*Caution! This article contains spoilers for ALL of the live-action Transformers films!*
Before you lose your shit and start calling blasphemy at the title of this post, please take heed and understand the face that the above phrase is only in reference to the live-action Michael Bay version of the character.
I grew up watching the original Transformers.
Optimus Prime was, and is; one of my biggest heroes.
That being said, after (finally) watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I can honestly say, with an absolute degree of certainty; that Michael Bay’s take on the character barely qualifies as a “in name only” representation of the original Optimus Prime.
Watching Optimus Prime evolve, or should I say, degenerate; from film to film has been a horrific and sickening process.
The original character of Optimus Prime was that of a regal and clean-cut goody goody.
He was noble to the point of being kind of a tool, he rarely was at the forefront of combat, deferring most of the dirty work to his Autobot cohorts, and in every case, regardless of how practical it may be; he did whatever he could to stand for peace and altruism.
He was an admirable role model for impressionable young children, and one that, in a perfect world, would still hold up to this day.
The first live-action Transformers movie, a mediocre film overall, but easily the best of the trilogy; took many liberties with it’s interpretations of many of the Gen 1 characters, however when it came to Optimus Prime, it mostly got it “right.”
In Transformers 1, Prime was every bit as regal as his old self, with the sole exception of a few uncharacteristically goofy moments.
One of his finer moments in the film came at the very end, when Prime attempted to sacrifice himself and the All-Spark.
He never once suggested using it to destroy Megatron, nor did he ever seem at any point prepared to outright kill his lifelong rival.
While his character was never developed to the point in which anyone could really care about him, it was nonetheless very appropriate to have Prime mourn the death of Jazz at the film’s conclusion.
Really Prime’s only really odd moment was during his battle with Bonecrusher, wherein he basically decapitated the severely outmatched Decepticon without giving it a second thought.
While somewhat shocking, dealing with his opponent at the time, quickly and efficiently; was cause enough justify Prime’s course of action.
Even so, while it was cool to see Prime cut loose and kick-ass, it’s hard for me to associate the phrase “stone cold killer” with him.
Which brings us to the train wreck that is Revenge of the Fallen.
Probably the worst in the trilogy, Revenge of the Fallen’s version of Optimus Prime was worse than the first film, but in my opinion; not quite as bad as the 3rd one.
Not all too different from his Transformers 1 counterpart in speech and mannerisms, the one really noticeable change in his character came in the form of a gung ho, “kill them until they die from it” attitude.
I’m guessing it makes me sound like a pussy to say so, but I was downright shocked to see Optimus blow Demolishor’s head off at the beginning of the movie.
While far from the dumbest or most offensive sequence in the movie, seeing a childhood hero think nothing of executing a defenseless opponent just seemed really fuckin’ wrong to me.
Similarly, it came as a shock to me that Prime would brutalize and utterly obliterate The Fallen at the film’s conclusion.
The world was no longer in danger, and in his “Super Saiyan Prime” form, The Fallen seemed to be no match for him; so in my mind it seemed kind of odd for Prime to go the extra mile to butcher and obliterate his opponent.
I’m not at all opposed to killing in Transformers movies, however I do take offense to unjustified killing via the hands of Optimus Prime.
Killing Blackout during the 3-on-1 battle in the forest (arguably the best scene in any of the movies) came as a result of necessity I.E. defending himself and more importantly, Sam.
Decapitating a defenseless, and largely incapacitated opponent, was hard to justify outside of appealing to a bloodthirsty audience.
There was a phrase that Prime tossed around in virtually every episode of the old TV show, namely that of “Easy, Ironhide.”
This phrase was meant to separate Prime from his more bloodthirsty counterpart.
The phrase was used in Transformers 1, but somewhere down the line they decided to ditch it and the philosophical implications it brought to the table.
That being said, while Prime was obviously trending towards a more bad-ass persona in Revenge of the Fallen, in my eyes they took this much too far in Dark of the Moon.
Prime’s role in Dark of the Moon was somewhat diminished in comparison to the previous films in the series, however his behavior in the 3rd film was borderline offensive.
First off, and this applies to all of the Autobots; I found the idea of the Transformers rallying behind the U.S. military to combat terrorism to be more than a little insulting.
Throughout every film, Optimus Prime has declared himself to be an ally of humanity, making it completely absurd that he and the other Autobots would seemingly align themselves exclusively with the U.S., a single nation among hundreds of others.
I know these movies have obligations to portray the U.S. military in a certain way, largely due to multi-million dollar contracts with the armed forces; but attempting to trick kids into believing they’ll get to hang out with autonomous transforming robots when they sign-up is more than a little offensive.
Oh well, at least it’s not as dumb, or as blatant as Taiwan’s military ad campaign:
Moving on, it’s hard to deny that Prime’s gung ho/take no prisoners attitude from Revenge of the Fallen was turned up to 11 for Dark of the Moon.
Gen 1 and first film alum, Ironhide, as well as a handful of other Autobots are killed in the film, however at no point does Optimus Prime take a moment to reflect on their passing.
The death of any Autobot is always going to be a big deal, but for IRONHIDE, one of the most well known and beloved characters in the franchise to pass on without acknowledgment; is pretty fuckin’ lame.
What’s also pretty fuckin’ lame is hearing Optimus Prime arrive at the battlefield and declare bullshit G.I. Joe phrases like:
That’s a direct quote by the way.
I don’t care how many civilians the Decepticons kill, to hear the venerable leader of the Autobots order a fuckin’ genocide on the opposition is just plain fuckin’ wrong.
To make matters worse, Prime once again can’t seem to stop himself from killing everything in sight.
Countless (generic) Decepticons meet their fate at the hands of Prime in Dark of the Moon, however the really offensive deaths come at the film’s conclusion.
At one point Megatron proceeds to offer Prime a truce, whereupon Prime interrupts him and proceeds to tear his fuckin’ head off.
Following this, a mortally wounded Sentinel Prime crawls about on the ground and begs for his life, whereupon Prime interrupts him and proceeds blow his fuckin’ head off.
Apparently, negotiation is not one of the Autobot’s strong suits.
I don’t know about you, but shit like this grinds my motherfuckin’ gears.
It’s like the equivalent of a grossly unwarranted and unexpected heel-turn of a beloved face in wrestling.
The only difference is, in wrestling shit like that usually ends up paying off in the long run.
Corporate Rock, while hard to swallow in the first few months, was one of his better moments.
G.I. Kill-Master Prime, as well as any of the live-action Transformers films, will likely continue to be shitty as ever 10 years from now.
Anyway, I won’t be writing a review for Dark of the Moon, (it sucked) but I felt I needed to pound out this article, because I genuinely felt that this interpretation of the character was entirely “wrong.”
Oh well, I guess this is the kind of shit you have to expect from movies when the military is heavily invested in their making, the countries’ been at war for over a decade, and kids have been living off Call of Duty games and their imitators for the past 8 years.