Sunday, 26 June 2011

Autobots vs. Decepticons vs. Critics

It's fair to assume that the release of Michael Bay's third instalment in the 'Transformers' franchise will take a severe beating from film critics. As the release date for 'Dark of the Moon' gets closer, I can foresee the negativity that broadsheet journalists will have towards it.

 2009's sequel 'Revenge of the Fallen' was kicked repeatedly by critics, particularly by Mark Kermode who claimed the film had "a rotten heart" and compares Bay to 'Damien'/Satan. Eventually after the tyrant of hatred, Bay himself admitted the film wasn't good enough and lost it's way narratively by focusing too much on the action, but in all honestly, why should Bay apologise for being ambitious?

 The main argument is that the 'Transformers' movies treat their audiences with no respect and believe that robots hitting each other, blowing stuff up and hot women is enough to sustain and entertain them. The critics seem to take the moral high ground in 'telling' audiences what is 'acceptable' entertainment for them and apparently these films are not, but considering the amount of 'Transformers' fans there are out there and how well they perform at the box-office, Bay and Paramount are obviously doing something right aren't they?

 I think what many tend to forget is that these pictures are based on Hasbro action figures. Now apart from Pixar's 'Toy Story' franchise, it's unlikely that a film based on toy merchandise is going to present gripping drama, swooning romance or heavy sequences of intellectual dialogue spoken over a glass of Scotch (although there is no Scotch in 'Toy Story' - would be quite funny if there was though.) The main premise of the television show was based upon the never-ending war between the Autobots and the Decepticons so it makes sense for Bay's live-action updates to be filled with chaos and pyrotechnics. Many also say that if the films weren't directed by Bay, they would be better. Personally, I think that's ridiculous - if anyone can provide mind-blowing visuals and utterly uncontrollable action, it's Bay; hence the terminology 'Bayhem'.

Plus, before people actually judge Bay, they should see footage of him on-set. Yes, he is opinionated and frequently outspoken, but his energy and passion for making films is incredible to watch; he's a cyclone of ideas and practices and does what many directors dare not to do - he expects his actors to perform all their own stunts, he frequently bonds with the US military and uses real soldiers in his features as well as managing to use beautiful camera work amongst the riots of his sets.

 I do appreciate however that Bay is not the best storyteller ('Pearl Harbour' and 'Armageddon' are perfect examples of this, however both films do have beloved fans. I personally agree with Team America about the first), but his features are certainly entertaining - in fact, it's undeniable. Bay makes great blockbusters, simple as, and the man is a living success story. No matter how hard 'Dark of the Moon' gets smacked by critics across the globe, it will still top the US and the UK box-office and will gross a phenomenal amount of money. 

 My main problem with the negativity that surrounds the 'Transformers' pictures is not that they receive poor reviews, but the reviews read like attacks towards the audiences as well as Bay and co. The underlining argument regarding the second feature was that if one enjoyed it, something was seriously wrong and they themselves were wrong. How dare a critic objectify us like that; why do they believe they have the right to question one's intelligence or mental state because they like something. I cannot understand why anybody in their right mind would be interested or care about the Turner Prize but I certainly wouldn't accuse anyone who does like it of stupidity or illness - that's not my place to comment, and nor is it a snot-nosed critic's who believes the only worthy films are high-art or low-budget.

 Sometimes I wonder if I am just generally wrong about these things - whether I should just jump on the band wagon and agree that these pictures are just mindless, money-making parasites that feed off of our intelligence and turn our brain to a pink mush, but then I realise that the reason I don't join in is because I don't agree and am happy to stand up and put my two cents in. I couldn't care less about what critics feel towards a certain film - granted I will read the reviews and choose to agree or disagree, and I do certainly respect other film critics and I hope to be working for some of the magazines and papers they write for in the future, but I vow to never stoop to the level of ignorance and the 'crowd-following' mentality so many seem to possess. I suppose I too am being judgemental too now in thinking all critics will bash Bay's latest to kingdom come but after their track records, can anybody blame me for being sceptical? I sincerely hope I'm surprised and corrected and that 'Dark of the Moon' gets good or at least balanced reviews, but we will see...

 I will stand and praise any picture, particularly ones that need support. I believe more people should watch art-house or foreign language films and put aside their stereotypical views towards them, but I will also support films just because I like them, and no matter how much writers punch, kick and scratch at the 'Transformers' movies, I will still love them and I cannot wait to see 'Dark of the Moon'

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