Realism vs Fantasy

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by QLRformer, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. QLRformer

    QLRformer Seeker

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
    Posts:
    15,059
    News Credits:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    302
    Likes:
    +1,861
    Realism is defined as treating a concept (no matter how fantastic) as if it exists and is tangible in the real world. The key, however, is the degree of realism employed.


    I present Batman as an example:
    - Tim Burton adapted the character as a combo of film-noir and surreal Goth: an eccentric millionaire who lives by himself in a big house, and at night dresses up in a freakish bat outfit and ventures into Gotham to eradicate criminals through intimidation and of course violence. Other revisions include the Joker as a psychotic clown who was responsible for Batman’s creation (and whom Batman created in turn) and the Penguin as a deformed monstrosity with social desires. Burton clearly set Batman/Gotham in their own shady skewed world.

    - Then came Christopher Nolan’s take on the character. He took a realistic approach, to portray just how Batman/Gotham would be in the real world. He portrayed Gotham as a crime-ridden corrupt town, and Batman as a masked vigilante, who received specialized training, who presented himself as an icon to do what few others could. Other revisions were Batman specifically targeting organized crime and corrupt cops as a means to clean up Gotham, the Joker as a psychotic anarchist/terrorist and perhaps most significantly Ra’s Al Ghul as the leader of a secret society of terrorists dedicated to “healing the world” (with his immortality revised into an alternate identity and later an ambiguous delusion).


    Nolan’s approach was a big hit; although Richard Donner and Bryan Singer had pioneered the idea of live-action heroes (Singer in particular had the X-Men lose their blue/gold suits and reinforced the genetic sciences and the social themes of “mutants as outcasts”) Nolan had in a way perfected the idea. It made a lot of film adaptations adopt this approach, the TFilms included; they place core focus on the impact the Transformers war has on Earth and humanity, and on the actual battles that occur (as well as the attacks on the humans).


    The thing is, the realism trend has generally been taken too far. Sometimes what is needed is NOT to make things realistic, but rather retain the fantasy element. That’s the route MARVEL took with much of its films, by setting them in their own world; in particular Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN and THE AVENGERS.

    And even before Marvel, Richard Donner, who directed SUPERMAN 1978, understood that it’s not 100% realism that sells the film but rather grounding PART of it in reality while allowing the rest of the fantasy to play out to its fullest extent - he had Superman fly, be invulnerable, etc but grounded the film in Superman/Clark Kent’s story and relationship (all his scenes with Lois Lane are fantastic). George Lucas did a similar approach with his 1980s STAR WARS films: it was set in a faraway galaxy long ago, but much of the appeal is in Luke Skywalker and his journey/interactions etc (especially his encounters with Obi-Wan and Darth Vader). That’s the route that should have been taken with films like THE SMURFS (they had to come to New York) and DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION (how dare they put Goku in a school and give him bullies!)... and perhaps with the TFilms too.


    The first two TFilms were able to maintain this fragile mix of realism and fantasy: shape-shifting otherworldly robot warriors hiding on Earth who suddenly appear and clash, but in a REALISTIC manner (the multi-component designs and the scanning). And some were discovered and documented (Beagle 2, Project Black Knife) and even experimented upon (Project Iceman). And of course there was the very existence of the robots: whenever they were on the screen they were a visual wonder and treat.

    However, I believe that things got sort of OVER-realistic, especially in DOTM. Instead of staying in disguise there were full-scale alien invasions; instead of flying Decepticons we had them in gunships; instead of alien tech like null-rays/sound-light shows/photon rifles/glass gas we had the ordinary weapons of firearms/blades/explosives/grapples. The exoticness was toned down and replaced with standard warfare, so to speak. And ironically the concepts that WERE fantastic were actually otherwise: the solar harvester didn’t get enough time to show its ecliptic/apocalyptic effect, and the physics-defying pillars should have skewed with Earth’s gravity; things like that would have made the threat and danger better. A stronger emphasis on fantasy might have improved things for the better, instead of the whole Nolan treatment.


    Of course, a significant element to make fantasy work is in the cast (The Fellowship of LOTR, the Z-Fighters of DRAGON BALL, the AVENGERS); when anything can happen in the story, the characters need to be grounded and likeable. A definite criticism is that these films give little time to the Transformer characters but cover them with the human characters and a lot of unnecessary/overlong scenes. There’s that to take note of: more time given to the robots (most people on the forum have said this, I’m in agreement, I’m just connecting it to the realism/fantasy topic).


    With the fourth film to reportedly have a space setting, there may be more character given to the Transformers and the fantasy element might be improved upon, which in its turn might lead to a better TFilm.
     
