a review of the script...
Reviewed by: El Mayimbe - 05.17.06
By John Rogers
Revision by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
2/28/06 Revision (DW DRAFT) 111pages
Yo! El Mayimbe here!
Fresh on the heels of the recent news that Michael Bay bought Digital Domain, yes folks, we here at Latinoreview got ourselves the Transformer’s script, or at least one of the drafts! So far, the online coverage Transformers has gotten has been pretty good and I want to shout my fellow online collaborators…Robert over at IESB.net for his video interview of Tom DeSanto, my man Stax over at IGN/Filmforce for his casting scoops and last but not least Quint of Ain’t it Cool News for his awesome interview at Michael Bay’s office last month. Their work has only wetted the appetite (it certainly has mine) for more Transformers news. Now I hope I can do my part and offer my contribution.
I’m a kid of the eighties and a diehard transformers fan. I’m 32 pushing 33 and Transformers was the shit around this time 20 years ago. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the animated Transformer movie that was released theatrically 20 years ago this August. Me and a bunch of buddies from Mike’s Comic Hut in Queens, NY went to the Quartet movie theater on Northern Blvd and sat in the theater that Friday afternoon at the matinee and stayed the whole day and saw it 3 times. Wow! It’s been 20 years man, how time flies. Growing up in the eighties was an awesome time for a kid, especially when it came to cartoons, and toys. We had Transformers, GI JOE, Voltron, and Thundercats. I remember it like yesterday. My Christmas gift of 1984 was the 1st generation Megatron, which I kept and eventually sold on eBay (which I now regret) for a tidy profit. I have the entire animated series run (on bootleg of course, also available from collector to collector on eBay), the DVD releases of the first 3 seasons, the entire marvel comics run bagged and boarded in storage, and the recent comic revival by the good and talented folks over at Dreamwave Studios. So I don’t want to hear shit, I’m a Transformers fan. I clearly remember telling my boy in the theater wouldn’t it be cool to see a live action real Transformers “movie.” That time is now upon us. My goodness.
Unfortunately now I have to address the haters out there who think I get fake scripts, leaked scripts or fan scripts. I have been doing script reviews now for almost two years for the site. It is all I do. I don’t do junkets, I don’t do set visits, I don’t interview anybody; I review scripts…pure and simple. Sometimes I’ll review a flick for Kellvin but for the most part I review scripts because the story starts with the writer. I have access to screenplays here in Los Angeles and my track record on the site speaks for itself. Look at the scripts I have given an advanced look at and look how my script reviews have come pretty much close if not dead on to the final film. Yes, a script changes as it reaches production, beats might change here and there but the structure and the story usually remains the same. If anyone is gonna get their hands on the script for the Transformers movie, it’s gonna be me. I give the upmost priority to the toy related properties of my youth like this and GI JOE and folks who read my reviews know I always get my hands on the real deal. That being said let’s talk about Michael Bay.
I’m a huge fan. Transformers is the movie I think he was born to do. Transformers is about spectacle and robots duking it out on the screen, Bay is the man at spectacle and I love the way he moves and dollies his camera. Bay is the king of coverage and is perfect for his film. There is rarely a static shot in his movies and that is fine with me. I absolutely loved “The Rock,” “Armageddon” (have both the criterion collection dvds of those two) “Bad Boys 1 and 2.” I even enjoyed his so-called flop “The Island.” Yes, he is a talkback whipping boy and unfairly so, but I love the guy and will always see his films. He is what popcorn cinema is about and I absolutely love the visual language of his films, the richness of his color palette, his camera moves, the whole nine. So as a hardcore Transformers fan, I’m telling my fellow fans to let the man do his thing. We’re in good hands.
The film got the right behind people behind it creatively also, mainly film titan Spielberg and uber cool producers Don Murphy (holla!) and Tom DeSanto. All the creative forces behind it, I don’t think the film is going to come out whack whatsoever…too many people care about the integrity of Transformers.
