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Transformers 3 and the Truth About Blockbusters

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Mark Kermode | 17:46 UK time, Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon has opened to record breaking box office figures - but does this mean it's any good? Here I tell you the truth about blockbuster economics - but can you handle the truth?

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Just to let you know mark that i am totally with you when it comes to people contributing money to these types or films, especially the new transformers.

    To show that i'm on your side i deliberatly saved up points from the reward club scheme of my local multiplex to use for transformers AND in 2D because even though i didn't actually pay for my tickets the points must go somewhere towards the final outcome so i wanted to make sure i wasn't fueling the 3D.

  • Comment number 2.

    So, The Exorcist's substantial box office is irrelevant too, right Doc? It was down to plugging, and not quality?

  • Comment number 3.

    If the greatest film ever made is judged by box office takings then Avatar is the greatest movie ever made. Sure.

    I could make films like Transformers, all I need is a big budget and someone who can create the same old explosions which we've seen millions of times before. Done. It looks easy and takes no skill, requires no storytelling talent.



  • Comment number 4.

    Matth, did you actually listen, the point is the money taken at a box office is no indication of how good a film is.

    Yes the Exorcist took a lot of money but people who watched it enjoyed it. Quality can't be measured on the what people paid without seeing something and the is what Dr K is saying.

    If 20 people went to see a film and hated are you trying to tell me that the money they spent justified it as a good film?

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear Dr.K,

    I hear what you're saying although I think that you're missing something here.

    Yes it is true that an event makes noise in the media but the other factor to consider is:

    A blockbuster like Transformers is a clever commodity aimed at children. The thing is a 2hr long advert for the toys/merchandise plus the children bring their parents along too so it doubles/triples your money.

    I think that not all blockbusters are destined for success - look at The Postman, Sahara and more that follow the rules you set out.

    There isn't a sure fire way to make money with big films - there has to be some sort of hook.

    Transformers was already a popular part of pop culture in kids and was an easy concept to sell to a new generation (Teenage Turtles was re-sold and the new Batman films also have a strong line of toys for the new generation).

    It's all commerce that will bring in funds to make films like Inception etc possible

  • Comment number 6.

    Takings never EVER have any bearing on whether the film is any good. See the original takings for 'The Shawshank Redemption', a film generally considered now as the best film ever made, as a case in point!

  • Comment number 7.

    Where I strongly disagree is that just because alot of money was spent on a film it will make money. These tent pole event films make a lot of money has been spent of the advertising so everyone knows that it is coming out and is targeted at demographics that are likely to see it.

    Two make my point I give you Speed Racer, estimated budget of $120,000,000, propably the same again in advertising, worldwide box office $93,000,000.

    Also keeping in the Michael Bay area, The Island, $122,000,000 estimated budget. $160,000,000 gross, just $35,000,000 US domestic. Take in to account the ad costs and distribution costs I would say that it could of lost money too.

  • Comment number 8.

    Jamesblogofmedia, whoa, step back from the hype. I like Shawshank but an Empire poll, a few years ago now at IMDB is hardly evidence that it is "generally considered now as the best film ever made." However I agree on your general argument.

  • Comment number 9.

    Another way of putting it, Mr Kermode, is that the majority of people enjoy twaddle. Notice that I did not say the majority of people are thick. I do enjoy some particular films that are not that popular with critics, whether it is the new Tron for nostalgic reasons, or whether it is Ang Lee's Hulk for its overall production. Your explanation about investment, although apt, and, yes, quite correct for a number of cases, is, I feel, the only thing that is "high-brow." It may sound unscientific, or unreasonable, but the majority of people that I know who do enjoy films like Transformers 3 are quite stupid. They don't care for the possibility of mind-expanding films; or the chance of seeing something spectacular; or being genuinely blown away by a masterful plot; or the great use of sets and design; or the chance to be really sucked in by some fantastic writing and fantastic characters. No. They are mentally dull. Such is life. And you know, the production companies know it. So does Michael Bay.

