Well. I’ve taken some heat for reviews in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such… interesting reactions to one of my reviews as I have for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Of course I don’t really care – back in the day it used to bother me when someone flamed me for a movie review, but now I actually get a kick out of it.
Of course I’m not alone – go to any site that gathers up an aggregate of movie critics’ opinions and you’ll see similar numbers when it comes to Transformer 2. The number of positive reviews for the sequel to the highly successful first film is abysmally low:
TopTenREVIEWS.com: 1.7 out of 4
Even over at IMDB.com, where it’s mainly “regular people” voting for films, it’s only getting 6.7/10 – not bad, but not an overwhelming vote of quality from “Joe Average.”
On the other hand, two days shy of being in theaters for even a full week, the film has already earned over $200 million in the U.S. and close to $400 million worldwide, and our very unscientific poll here on Screen Rant shows that 74% of visitors here rate the film either a 4 or 5 out 5 stars.
The result? A backlash against movie critics the likes of which I’ve never seen before. There are accusations of impartiality (“you hated the first one so of course you hate this one!”), being too old to “appreciate” the film, being generally unclear on the concept of a “fun, summer popcorn movie,” and my favorite: Not liking it because I (and other reviewers) are snobby, elitist critics.
Generally speaking, action films that do well at the box office tend to get at least half way decent reviews (The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Spider-Man 1 & 2, etc.), but this has to be the best-performing, worst-reviewed film in recent memory.
It seems that Michael Bay (who, for the record, I do not “hate” – his film The Rock is one of my favorite movies to pop in the DVD player from time to time) has tapped into the formula for entertaining the teen moviegoer who is easily amused by cool visual effects, big explosions and titillating shots of hot babes.
What’s ironic is that many of the same “elite” critics that skewered the sequel actually LIKED the first Transformers film, so those accusations are pretty ridiculous. Fine, I’m not one of those who liked the first one, but over at Rotten Tomatoes the first film had almost triple the positive score of the sequel (57% vs 20%), MetaCritics had almost double (61% vs 34%) and at IMDB where non-critics vote it was 7.4 vs 6.7.
The other funny thing is that here at Screen Rant I actually try to write reviews to help the average person decide whether or not to drop their hard earned bucks at the local multiplex. I also generally rate movies within the context and genre of where they fit and what they set out to accomplish. In other words I don’t judge Oscar-contender dramas on the same scale as a great comedy or an awesome Sci-Fi film. That’s why I can give Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, the amazing documentary Enemies of Happiness and Serenity all 5 out of 5 stars. Each of those films has a different goal, and each of them meets or exceeds it within the context of its genre.
Some may call that inconsistent, but I never claimed to be objective in my reviews – I have a certain taste and regular readers come to know that point of view and can judge whether or not they’ll like a film based on that particular point of view.
So as to the accusation of being an “elite snob,” here are a few movies that I consider “popcorn flicks” and which have received good reviews from me – and in some cases I’ve taken heat for being too easy on them:
- Get Smart
- Friday the 13th
- Eagle Eye
- The Signal
- Shoot ‘Em Up
- Live Free or Die Hard
- Black Snake Moan
So if a string of explosions, big CGI effects sequences, bad jokes and sight gags, no plot, lousy acting (HELLO Megan Fox) and foul language in a movie based on a toy line that will attract under-10-year-olds doesn’t strike me as a “fun” movie, that’s not my problem.
If you want GOOD action movies, keep supporting movies like Star Trek, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Hellboy, etc.
However, if you want more empty action movies, by all means, go see Tranformers 2 three or four times. But when you get a bit older and appreciate movies that have a good story and characters you can care about, don’t complain that there’s nothing but crap at the megaplex – because it’ll be your own fault.