Vern vs. TRANSFORMERS – One shall stand and one shall fall…

Three words for you about TRANSFORMERS: Ho. Lee. Shit. Not as in “Holy shit, I was blown away, it was a blast as well as AWESOME!” but as in “Holy shit, society really is on the brink of collapse.”

Usually if a movie is already playing in theaters I don’t send my review here, I just use it at my geocities.com/outlawvern sight, but jesus, SOMEBODY had to say something. I can’t believe how many positive reviews I have read of this. I think Harry’s was the only negative I saw, but he was polite about it. I read Moriarty’s review before the screening and I thought wow, what if I actually like this movie? Like me, Moriarty hates Michael Bay’s movies from head to toe, style and content, and me and him agree on all kinds of stuff. I don’t remember too many cases where I thought he was being too easy on a movie, at least not a big one like this (only one that comes to mind is the much smaller DAREDEVIL). I never thought I would like this movie until I read his review. He had me about 80% convinced that it would surprise me and win me over, like LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD did. And I might have to seek counseling after enjoying those two movies in a row, but that’s life.

TransformersI’ve mentioned a few times before that I have a buddy who loves Michael Bay. But before you rush to judgment, let me say that he’s not some stereotype that just loves to see things explode and hear black guys joke about being “negroes” while a camera rotates around them. This is a smart guy with varied tastes. He gives me tips on older action movies I haven’t seen, but his favorite movie so far this year is some documentary I never heard of. He watches more movies than I do, and is much more fickle than I am. I could not possibly list how many movies I thought were good, or at least okay, that he out and out despised. But still, somehow, he loves that fucking Michael Bay garbage, especially ARMAGEDDON and BAD BOYS 2. He describes BAD BOYS 2 as “the most hateful movie ever made” and always mentions how Bay’s directing credit is over a shot of a burning cross. So his enjoyment seems like kind of a rebellious fuck you to the world, like a kid listening to punk rock or stabbing his grandparents in their sleep. He’s been excited about this movie all year, and I’ve been shaking my head and grumbling about it. I definitely wanted to see it out of morbid curiosity, but felt it would be morally wrong to pay for it. I paid to see GHOST RIDER because I thought it would be funny, and I still feel guilty about it.

So when my buddy invited me to a free screening of TRANSFORMERS I couldn’t resist. He said we had to have the area’s biggest pro and anti Michael Bay forces together at the same screening. Sounds like a fitting sequel to my peace initiative from last summer where I watched BAD BOYS 2 and TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE to set a positive example for the Israelis and Palestinians.

So it’s fitting that the movie begins in “QATAR – THE MIDDLE EAST.” (Need to establish location and tell the audience you think they’re idiots at the same time? Try subtitles!) An American army base is attacked by a big robot. These guys are apparently trained in a similar manner to the soldiers from THE HILLS HAVE EYES REMAKE 2, because they all just run away and don’t fight. When you see all the military hardware fetishistically on display it seems kind of weird, because the robot doesn’t look like it has a chance. But then some tanks fly through the air and you find out later that all but the handful of main characters were killed and nobody knew it was a robot that did it.

At this point I was trying. I secured my brain safely in a locker at the Greyhound station like you’re supposed to and I attempted to lower my standards. I am a guy who enjoys Brian Bosworth movies so why not enjoy this shit? Plus, if I’m gonna watch a Michael Bay movie again it might as well be one about robots. They won’t joke as much as Martin Lawrence and they’ll either look cool or funny. At least the effects are in good hands. And ever since I heard Michael Bay was hired for this job I thought it was tailor made for him. The dude is obsessed with sports cars and has never felt a human emotion, how could you do better than hiring him to make a huge expensive movie where the main characters are cars? It’s like God made up The Transformers just to get some use out of Michael Bay.

But Michael Bay told God to fuck off, and he went and made a movie about people. After that opening attack you get literally an hour of kiddie movie horse shit about Shia LeBeouf being a nerd and trying to hit on the adult car mechanic Maxim cover girl with a troubled past from his high school. He buys an old yellow Camaro which turns out to actually be a robot from space in disguise. I don’t know if I need to explain this to you guys, but Transformers are robots from space and you know those Cirque Du Soleil type weirdos in the car commercial who contort themselves into the shape of a car? It’s like that, they crash land on earth and are worried people will make fun of them so they pretend to be cars and planes and shit to fit in. Anyway, for the first hour of this movie his car is alive but mostly is not a robot, he just causes a ruckus by driving around doing donuts and playing funny songs on his radio.

I have learned while this movie was being made that many grown adults grew up on this toy cartoon and hold its characters and concepts deep in their hearts, and were concerned about their portrayal in the movie. And I myself revere the filmatic language, and was worried that I would get dizzy and confused by Michael Bay’s double-flip-off approach to editing and camera movement. Well let me tell you, he probaly blows it on both counts, but both are entirely irrelevant. By the time the movie gets to a second robot or action scene it’s already way too late to turn things around. This painful first hour shows that the movie’s main problem is the same one as BAD BOYS 2: constant, embarrassingly unfunny jokes. Is it too difficult to take anything seriously anymore? Everything’s gotta be wacky: Shia has a little dog with a cast and he feeds it painkillers. He rides a pink girls’ bike and crashes in front of the girl he likes. A robot pulls his pants down so he’s in his boxers. Anthony Anderson eats a bunch of donuts. Bernie Mac’s mom flips him the bird. A fat guy dances. When robots attack later, there are lots of half-assed “jokes” about little kids saying “cool!” or comparing it to ARMAGEDDON or thinking a robot is the tooth fairy. The “jokes” are more rapid-fire than a DTV Leslie Nielsen movie, and with an equal or lesser success rate. Even in that opening robot attack they don’t have the discipline to take it seriously for 60 fuckin seconds, they have to have the guy from TURISTAS who looks like Johnny Knoxville on the phone arguing with a cartoonish Indian operator (ooh, topical) while Tyrese keeps yelling something about his left ass cheek. The music sounds like John Carpenter or TERMINATOR but the composer seems to be the only one making any effort to create drama. Everybody else is assuming the effects people will put that in later.

For a movie produced by Spielberg it’s surprisingly low on awe. People are supposed to be surprised to see robots, but they always turn it into jokes. There’s not one second in the movie where you believe people are really reacting to seeing robots. In JURASSIC PARK or in WAR OF THE WORLDS or many other Spielberg movies, you believed these people really were having their minds blown by what was standing right in front of them. In TRANSFORMERS they say things like “It’s a robot. You know, like a super advanced robot. It’s probably Japanese,” and you’re supposed to laugh.

And half the time nobody even notices the robots. I should mention there is one other robot in this part of the movie, a little bad guy robot who makes wacky troll noises while hacking into the Pentagon computer. I think he’s supposed to be the cute comic relief character, a bad idea since there is no drama or tension to relieve. He crawls around, over and through hundreds of humans waving his many limbs all over and making loud grunts and power tool noises without ever once being detected. Either these robots are invisible or the people in charge of our national security are even more incompetent than anyone ever imagined.