Before I get into the review, I am so in favor of Cullen and Welker reprising their roles as the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron. Their voices made these characters and it would feel a bit odd if the flick didn’t have the familiarity of their voices. But I understand where Bay is coming from if in 20 years of age they don’t sound like that anymore. If they do still sound like Optimus and Megatron, hands down give them the job!
Another point I want to bring up is that the fans have to be liberal and let the filmmakers contemporize the story to some degree. For example, Laserbeak, an old Decepticon favorite of mine would be outdated if he were around today simply for the fact that cassette tapes really don’t exist anymore. Get it?
Since we are talking about characters now, the burning question is who is in it?
On the Autobot end, the leader OPTIIMUS PRIME, his first lieutenant JAZZ (exotic car), IRONHIDE (the pickup truck) the weapons specialist forged in the Tri-Peninsular Torus states of Praxus, RATCHET (the ambulance) the medical officer, emissary to the High Council of ancients and last but not least BUMBLEBEE (camaro). Bay himself said on his site that the names will be changed other than the main few. That mainly applies to the Decepticons I think because in the script the Autobots, refer to each other in dialogue as the above names. These are the main and only Autobots. In the script we are told the Autobot names have been selected to approximate their behavioral temperaments.
Now the Decepticons. The names could change if the names in the script are aliases as Bay alleges, but you can’t change the character descriptions in the script of what they are. So I am going by what is currently written in this draft and the names or so called aliases given. Me personally, I don’t know why there is such a big stink over the names. So what?! I think it is a bad idea to change the names. Anyways the Decepticons, of course there is MEGATRON, then there is the latest F-22 RAPTOR (BAD ASS!) tentatively titled STARSCREAM, an M-1 ABRAMS TANK tentatively titled DEVASTATOR, a MINE CLEARING VEHICLE tentatively titled BONECRUSHER, an MH-53 PAV SPECIAL OPS CHOPPER tentatively titled VORTEX, a POLICE CAR tentatively titled BRAWL, the MECHANICAL SCORPION Quint saw at Bay’s offices tentatively titled SKORPONOK, and my favorite little decepticon – a BOOMBOX that transforms into the 4 ½ foot SOUNDWAVE. The only Decepticon mentioned by name in this draft by Megatron is Starscream. If I were a betting man, I would bet the house that Starscream would still be Starscream when the film comes out. The names might change, but I would also bet the house that the Decepticon vehicles remain the same as currently written and as I described above because they play into the story as currently written.
So what is the story about?
I guessed it pretty much way before I ever got the script. It is quite simple actually. What was the original Television series about? What were both the Decpticons and Autobots after that was depleted on their home planet of Cybertron?
The Energon Cube. A supreme power that imbues the Transformers with the gift of “spark” – the life force within all the Transformers.
So in a nutshell, Optimus Prime and the Autobots have to find the Energon Cube on Earth before Megatron and the Decepticons do. That is what the Transformer Movie coming next year in 2007 is simply all about. The Autobots and the Decepticons each have their reasons for finding the Energon cube, but I won’t spoil it here. Just know that is what the script is about.
Ok, so what is the verdict? Is it whack? Is it good?
As a diehard transformers fan, I reads this script objectively TWICE. Last night and today.
THE SCRIPT ROCKS! Utter adulation! The story is dope! I heard some minor rumblings around town how the script is whack – complete bullshit! The haters can kiss my ass. I loved it and it gets my blessing! I had such fanboy glee reading it that I will geek out and read it yet again this weekend. What a pleasure. Folks, BELIEVE THE HYPE! Transformers next summer will own you!
I catch a lot of flack from readers because I get complaints that I love everything I read. That is not necessarily true. I only write script reviews about what I like! I rarely write about whack screenplays and trust me I read plenty. If the script is good, I’m gonna sing the writer’s praises. If the script is whack, I rarely won’t say anything about it. Let someone else do it. That is why I got the rep I have because I stay positive with my reviews. If there is a big summer movie that I have NOT written a script review for -- 9 out of 10 times is because it is whack!