  2. opt1musaber

    opt1musaber Victory Saber's Recruit

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Posts:
    7,053
    News Credits:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Likes:
    +34
    I'd agree. Transformers is a line where fantasy is more suited. Funny thing for me is, even if it tries to be realistic, it still reeks of BS when humans are capable of taking down a transformer with a single shot to their "weak" spots...I want to see Transformers come and be completely unstoppable, where the only beings capable of stopping the evil-doers are other Transformers, NOT HUMANS. That's the one thing that I absolutely hate with the Bay movies. I'd also agree about their weapons. What happened to all their null rays and advanced weaponries. A highly advanced race and yet they got so many weaknesses and are covering fire for humans of all roles for them to play.....
     
  3. TylerMirage

    TylerMirage I vawnt my berdt.

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Posts:
    7,355
    News Credits:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    176
    Likes:
    +14
    I'll probably have more thoughts on this later, but for now, I don't have enough time. ;) 

    I think the subject of "realism" vs. "fantasy" can be subjective for most viewers. One can look at Bayformers and say that the trilogy is (to varying degrees) "grounded in realism". And yet another person can look at the movies and say that they are (to varying degrees) "fantastical and very science-fiction-y". There's plenty of examples for both of those concepts (which I might bring up later).

    Like many other things, it's all about balance. Striking that proper tone between down-to-earth realism and fantastical adventure. Personally, I think the movies have struck that balance pretty good. They've got 'gritty' realism, but they also have 'pew-pew' sci-fi fantasy. It's not "realism" like Nolan's Batman movies, but it's also not "fantasy" in the sense of Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids/Shark Boy and Lava Girl. It's that middle ground; which I believe a lot of action movies these days (MCU, for example) try to accomplish. Being "real" when they need to be, but not being afraid to take a few steps into the "fantastical" when they want to. Be "real" when you can, be "fantastical" when you can. BALANCE.

    Transformers is the kind of material that has great potential for both of those ideals. It all depends on the specific subject matter you want to visualize, and also on the creative control of the movie.
     
  4. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2007
    Posts:
    14,775
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Likes:
    +1,052
    Yea I'm not really a fan of realism for films like Transformers.

    Once in a while you get someone like Christopher Nolan who can pull it off, but it takes a lot of talent to pull it off. Not just in the director's chair but you need actors who can sale the realist approach.

    If I want realism, well there are plenty of films to get a realistic look at war with real world weapons. Not just big budget because I've seen some great independent movies with a war theme.

    Something different just works into my need to get away from reality. Some of my favorite scenes from the Transformers films involved over the top things like the weapon Blackout used on the military base in the first movie or Prime jumps out of the plane in the second movie.
     
  5. Leonis Prime

    Leonis Prime Ai-Megumi's Man

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2012
    Posts:
    1,247
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +4
    Batman is one of few characters where realism can work best, due to the fact that doesnt have any powers, but for Transformers, I think that it should follow the route that Marvel have gone down.
     
  6. Sso02V

    Sso02V Injector Has a Posse

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Posts:
    8,608
    News Credits:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    237
    Likes:
    +40
    So why have them land on Earth to begin with if Humans are just going to be set dressing?
     
  7. Autovolt 127

    Autovolt 127 Get In The Titan, Prime!

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2006
    Posts:
    82,270
    News Credits:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    412
    Likes:
    +689
    I don't care as long as the movie is good.
     
  8. TylerMirage

    TylerMirage I vawnt my berdt.

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Posts:
    7,355
    News Credits:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    176
    Likes:
    +14
    Agreed.

    That's one thing I remember vividly about seeing RotF in theatres for the first time; noticing the definite increase in overall "fantastical-ness" from the first movie. More unique designs, sweet scenes like Optimus airdropping, The Fallen/original Primes more organic/Egyptian-esque design, the "doomsday" device, concepts like Reedman and so on. A different pace from the first movie, which was more of the "let's just introduce and establish these concepts, but keep them on the sideline"-movie. RotF decided to have some fun with the potential of the franchise. And I loved it (for the most part).

    Then DotM came along and - in my opinion - upped the fantastical elements of the movie even more; more robot-centric scenes, Optimus and Ratchet taking the Xanthium to the frickin' moon to retrieve Sentinel (still love that we got to see Optimus and Ratchet hopping along the moon's surface), levitating Cybertronian artifacts like the pillars or when Optimus revives/exchanges the Matrix with Sentinel, the full-scale invasion, the 'Con gunships, the driller, transporting planets with physics-defying pillars, weapons like Sentinel's rust cannon, etc..