So you got this hour of waiting for it to get to the god damn robots, and then when it happens you realize you don’t like them that much more than the people. Admittedly, they are the one thing that makes this more watchable than the other Michael Bay movies. From the ones I’ve seen I think this is his worst movie, but it’s bad in a more fascinating way, like a $200 million version of that tv show “Power Rangers.” After a good hour fifteen of failed jokes, the probably-meant-to-be-serious introduction of the good guy Transformers is finally laugh out loud hilarious. They just look so fucking silly posing and saying their names and they talk in voices just like the old cartoons, so it almost seems like one of those meta-ironical type movies like FAT ALBERT or THE BRADY BUNCH where TV characters come to life in the “real” world to show how goofy they are. And this is one of the great “did I really just see that?” moments when one of the robots says something along the lines of “Yo yo yo wussssUUUUUUPPPP Autobots REPRESENT!” and I don’t think he was eating robotic chicken or watermelon but I swear to you on my mother’s grave that he started breakdancing. And I’m sure black stereotype robot was in other parts of the movie but the next time I was sure it was the same character was at the end when Optimus Prime was casually holding his broken-in-half corpse like it was the pieces of a plate he dropped.

But before it gets to the fighting, buckle up for a whole lot more “comedy.” There’s a section, probaly originally planned as a sitcom pilot but then used as part of the movie, where the robots hide in Shia’s backyard. They break things and say “funny” lines and try not to be spotted when Shia’s parents look out the window. This seems to support the “Transformers are invisible” theory because they’re fucking 50 feet tall and shaking the earth with every step but nobody sees them. In fact, they might be like the Velveteen Rabbit or whatever the children’s story is where only a kid can see them and adults can’t because they don’t have the magic of childlike innocence in their hearts or whatever. Anyway, Shia is able to get into his bedroom and his parents accuse him of jerkin off, and you can imagine all the “comedy” “gold” they are able to squeeze out by riffing on that one. I think it’s supposed to be funny to see the serious Transformers characters involved in this sort of wackiness, but since they have not yet portrayed in a serious light there is nothing to contrast it with.

At this point the movie is beyond feature length and then they introduce a new villain, John Turturro as a Men In Black type agent under the mistaken impression that he’s being funny. His performance is over-the-top enough to fit in in a movie like SPACE JAM or ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, that is what they would like to do with his talents. And it keeps cutting away to a parallel storyline about a team of NSA analysts (all shaggy-haired twentysomething hipsters) and secretary of defense John Voight and Anthony Anderson playing Kevin Smith’s character from LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD and a giant alien cube discovered in ice by Shia’s great great grandfather. And all the robots are here on earth to find a pair of glasses, which are in Shia’s bedroom in a backpack, so it should probaly have taken 30 seconds of screen time to get to them instead of 90 minutes. There is a part that I almost think I might’ve dreamed but I remember it so vividly, where there is a cartoon BOING! sound and then there’s a long shot of one of the robots proudly pissing all over John Turturro. turturro1This guy has toiled away in independent film for decades, done so much great work and in order to get a pay check he has to get R. Kellyed by a fucking cartoon robot. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be funny or if it’s supposed to be sexy but it failed on both counts. And then all the sudden Shia’s car/robot/pet gets shocked and dragged away on cables and the score turns into violins like it’s SCHINDLER’S LIST. It is an understatement to say that this heartwrenching music is not earned. It’s like if Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character in GARFIELD found out she had cancer and we were expected to get choked up.

Towards the end the movie starts to be more about Transformers. But if any of the filmatists were interested in turning them into actual characters they must’ve been too busy running errands or something to add that into the movie. Optimus Prime is pretty funny because he speaks almost entirely in platitudes. My guess is they didn’t have time to write or record dialogue for him so they just used a key chain where you push buttons and different Transformers soundbites come out. His voice is awesome, the only thing resembling gravitas in the movie. He is shamelessly corny and old fashioned, while every other element of the movie is trying to be irreverent and self aware. So it’s so out of place you gotta laugh any time he speaks.

I guess this is the part that people wanted, the BIG ACTION SEQUENCE where robots chase a boy carrying a cube over buildings. Some robots do flips and fight each other. The effects are obviously very expensive and somebody worked a long time on making them, so way to go, E for Effort. But I think the Lord would agree with me when I say Jesus Christ, if this is what you guys consider exciting action sequences I don’t even know how to relate to you anymore.

Imagine you took apart a whole bunch of cars, mixed the parts up and welded them all together into a giant ball maybe 15 or 20 feet in diameter, then rolled it down a hill. Shoot that in closeup and you got every fight scene in this movie. I’m sure the Michael Bay style is a huge contributing factor, but I’m pretty sure you could’ve shot these fights with a stationary camera like a boxing match and I still would have no clue what the fuck was going on. I am no expert on robotics but to my untrained eye, these robots look like shit. Their designs are so overly complicated you can’t tell which part is which. One robot (I think a bad guy robot, but not sure) goes flipping through the air in slow motion and while staring at it I was not entirely sure which end was up. There are scenes that are close on Optimus’s face while he’s talking where I could not even make out a face. I never knew which robot was which or who was a good guy or bad guy or what vehicle was what robot. Luckily Optimus has a shiny blue part on him, occasionally I would see shiny blue and know that hey, that’s Optimus! I spotted one!

What Michael Bay has already done to action editing and staging he has now done to character design. If Walt Disney really was a frozen head he would probaly be driven out of hiding to bite Michael Bay’s nose off for what he has done here. I don’t think the animation is very good either, they all move too fast and seem kind of weightless and don’t know how to stand still, but it’s kind of pointless to even get into that when they just look so god damn ugly and confusing that even in slow motion they disgrace the many talented artists who were roped into working on this shit. If you’re gonna make us wait two hours for a big dumb robot fight at least make robots that we can tell apart or can distinguish what they are doing or which part of their body is the head. In a Godzilla movie I can tell which one is Godzilla and which one is Mothra without studying it frame by frame and comparing it to charts and diagrams.

In the interest of balance, I will say some nice things about the movie. There’s a part where the Transformers are in car form and they are driving around, they are all brand new and shiny stupid looking vehicles and it’s shot like a car commercial. That was pretty funny. Also, it was nice that the horrible rock music only came on about four or five times, not constantly like in the cartoon version. The military stuff, sometimes that reminded me of the old ’80s action movies, all this military hardware they were showing. The constant ludicrousness of every single aspect of the movie makes it less boring than many bad movies, like a GHOST RIDER or a NATIONAL TREASURE. And, the, uh– I guess I haven’t seen a side wheely in a movie in a while. I don’t know. I’m sure there are other positive aspects.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie that left me this befuddled that it actually existed. Now I know how your parents felt when they took you to see TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE. “Well, I guess this is what kids like now. Huh.” I mean look, Moriarty’s main argument was that the movie “delivers” and you can’t argue with a movie “delivering.” But fuck man, I guess I don’t know what “delivery” is then. To me, this was an awe-inspiringly awful mess from start to finish, with no good characters, no sense of tension or drama, an asinine plot, badly told, full of constant, annoying attempts at humor, muddled action sequences and effects that hurt your brain trying to look at them. If you people are complaining about something like SPIDER-MAN 3 being too silly and then giving this one a pass, I don’t know what the fuck is going on. The best “characters” in the movie are the robots during the 5 or 10 minutes when they’re trying to be serious, and those scenes come off campier than SHOWGIRLS. I haven’t seen FANTASTIC FOUR 2 but I can’t imagine it could be THAT much more moronic, poorly executed and groan-inducing than this one. I mean this one really is off the charts, it’s a record breaker. It probaly required alien technology to make it like this.

