It’s not particularly surprising that Michael Bay personally introduced a recent screening of Transformers
by enthusiastically announcing that he was there “to make sure it’s
fucking loud.” This is a director, after all, who has built his entire
career around action brawn, pumped-up soundtracks, slow-mo visuals,
canted close-ups and a penchant for somewhat tacky
exclamation. Nuance is not really part of his vocabulary. Luckily for
him, it’s not the public’s most coveted quality in entertainment either. Having pulled in $8.8 million during its nationwide Monday
night sneak previews, and a record $27 million-plus from its opening
day haul (biggest Tuesday opening ever… blah, blah, blah), Transformers
is a big, old-fashioned blockbuster, that much is certain. Nothing that
I or any other critic might say about the movie will derail its
downhill momentum. Sequels will be spawned, a hearty line of spin-off
products launched, and a somewhat struggling studio (the newly
betrothed Paramount/DreamWorks) rejuvenated with a new franchise.
So what to make of Transformers’ success, especially coming on the heels of the all-out domestic implosion of Bay’s last film, 2005’s The Island?
The most immediate lessons are two-fold: 1) That special effects and a
suitably rousing trailer can really still rally the youth dollar; and,
2) As depressingly close-minded as such backwards-gazing nostalgia is,
Hollywood studios will continue to value name-brand properties — really
any franchise, almost — over original ideas, if only for their
perceived ability to deliver a built-in audience. Transformers, of course, is based on a toy line of convertible kids’ action figures from the 1980’s; with G.I. Joe I believe already in development, can a live-action Centipede, Pac-Man or Donkey Kong movie be far behind? For another full review of the movie, from FilmStew, click here.