  • Comment number 10.

    Mark this is your second blog on Transformers 3 plus numerous anti 3D posts, why cant you put this much effort into telling us about the films we should be seeing. If i want to hear your reviews of Pans labrinthe or Divingbell and the butterfly i have listen to Badhead's youtube channel, the only reason you reviewed Mesrine is because people accused you of being anti french.As a doctor could prescribe some movie medicine to make us feel better.Michael Bay is always going to make films, but you could lead a counter revolution.When i watch the Kermodes i'd like to say yeah i saw those films and really enjoyed them.

  • Comment number 11.

    "Spend enough money and you'll never lose your shirt" Oh yeah? Oh Yeah?

  • Comment number 12.

    #3 - Avatar's a special case. Its titanic (he he!) box office was down to the curiosity generated by the way the film was executed.

  • Comment number 13.

    Put simply: Revenge of the Fallen took a bunch of money despite the fact that critics like yourself trashed it, yet a couple of years on, even those involved are admitting they dropped the ball.

  • Comment number 14.

    #4 - That, or I was laying the groundwork for a hypocritical response from the Doc...

  • Comment number 15.

    I’ve recently watched TransBOREmers 3, as I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as Terminator 1 and 2, or Robocop, I was expecting it to be like a big, dumb, robots hitting each other movie.

    However I have never been so bored in all my life, how can Bay make a film about robots hitting each other boring? Also I thought Optimus Prime was a useless hero, he really did nothing until the very end, after all the humans, and other robots did all the work for him.

    Also wasn’t this supposed to be a kids movie? The scenes with the Ken Jeong, who’s basically reprising The Hangover character was totally unsuitable for children, including the toilet scene, where you get to see a very close up shot of his crotch, and Sam thinks Jeong is going to rape him.

    Other scenes including the beginning with Sam and his girlfriend, where he‘s holding her Provocatively up on the table , also robots bleeding, robot heads being torn off from the body with the spine attached, solders being blown apart in slow motion, the stereotypical British robots, where one of them calls the other the “W” word. I sat there thinking, how did this get a 12a? This was even more graphic than The Dark Knight, or even Terminator 2 for that matter.

  • Comment number 16.

    Completely in agreement with you Mark, and Stuart Yates above makes good points about the certificate. We unfortunately have to concede that we are the minority and will not win this war with vile money grabbing movies like this one. Lets stick up for the films that truley matter.
    The film world is very leniant when it comes to the 12a cert, kids are losing thier innocense far too quickly. It trys to get away with it under the guise 'oh its a toy franchise from the 80's revamped'
    Oh and Mark, i couldnt help but think at any moment watching that vid, you were going to lose your shoes and socks...and that mini statue of liberty with them! ;-)

  • Comment number 17.

    Box office proves nothing about anything, obviously. If it did, then the greatest movie of all time would be Avatar, the greatest book would be The Da Vinci Code, the best newspaper would be the News of the World, and so on. The fact that a lot of people went to see this thing, even after the second one was HORRIBLE, just proves there are a lot of fools in the world, which we already knew.

    What amazes me more are the people who saw it despite expecting it to be terrible, and then complained about how terrible it was. I've spoken to a couple of friends this weekend who said 'Oh, I knew it would be bad, but I thought I'd go and see it anyway, because it might be entertaining.' There are seriously people seeing this thing because they feel under some sort of obligation to do so. Between them and the ones who actually like Transformers movies, I don't know who's worse.

  • Comment number 18.

    "...and you don't know now whether they actually liked the damn thing..."

    Actually the market research firm CinemaScore makes a business of knowing whether viewers liked a film. According to them, average viewers of Transporn3 rated it "A."
    http://www.theboxofficejunkie.com/p/cinemascore-grades.html

    The truth about blockbusters is that huge masses of people like trash. That truth may be unpleasant, but it seems quite clear.

  • Comment number 19.