I know it’s not fair to drop the B&R bomb, it’s like comparing people to Hitler in political discussion. But TRANSFORMERS is honestly approaching BATMAN AND ROBIN proportions of horribleness. You can’t say it’s as bad, because the lighting is nice and nobody’s wearing rubber fetish costumes or pink gorilla suits, but it’s a similar type of minding-numbing machine gun barrage of moronic, inept garbage. And it goes on for almost 2 1/2 hours, longer than some interrogations.

So in a way, that does explain to me why some people might enjoy this. Some people like to be whipped and peed on. And it’s an instant camp classic. I know people who get a good laugh out of shitty movies like INDEPENDENCE DAY, and I will definitely demand that they see this shit on video, because it makes INDEPENDENCE DAY look like 2001. It’s so full of quick cuts and preposterousness I’m sure I missed all kinds of things. They were already onto the next scene by the time my brain processed the fact that I had just seen a Mountain Dew machine transform into a bad guy robot. Hopefully he will be the main villain in the sequel. But he’ll be defeated by a good guy Nike truck. I can’t see enjoying this on anything other than an ironic or anthropological “human beings really made this!” type level. No matter how it plays this summer, this movie is so full of bad taste and “what the fuck?” moments that I do believe it will live on. Ten or fifteen years from now, when some theater in a college town plays it as a double feature with ROADHOUSE, it will absolutely kill.

Did the movie work on my crowd? I’m not sure. Some of the lame jokes got laughs. Some got none. There were parts obviously meant to be crowdpleasers where you would hear one person clap or laugh in the back somewhere. There was definitely alot of sarcastic wooing and clapping. But there was also some applause at the end, which I’m gonna assume was sincere. We have already seen enough reviews to know that some people can enjoy this. I talked to a guy who loved it, said it was the best movie he’s seen this year, that it knew what it was and was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and what do you expect, it’s The Transformers, it’s a summer blockbuster movie, it’s awesome. I’m glad he enjoyed it, but none of those arguments hold water with me, and I can’t help but be sad that this is what we are willing to accept as entertainment. BATMAN AND ROBIN knew what it was and was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and what did we expect. And if just because it’s Transformers it’s allowed to be inept, moronic garbage, then why are we going to see a movie based on Transformers in the first place? I know DADDY DAY CAMP is gonna be awful but I don’t expect these same people running out saying that was awesome because what do you expect, it’s DADDY DAY CAMP.

And I know I made this point in talkbacks, and so have others, but it bears repeating. DIE HARD was a blockbuster/popcorn/summer/event movie. So was ALIENS. And TERMINATOR 2. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. STAR WARS. JAWS. ROAD WARRIOR. PREDATOR. ROBOCOP. TOTAL RECALL. THE MATRIX. LORD OF THE RINGS. You people who like your BATMAN and SPIDER-MAN and X-MEN and SUPERMAN and James Bond and LETHAL WEAPON… these are all big event movies, many of them timeless, many of them clever, well-crafted, some of them masterpieces. I am not being pretentious, I am not expecting too much, these are mainstream, crowd pleasing movies and they are what you used to hope for when you went to a summer movie. You can’t realistically expect a movie as good as ALIENS every time, but that’s better than resigning to the idea that “summer movie” equals “horribly made infantile disposable pap” and being excited about it anyway. If a summer movie is meant to be like TRANSFORMERS, then why the fuck aren’t you people embarrassed to be going to see summer movies? At least have the decency to admit that it’s a strange, possibly deviant hobby.

Everyone expects this movie to be a huge runaway hit, a moneymaking juggernaut. It happened with ARMAGEDDON and INDEPENDENCE DAY and I lived through election 2004, so certainly I can see that happening. But man oh man do I not get it. Women, especially, I have respect for, and I cannot understand them getting any sort of enjoyment out of these goofy cartoon junkpiles wrestling each other and saying things like “One shall stand and one shall fall!” If this is accepted as good entertainment then we’re another step closer to the world of IDIOCRACY and the hit movie ASS.

If America loves this movie, I want a fuckin recount.

But what about my Michael Bay loving buddy? Did he like it? I wasn’t sitting near him at the screening and as the movie went on I started to get concerned about what I was gonna say to him afterwards. I hoped he was having a good time, and I mean, I cannot comprehend his love for the other Bay movies. So I couldn’t predict what he would think. But at the same time I could not actually picture him walking up to me with a straight face and saying “That was awesome!” And I couldn’t guarantee that if that happened I wouldn’t shake my head sadly, turn and walk away, our friendship forever weakened by a feeling that we just weren’t from the same planet.

The credits roll. I find Mr. Armageddon. He smiles and says, “That was a piece of shit! That was fucking garbage! Terrible!”

So thank you Michael Bay for bringing the world closer together. We can have peace some day. We just can’t have good robot movies.


Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/33228

View the archived Ain't-It-Cool-News Talkback
This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 at 6:23 pm and is filed under Action, AICN, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

42 Responses to “Vern vs. TRANSFORMERS – One shall stand and one shall fall…”

  1. These days I’m working in a movie theater. It’s amazing to me how many people are madly anticipating the sequel. I’ve concluded that most folks just didn’t care about how bad the first one was for 70 percent of its runtime, just as long as they got their climactic ejaculation of giant metal things smashing into each other. Do you plan to see the second one? Someone needs to defend people like us from the inevitable onslaught of positivity towards this shite.

  2. Well I got too much dignity to pay for it, but the guy who got me into the screening of the first one says he wants to get me into this one too. We’ll see.

    The trailers do promise lots of the robot shit. It seems much better when you’re not supposed to know what’s going on and the characters aren’t talking.

  3. We all want to read the Trannies II review. Just like we all want to read your Friday The 13th part 11 review. Though I understand your reluctance to go to the theater for either of them.

    I do admit the trailer looks impressive. But that doesn’t compel me to want to see the movie at all. The first one had a good trailer, his ability to cut a good trailer is the only film making prowess he’s ever shown. He concocts good trailer shots but in the actual film the shots are just left dangling limply.

    I hope we do eventually get that F1311 review.

  4. Hands down one of the best reviews you’ve written, and put into words a lot of the crap I felt about the film and about other people saying it was “awesome”.

    I’m looking forward to your review of Transformers 2 more than I am the film, heh.

    The only plus point from the new trailer is that there seemed to be more robot action, and, from the short shots of it, it seems an improvement. There were definatly a lot more pulled back shots, seemed to be less spazzy camera movements, hopefully it’s over-edited less.

    So some decent action scenes might be enough to let me sit through the rest of the human drama/comedy attempts crap without stabbing myself.

  5. just had to read this again.
    definitely one of the highlights of this site.
    i won’t even argue with people about this (do i call it a franchise now?) movie, i’ll just link them to this page. good stuff vern.

    i know it would be painful, but please review the new one some day, as long as it’s free admission.

  6. Vern, if you ever get a chance to see the new film for free, you have to just so you can review it. I was expecting a Batman & Robin-esque apotheosis of everything wrong with blockbusters from the last ten years, and to be honest it wasn’t as I actually found it more tolerable than the original. But holy shit, if you thought Jazz from the first movie was an offensive stereotype, you wont believe “the twins” in this movie. And wait until you see what Bay’s vision of a campus party is like. Or for that matter, a fucking college lecture!

