Learning from Transformers 2
If you enjoy as much as I do reading reviews that are so negative they’re fun, here are a few of the doozies.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a bewildering, noisy, sloppy, cynical piece of work, a movie that sneers at the audience for 147 minutes and expects us to lap it up as entertainment — and be grateful. This is blockbuster porn absent even the suggestion of care or concern for anything that might resemble “a point,” save the obvious one to move more Hasbro action figures and animated-series DVD boxed sets. In a word: distasteful.
- Robert Wilonsky, Village Voice
Much of the movie is computer-generated hash, weightless even with nonstop BOOMS and METAL GROANS and THUDS.
- Michael Edelstein, New York Magazine
Compared to this sequel, the first Transformers, which was released two years ago, ranks right up there with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The new one is impressive for what it is, glittering pieces of computer-generated machinery that gyrate, undulate, somersault and explode. But even for those who enjoy glittering pieces of machinery — and I’m one of them, up to a point — Michael Bay’s 150-minute celebration of attention deficit disorder is like a July 4th fireworks display that doesn’t end until July 8th and makes you swear off Roman candles for life.
- Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
(I got shamed into seeing the movie by someone who said I couldn’t critize it without at least watching it myself. In retrospect, that’s somewhat akin to saying I can’t have an opinion about suicide without first committing it. In my capacity as a strictly amateur movie critic, I’d say the negative reviews I’ve read are too kind.)
But here’s the thing. The movie has already taken in $293,355,885. That’s almost 300 million dollars in under two weeks.
By the time it finishes its run here and abroad and in DVD/Bluetooth, it’s going to make a gazillion dollars. A gazillion dollars for a stinkola movie. Go figure.
Do you think the director, writers, and producers have lost any sleep, wondering how they could have made a better movie? (“Maybe we should have developed some sort of coherent plot. Should we have introduced just a smidgen of character development?”) Nah. They produced exactly the type of movie they wanted — a cash cow.
I think that’s one of the reasons they made such a successful movie. They knew what they were aiming at and they got what they wanted — not a good movie, but a successful movie.
The other reason they were so successful is that they knew precisely who their target audience is — males, ages 15 to 21 — and gave them what they wanted. A movie that is light on character and plot, and heavy on action, noise, explosions, car chases, special effects, toys, machines, weapons, male bonding, and babes.
All this makes me ask two questions, not about moviemaking but about speaking.
First, what is your intention as a speaker? Every speech needs a specific goal. So each speech you give could conceivably have its unique goal. But an intention is more consistent; it varies very little from speech to speech. So my goal for a particular speech might be to win approval for my proposal. But my intention in every speech I give might be to achieve my goal by providing some worthwhile benefit to the audience. The sole intention of the makers of Transformers was to make money, all other considerations be damned. What’s your intention?
And second, is it good enough to give audiences what they want? Yes, as speakers we need to know our audience to understand their needs, desires, and preferences. But I don’t think its worthy of us simply to tell them what they want to hear.
What do you think? Do want to defend Transformers?