    Totally agree with what you said. Although there are some moments in the Transformers movies that i enjoy, and the score is also in my opinion excellent, they are not good films. They make hundreds of millions because they are heavily advertised, and do not deserve the money they make. There is no effort in the story, direction and acting, and whilst i enjoy the score, the films are lazy.

    Inception showed that summer blockbusters can be clever and thoughtful, and showed how summer films should be made. There is intelligence as well as action in the films, and are more enjoyable than other "dumber" films because of this.

    My only worry would be this... if every summer blockbusters was clever, engaging and had substance, would they all lose their appeal and become boring..?

  • Comment number 20.

    Prepairs to duck... I was given the DVD of 'Pearl Harbour'... I liked it (DUCKS). Yes, I liked it. OK, you've never actually met me... but I do exist :o)

    I do vastly vastly vastly prefer 'Tora, Tora, Tora' and I hope that goes some way to cleansing me of my abject shame :o)

    PS... I'm very anti-3D also... and after my frightful experience with the first film, I will never watch another Michael Bay 'Transformers' film.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think another big reason, why the "Transformers"-movies are that popular, despide the fact, that they are not actually very good is, that there are many real Transformer-Nerds out there. I know some people, who really liked every movie of the series and they also loved the third one... even befor they actually have seen it...
    It's always the same with franchise-products. The hard-core-fans deside to like them and THEN look for reasons, why to do so...

    When it comes to the Transformers-Movies: I don't think they are as terrible as Dr. K. thinks. But I think, for the huge amound of money they cost and the fact, that, at the moment, the thirt movie is pretty much the definition of "Summer-Blockbuster", those movies have to be better. There is no excuse, to set the bar that low!

  • Comment number 22.

    Can't agree Dr. K,

    I'm a huge 'Transformers' fan so naturally I'm bias towards Bay's live-action pictures and I loved 'Dark of the Moon'.
    However, in regards to your comment about the success of blockbusters, I think you might be getting a little sidetracked.

    A lot of public interest and hype comes down to ALL the names attached, not just the star plus a whole bunch of other stuff. I'm sure many people saw 'DOTM' for these reasons:

    - To see how Huntington-Whiteley does as Fox's replacement
    - To see if it's better than 'Revenge of the Fallen'
    - To see if there's even more 'Bayhem'

    The list is endless.

    And blockbusters can easily be flops, just look at 'Heaven's Gate'; granted it's a Western, but that film single-handedly collapsed United Artists. Impressive...

  • Comment number 23.

    I think an important point to back up, which has been half mentioned so far, is that Blockbusters such as these do indeed make so much because of the reasons here, but if they were to employ a true artistry to the same budget films with the same publicity etc, it may not be successfull as they are generally designed in their make-up to appeal to the most common denominator of a viewer, the most average, base, easily gratified and entertained viewer who doesn't care that Transformers isn't a Terence Mallick or Jim Jarmusch film... for me, to expect the target audience for Transformers to be satisfied with a much more artistic film, is idealistic and something we can only wish for. P.S. I quite enjoyed Pearl Harbour! Don't approve of it at all but still, for what it is (a Michael Bay film), it's not Transformers which is a mercy no matter how little

  • Comment number 24.

    21cwh04: Really? You think people are agog to see how one bland, vapid underwear model does in the role formerly filled by another bland, vapid underwear model?

    As for the word 'Bayhem'... please tell me you're a marketing man working for Michael Bay. Please tell me an actual human being didn't come up with that word. Because that would make me cry.

  • Comment number 25.

    Not sure if this is common knowledge yet or not, but it's become clear that Transformers 3 is actually re-using footage from Bay's previous film 'The Island': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7kcqB3thJM
    He is literally giving audiences the exact same explosive action scenes with a little added CGI. I found it pretty shocking personally.

  • Comment number 26.

    Frankly, if you're daft enough to be taken in summer after summer by these gigantic, soulless, shallow minded 'marketing' machines, then you are deserving of your next vapid instalment of '.........................................................' add franchise/remake/reboot here.

