and light our darkest hour. Plus, the beard!!!!
Well, those are my picks and I think we would be lucky to snag any of them as our next ‘point man’ on a revisited Transformers film series. I’ll also note a few runner’s up but I just doubt they would actually touch this thing with a 100 foot pole.
- Joss Whedon – I believe he could do the franchise some serious good, but he seems pretty anti-hollywood these days.
- Zach Snyder – Please no, but I’m sure he’d be in the running. Chances are he would create a less decipherable film than Michael Bay would.
- Jonathan Nolan – Yeah it’d be cool, but I bet he’d be a one and done with Transformers. We need someone that’s going to be in it to win it!
Nah, on all fronts. First two suggestions:
F. Gary Gray and James Wan. They’ve both been brought in to established vehicle-related franchises, and they’re both familiar with working with smaller budgets. That’s going to be key, because few people in the industry know how to stay on/under budget like Michael Bay. They probably know they can’t strike lightning twice there, so they’re not necessarily going to think bigger is better here.