Back To The Future Part II (1989)
I may be jumping on the bandwagon a little late here (as usual), but has anyone who's read this particular story had the same reaction as mine? (Or, when you do click that and read it, will you?) Megan Fox? Dropping out of Transformers 3? The horror! How can this be?
I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. A little perplexed, maybe, but hardly surprised. After all, this is only the latest in a long line of Sequels That Have Replaced Actors Because Of Popularity And/Or Pride Issues. It's a tried-and-true Hollywood tradition that's affected every movie series from Charlie Chan to James Bond to Batman to Don Cheadle stepping in for Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2. It's nothing new. Although to be fair, in this case it seems they aren't simply recasting the role so much as switching love interests altogether. Which is supposed to make the change a little less jarring, I guess. But whatever.
I get that movies are a fickle business. Especially franchises, which have become such a hot commodity among studios that production times are set in stone whether their casts are available or not. I get, too, that sometimes movie star egos get in the way, so when they ask for either too much money or too much extra screen time, executives decide they'd rather sever ties with them than bend to their demands. (To quote Jerry Maguire: it's not "show friends," it's "show business.")
In most cases, though, it's the narrative that suffers. Case in point. Megan Fox plays Mikaela Banes, the girl of Sam Witwicky's (Shia LeBeouf) dreams in Transformers. He spends the entire movie pining for her. They are inadvertently thrust together in a series of misadventures involving giant alien robots. The excitement draws them closer together, Sam gets the girl, the end. Then the inevitable sequel, Revenge Of The Fallen. More misadventures follow, during which Sam and Mikaela's big emotional thrust involves arguing over who'll say "I love you" first. (At least that's what I think they were arguing about; I couldn't hear much of the dialogue over all the explosions.)
All right. So far so good. Boy loves girl, boy impresses girl with his wit and courage, girl falls for boy, boy and girl declare their love for each other. Now, logically, the plot for Part 3 should follow Sam as he tries to muster up the courage to propose marriage to Mikaela while simultaneously dodging explosions. Right? Guess again. (I'm hoping the new script explains Ms. Fox's departure by way of Karate Kid Part II, where Sam's first line of dialogue is an offhand whine to Bumblebee about how Mikaela dumped him for some football player at UCLA.)
"Don't get too comfortable back there."
It's a well-documented Hollywood rumor that Michael Bay, everyone's favorite attention-deficit disorder director who brought us both Transformers movies (as well as Pearl Harbor and Bad Boys, among others) is a tyrant on his sets. To his credit, that's probably the most effective way to handle films on such an epic scale (you kind of have to act like a general to keep your budget down).
It's inevitable, though, that Bay's directorial style would rub someone the wrong way. After filming Revenge Of The Fallen, Bay and Fox reportedly traded barbs regarding each other's work ethic – though not to each other's faces, mind you. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Fox deduced (correctly) that "People are well aware that this is [a movie about robots and] not a movie about acting." Clearly hurt, Bay responded in The Wall Street Journal: "She says some very ridiculous things because she's 23 years old and she still has a lot of growing to do." (Bay then goes on to credit himself for "discovering" Nicolas Cage when he cast him in The Rock in 1996. As if we'd never sat through Raising Arizona, or been there when Cage won the Best Actor Oscar for 1995's Leaving Las Vegas.)
By the time Transformers 3 entered pre-production last month, it was assumed both parties had buried the hatchet (you can even find photos online of Megan on set, standing next to the yellow Chevy Camaro that doubles for Bumblebee). But then, out of the blue, came this. Behind-the-scenes wrangles regardless, bringing in a new love interest that "makes more sense for the story" is a particularly fascinating concept. Especially since they've already cast a Victoria's Secret model, Rose Huntington-Whitely, in the part.
Again, narrative-wise, this makes little sense. If I'm getting this right, the romantic plot of the Transformers trilogy now goes something like this: Boy meets Girl, Boy and Girl fall in love, Boy and Girl declare their love for each other, Boy dumps Girl Of His Dreams for Victoria's Secret model (which, when you think about it, is a different kind of Hollywood tradition altogether). We'll find out how the rest of the plot falls into place when the movie hits theaters July 2011, but at least one thing’s for sure: there will definitely be lots and lots of explosions. Nice we can look forward to some consistency in the next installment.
(Irony Alert: I mentioned Karate Kid II before, in which our hero Daniel announces at the beginning of the movie that girlfriend Ali has left him for someone else. Elisabeth Shue, who played Ali in the original Kid, later replaced Claudia Wells as Michael J. Fox's girlfriend in Back To The Future Part II. Kind of a reverse example of What Goes Around Comes Around.)