  7. Your analogy of ASS: The Movie is so dead-on that it ain’t funny. I saw the sequel several days ago and I’m still reeling over it’s melancholic affect. Bay and Co. amped the “comedy” up to a point of ludicrous…where it doesn’t even play out to anything resembling organic humor. The movie “insists” that it is funny. The audience I saw it with ate every moment of it up. The most pathetic part was that the few moments that were genuinely humorous were completely lost on the audience. Only when it began to “spell” it out for them did they resume with laughter. I truly did feel like Luke Wilson from Idiocracy. For two and a half hours, I was convinced that there really was a giant ass on screen while the pretty ‘splosions distracted everyone else.

    I’ve been blogging for the past few days over how horrible Revenge is. This movie is breaking records–and I consider it to be the worst motion picture to ever be released by Hollywood.

    Please. For the love of God, Vern. Review the second movie. I want fire and brimstone on your part. I want to read a review that is so brutally scathing that it will destroy the evil influence of Bay forever.

    It’s like you said in this review: Somebody HAS to say something.

  8. I love this article, and it makes many good points, but I am so sick of people assuming that you have to be a retard to like retarded movies. I don’t want to be the first guy to start a fight on this site, but I wish you would all just allow people to have their good time in peace. So you didn’t like it. Fine. But the world will survive people finding something funny that you didn’t. These people are your friends, your relatives, your co-workers, and they work hard all week and just want to have a good time at the movies. So they laughed at the robot balls. So what? That doesn’t mean you get to feel superior to everybody else. I’m sure plenty of people thought the jokes in Commando were pretty lame when it came out, too.

  9. Anybody who would laugh at Transformers: Revenge of the Shit ain’t no friend of mine. If I’d have the misfortune of being related to them, I would disown them on the spot. You could use this movie as a test to weed out the world’s less intelligent denizens. If you liked it, jump on the bus. We’re gonna drop you off at the incinerators.

    Think of it as a public service.

    How somebody could enjoy this (much less laugh about it) baffles me. This movie was the most insulting garbage I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. In fact, it transcends cinematic “garbage” and elevates to cruel and unusual punishment in my book.

    It’s not a superiority complex; it is an issue of STANDARDS. Revenge set an all-time low standard for Hollywood summer fare. If this is what we have to look forward to from future filmmakers, count me out.

  10. Congratulations, buddy. You’re this site’s first asshole.

  11. On second thought, I apologize. Maybe you didn’t realize that you were insulting me, since I didn’t make it clear: I enjoyed Transformers 2. I laughed at it. And I am unashamed, because I know I’m not an idiot. I have two degrees. My IQ tests in the high 130s, low 140s. I am a published writer and editor. In the past two weeks, I have watched movies ranging from The Friends of Eddie Coyle andThere Will Be Blood to Dolph Lundgren’s Direct Action and Exorcist 2, so I have a wide range of tastes. And yet I liked Transformers 2. The fact that it is really stupid and pandering did not escape me; that’s what I thought was funny. I like how random and wrong-headed and preposterous it is. It’s not a matter of standards; it’s a matter of taste. There are literally dozens of really stupid movies discussed on this site (our host even wrote a very popular book about some of them) and yet the people who like them are not considered idiots. What is so different about this one? Because it’s popular? Or because YOU didn’t like it? I’m not asking you to like Transformers. I’m just asking you to stop calling me stupid because I did. It’s just a movie. It’s not the end of the world. There will still be plenty of movies for you to enjoy. Just not this one. I think The Dark Knight is the most overrated thing ever, a joyless mess with delusions of grandeur and one really great performance, but I didn’t start losing my shit and calling people morons last year when it became the biggest movie ever. Sometimes it just happens like that. Get over it and stop insulting everybody just because they liked something that you didn’t.

  12. “Congratulations, buddy. You’re this site’s first asshole.”

    An accomplishment worthy of kudos. You disliked The Dark Knight and enjoyed Transformers 2. I don’t even need to retort. Your own words speak for you. You speak of “taste” when you clearly have none.

  13. Not to pull a Roadhouse, but c’mon guys, let’s cool down. You both got some shots in, let’s call it even, for the sake of the site. As for Transformers 2, I saw it last night on IMAX, and I honestly WISH I hated it as much as Rance, or enjoyed it as much as Mr. Majestyk. I was just kinda bored by the whole thing, like a movie you’ve seen twelve times before and have it on in the background while vaccuuming. Nothing was really exciting or funny or even offensive, really. Maybe it’s because all the “worst” parts (the twins, the balls, etc..) were given away already, but yeah, the whole thing just sat there. I still think in terms of offensive bloated crassness, nothing beats Bad Boys II, and in terms of loud, expensive incoherence, Speed Racer is still king.

  14. All I’m saying is, critique the movie, not the audience. I’m sure me and Rance have plenty of other movies that we agree on. Just not this one. I’m not calling him an idiot for not liking the movie. I can fully understand why he wouldn’t. But he’s pulling this Aint It Cool bullshit where anybody who thinks differently than him must be a moron, and I hate that crap. It’s the enemy of discourse. I would be happy to tell him what I enjoyed about it in a civilized fashion, and then he could maybe understand where I’m coming from. But he’s already decided that only troglodytes and other subhumans could possibly enjoy the film, so he has freed himself from having to entertain any dissenting opinions.

    But this is nothing new. People have been talking about certain movies being indicative of the downfall of Western Civilization since forever, and it’s always ludicrous. Leonard Maltin called the popularity of Friday the 13th “one clue as to why SAT scores keeping dropping.” And yet we all survived, and now intelligent people are allowed to admit that they like Friday the 13th. Same with Road House, which got some seriously shitty reviews but is now a cult classic. That movie is retarded, and that’s why it’s awesome. And I like Transformers 2 in the same way. I guess my point is that everything seems like such a big deal on opening weekend, but in the end, it’s just a silly movie. I happen to like silly movies, from Hudson Hawk to Punisher: War Zone, and I don’t think that means I have no taste. I like serious movies, too. It’s just one facet of my movie-watching habits.

    Also, the reason I don’t particularly like The Dark Knight is that I don’t think it really achieved the things I want out of a Batman movie, namely to have Batman in it in more than a supporting role. I’m a big comic book fan, and I don’t think they did the character justice. That’s all. (Also the fights still suck. Flame on.)

  15. You call The Dark Knight a joyless ride? Of course. It’s Batman. Batman is supposed to be gloomy, depressive and reflective. And you’re right. Batman wasn’t the central character, which is actually one of my favorite aspects of the movie. The main character was Gotham City. Batman was portrayed as a symbol or element of that city. This caught me off guard and managed to sway the movie out of a sophomore slump. I found TDK to be a pertinent work of art, which is unprecedented in a genre as trashy as superhero movies.

    I’d like to hear what you liked about TF: ROTF. No really. I’m fascinated. As a casual Transformers fan, I will admit that there were a few things that I liked as well (Forest battle, Megatron/Starscream, Soundwave, etc). Yet in my eyes, none of them were capable of redeeming the movie in the slightest.

  16. Okay. This is good. Seriously, I really am sorry I called you an asshole. I thought you were insulting me to my face, but then I realized that you could have thought I was defending other people who liked Transformers, rather than myself. I got a bit defensive, and this shit escalated unnecessarily. I apologize.

