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Top 10 Reasons People Hate the Transformers Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Garrett Alden Michael Bay's live action adaptation of the Transformers franchise has received mixed reviews, and while we're not necessarily saying we think they're bad, here are some reasons that they catch a lot of criticism! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Reasons That Some People Hate the Transformers! But what will take the top spot on our list? Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to Sean Collins for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+Ten+Reasons+People+Hate+The+Transformers+Movies

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These are the reasons why we wish these films would transform or roll out. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 reasons people hate the “Transformers” movies.

For this list, we’ll be going over the reasons why the live-action adaptations in this beloved franchise have become despised by critics and fans alike, despite their financial success. For the record, we’re not saying they’re without redeeming factors, but there are a lot of reasons to hate them, and they’re hard to ignore without figuratively turning off our brains.

#10: Women Are Depicted As Sex Objects

Michael Bay. This is just the first of many issues on this list that maybe can be explained with those two words, but let’s go into a bit more detail. The number of named female characters from every film in the series can probably be counted on one hand, and most are treated as little more than eye candy for the teenage boy demographic that Bay’s often accused of catering to as a director. Even the extras are often subject to gratuitous, borderline pornographic framing on screen. Girls can like robots in disguise too, so it’s a little alienating and shortsighted that so few of the female characters are given as much personality as their male counterparts.

#9: Excessive American Patriotism

It’s alright to love one’s country, but there is an overwhelmingly unnecessary amount of patriotic symbolism present in these films. The American military is prominently featured in every installment, with several major characters serving either as soldiers or officers in the armed forces. Despite their significant presence, their contributions to the plot can vary wildly between entries, ranging from essential to negligible. Perhaps Bay is trying to make up for the patriotic-misfire that was “Pearl Harbor”... But, if you’re in the mood for a drinking game, take a drink every time an American flag appears onscreen and see if you can stay conscious until the credits.

#8: Driven by Product Placement

While some of the product placement makes some sense, given that the Transformers do turn into vehicles after all, it doesn’t end with motorcars or aeroplanes. Brands of anything and everything are on full display here, including, but not limited to: soft drinks, musical groups, toys, and electronics. Even foreign products get their spotlight starting with the fourth film, which has a large portion of the story set in China for little to no reason. Sure, the original cartoons were literally made to sell toys, but the movies didn’t have to try to sell us everything else too.

#7: Juvenile Humor

Where do we even begin with this one? These movies can feel like a constant barrage of jokes so lowbrow that even Neanderthals would turn their noses up at them. Pee jokes, penis jokes, robots humping humans, dogs humping dogs …the list goes on and on. Yes, juvenile humor can be funny when used in tandem with other types of humor or when it’s in a straight up comedy. But in a film series allegedly about transforming robots from outer space, potty humor feels – at best – out of place, and at worst, like empty, cheap padding.

#6: Racist Stereotypes

Racial sensitivity can be a difficult issue to grasp, but with these films, it’s like no one in charge has even heard of the term. The most obvious offenders are in the first two films, with the first featuring several buffoonish black characters and Transformers that speak almost entirely in “ebonics”, and the second breaking all kinds of new ground in robot-racism. But it’s not limited to black stereotypes either! No, there are also plenty of Asian stereotypes, like the samurai-like yellow-faced Autobot in the fourth film, and, of course, “Deep Wang.” Do robots even have races?

#5: They Don’t Respect the Source Material

It’s perfectly possible to make a film adaptation that’s both accessible to the average viewer and satisfies hardcore fans. Unfortunately, that does seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. And here, it’s more than just the little tweaks as well, although there are plenty of those to annoy fans. Case in point: Optimus Prime having a mouth. Just imagine your favorite franchise becoming associated with shoehorned product placement, objectified female characters, racist stereotypes, chest-thumping patriotism, and dogs humping, and that should give you some idea of how hurt some “Transformers” fans are by these movies.

#4: Obnoxious/Annoying Characters

Sometimes flaws in a film series can be overlooked when the characters are likable and fun to watch. For many, this is not the case with the “Transformers” series. Firstly, the main human protagonists are often cited as unsympathetic and/or whiny. The fact that none of them experiences much character growth - over the course of a single film or the series in general - is another common criticism. Then there’s the abundance of so-called comic relief characters, whose personalities are often one-note caricatures of racial, cultural, or gender stereotypes and whose only contribution to the plot is to scream at events unfolding around them, rather than contribute anything meaningful to the story.

#3: The Action Is Hard to Follow

Considering how much slow motion is used in the “Transformers” movies, it can be tremendously difficult to figure out just what’s going on in a lot of the fights. Part of it is the designs of the Transformers themselves, which can be difficult to tell apart even when they’re standing still, let alone when they’re slamming into one another. Another major factor is how the action - particularly the fight scenes between Transformers - is filmed: it usually involves a lot of shaky cam and extreme close-ups. While this does give the audience members a sense of immediacy with the fights, it can also cause confusion, or worse: motion sickness.

#2: The Writing

Many of the issues with the series would be far less noticeable, or at least more forgivable, with better writing. Michael Bay can be a competent enough director when he’s given good material, but the live-action “Transformers” movies can be incredibly formulaic, often hitting the same beats every single time. Human protagonist gets involved with Transformers because bad guy wants a thing, some comic relief, government bad, military good, some more comic relief, and then an overlong final battle. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the plot holes! Fans could be a bit more forgiving if the plots and characters were written with a modicum of respect, dignity, or even thought, but these concepts are rarely demonstrated.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable – or in this case, dishonorable mentions:
- Too Many Explosions
- Style Over Substance
- Excessive Runtimes

#1: They Focus On the Humans Too Much

As a narrative device, focusing on the humans to introduce audiences to the idea of the Transformers actually works well…the first time. But turning them into Godzilla-like movie monsters doesn’t really work when they’re intelligent beings with actual motivations - no matter how hard these films try to convince us otherwise. It drives fans crazy that the humans have not only made the Transformers secondary characters in their own movies, but that they’re more cartoonish and unsympathetic than the robots! Why does a series called “Transformers” not want to give fans some Transformers? Unlike the ‘80s animated film, these movies may have “the power,” they haven’t “got the touch.”

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