Critics Trash 'Transformers 3,' But Are They Wrong?
“A work of ineffable soullessness and persistent moral idiocy” – Chicago Tribune
“Too long, too dumb and too loud.” –Arizona Republic
“The characters are…terribly drawn, the jokes are awful and the story lurches from climax to climax.” – Newark Star-Ledger
These are just a handful of the reviews plaguing Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The third installment of the toy-based action franchise, Dark of the Moon is directed by Michael Bay, who isn’t exactly known for being a 21st century Ingmar Bergman.
Personally, I am not a fan of either of the first two Transformers movies but I know a lot of people who are. My sisters, cousins, and some of my friends—they all enjoy the adrenaline rush the movies provide. And the rest of the world apparently loves them, too. Together both predecessors grossed $1.5 billion worldwide.
Critics must be missing something. I think the problem is that critics over-analyze movies as potential pieces of art but they forget to account for entertainment value. It’s possible and not at all hard to believe that audiences don’t really care for character development in a movie based on a line of toy robots/cars.
I think in this way audiences are actually smarter than film critics. For someone to expect some grand philosophy at the core of Transformers is idiotic. These movies are meant to thrill and provide escapism on a hot summer’s day. You wouldn’t criticize a haunted house because the monsters don’t have a sufficient back story.
Of course, the best action movies are the ones that do everything right in the screenplay department (think Blade Runner or Kill Bill Vol. 1), but I honestly don’t think movies like Transformers need perfect dialogue and elegant narrative arcs. Bay just isn’t a director who wants to distort his vision to fulfill some sort of unspoken obligation for “deepness.”
The truth of the matter is that the Transformers movies are popular, and I wonder if that’s why critics trash them so harshly. Instead of embracing a worldwide cultural phenomenon like Transformers, they crinkle their noses in an attempt to feel superior and contrary. Other movies also get bad reviews simply because they are popular with the public. Romantic comedies (usually ones starring either a Jennifer or a Kate) get horrendous reviews, even when millions of women flock to the theatre and leave feeling happy.
Sometimes I wonder: is the critic reviewing the movie or the genre? Do the reviewers think “oh, no, not another Kate Hudson rom-com!” and then give the movie an automatic C-? I've read countless movie reviews that took issue issue with trivial elements rather than what's really important to moviegoers: their entertainment value. I forget most of the movie Remember Me, but I do remember one review, which said nothing about the movie and everything about Robert Pattinson’s stint in Twilight. Instances like that force me to lose faith in today's critics.
I guess the good thing about critics is that they voice their opinion and people ignore them anyway. I doubt what they say about Dark of the Moon is going to affect its box office gross at all. And more power to Bay for not bending to what the critics thinks he needs to do.
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