    I liked Transformers 2 because it’s crazy and wrong. Unlike Wolverine or Terminator: Salvation, it has a personality, even if it’s the personality of a cocky douchebag. After the first one, I gave up on the idea that there would ever be a legitimately good Transformers movie so I just sat back to watch the retardedness. Everything that you hated about it is what I liked it for: the crassness, the overkill, the out-of-place comic relief. I like that no one else on earth besides Michael Bay would ever say, “You know what this $200 million toy commercial needs? A robot nutsac.” It’s camp writ large, like a Jim Wynorski movie with 45 times the budget. I mean, I’m a dude who watches shit like She-Wolves of the Wasteland and 9 Deaths of the Ninja, and I find the Transformers films fit into the same mold. They just happen to be blockbusters. They’ve all got that humor that’s only funny because it’s so corny, like Howard the Duck, and a whole bunch of random shit that can’t be explained by any rational mind. I enjoy that kind of thing.

    This time, I even liked the visual style. I kind of liked having to lean forward to try to figure out what was happening. It made me pay attention. I usually hate that shit, but this time it worked for me. I liked that Bay seemed to be taking the approach that if this shit was really happening right in front of you, it would be so complicated that your eye wouldn’t even be able to register it all. It’s not something that I want to see in every movie (usually geography and clarity of movement are my two main requirements in an action movie) but I enjoyed it here.

    Also, until recently, I read three of four Batman comics a month, plus subsidiaries like Robin and Nightwing, and they all managed to be gloomy and dark while still being fun adventures. And above all, they made Batman be a supreme badass who was smarter and tougher than everybody else. That’s my favorite part. Not that all this horrible shit happened to Bruce Wayne, but that he got over it and became Batman. I don’t think anybody would argue that the Batman in the film is the smartest, baddest mother alive, but that’s what Batman is to me. I can see the movie’s good points (and there are many) but without that, I couldn’t really get into it. I don’t begrudge anyone else their enjoyment, though, since they’re not coming with the same expectations I am.

    Ledger nailed the Joker, though. I think we can all agree on that.

  17. For the most part I tend to agree with neal2zod. I try to avoid seeing Michael Bay’s films, but I guess I don’t try hard enough because I’ve seen all of them except for Transformers 2, and I’m sure somebody will put that on at a social gathering and I’ll lose my cherry on that one too. For the most part they’re forgettable poorly assembled films with annoying crass humour.

    I think his films suck, but his films alone wouldn’t get me worked up. I would just say they suck and continue to try not to see them. Lots of guys make shitty movies and I don’t begrudge them.

    It’s Bay’s professional behaviour that has really made him a target of hate for me. When he personally writes open letters attacking critics who criticize his films, that crosses the line. Bay telling people they are wrong and that it is scientifically proven by box office revenue that his films are ‘good’ just really rubs me the wrong the way. When he writes to critics telling them they are stupid and do not know how to have a “good time at the movies” it’s insulting. It’s bully behaviour.

    One time his God of the box office let him down. He made The Island and like most of his films, it got pretty lousy reviews. But this time he didn’t have a big openning weekend to show all the critics how wrong they were. The film just didn’t do well. But instead of standing by his work, he turned around and blamed the actors. And it wasn’t their performances he criticized, he lashed out at them for not being “bankable”.

    I saw him collect an MTV award for best action sequence for his film Pearl Harbor and his acceptance speech was another dig at how critics don’t know shit.

    If he really believed critics don’t matter and are out of touch, why would he read reviews? Wouldn’t his immense wealth neutralize any hard feelings that bad reviews cause him? And if he just wanted to make popcorn movies for people to “switch their brains off” and “have a good time”, then why does he continually try to cash in his goodwill with the studios to try and make these sentimental epics like Pearl Harbor and Armageddon?

    I think deep down inside he really wants to be taken seriously. He wants to be a guy like James Cameron or Speilberg who can dance between popcorn flicks and Oscar fare but he just doesn’t have it in him. And he knows it. That’s why he takes criticism so personally and behaves like a monster douche and that’s why I wish all his films ill.

    Fuck you, Michael Bay.

  18. I read an interview with Bay where he took full responsibility for The Island not clicking with audiences. Can’t speak for any of his other diatribes and what not. I guess I don’t understand you guys’ position, if you hate Bay’s movies why are you reading interviews where he talks about the process of making those movies. The internet is a big place, it shouldn’t be that hard.

    Besides, does it really impact the movies if he’s a prick? Shit, Michael Mann’s a pretentious douche, but the man can shoot a gun fight like no one’s business. Gilliam’s been banging the same “wronged artist” drum for thirty years, James Cameron has been known to drive cast and crew members to emotional breakdowns, Landis got a bunch of people killed with that helicoptor thing, Polanski molested a girl, according to some sources Herzog enslaved the population of a third world country to get Fitzcarraldo made, Sam Raimi opened a dimensional rift to bring forth demons to make Evil Dead creatures more realistic looking (may have dreamed that one, not sure, check IMDB). Since when has a director’s personality EVER carried any weight in a discussion of a film’s merits?

  19. Shouldn’t be that hard to avoid him. Is how I meant to end that first paragraph. I need to read before p/sting,rb

  20. I agree, Brendan. Although, I must admit that I find Bay amusing in a Uwe Boll kind of way. He’s a cocky asshole, and he’s not afraid to let everyone know it, like when he brags on a commentary that he has the Pentagon on speed dial. He’s the Vince Vaughn of directors. I wouldn’t want to hang out with him, but it’s fun to hear him talk shit.

    I will say that the opposite can hold true, though. There are plenty of directors that I treat a little more leniently because I like the way they come off in interviews. Guys like Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo del Toro, and Peter Jackson make it seem like you’re all part of one big movie club, and it endears their films to me, even when those films have their problems.

  21. Yeah I’ll agree to that.

  22. OK, well first let me say I agree with Vern totally on this one. In fact I think if anything he’s been lenient. This was the second worst “legitimate” film I’ve ever seen – as opposed to appalling DTV efforts that don’t come close to the standards of the worst of the Seagals – with the absolute worst being “Bad Boys 2”. I unfortunately paid money to see that one, persuaded against my better judgement to do so by a well-meaning friend, and it was so horrible and loud and incomprehensible and meaninglessly offensive (I enjoy films being offensive when there’s cause for it, but this was just atrocious) that I had to leave the cinema for half an hour in the middle of it.

    There’s something I call “Lord of the Rings” syndrome. What I mean by that is that when a film is hugely hyped and based on generally revered source material, but isn’t a great film itself, its reviewers generally divide themselves into two camps: the haters and the hypers. So on the one hand you’ve got a huge group of people screaming about how it’s the best film ever, and on the other hand you’ve got people saying that it’s the most tedious, boring, cliche’d mess to be committed to celluloid. The problem is that practically everyone who cares enough to state their opinion probably has their own agenda – whether it’s a positive one or a negative one. So what I think most people would consider a balanced opinion – that the films had good parts (Gollum, Gandalf, the Nazgul) and bad parts (the ents, the elves, that entire Helm’s Deep sequence, that damn pantomime-demon Balrog thing) – never really gets stated anywhere. My opinion on the LOTR films? They weren’t the second coming of film, nor were they nine and a half hours of torture. They were watchable, sometimes very good, sometimes pretty bad, but overall ok.

