Transformers II: Art lovers 0, review lovers 10

I couldn’t help but notice this the last time I moseyed electronically past Yahoo news:


Total Gross: $402,111,870

Autobots battled Decepticons to the top of the box office, not only becoming the top earning movie of the year, but also firmly planting itself at number 9 among the top ten highest domestic grossing films of all time.

The top earning movie of the year.

Now, as a film lover, I find this to be just a terrible personal blow. Especially since there were so many actually decent blockbuster movies this year. Film snob though you may be, you can’t say Up, Star Trek and Avatar weren’t at least imaginative and thoughtful films, given their big-budget profile. Some might even say they were excellent. But no — filmgoers in their wisdom decided to throw their financial vote to Transformers II. Which means in 2011 or so we’ll be forced to endure a Transformers III (as if that was ever really in doubt).

And as a reader of film reviews, I couldn’t be happier.

By way of explanation, here’s a small sampling of the critical reaction to Transformers II. It’s some of the most entertaining writing of 2009.

Transformers: The Revenge of The Fallen is beyond bad; it carves out its own category of godawfulness. -Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination. -Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Revenge of the Fallen is like listening to rocks in a clothes dryer for 2½ hours. – Michael Philipps, Chicago Tribune

So what if he can’t put a coherent series of shots together? [Director Michael] Bay is going for pure sensation, and everyone knows dramatic continuity is for women and the weak. -Ty Burr, Boston Globe

If when you were a child—either with Mr. Wizard or alone—you had passed a magnet over a pile of iron filings, you would have unknowingly created the action scenes of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. -Brandon Judell, CultureCatch

I’ve just spent 2 1/2 hours watching a movie and another hour thinking about what I saw and I have no earthly idea what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is about. -Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

If it sounds as though the script was written in serial-novel form during an all-night mescaline bender, well, I have no evidence that it was not. -Christopher Orr, The New Republic

And my favorite:

Compared to this sequel, the first Transformers ranks right up there with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. -Joe Morganstern, Wall Street Journal

You see what I’m saying? When this movie came out we got more clever invective in a single day than our nation’s print media typically manage to publish in an entire year. The success of Transformers II bodes ill for the art of filmmmaking, but it bodes very well for the art of the hatchet job. And this Film Studies B.A. looks forward to a bumper crop of excellent hatchet jobs in 2011. Assuming we still have newspapers (with, less likely, full-time movie reviewers) in 2011.