    Adult audiences really ought to be a little more discerning, particularly when it comes down to summer event movies. I'm thinking 'Cowboys & Aliens' as a relatively safe bet for a summer movie. It may not be great but, at the very least, it isn't a sequel, remake or reboot and it only comes in glorious 2D flat-o-vision. How refreshing.

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree with Arch Stanton and many here. Unfortunately there will always be the market for the summer blockbusters that are just popcorn fodder for the masses who want a brainless experience at the movies, even more so if there's lots of special effects/car chases/explosions (insert further cliches here).

    I try to discern my viewing pleasure with more worthy movies, but sometimes there's nothing better showing at my local multiplex (especially in school holidays). In that case, I just wait for the better movies to arrive and enjoy them even more, even if they don't make the money.

    It's the brainless blockbusters that allow smaller movies to be made and seen.

    I can't wait for Cowboys and Aliens to arrive. Looks great.

  • Comment number 28.

    While I don't agree with 100% of Kermode's comments in this video, since big budget films can bomb, the basic premise, that something makes a lot of money therefore it is good, is a common fallacy, an appeal to the masses, an argumentum ad populum. So I have to agree with his point that just because something makes a lot of money, doesn't mean it must be good. You don't judge quality by revenue or profit, that's ludicrous.

  • Comment number 29.

    On a side note I absolutely love that Dobro t-shirt...

  • Comment number 30.

    Brilliant Mark! Since forever I try to convince people (who got it mixed up) that success and quality are two very different things. I said it over and over again, that many successful films (or pop songs for that matter) could have been way better (more thoughtfully and cleverly crafted) and it wouldn't have hurt sales. You are coming up with a completely new angle, defending my (=our) point of view, and it is absolutely correct and convincing. Thanks for that!

  • Comment number 31.

    I completely agree that looking at the box office figures is no indication as to whether a film is good or not.
    It's also highly deceptive due to inflation; the films with the highest box office gross today may have the larger numbers than yesteryear but it doesn't necessarily mean that they have been more financially successful.
    Have a gander at this site:

    http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

    Whilst the sites accuracy may be debatable and only shows the figures for the US, it does put today's figures into a bit more perspective ;o)

  • Comment number 32.

    For a while now I've simply stated the view that a £100 million dollar movie will triple its costs 9 out of 10 times, maybe more. Sure, some expensive pictures flop... But not many.

    This is why they're so appealing to the major studios, this is why cinema thrives in the summer months, and with the explosion of superhero movies these last few years, the "summer" for films just seems to be getting longer.

    Still, superhero movies tend to hit the mark for "dumb fun summer movie" more often than other action films, so I suppose I shouldn't really complain at that.

  • Comment number 33.

    he hits it dead on.


    Back in the 1930's and 1940's, the golden age of movie making, actors were not paid millions and millions of dollars before a movie came out, and they had to depend on the movie being a hit that people would see over and over to make their income. This was before the internet, VHS/DVDS, and many other things that are used as an advantage of marketing today. But also, how limited they were making these movies, made them even better cause they had to think outside the box and make things work WITHOUT CGI and a computer to do everything for them.

    I know Transformers is based on a toy, but Robots in Disguise, come on. They could have come up with something to make the movies interesting besides throwing a big name actor like Shia in it, and then just using everything possible to appeal to movie goers. Michael Bay sees Megan Fox/Rosie Hunter's character as just eye candy like cars. This is the worst way of writing movies and you know it.