    I make that point because of the idea that people who care enough to write about a major film like LOTR have an “agenda”. In this case I think that’s the case as well, and one of the most glaring things that’s highlighted is that the “haters” are so – not vitriolic (that’s normal) but smug – and the “hypers” are almost apologists. That says a lot about the quality of the film. Subjectively I hated it; but looking at it as a study of character, or an action movie, or just about any rational criteria that you can apply to movies, it fails. The only way I can imagine anyone could enjoy it is in the way that Mr Majestyk seems to have done with TF2 – he recognizes its flaws but is able to laugh at them and “go with it”. I couldn’t do that with TF1. To me it was a mess, far worse than “Batman and Robin” (which I can watch and enjoy when suitably drunk): it didn’t have any characters, tension, drama; hell, for most of the movie it barely had any robots.

    What annoys me is when people claim that the “objective” viewpoint doesn’t exist; that because everyone has a slightly different idea of what’s “good”, there can’t be any realistic standard that can be referenced when writing about film. To me that’s a cop-out. Yes, some people can enjoy bad films; and yes, they can find good films boring. I’ve enjoyed plenty of bad films recently (came across one called “Ninja Cheerleaders” that I just had to take home, it failed on just about every level that a cheesy exploitation movie can fail – by which I don’t mean that cheesy exploitation movies are doomed to fail, I just mean this was a really ineffectual example of them – but I still managed to enjoy it) but I still recognize that my enjoyment stems from personal reasons, and not because the film is “good”. There ARE standards.

    For example, there is great dialogue and there is terrible dialogue, and the former is particularly hard to define – all I can say is that I know it when I hear it. The latter is very easy to define – I usually go on the yardstick of “I guess I am a little nutty” as spoken by the killer at the end of the slasher pic “Urban Legend” (four people were paid to check the dialogue on that movie). The point is, when you come across dialogue that’s particularly good (or bad), you can usually make a rational argument – one that discounts personal prejudice and subjective opinion as much as it’s reasonably possible to do so – to justify why that’s the case. Same with other aspects of a film, or the film itself. That’s what I mean by “objective”.

    This film? Subjectively, I hated it, it provoked no emotion other than bewilderment that anybody would ever think that any of this was a good idea. Objectively, it’s a terrible movie with no characters, no coherent action sequences, surprisingly bad cinematography (Michael Bay usually at least manages to squeeze a few good sunsets into his films, but not this one), terrible pompous cliche-ridden dialogue, and a dozen other faults that I could list but won’t because Vern’s already done it for me.

    One other completely subjective point. While my (the British) Government was being hauled over the coals for causing several soldiers’ deaths by sending them into Iraq equipped with inadequate body armour and weaponery because they didn’t provide the proper funding, millions were being spent on a film that reduces the massacre of soldiers in the Middle East to a few ass jokes (“Left cheek!”) and military or racial stereotypes. I’m not trying to make some ridiculous moral point about this – you might as well call it an outrage that teenagers spend three pounds fifty a month on ringtones rather than sending their money off to needy orphans, it’s just as absurd – but I will say that it depressed the hell out of me.

  23. Lord of the Rings is just OK? Can someone explain to me why the Ents are bad? My Dad says the same thing, and I don’t get it.

  24. I agree with you Wolfgang. Bay has made some shitty movies, but I don’t hold that against him. There are some directors that have made a lot of bad movies, Joel Schumacher for example, that I actually quite like and maybe even respect as people because they seem like really nice and very genuine people whenever I see or hear or read an interview with them. Jerry Bruckheimer produced most of Bay’s movies (including the very worst “Armageddon”) and a whole load of other shit, some of which is even worse, but he always seems like a decent guy to me. Bay just seems excessively unpleasant, granted, sometimes amusingly, but more often not. Plus the other day I read a comment from him where he said that he read neither the good nor bad reviews, which is obviously BS if what you say about him attacking his critics personally is true, unless he is just in the habit of writing nasty letters to people randomly and some of them just happen to people who gave his films bad reviews. He obviously has a very fragile ego too; he really flinched when an interviewer suggested to him that “Pearl Harbour” might generally be perceived as a bit of a flop. I wont lie and say I’ve never seen or read an interview with the guy where he didn’t actually come off quite well, but I’ve seen, heard and read too much (even from some of those who like his films, or enjoyed working with him) to write off his “bully” image as a mere media construct.

    As for why anyone would pay attention to Bay if they don’t like him, well, he is not a low profile guy, as he himself would be keen to remind you I’m sure. Plus, never mistake not liking for not caring.

    I will say “The Rock” is a pretty good movie, with a great cast and a pretty good script for the genre. But I can’t help thinking it would have been even better with someone like John McTiernan directing, because the action could have been far better. The car chase, for example, is pretty damn poor.

  25. You guys are right that a lot of great directors are notoriously difficult people. Lots of my favorite filmmakers are jerks on the set and in their personal lives. What I resent is Bay’s public attempts to bully people into liking his films. And I know I am not imagining this. And of course, I cut good directors slack for their bad behaviour because I at least admire the results. With Bay I don’t admire the results.

    I try not to judge celebrities for their personal lives. I don’t care about their politics or if they’re drunks or whatever. But I think when we talk about how these guys behave in interviews promoting their films and in letters they write to newspapermen about their films, that’s still their professional life. So Bay is a guy with a bad personality who makes bad films in my book. If you take somebody like Kevin Smith, who’s movies I also think suck, I’d actually love to hang out with the guy. He cracks me up in interviews. I wish his movies were as funny and likeable as he is.

    And it actually is pretty hard to avoid reading these things about Bay when they appear as headlines on a website you visit or when he says them during an awards show you watch. And my friends all love his movies so I end up seeing them all anyway so I’m kinda involved.

    I don’t know if Bay later took responsibility for The Island not clicking with audiences. I remember him blaming the stars within a week of its release. Either way, he should just stand by his product whether audiences flock to it or not. Oddly, I actually think The Island is the closest he’s come to making an actual movie.

  26. Paul, I think you bring up some good points. I’ve always dealt with the “objective quality vs. subjective experience” conundrum by considering movies (and art in general) on two sliding scales; good/bad and entertaining/boring. The first is an ostensibly objective indicator of overall quality, while the second merely concerns whether or not you had any fun. Whether or not something is entertaining is clearly subjective, since I might concede that the Merchant Ivory films are well-made motion pictures of substance, but they bore the crap out of me. Likewise, many others fail to see the entertainment value in a movie like On Deadly Ground, which even its defenders (of which I am among the staunchest) will admit that it’s a pretty terrible film. The best a movie can be is good and entertaining, but I will pick bad and entertaining over good and boring anyday. I consider Transformers and Transformers 2 to be bad and entertaining, while Rance found it bad and boring. We’re in agreement over the subjective quality of the artistic endeavor, but I liked the experience and he didn’t, much like some people enjoy getting their nipples hooked up to car batteries and some don’t.

  27. Okay. Here is what really upsets me.

    The Twins. Now, as a black man the caricaturization is not what upset me. I am a fairly thick-skinned individual and I definitely do not abide to the PC police. As a matter of fact, I feel that the most effective and uproarious form of comedy is indeed satire.

    These characters were NOT satirical. There was nothing “meta” about them. In no way did this movie or it’s characters deconstruct American culture. There were NO characters. There was NO movie. I don’t know what the hell it was, but it wasn’t a movie. At whim, Bay poked fun at various ethnicities without battling an eyelash as to fill space between now and the next ‘splosion. It was just an all-around mean-spirited motion picture in every single way.