    So basically, no matter whether or not you classify the trilogy as "realistic", "fantasy" or somewhere in between, the films have definitely been getting more and more fantastical as they progress. They still try to be "realistic" when they have to be, but as I said in my above post, they're also not afraid to just say "f**k it" and go for something super crazy sci-fi. Still keeping it real, but slowly becoming more sci-fi, which I love.
     
  9. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2005
    Posts:
    14,907
    News Credits:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    287
    Likes:
    +219
    Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

    I remember back when the first BayFormers was in production and so many things from the TF franchise were rejected because they weren't apparently realistic enough. Having their own spaceships being an oft-mentioned example. More humanistic or cartoony faces on TF another.
    But over the following two movies the realism thing got altered. Skids and Mudflap with their extreme faces in RotF and then the spaceship overkill in DotM, going so far the other way that TF were now piloting attack jets rather than transforming into them.

    And yet other things were still carried through because of the supposedly important 'realism' factor. Gotta have humans be heavily involved. Gotta have all this human military involvement in the Autobot ranks because it's so realistic.
    Base things in reality, yes, but don't be so slavish to them, especially when the realism card is touted about just as an excuse to include certain things and exclude others.

    Autobots should be essentially under the command of humans because that would be how things realistically would go? Urgh. I hate the scenes where some human pen-pusher is telling the Autobots off and telling them what to do or not do. Realistic? Maybe. But I'd much rather the Autobots have their own base of operations and live as real characters and have the humans come to that and be amazed once in a while than going the realistic route of having a human facility where the Autobots sit around in alt mode until needed and the Autobots don;t actually seem that special at all.

    This thing of hammering realism into stuff that is basically a sci-fi or fantasty movie needs to stop. Or at the least be toned back down again. I just thank Zod that somebody involved with the movie didn't decide the concept of aliens (and sentient robotic aliens at that) was too unrealistic and the Transformers should've been created on Earth by humans instead.

    I hate it when something is taken and then given the 'realistic' and/or 'dark and mature' overhaul and it then loses some of the heart or character the pre-existing version(s) had. Very rarely is a decent balance reached.
    What's so great about realism? Why the obsession with applying it so heavily to things that have an unrealistic core to their premise? I rarely watch a movie of the fantastical type because I want realism. I've got enough realism in my life everyday.
     
  10. opt1musaber

    opt1musaber Victory Saber's Recruit

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Posts:
    7,053
    News Credits:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Likes:
    +34
    Ask Michael Bay.
     
  11. Meta777

    Meta777 Dr Pepper Fan

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Posts:
    13,244
    Trophy Points:
    277
    Likes:
    +430
    To be honest, I'm not really seeing any devolution, so to speak, of the fantastical element in this series. The first movie awed me with the comets streaking out of the sky, turning into robots, picking vehicle modes and heading off after the super cube and fighting evil robots. Then the second moive had a robot made out of lots of marbles, a sun-destroying pyramid thing, an evil guy with telekinesis and a lightning guy attatching a jet to a zombie robot. Then the third movie has a fire truck with an acid gun and floating pillars that shift entire planets, more robots on the Moon, a giant worm that is driven by a cyclops robot, an evil bird turning into a pink midget and grappling gloves.

    I'm highly satisfied with the fantastical sci-fi nature, and I like the realistic touches as well. My two cents.
     
  12. agp

    agp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Posts:
    1,216
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    177
    Likes:
    +248
    My number one concern with realism is that characters react to situations like a real person would. Transformers are aliens but they are still based on human personalities. Real people talk more and have more social interactions than they allowed the transformers too. I find it easy to suspend disbelief when the characters are reacting and interacting the way real people do.
     
  13. TNG Prime

    TNG Prime TNG Prime IS a title!

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Posts:
    372
    Trophy Points:
    76
    Likes:
    +0
    They had cool powers, and levitation, along with teleportation, and yet they didn't go Unicron Trilogy with all those flashy lasers and energy waves.

    In other words, the perfect balance. For more details, I once again agree with Meta.
     
  14. Rusty24

    Rusty24 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Posts:
    13,174
    Trophy Points:
    277
    Likes:
    +731
    I think it is necessary to make the universe seem realistic to the audience, but it shouldn't be hyper-realistic. Take the new Amazing Spider-man movie for example. I think that had a great tone. It was set in a world that we could relate to, but many fantastical things still happened. Though the story was darker in tone, it also kept some bits of fun. I think that this should be applied to Transformers. Set it in a world we can relate to and don't shy away from fantastical stuff and play it straight.
     
  15. Chris James

    Chris James Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Posts:
    3,138
    News Credits:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    222
    Location:
    San Diego
    Likes:
    +1,389
    they handled the sci-fi well except for ROBOT HEAVEN....WTF. robo heaven was the only laugh I got out of rotf.
     

Share This Page