    Since I mentioned black and white movies, those should be the blue print to hollywood movie making. Several classics from that era are basically a blue print of how to write a story. They have protagonist, storyline, conclusion, and so on. It was not about shoving as many explosions and fight scenes into a movie and seeing how much they could add up. Transformers was supposed to appeal to kids, but it basically has an adult approach to it. Bay should have made the Transformers the main characters, and the entire movie about the Transformers. Instead we get a story about a high school kid trying to get the girl next door, and even in the 3rd one, the girl still appeals the same way Megan Fox did it. They can't act at all, but the actors are the last ones to blame here. All the blame is solely on Bay.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think it's a fair point that chucking so much money at a film guarantees success (unless you’re selling Philip Pullman to a bunch of creationists) . Look at the POTC films; a middling original film, followed by dire sequels, yet people still flock to a new instalment despite being stung before. Someone needs to do a proper academic study of this phenomenon. In my own way I'm the same, I refuse to watch Transformers sequels, but I'll watch some awful (but at least low budget) DTV horror sequel to a decent original (why on earth do I still want to see Hellraiser Revelations when the last four have been so dire?). Clearly these summer blockbusters are the new exploitation film: people still flock to them despite being ripped off before, presumably because of saturation bombing. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, which is probably why you’re allowed to use clips of them on this blog!

  • Comment number 35.

    I like the transformers movies because I can spend a couple a couple of hours with a bucket of popcorn, a large carbonated beverage and my senses getting hammered without really having to think much about it.

    You talk about money spent on a movie being the draw for bringing money in, well, your just wrong. The cinematic experience is the draw for making money at the cinema.

    I have to travel 140 odd miles round trip to go to my local cinema and when I get there I choose the film with the most explosions. I can see the dull crap when Satelite TV shows it as part of my sub package thank you very much...

    Even at home I have spent a good amount of money over the years on home cinema equipment and it wasn't to watch Uncle Boon Mi The Old Korean Guy With The Mental Issues, I could seriously watch that on a 14 inch telly and think nothing of it.

    I'm also at least the second person on here that like Pearl Harbour, even enough to have watched it 4 or 5 times over the years. It's just fun...

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    Transformer Transporter! Just heard the news that Transformers 4 is in the pipeline with Jason Statham rumoured to be attached. Just wondering what the Good Doctors thoughts were on this staggering news. Looking forward to the scene where The Stath takes on an army of decepticons armed only with his shirt.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm considering going to see this just to check how bad a film can be.

  • Comment number 39.

    I had the exact same reaction as the good Doctor when I went to see Transformers 2. Everyone I saw it with said it was good when we first left the cinema (except me of course). They have all since changed their opinions.

    Watching a Transformers movie is like being boxed on the ear. It'll leave you temporarily deaf, dumb & confused, but permanently miffed.

  • Comment number 40.

    I completely agree with you Mark. The statement that says if a movie is a box office hit it automatically is a good film is one of the stupidest I have ever heard in my life. If this was true than that would mean a movie which failed at box offices automatically becomes a bad movie. If this was the case than how come that David Fincher’s Fight Club (which failed at the box offices) could be considered a masterpiece years later (and is also my personal all-time favourite movie). Try to explain that.

    On the case of people liking the movie Pearl Harbor I have a friend who doesn’t only like the movie but also considers it the greatest movie ever made. I never said anything about that statement because I haven’t watched the movie until recently. And let me just say after the day I watched Pearl Harbor I thought it would be better if me and my friend never discussed movies again.

    P.S. sorry for any grammatical mistakes I may have made. I’m from the Netherlands and English isn’t my native language.

  • Comment number 41.

    The simple reason that Transformers is/was so successful is because Transformers has a huge base of very loyal fans who were kids in the 80's, who watched the cartoons and are now able to see Optimus Prime walking and talking as if he is actually there.

    This was the main draw. Seeing the Transformers. I was a kid of the 80s. I want to see them smashing each other to bits... as they did in the cartoon. I dont want them to stand around and pretending to be all serious and clever and pretentious. I can get that from other films.

    I can watch Black Swan and get the serious stuff. I can watch King's Speech and get the serious stuff... What is the problem with having a film like this every now and then? What is the problem?!! There clearly is a vast audience for this and even if some have been "tricked" into seeing it by fancy marketing I can ASSURE you that most of them havent and most of them actually want to see the film.

    One problem with this Transformers blog Mark is that you are basically preaching to the choir and I can see from many comments that people are saying things that mirror what you have said in order to get some kind of vicarious pleasure that you have read that comment and agreed. I find it actually laughable at how OFFENDED you are Mark is at this movie... It is just a movie after all.