    For Revenge, subtext was at an absolute ZERO. It was, quite possibly, the most hollow movie ever made in the history of cinema. This is why many people were so bored with it. There was no connection between the audience and what was going on screen.

    But…when Shia asks them to read the Cybertronian symbols and they respond with, “…We don’t do much reading…” I damn near popped a vessel in my head. That was just a mean-spirited low blow. That was full on racist. I don’t mind stereotypes being played out in movies, so long as there is a PURPOSE behind it.

    There was absolutely NO function for these characters. What upsets me even more is that a lot of people are denying that the characters are indeed a negative portrayal of African-Americans. “No! You’re the one who is racist! You made the correlation yourself!!!”

    Bullshit. Either Michael Bay and Co. consciously broke the coincidence bullshit machine or the “gangstabots” are the greatest blackface CGI method actors of all time. And frankly–I find the controversy surrounding it to be the least offensive thing about the movie.

    Many people I’ve talked to didn’t even realize that they were mocking black culture (and black Americans) until I brought it to their attention. For fuck’s sake–Have we dumbed people down to the point where they can’t even think critically or to any degree?

    The questions are not rhetorical. I am actively curious.

  28. I had heard about the “We don’t do much reading” line, but I didn’t catch it. Perhaps it was while I was in the can, pissing out the half-pint of whiskey I drank in the movie’s first hour. I did, however, catch the gold tooth, the bug eyes, and the big ears. As (apparently) the world’s foremost Transformers 2 defender, I will say without hesitation that, yes, the Twins were regressive racial stereotypes. However, I honestly don’t think that Michael Bay ever in a million years thought anybody would find them offensive. He wasn’t trying to shock anyone or parody anything. I think after directing Martin Lawrence for two movies he just thinks that wacky black people are hilarious and wants them in all his movies. I suspect that he’s one of those white dudes who thinks that because he hangs out with black people he’s allowed to make whatever racial jokes he wants.

    This is not a defense, by the way. If there was one thing about the movie I could have lived without, it was the Twins.

  29. I have a theory that Michael Bay is the world’s most misanthropic movie director.

    His movies are an insult visually, intellectually, artistically, mentally, physically, psychologically, etc. I am aware that several of the aforementioned terms are redundancies. But it must be stated in an overkill fashion. His movies are RETARDED.

    This is not an accident. Movies as god-awful as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen do not happen by accident. Hell, the very reason we go to see these movies are ruined. The concept alone is something most people would happily pay to see: Giant alien robots pounding the sand out of each other.

    Bay manages to screw that up without shame. The battle sequences are incoherent and indiscernible; each close-up of the Transformers designs is as Vern stated: A giant ball of car parts rolling down a hill in close-up shots.

    Throw in racist caricatures, rampant banality, zero character connection and VOILA! One goddamn terrible movie to boot.

    He is trying to prove a point about modern audiences: That they will eat anything up so long as the exterior is shiny. The less complicated the interior, the more accessible a movie will be. I feel that he goes about “ruining” his movies as to prove that as a culture, we have become hollow and predictable. People obviously didn’t get message from the first movie, so he felt inclined to shoot the sequel. And the fact that this movie is breaking box office records and will more than likely usurp The Dark Knight as the second highest grossing American film of all time reaffirms this theory.

    After all, a business man is not concerned with the quality of the product he is selling. Rather, he is concerned with the quantity. How many units he moves. How much revenue he generates. If he can produce something “economically” and make a killing off of it, the revenue he would pocket would be of a more desirable cost/production ratio.

    Michael Bay approaches filmmaking in a similar manner. Many critics consider Bay to be a joke, but the joke is truly on them.

  30. I agree whole-heartedly about Bay’s misanthropy. It’s what I like about him, actually. I get a wicked thrill out of the fact that he got Will “America’s Sweetheart” Smith to play a violent, misogynistic, racist, fascist sociopath. (I may have an overdeveloped sense of irony. My doctor’s looking into it.) The part where your theory falls apart is where you claim that Bay approaches filmmaking economically. This is true in one sense, in that he is primarily concerned with getting every penny of his ginormous budgets up on the screen. But the scary part about Michael Bay is not that he doesn’t give a shit, it’s that he makes his movies like this because he likes it that way. If he were merely a hack looking to make a quick buck, he wouldn’t bother with the bizarre comic regressions, the fetishistic attention to extreme visual detail that renders hyper-realism surreal, and the sheer scope and blistering shot-by-shot pace of his action scenes. He does this stuff because that’s what he likes. The reason his movies have so many cuts is because he shoots three or four times as many set-ups as the average director. Nobody asked him to do that, and he has to work three or four times as hard to fit that many shots into the same length shooting schedule as everyone else. He might not have anything to say with his movies, but he clearly loves creating images. For better or worse, his personal stamp is all over his movies, and that’s why I like them: because they’re different. They’re not just made up of the same beats, the same notes, as every other franchise product. I’ll take a crazy, offensive, retarded camp comedy nightmare over a bland, po-faced non-epic like Terminator: Salvation or Wolverine anyday.

    Hey Rance, are we getting to the part in the buddy comedy where even though we’re cops from the opposite side of the tracks and we got off on the wrong foot we’re finally starting to begrudgingly respect each other a little bit?

  31. Just what I was thinking, Mr. Majestyk. (Pssss- take the initiative and invite Rance over for frozen cobbler with the family the way Murtaugh did with Riggs). This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  32. It’s one of those things where you can kinda let it slide once and figure the writers put some racist shit in there or the producers strong-armed him into including such characters, but it’s a trend that appears more often than not in Bay’s film.

    I think in the first ten minutes of Armageddon you get one sassy black man making fun of stereotypical Japanese tourists, mocking their accents and politeness.

    Then you get sassy black man number 2 getting into a fight with a Hawaiian street vendor and saying something like “I’ll shove this up yo pineapple-eatin’ ass!”

    And then we are supposed to kinda laugh when an asteroid hits them.

    I mean, fuck, that’s more racist shit in an openning sequence than Crash, and Crash was aiming to have the most racist content possible.

  33. Holy shit. A potential bitter internet fight resolved peacefully with an educated dialogue. In a Michael Bay talkback no less. There just may be hope for this (internet) world yet.

    We should really archive this and present it to forums all over the web as a shining example of how to handle differing opinions.

    How no one person is “right” when dealing with opinions
    How you look stupid when you’re in an internet fight
    How all you prove after it’s done is that you’re both assholes
    How if someone else having a different opinion than you sets you off that way then you may want to live life some more.

    So good job Rance / Mr. Majestyk (with Neal2Zod getting special mention as in-between guy)! I salute you two and may we, and others, take this as an example!


    Also as Majestyk said, can we please stop using movies/TV Shows/whatever people watch as a litmus test. We all like some stupid piece of crap somewhere down the line that intellectually insults another individual. Rather than writing that person off, ask them why they liked it (and vice versa if they hate something you absolutely love).