That is why I am giving this script the highest grade we can give here at Latinoreview. This script gets an A+ (a complete miracle)! You see, I have waited 20 years for this live action film and the story works for today’s audience and yesterday’s fans like myself. Just think about that for a second folks, a live action Transformers film is coming at us. Having the pleasure of reading this script made me feel like that 13-year old teenager again sitting in the Quartet movie theater on Northern Blvd. Reading this took me back there to my wonderful memories as a kid. I miss being a kid, I honestly do, I had a wonderful childhood and Transformers was a part of that. The recent Transformers animation on Youtube and the old one of that dodge neon transforming were pretty cool and that was made on a home pc, now imagine what eye candy the pros at Digital Domain are going to bring us next year. Either you were a transformers fan back in the day or you were a hater, which liked those week cartoons like the transformers rip-off GOBOTS or the other GI JOE rip-off MASK.
I read half of the very first draft of John Rodgers delivered in Jan 2005, I couldn’t finish the other half, my source had to give the script back and hence why I couldn’t do a script review on it like I wanted last year. I knew that I would get the script again eventually. The script and its development have progressed quite nicely. This current draft is up to snuff; it’s organic, nothing coincidental, the structure sound, and the action PLENTY! Especially the robot on robot action and the military on robot action. My goodness I can’t wait to see this translated to the screen. What Quint of AICN saw in the animatics is all here on the page. This draft is a lean 111 pages. Another thing about the script is how unexpectedly funny and witty it is! This thing is gonna get the right laughs in the right places. Certain parts of it had me rolling.
So out of respect to the filmmaking team on Transformers, I’m only going take a quick peek at the 1st 10 pages and keep the spoilers as lite as possible. I will just paint the broadstrokes.
The script opens 1 million years before the dawn of man with the energon cube hurtling through space on it’s path towards Earth. A narrator tells us that the ravages of war destroyed Cybertron, a war raged between the legions who worship chaos and those who follow freedom. They battled for a supreme power, the Energon Cube. It’s origin unknown yet it bears the life-force that created the transformer race. They fought until their world was awash in death until the very ground swallowed whole their once mighty cities and the cube was lost to the limitless stars. Then by fortune or fate, its course was altered, drawn to a planet called Earth. They have searched for the cube across desserts of time, hoping to find it before the dark legions, but as fate would have it, they were already too late.
We are then in the artic circle in 1897 on a national Antarctic expedition and focus on a derelict sailing vessel trapped in ice. The crew works desperately to free the ship. The dogs bark, there is something in the ice. The captain, two men and the dogs go out over the artic shelf and look at whatever is buried under the ice. A huge rift opens, one of the dogs and the captain falls into a 30ft fissure. We pull back and see the captain standing on the palm of a giant steel hand, half in and half out of the ice. A mechanized face is embedded within the ice wall, expression frozen in a scream. The Captain wipes away ice to reveal symbol on the mechanoid – the Decepticon emblem. The captain takes a pick axe and stars chopping away at the ice to take a better look, activates something on the robot’s chasis and something happens.
Next we are in present day Qatar, the Middle East as two air force cv-22 ospreys skim the dunes. Piloting the two planes, we meet SERGEANT WILLIAM LENNOX US AIR FORCE COMBAT CONTROLLER, and ARMY CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER JORGE FIGUEROA “FIG”, Dominican by way of the Louisiana Bayou who sings along to Reggaeton on the stereo. Holy cow! A Dominican like myself as one of the good guys! This is the Amaury Nolasco character and not the Michael Clarke Duncan character. My only gripe is that Dominicans don’t hail from the bayou. I have neither Dominican friends nor relatives and they have no Dominican friends or relatives who hail from the bayou. Any of you out there? Let me know. I am certainly a displaced Dominican here in Los Angeles so it would be a first if there were other displaced Dominicans in the bayou. Fig, like any food loving Latino, talks about pasteles and spiced adobo pork in this scene with Lennox and it makes me wonder if the writer Roberto Orci is Latino. But props to the writers for making the Latino character a heroic character.
