Disguise and stealth in the Movieverse

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by QLRformer, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. QLRformer

    QLRformer Seeker

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    I think a very special quality about the 2007 TFilm was the use of secrecy and stealth by the Transformers. This quality was both used for comic effect (the Autobots at Sam’s house) and for epic “47 Ronin” proportions (warriors in disguise who await the moment to strike – Blackout’s attack on the SOCCENT base, the Decepticons/Autobots mobilizing). This quality IMO forms part of the essence and mystique of a Transformer: a robot in disguise, a warrior in hiding, who transforms when the time is right and disappears back into his disguise till another time.
    It is a shame that this quality got somewhat neglected in the sequels with a full-scale Deception invasion in each film. The Decepticons in the TFilms don’t seem to care a lot about secrecy, and would rather discard it and attack in full force with an army rather than mobilize at crucial moments; with the first film at least there was the element of returning to disguise for the next time, as Blackout, Barricade and Starscream showed.


    In ROTF Megatron says “The time has come to reveal ourselves. No more disguises!” That was a point of no return that spoilt things somewhat. It was, admittedly, a necessary move: since the Decepticons had no way to look for Sam, they decided to reveal themselves to Earth, making a full-scale invasion smash into an aircraft carrier (literally) and Paris (to bag Sam’s parents), accompanied by a proclamation to the humans to hand Sam over. But IMO it had an unfortunate consequence: the world knows that Transformers exist, and no matter what disguise they take it won’t work for too long, they’ll be located and ousted eventually.
    Beyond this, there were concepts that worked well in showing off the fact that secrecy and hiding were a necessary factor for Transformers. There was NEST, a classified human-Autobot taskforce that searched for Decepticons in hiding. There was also Project Black Knife, a Sector Seven file on Transformers hiding out on Earth throughout its history. And finally there was the hidden Decepticons: Soundwave hovering above the Earth, and the Constructicons covert on a freighter. These concepts I felt fit well with what Transformers was all about.

    In DOTM things were similarly mixed. NEST is now public: the Autobots are now revealed to the world, with energon detectors installed in worldwide towns to keep watch of any Decepticons. They also serve as peacekeepers, heading around to take care of stuff the CIA or UN can’t handle (I guess they had to find some other job to earn their keep on Earth between Decepticon assignments).
    In spite of all the public awareness, there was another Decepticon invasion: they made a strike at DC and headed over in full force to Chicago, with a number of motherships. The Decepticons were admittedly stealthier in this film with the hiding, but like ROTF this was mostly plot-driven rather than inherent: they planned to move only when Sentinel Prime appeared (the Dreads’ battle, the DC attack), the Autobots were unable to detect Soundwave at Carly’s apartment, and later on with their foes blown sky high the Decepticons had no reason to stay hidden any more. Some didn’t even bother with acquiring disguises, as seen in Chicago there were an innumerable number of protoforms.


    The thing we split on, first and last, is that while Transformers can be covert, they can’t stay so for too long (especially in this age). There is no feasible manner to cover up a giant robot battle. Even the first TFilm’s Mission City battle was covered up rather awkwardly: according to MBay it was a natural thing (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418279/trivia - spoilers). Really? I know humans have a capacity to move on past what happened and even put it out of their minds, but a giant droid death match is not something you can just dismiss as an urban legend, especially with their urban fights.
    And besides throughout the franchise’s history Autobots and Decepticons have been revealing themselves to humans, and humanity’s response has been rather welcoming; in G1 both sides got thrown a freaking parade, and only around the IDW comics with ALL HAIL MEGATRON did the bleep get real and humans starting dealing with Transformers in both SERIOUS positive and negative ways.


    I just feel that if there were more robots bearing alternate modes, slipping in and out, it might have made for a more “Transformers” feel. I hope this post makes sense.
     
  2. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    It seems like the film lost a great opportunity when not only could Transformers detect each other in the alt modes but with a hand held scanner any humans could have detected them as.

    Just think if the alt mode made a Transformer totally undetectable. There could be all sorts of great tension with not knowing a Decepticon was in a parking lot until it was too late. Or Bumblebee having to hide among regular cars because the Decepticons had him out numbered.

    Sure you couldn't cover up their battles but if no one knew which car they were then the Transformers could fade back into the shadows after the fighting was over.
     