    There are other audiences in this world who just dont care about art house films or hidden meanings or films about dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams (Yawn) Whether the people on this blog like it or not 14 and 15 year olds want to see straight down the line action films with very attractive girls and their desire is just as valid and justified as people over 30 or 40 wanting to watch something more 'intelligent' which is subjective anyway.

    Im sorry Mark but you are wrong. The audience is clearly there and they want to see it. This much money being earned means that there is more going on than just clever marketing... oh and it hasnt opened in Japan yet... It opens on July 29th... and they LOVE Transformers here... and they love 3D too. It is going to make SOOOO much more money...

  • Comment number 42.

    In the words of John Landis... "Wanna' see something really scary?"

    1 Avatar Fox $2,782.3
    2 Titanic Par. $1,843.2
    3 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King NL $1,119.1
    4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest BV $1,066.2
    5 Toy Story 3 BV $1,063.2 $415.0
    6 Alice in Wonderland (2010) BV $1,024.3
    7 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides BV $1,008.9
    8 The Dark Knight WB $1,001.9
    9 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone WB $974.7
    10 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End BV $963.4
    11 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 WB $954.5
    12 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix WB $938.2
    13 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince WB $934.0
    14 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers NL $925.3
    15 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Fox $924.3
    16 Shrek 2 DW $919.8
    17 Jurassic Park Uni. $914.7
    18 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire WB $895.9
    19 Spider-Man 3 Sony $890.9
    20 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Fox $886.7

    ...now, come on, exactly how many of these films are actually that good, I mean, don't answer straight away. Take your time to think carefully, remember all those really, really, terrific films you've seen over the years. The ones you always return to. The ones you gauge all others by. The ones you recommend as "wow, wait a minute, you mean you haven't seen ........."' The ones you've re-purchased in numerous formats over the years -VHS to Blu Ray/Download. Those that you'll always need to have in your personal media collection.

    Now. How many of THOSE films appear in the above top twenty most finically successful films of all time?

    Now. Depressed Yet?

  • Comment number 43.

    Now.

    Somewhere, in a wonderful parallel universe of movie going bliss.....

    1 Jaws $2,782.3
    2 The Godfather Part II $1,119.1
    4 The Good, The Bad And The Ugly $1,066.2
    5 The Exorcist $1,063.2
    6 A Clockwork Orange $1,024.3
    7 Apocalypse Now $1,008.9
    8 Boogie Nights $1,001.9
    9 The Empire Strikes Back $974.7
    10 The Thing $963.4
    11 Pan's Labyrinth $954.5
    12 The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford $938.2
    13 The Big Lewboski $934.0
    14 Dirty Harry $925.3
    15 Mad Max 2 $924.3
    16 Ed Wood $919.8
    17 Sling Blade $914.7
    18 Unforgiven $895.9
    19 A History Of Violence $890.9
    20 Jackie Brown $886.7

    ....we can dream.

  • Comment number 44.

    You see, you see!! there it is again!! those words Pearl harbour! everytime i hear those words i dont think of the trajedy in 1941, i think of the horror of 2001. The ultimate Bay crime against humanity. I remember the time wasted ,the terrific anger i felt at leaving the cinema. a film so bad it not only insults the intelligence of (nearly) everyone who sees it, it is an absolute insult to the DEAD. At least holocaust survivors have Shoah,Schindlers List as a lasting testament to their suffering. Normandy survivors have Saving Privete Ryan!!which should have won the oscar for best film. Thats why it makes me so mad .It should have been directed by Spielberg, he woulnt have given such offal!!
    Now back to the main point!. I am old enough to remember in the eighties seeing a huge queue going around the outside my local cinema. They were waiting to see Rambo 3, the Transformers 3 of its day,which i think has a nice symmetry, as they are both mindless violent tripe that made a fortune,times havn`t changed. Its a very old line,`No one ever lost a dime underestimating the intelligence of the American public` Google it

  • Comment number 45.

