An Open Letter to Christopher Nolan, re: Transformers

Dear Mr. Nolan,

Please please please please reboot the Transformers franchise.  I realise that you are a very busy man and that you probably get countless requests from earnest fanboys wishing that you would breathe life into their favourite dramatic concepts but I can assure you that this request is different.  Well, OK, maybe it is not different but please hear me out.

Transformers were my favourite toys for years.  In Hasbro’s glory days, they were the best-selling gifts in the UK for seven Christmases straight.  Now they are on the big screen, where they find themselves secondary to the screen romance of Shia LeBoeuf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Transformers, as an idea, is one of the best things there is.  It’s a fantastic allegory for what artificial intelligence might one day be like.  You see, so many writers envisage a time where robots rule over humans, where they will establish dominion over their creators in the same way that our empires subjugate others today.  Very few writers conceive of a time where there might be robots who, despite their intellectual and physical supremacy over us, might just choose – within the vast range of possibilities offered by robotic free will – to like us, and work with us.

However Michael Bay, the director who oversaw the three recent big budget films, turned Transformers into a parody of itself.  The plots had all the lightness and subtlety of a grand piano being pushed off an office-block.  They may have taken billions at the box office and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Megan Fox may have graced the sweaty dreams of many millions of men and women worldwide but, my God, they missed an open goal here.

We live in a time when human beings are building an artificial brain, where there seems to be a new algorithm poking its nose into our business each time we make a web search, and where our phones are so sure that they know best what we need that they have now started talking to us.

The time for a reboot is now. The Transformer series, just like Batman when you took it under your wing, has reached its lowest ebb.  The final film, Dark of the Moon, featured bad accents and Orientalist stereotypes and nauseating frat-boy office culture.  It is Batman and Robin with robots.  In fact, it might be nice if you could have a chat with Christian Bale, in case he’s kicking his heels. I think you two could really knock this out of the park.  Something dark, majestic and terrifying, where the first half-hour of the first film is a rainswept urban scene after nightfall.  I’ve seen this in my head a thousand times and I – ah, I’m sorry.  I’m doing that fanboy thing again.

Anyway, I just thought I’d ask, given that you seem to have managed making box-office smashes that don’t dumb it down.  Hope you have a great 2013, and I look forward to seeing what you do next.


With best wishes,

Musa Okwonga

P.S. I, ah, really liked Bane’s jacket in The Dark Knight Rises, if you could let me know who made it that would be awesome.

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