  3. shroobmaster

    shroobmaster Well-Known Member

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    Well some parts in DOTM and ROTf just legit don't need a single disguise for reals. In ROTF they're in the desert to kill humans and in DOTM it's an all-out invasion. They use disguise when they actualy need it, it's just that the villains in the movie didn't need them for the majority of the second and the third.

    Though there are some weird things I noticed "secrecy-wise", like Megatron's camp for example. They were just in robot mode there walking around and chilling, by all means the Autobots could've found them with freaking Google Maps.

    I also found it majorly weird how in the third movie only the crazy asian guy seemed to give a shit about the human boy whose face was shown all across the word with a giant robot telling people that he wanted his head on a pike.
     
  4. Overlord Balder

    Overlord Balder Voices Slugslinger!

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    Well, in the third movie, we had The Spymaster [tvtropes] Laserbeak. Who used Alt-modes to great effect [read: Paranoia].
     
  5. Omega Charge

    Omega Charge Prepare for trouble...

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    I agree; the sequels kinda missed the "robots in disguise" feel. Where after seeing the movie you could walk out into the parking lot and look around and wonder which of the cars around you might be hiding Decepticons. :lol 

    But there were still some cool moments of surprise such as Laserbeak as mentioned, and Carly's Mercedes being revealed as Soundwave.
     
  6. QLRformer

    QLRformer Seeker

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    So I saw SKYFALL recently, and this quote from the film stuck with me:
    “We’re responsible to the people we’re supposed to defend! We can’t hide in the shadows anymore - there are NO more shadows!”

    It sort of brought me back here. In the 1980s, a war fought in the shadows could stay contained in the shadows but only make a minor impact on the world. Nowadays, the war would spill out of the shadows and across the world, because we’re all linked now (one thing affects us all), because today we’re more updated (faster, more informative), and because an alien war is just not something to keep a secret as it's Earth and all its lives at stake.

    An alien war in a big city is not something to hide, so it has to be portrayed in spectacular large-scale fracases – but in between these fights, it would be nice if the Transformers would stay in disguise and transformed a lot more, as befits their name, and consequently least stayed out of detection a lot longer.


    Well, the detection isn't so bad, since there were energon detectors held only by NEST and the Transformers themselves (“It’s Starscream!” “He’s here. I smell him”). But DOTM screwed things up with these inconsistencies:
    - having energon detectors in every town (which didn’t seem to help when every Con was heading to Chicago), or in space (which helped pick up the Dreads but not Megatron’s camp in Africa)
    - Bumblebee, Sideswipe and Dino didn’t pick up Soundwave despite him being IN THEIR MIDST. Even if he IS a master spymaster they couldn’t miss him when he’s right next to them.
    - Optimus not picking up the watch-bot attached to Sam (he did so in the novelization, but not in the film?)

    I don't know whether they can stick with the disguise in TF4. I hope they can manage it somehow.
     
  7. WheelWave140

    WheelWave140 Hate's not cool, dudes!

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    That's always been my problem with the whole "Robots in Disguise" concept, once one Autobot meets one Decepticon, they both know the others alternate mode, and it's no longer a disguise.
     
  8. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    They could always reformat.

    With regards to the energon detectors they could just introduce a new form of energon that's - well - undetectable.

    How are the Autobots currently powering themselves? As far as I remember the Allspark was their only source of creating energon so presumably they're going to run out eventually.
    Let's say in TF4 the Autobots are suffering from an energon crisis and are now having to ration their supplies while they work on ways to either find or create more. Then Decepticons start making attacks across the planet and none of the energon detectors are warning of them in those areas. It turns out the Decepticons are back and now running on a new form of undetectable synthetic energon, perhaps supplied by a new leader (I wish it could be Ratbat, but who's going to take that seriously?). At a time when the Autobots are at their weakest the Decepticons are suddenly at their strongest and now there's also no way to detect where they're hiding.

    And then Optimus cuts a Decepticon's face off, drinks the new energon from it and is made strong enough to win the day. :p 
     
  9. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    I guess it would depend on the alt mode. Someone like Prime would have a hard time hiding after that because while he might be a common type of big rig his paint job makes him stand out. If it was a common vehicle with a common paint job there might still be a chance of mixing in with all the other vehicles that look like it.

    It's just too bad the films never used disguise to have someone blast the wrong vehicle thinking it was an Autobot or Decepticon.
     
