While picking up my “you know better, but it’s the explosions!” copy of Transformers: Revenge of Bombacity The Fallen (T:ROTF)at the local Best Buy today, the checkout guy was shocked, SHOCKED, when I told him how dumb I thought Michael Bay’s latest foray into robots and asplosions was. Hypocrisy? Sure, but there’s an underlying point here: if everyone loves the movie, does reviewing it even matter?
After our review of T:ROTF on the 6/26 radio show, we received a lot of incredulous responses to the fact that we not only didn’t grope and leghump T:ROTF, we sent it home and called its parents. Everyone we spoke to seemed to have loved it. We didn’t. In fact, most reviewers who enjoyed the first one didn’t either. The usual “who listens to reviewers anyway?” consensus began percolating.
But instead of quickly debunking reviewers as out of touch, consider this: thoughtful criticism (good or bad) introduces necessary shades of contrarianism which contribute toward a holistic view. Criticism’s ability to provide underlying perspective on unrecognized or disregarded themes and techniques is the point– a contrary opinion isn’t demanding a reader to agree, but it does suggest there may be more than one facet of a film worth looking into. So here’s the kicker: where film is undeniably a medium with the innate ability to shape perception and embed itself into cultural relevancy and lexicon, its examination deserves more than a simple adrenaline rush/laugh meter litmus test.
Roger Ebert put an exclamation point on it the idea: “It’s not a critic’s job to reflect box office taste. The job is to describe my reaction to a film, to account for it, and evoke it for others. The job of the reader is not to find his opinion applauded or seconded, but to evaluate another opinion against his own.”
So hey Best Buy checkout guy. Put those shocked looks away. My head-hanging hypocrisy dictates I’ll enjoy T:ROTF on a purely visceral level as played out in spurts and clips. But please… (please!) keep in mind that as a whole, T:ROTF remains an intentional insult to your intelligence with its choice of loud over logic, geographical defiance, and insistence on overpowering your brain’s ability to process information. And when you see that shot of two wrecking balls clanging together in a thinly veiled allusion to robo-testicles, realize it’s the cinematic equivalent to hanging a set of plastic testicles from a truck– both of which require a wagging finger of shame and a quick cerebral palate douching.