Asking more of summer blockbusters

I’ve received a lot of feedback on my review of Transformers 3. Most agree it’s just a terrible film. I’m surprised, though, at a shocking number of people who not only think it was great but go on to defend the second Transformers film, which happens to be one of the worst entertainment-related atrocities ever visited on mankind.

Some have said I’m asking too much of a summer blockbuster. The majority of the cinema-going public are just looking for some razzle-dazzle that doesn’t require any thought. And I’m all for that same thing sometimes, but I draw a line between “not requiring any thought” and “downright insulting.”

Let’s even look to Transformers director Michael Bay to make my point. His film, The Rock, is a masterpiece of brainless manly-man moviemaking. It doesn’t require anything of the viewer in the way of brain usage. And yet, the characters are not only well defined, they are likable. By the end of the movie, you genuinely care what happens to them. All the actions and movements in the movie make logical sense. When a character says “we’ve got to go to X and do Y,” I never once thought, “no you don’t.”

Transformers 3 is the exact opposite of that. By the end I was just hoping every human in the movie would be wiped out. Not only were they all completely unlikable, the movie had insulted my intelligence (and loudly) for almost three hours. The big McGuffin on the movie were these “pillars of power” (or whatever they were called, I think at this point my brain is trying to actively erase all memory of the experience). All they had to do to end the threat was destroy the main one. We managed to fire a volley of Tomahawk missiles into the city and destroy bad guys. Why exactly couldn’t see just fire those same missiles toward the Giant Pillar of Doom (man, my memory is really going on this one)?

Now imagine those same logical failures for over two and a half hours. I don’t think it’s asking too much that a “summer blockbuster” can make even a little bit of sense. I fail to believe that the only writers who know how to do this are working exclusively for Christopher Nolan.

I think we should expect more not less, even from mindless pictures.

Note: Once again, yes, this is a moot point. Despite the horrid reviews, Transformers will rake in hundreds of millions (a billion?) dollars. There will be the contingent of people who see it and hate it followed by a large and maddening group who will genuinely love it. And Bay himself will cash one paycheck that dwarfs the combined lifetime income of everyone that ever reads this. Then he’ll go blow something up in his back yard.

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