    AHH i got my quote wrong, i do apologise its ! `No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the american public`
    i shall take the shame!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Box office-relevancy is a subjective beast; indicative of quality when reflective of one's opinion (loved the movie and it cleaned up / hated the movie and it bombed), and not when it isn't (loved the movie and it bombed / hated the movie and it cleaned up).

    Go on, Doc, tell us all you don't care one jot that The Exorcist was a financial success. Tell us all it doesn't bolster your favourite movie's standing. Go on...

  • Comment number 47.

    On Pearle Harbour I must say Stephen Fry summed it up best, "My mother says 'your father won't watch Lost In Translation, as he refuses to forgive the Japanese for Pearl Harbour. But I keep telling him it was an American film'".

  • Comment number 48.

    I don't disagree with your central point (ie just because a film makes money, it's good, which it of course isn't necessarily). I've seen a lot of films that made loads of money that simply aren't any good. Your argument about spending money on something causing it to take money, however, is to my mind, faulty. A simple Google search will show you how many big gambles studios have taken that have very often not payed off. It's the luck of the draw. With the exception of THE ISLAND, Michael Bay's movie taken in solid box office gold. He's a MASSIVE box office draw who can get audiences into seats constantly and obviously catch trends and deliver for a certain sector of the audience, and in this case, that's most of it. Lots and lots people like his films. I know. I've talked to them. I know some of them.

    I don't like them very much, but people had seen TRANSFORMERS 1&2 and obviously knew what they'd be getting when they went to go see TRANSFORMERS 3. They have to have know. Just like how PIRATES 4 got greelit after all way said and done with the franchise and then made money. Obviously, fans of the first films enjoyed it enough to go back for more. Indeed, all of this doesn't even take into account the marketing costs. I work retail and have all types of people coming though my line throughout the day, and TRANSFORMERS is a pretty popular film, I've heard many people say they liked it or even more often that the kids did (one might have made Mark apoplectic by preferring it to INCEPTION). Will it still be popular in a few years time? Maybe, maybe not. Will all of these people who liked say different once they hype has worn off? Maybe. Look, I thought TRANSFORMERS 3 was a pretty terrible film. I thought its predecessors were pretty bad as well. But the simple fact of the matter that any studio head will tell you is that just because you dump tons of cash into it doesn't guarantee a return on your investment. Quite the contrary, and even more so now that the Internet and text messaging allow instantaneous word of mouth. Bay is good at what he does and obviously has many fans. People wouldn't keep coming BACK to his films for repeated viewings (which is the only way I can see them making the staggering amounts of money that they do) if they didn't like them.

    Summer blockbusters are usually "things." They are, admittedly, not usually designed for narrative storytelling. There are waves of merchandise tie-ins, etc. that go with them and they are focused-grouped to death and designed to have bits in them calculated to appeal to the most massive popular audience, and the usually don't have to be good, just good enough. But the fact of the matter is that some people obviously like them. I'm not saying that I'm standing up for their quality based on the number of people who like them, but I knew women who saw TITANIC five, six times, however good or bad it was. And this is the same. When the dust settles, history can decide, but in the meantime there have to be people who enjoy this stuff. By the dozen. I've talked to and uncountable number of them.

  • Comment number 49.

    Please review The tree of life in the same why you did enter the void that would be good to that style of review again

  • Comment number 50.

    I think people must go to see films such as Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean knowing quite well that they'll not enjoy them, but they just feel compelled to go, because everyone else goes to see them, and if you haven't seen them you're made to feel somehow culturally alien or maligned for being high-brow. The whole "it's just mindless entertainment" defense doesn't work, because, as Dr. K points out, if it needed pointing out, these films just aren't entertaining. Michael Bay is no Spielberg, that's for sure. So it's more coercive and insidious than that. It reminds me of Romero's Dawn of the Dead where the zombies return to the shopping mall because even death can't rid them of their desire for consumer goods. It's as if the mind numbing boredom of Transformers and Pirates can't even prevent people from flocking to see them.