Anyways, Lennox and Fig arrive back at Soccent Operations Center and we meet the rest of the Army team there on the tarmac – SARGEANT FIRST CLASS DONNELLY (Irish-American), and STAFF SARGEANT EPPS (the Tyrese Gibson character). We also meet an Arab boy MAHFOUZ.
Inside the operations center, a bogey appears on radar. Two f-22’s go and intercept the bogey. The bogey, a massive MH-53 helicopter appears over the dunes. The f-22 gives the bogey a warning and then escorts it back to base. There seems to be a mistake because that chopper was shot down 3 months ago. Something is not right with the Soccent Watch Commander. There has got to be a mistake. At the loading bay, the bogey lets out a loud shriek, disables all the radar and computers, transforms into the Decepticon VORTEX and attacks the base! It vaporizes a row of c-17 cargo planes! All the planes hangars are destroyed in the blast! Vortex rips the roof off of the JOC JOINT OPERATIONS CENTER and attempts to hack into the cray computers and tries to download a file:
PROJECT: ICE MAN: ABOVE TOP SECRET: SECTION SEVEN ACCESS ONLY. We see the alien transformer code. A techie takes an axe and cuts the hard line; the cable explodes, cutting off Vortex’s connection. Pissed off Vortex obliterates everyone. The op-center explodes in a thousand directions. Vortex stomps down and crushes a vehicle King Kong style! Complete chaos at the base. Skorponok disengages from Vortex’s back and goes on the hunt for Lennox, Epps, Fig, Donnelly and the other soldiers!
And that is just the 1st 10 pages folks! Action packed! The rest of the script is just as tight. The 3rd act is wall to wall action! A Transformer fan’s dream!
Some other 1st act story details:
- After the blockbuster opening we meet SAM WITWICKY at Tranquility high school, the unfortunate yet adorable dork that he is, his love interest MIKALELA BARNES, her asshole boyfriend TRENT DEMARCO. We also meet Sam’s Chihuahua MOJO.
- Sam’s father RON picks him up after school and they meet up with a shady car dealer BOBBY BOLIVIA. Since Ron got 3 A’s, his dad got four grand to buy Sam a car. Sam ends up buying a 75 Camaro, which we by now all know is BUMBLEBEE. The Autobot emblem is on the steering wheel.
- Later we meet MAGGIE MARCONI, 28 and GLEN WHITTMAN (Michael Clarke Duncan) who work at a Washington think tank the Rand Corporation. Glen’s character is funny as shit in this.
- Maggie gets taken to the Pentagon by agents and gets recruited by JOHN KELLER, the secretary of defense (John Voight), since she is a signal analyst to make sense of the signal and shriek that hit Qatar.
- And in a super cool sequence towards the end of Act 1, SOUNDWAVE is aboard AIR FORCE ONE! A Decepticon aboard the same plane as the President!
For now that is all I’m gonna say. The script is definitely MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE.
We also get to see the Transformers in their mechanoid states and see how they select their disguises or the vehicles they transform in and out. Like Bay said, we see how the military responds to a situation like Transformers. The chase sequence is off the chain. The battles are super cool, and there are some funny ass moments in this, like I said an A+…
Transformers is gonna be so huge and there is so much ground to cover that I may do a part 2 to this script review. Most likely not though, I’m not interested in giving the whole thing away. For sure, you guys are going to hear plenty in the next year leading up to the films release. I wonder what they are gonna show at this year’s Comic Con. But as it stands, I think I said enough to further wet the appetite of fans. For the most part, this thing is gonna earn serious Colombian Cartel cash and make at least a half a billion bucks theatrically next year.
So until the next episode…
YO SOY EL ALMIGHTY MAYIMBE!