    Personal Life experience: my warehouse manager and I disagree on just about every movie. She thinks ‘WALL-E’ is the worst movie ever made because it’s liberal propaganda (?) and ‘too political for kids’ (???) but she thinks Nicholas Cage is the greatest actor ever and ‘Battlefield: Earth” is wonderful movie (in a non-ironic way). I do not share these same views with her and even though I may find them odd (to say the least) I do not shun her or avoid her when I am at work. I have learned why she feels the way she does about certain movies/shows and I respect that and she then laughs at me because I willingly watch cartoons and things she would never watch if even forced too. We get along very well and there are many things to like about her. If I followed that bullshit “litmus rule” I would not have someone to talk too occasionally and help me out.

    I have more stories along these lines but you get the point and you probably didn’t need me hammering home the message with that none-too-exciting story anyways.

    Short version: don’t be an asshole and accept other individual’s opinions

    -This leads to a mini-rant: back in 2007 a month after ‘Transformers’ came out Drew “Moriarty” McWeeny had a rant about how ‘there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure’ (aka he only likes good things (a month after he fully endorsed TF) and he mentioned a personal story about how he met some guy who was super-excited to see ‘Rush Hour 3’ and McWeeny stated he wanted nothing to do with that guy then. I really hated that because McWeeny is a smart and well-written man, a bit of an intellectual snob and hypocrite but nobody is perfect, and many people look up to him and respect him and most importantly listen to him and here he was pushing that ‘litmus rule’ bullshit. Two years later it still really ticks me off that he pushes such thinking but then has the nerve to criticize on the internet etiquette of talkbacks.


    I’m holding back all my comments for TF2ROTF until the review proper shows up (not that you guys care what I thought). I wrote it back on Wednesday when I got back from it and the most I did was email vern a question (I don’t want to drop it here because I want to talk about it in the TF2 talkback). But it’s hard because I finally have a place where I can share my opinion where I will not be treated like shit and now I actually ‘want’ to share my opinion with others.

    P.S. – they did not take my underpants pass so the man got my money after all.

  34. He wasn’t saying that he only liked good things. He was saying that he he rejects the idea that people should be ashamed of liking things. Moriarty said that there was stuff that he liked that was trash and stuff that no one else would possibly like, and that making excuses and trying to seperate yourself from your enjoyment of something was dumb.

    He was being sarcastic about bailing on a friendship over RH3. Moriarty is like that.

  35. I think this is an interesting question of why we will enjoy one movie for being stupid and hate another one. I think I have a harder time with the big budget ones. When it’s some low budget movie starring Brian Bosworth or whoever you get the feeling they are trying and maybe they don’t have the skills or resources to pull it off, but they do what they can and some of it’s awesome, some of it is laughable, society in general looks down on it but I find myself rooting for it. A little bit of an underdog thing.

    With movies like Michael Bay makes they have a budget 100 times as big, they do just as bad or worse but they make tons of money, are generally accepted by society and are able to walk around feeling they have done a great thing because they made a profit. And they don’t have that same scrappy charm, they throw money at all the challenges so then it makes you question why they couldn’t do a better job.

    But you know sometimes I can enjoy it anyway, like I get kind of a kick out of some of Rob Cohen’s movies. So I don’t know.

    I also like the discussion about whether or not Michael Bay being a huge asshole is relevant. I think it is because I think he’s enough of an auteur that his personality comes through in his movies, so his movies are also assholes. I haven’t seen a couple of them but the ones I’ve seen are all very mean-spirited with lame racist and homophobic jokes and people getting hurt played for cheap laughs. You see Bernie Mac calling his mom a bitch, Will Smith threatening that teenage kid for dating Martin Lawrence’s daughter, Hummers destroying a tent city and all that shit, and at the same time you’re seeing so much glorification of military hardware, expensive sports cars and vapid, plastic women. I think even if we didn’t read about him we would start to sense that was his personality. But it doesn’t hurt that we also saw him willingly accept the “MTV Movie Award For Best Action Scene” for the fucking bombing of Pearl Harbor. I mean, it’s hard to forget that’s the guy directing the movie.

    Of course that’s not to say you can’t enjoy movies directed by assholes, and I definitely agree that many great directors must be assholes.

  36. Rance, I would have to disagree that ROTF didn’t have a subtext. It did, although I don’t mean that as a compliment to the movie as it had possibly the least subtle attempt at a subtext I’ve ever seen. Remember how at the beginning of the movie Sam’s mom couldn’t bear that he was going to college? Then at the end, the dad can’t bear to be seperated from him because he’s worried about the robot testicles killing one of them or whatever was going on at that point, but the mother just says “let him go”. Hmm, whatever could they have been trying to get at there…

  37. But Vern what’s the difference between Will Smith pointing the gun at the teenager and Vincent Vega blowing Marvin’s head off in Pulp Fiction? Because I cracked up over both.

  38. First time poster. This is actually the review that hooked me onto this site. Vern, you write some insightful stuff.

    Man, you guys were talking about how we all like bad movies, and liking Transformers is really no different. I’ve been thinking about that all day. Something bothered me a little bit more about Bay’s films and I couldn’t figure out what.

    You know, when Roger Corman would make flicks back in the day, you felt the love for moviemaking coming out of the movie even if you didn’t like the movie itself. You can argue his flicks may be bad and look cheap, but there is an overall love to filmmaking in everything that he’s done. Besides things like genuine attempts at characterization, clear plots, themes, etc. there was respect for the audience. You don’t have to feel like you’re not invited up to the treehouse just because you’re black, female, homosexual, etc. The movies are made for everybody.

    Michael Bay’s movies are little more dangerous than that. First, they’re designed as blockbusters and usually massively successful, so almost always, his films will cast a much wider net than your average Roger Corman. That means for every one person that finds, say, his directorial credits over a burning cross amusing, ten more are going to be disturbed and have to pretend to their friends that it doesn’t bother them. That means the military propaganda he puts on screen is going to subconsciously reach ten times the children actual military recruitment offices ever will. It’s really not all that different from the flicks Nazi Germany was producing back in the WWII era. (Not that I’m calling Bay a Nazi. But…similar tactics.)

    Point being, Filmmakers carry a lot more power than we give them credit for. Transformers has a lot of weight to it.

    Movies like Transformers may be amusing in their irrationality, but the same movie also points a finger and laughs at multiple people: those are unique based on skin color, gender, or sexual preference; those filmmakers who are slaving away on movies for the sake of art with no money to show for it; and people who could care less.

    This man didn’t even have a finished script when he started filming Transformers 2. Think about that. How little regard does he hold for his audience? He already knows the movie is going to be a hit no matter what he does. He literally does not have to try.

    Vern hit the nail on the head discussing entertaining movies with depth: movies like DIE HARD and JURASSIC PARK that contain good storytelling and aren’t trying to really piss all over its audience. I don’t think it’s a coincidence he picked John Tuturro to take that golden shower. The message was clear: this big, loud, ugly thing is going to have its way with you and your “art”. You will take it, you will wallow in it, and you’ll be back for the sequel.

  39. Nice post, Jack Foley. Stick around!

  40. Just saw this. As you say, Ho-Lee Shit. Great review, awful movie.

  41. It’s the 15th anniversary of this movie, and sorry to say the Roundhouse double bill never came to pass. Instead (in the Transformers fandom at least) we have a message board thread full of people indignant that Stephen King admitted this was the only movie he’s ever walked out on, and on io9.com they have a think piece calling the movie “iconic” and “good.”


  42. I chose to believe it’s because King is a huge Transpurist, and left the cinema shouting “where the fuck are the Quintessons?!?”

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