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More Than Meets The IMDB: The Transformers could be coming to the big screen, partly courtesy of X-Men( [0-9]+)? screenwriter and producer Tom DeSanto. NYCB has the scoop, mainly due to our penchant for brazenly manufacturing entire interviews from whole cloth.

News You Can Bruise: Is there any artifact of our youth for which you wouldn't write a treatment?

Tom DeSanto: Well, there was already a He-Man movie, so that's out.

NYCB: But the He-Man movie sucked.

TDS: That's because it was made too early. It was made in the 80s, when only ten-year-old dorks would see it, so it was a dorky movie. Now those dorks are 25 and have disposable income, but the market's tapped out. He-Man is a joke.

NYCB: So, would you write, say, a Gobots treatment?

TDS: No, because the Gobots were a pathetic ripoff of the Transformers. Let me give you an example. You know how the boss of the good Gobots was a fighter jet named "Leader 1"? Well, one of the merchandising tie-ins for the Gobots was this Gobots activity book for kids. One of the activities in the activity book was a word search where you had to find the names of the Gobots. In the first place you have an activity book which is destined to show up at the Pic 'N' Save in six months. Second, that activity book contained a word search, which is simply busy work to gets kids to be quiet for a while. Finally, you'd look at this word search and there'd be all these random letters and right in one of the corners there was a numeral 1. And that's where Leader 1's name was.

NYCB: Wow.

TDS: Totally amateurish!

NYCB: So, in a live-action context how do you plan to deal with the fact that there are effectively no humans in the Transformers universe?

TDS: Well, there are humans, but nobody cares about them. They just fix things and get into trouble. So I'm going to introduce a new human character, Humie the Human. He's someone the audience can relate to.

NYCB: Does he transform?

TDS: Yes, he transforms into a tugboat. No, he doesn't transform. Ha!

NYCB: Ha! What are the difficulties in doing a live-action treatment of something as essentially cartoonish as the Transformers?

TDS: I don't understand the question.

NYCB: Well, like so many cartoons of the 80s, the Transformers cartoon existed only to sell toys. The cartoons were basically renditions of what you might see in your imagination playing with the toys, and that's why you suspended disbelief. But if you see it as a live-action thing you're not going to see them as toys, and you're going to wonder why the Transformers were built in the first place.

TDS: Uh-huh.

NYCB: Like with X-Men you could suspend your disbelief because mutants don't have control over what abilities they have. There's not some Rawlsian preexistence where you decide what sort of mutations are good and then everyone is born and gets one of the ones you decided on. You take whatever your genes give you. But Transformers are constructed beings, and you gotta wonder why anyone would decide to build this combination bulldozer/battle robot, unless they were just making a toy. The X-Men had this super plane, but it was based on the SR-71 Blackbird. It didn't turn into a robot.

TDS: Uh-huh.

NYCB: So how do you plan to resolve this problem, of suspension of disbelief?

TDS: Well, there are tricks of screenwriting you can use to induce the suspension of disbelief. For instance, for the first twenty minutes you can have it be a perfectly normal movie about a normal modern person's life, and then the first plot point happens and kablooie! It all goes to pot.

NYCB: Wow! Has nobody ever told you how boring that is?

TDS: Well, keep in mind that during the first twenty minutes of the movie a lot of people are still coming into the theater, or they go out to get popcorn, and if something weird is happening when they arrive you get a lot of talking in the theater, which nobody likes. But sometimes test audiences react negatively to this extended normalcy sequence, so the standard procedure is to put a flash-forward scene at the beginning and then treat most of the movie as a flashback.

NYCB: But that's just a sop thrown to the audience to get them to sit through twenty minutes of boredom! You should start right in the middle of the action and not let up!

TDS: Okay, but the other problem with that, and I probably shouldn't say this, is the musicians' union. You know how every movie has this wishy-washy opening music that's all heavy on the woodwinds? That's because there is otherwise no place for the flute and the piccolo in modern moviemaking, and the flautists and piccoleers become angry. That wishy-washy music requires a mundane introductory sequence over which to lay the credits.

NYCB: There's a conflict I've felt goes to the very heart of the Transformers mythos, and that is Grimlock. Grimlock is a T-Rex, which is awesome, but he's also a Transformer that looks like a dinosaur, which is even stupider than one that looks like a bulldozer. So my question for you, is, do you want to improve on the rather simplistic notion of good and evil presented in the original Transformers series?

TDS: Wow, you got me.

NYCB: Yeah, you thought it was gonna be some lame fanboy question about Grimlock.

TDS: Usually interviewers don't get so involved in the creative process.

NYCB: I do because I care about the movies.

TDS: Well, I don't think the Transformers have a simplistic morality at all. You have good Transformers, and you have bad Transformers.

NYCB: Yeah, but take Magneto for example. He wasn't evil the way Megatron is evil. He did things that were evil, but they served towards a goal; he wasn't doing them just to be evil.

TDS: But every single movie has that sort of villain nowadays. So if you have someone like Megatron who just wants to wreak havoc for no real reason, it's a refreshing twist. Because you have no idea as to his motivation, you never know what's coming next.

NYCB: Bizarrely, you have a point.

TDS: When reviewers say that a character is "mysterious" it just means that they liked the movie but this character had no motivation. It's completely independent of whether or not the movie is good. People who say that characters should have motivations are just exposing their inability to tolerate the mysterious.

NYCB: What's the one thing you want moviegoers to take home from their live-action Transformers movie experience?

TDS: I want people to leave the theater totally mystified and overwhelmed by Godzilla's invincibility.

TDS: Wait a minute, I never said that. That was Shogo Tomiyama, producer of Godzilla 2000! Don't you do basic fact checking?

NYCB: You never said any of the other stuff in this interview either.

TDS: Fair enough.

NYCB: It's been a pleasure, Tom.

TDS: Well, I'm not sure what the ontological status of this conversation is, but if it had actually involved me the pleasure would have been all mine.

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