  10. Ruthie

    Ruthie Well-Known Member

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    I agree with this in so many ways that I lost count. And it's not just their ability to transform that was contained to the point of insignificance, just about everything about them was given this treatment. One of the wonderful things about TF1 were the numerous allusions to how very different the Cybertronians are. ROTF not only failed to follow up on that, but reversed it. So by the time DOTM came along, the TFs seemed more like giant, metal humans than advanced aliens.
     
  11. TylerMirage

    TylerMirage I vawnt my berdt.

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    Unless I'm missing your point, I'm going to have to full-on disagree with this. The sequels did the exact opposite of what you imply. Yes, the concept of "disguise" was definitely dropped by the wayside for the sequels, but as shroob said, RotF and DotM had very little reason for a lot of disguise. The concept of transformation or them "being aliens" was never "contained to the point of insignificance". Disguise? Sure. Transformation? Not at all. Alien-ness? Never.

    In terms of "how very different the Cybertronians are", RotF gave us Wheelie, a microscope-bot, a panther, thousands of ball-bearings that combined into a razor-thing praying mantis, Side "Wheely McStabby-Feet" Swipe, the Arcee unicycle triplets, the Twins ice-cream truck combination, Jetfire's digitgrade legs/cane/back panels and of course, the half-dozen non-humanoid Constructicons in addition to the more humanoid characters. DotM gave us Laserbeak and Brains the laptop. If anything, RotF and DotM went all out on making Cybertronians seem like varying alien creatures, rather than all being "giant metal humans" and showed us truly just how very different Cybertronians are.

    I also have to laugh at this. Not the comment itself, FYI, but the mindset. :)  There's so much complaining about the Bayformer designs being so alien; that people want them to be more "giant metal human". This isn't a slight against you, Ruthie, not at all. This is merely me pointing out how the fandom wants different things. The filmmakers will never win. One side wants "more alien, less human" designs, the other side wants "less alien, more human" designs.
     
  12. jru42287

    jru42287 Where are my testicles, Summer?

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    How dare you forget my favorite 'Con, Demolishor? Two gigantic spinning wheels of destruction.
     
  13. TylerMirage

    TylerMirage I vawnt my berdt.

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    No need to fret, jru, Demolishor was definitely in my thoughts. He was included in my "the half-dozen non-humanoid Constructicons"-comment. :D 

    Demolishor/Scavenger is one of my favourite Bayformers designs because it's so unique.
     
  14. Maximo Prime

    Maximo Prime Bassist of Ill Repute

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    I'm pretty sure it was implied that optimus picked up on the watch.
     
  15. jru42287

    jru42287 Where are my testicles, Summer?

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    Samesies. It's even misguided me into liking his toy, even though deep down, I know it's a steaming pile of shit. And yet, I own three of them.
     
  16. Powersa

    Powersa Car Robots

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    I think Laserbeak alone does more Robot in Disguise than the combined rest in DOTM.
     
  17. Scorpio

    Scorpio Well-Known Member

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    Suprisingly the Decepticons in the movies are the ones more concerned with stealth. For example; Frenzy, Barricade, Sideways, Blackout, Starscream, Megatron (DOTM)

    Frenzy spent half the first movie darting around changing into things to avoid being found.

    Barricade spent most the first movie in car form and disappeared blending into the background until the third movie

    Sideways spent most of his time car mode, except when he had to change to jump through a building.

    Demolisher must have spent his entire time in recent years in his alt form (Given his scale it would have been difficult not to spot.

    Blackout chose to become a Helicopter to avoid detection and sneak in to steal the data - only transforming when in a situation he could not avoid.

    Starscream hid amongst aircrafts during the attack in the first and second movie.

    Megatron hid in his alt mode in the third film just to avoid startling the humans and causing them to flee before Sentinel's plan had been undertaken.

    The Autobots on the other hand prefer quick attacks and change into their alt modes to escape.
     
  18. Scorpio

    Scorpio Well-Known Member

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    Megatron comes in second suprisingly, spending most the movie hiding and arriving at the city in alt mode to avoid detection.
     
  19. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    Throw in Laserbeak as well. Sure he could fly up somewhere and kill people but he seemed to use a disguise to get close to the people he was going to kill.
     
  20. TylerMirage

    TylerMirage I vawnt my berdt.

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    He could probably murder half of that entire office building of workers in an afternoon before someone became suspicious. Killing someone, then reformatting into a different office supply, killing someone else, then becoming a printer. Killing the boss, and then becoming a computer monitor. It's like fighting an enemy you can't see (until it's too late).
     

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