  • Comment number 51.

    Thank you so much, Mark, for putting in plain, simple English what I have thought for so long. You will know the same argument applies to music, the bandwagon fallacy, as logic nerds would say. A friend of mine said he tries to stay away from the cinema in the summer, because, with the rare exception (last year, for example), summer cinema is full of blockbusters whose producers know they do not need to have tried. It was so great to be the only person in the queue asking for a ticket for something that wasn't 'Transformers'; the guy's face when I asked to see 'The Conspirator' was terrific!

    Don't worry, people, it will pass, but I must say 'A Dangerous Method' cannot come soon enough to cleanse the screens of the multiplex.

  • Comment number 52.

    Fruitcake yeah, Doc! My wannabe beau had his heart set on going to a 3D Imax screening of Transformers 3 with me but I told him, "Let's stay home and watch the documentary Baraka on Blu-ray. " He initially balked at the idea, but 20 minutes into Ron Fricke's masterpiece he told me I was, like, his best potential girlfriend ever. Score.

  • Comment number 53.

    Be careful on those rooftops, Mark!



    I haven't seen Transformers 3, btw. I don't really intend on seeing it, either. The whole series doesn't have much going for it, let's face it.

  • Comment number 54.

    Considering the millions they throw at some of these films on visual fx, surely they could rustle up a few extra dollars for a decent script writer and maybe get a few more backsides on seats. Just an idea.

  • Comment number 55.

    I have commented so late on this debate that I doubt my voice will be heard above the crowds of people shouting "idiot!" at someone who likes the Transformers franchise.

    First off, I hated Transformers 2, worst film i'v ever seen. I didn't massively dislike the first Transformers film, and I have yet to see Transformers 3.

    Although I understand the importance of cinema and the emotions it can evoke I really do not enjoy seeing so many people label those that go to see Transformers 3 as "idiots", "daft", "stupid" or "vapid". Get over yourself people.

    I think Dr K's grievances about the sexualisation and inherent offensiveness within the second film especially are legitimate, however, it does not follow that because you didn't like a film you can slate others for what is simply a subjective opinion.

    Moan at Micheal Bay yes, moan at paramount, but moan at the public who go to see the film is just not fair. Not everyone is a film critic, not everyone knows what argumentum ad populum means, not everyone can use flowery pretentious English.

  • Comment number 56.

    Good points Dr K, but disagree strongly that just because a film costs tons it'll be successful, hardly a point less true... and a pretty foolish statement... cases in point:

    - Green Lantern, costs tons, looking unlikely to recoup costs
    - Speed Racer, did ok but not enough for what it cost
    - Superman Returns, did pretty decent business, but not enough for it's huge budget
    - King Kong, did good but considered a disapointment
    - Other films like A-Team, Lemony Snicket did ok business but not enough to warrant follow ups due to budget not being matched

  • Comment number 57.

    Personally I objected to wasting my limited bandwidth on watching you, Mark, bash your head against a wall, reprising previous ‘critical’ commentary on Michael bay, then wasting more of my precious bandwidth, watching you, bash your head against the bloody camera.

    WE BLOODY GET IT. WE ARE THE CHOIR. YOU’RE PREACHING TO US. Get it?

    The reason we are all here is that we love celluloid, same as you, Mark. We’re here because we respect your passion and your judgement.

    You don’t need to tell us that the latest instalment of Transformers is sh!!!t; we knew this before the first molecule of ink hit the paper to sign the whole farrago of crap into existence.

    As somefellacalledlime already said in post No. 10 in this comment section, “why can’t you put this much effort into telling us about the films we should be seeing,” after all that is why we are here.

    “If you don’t have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

    Yeah, I know, you’re paid to say nasty things about stupid films, but why not leave that to your radio reviews. On the blog, please inform us, uplift us, inspire us.

    Heaven knows we need it. We want it. We care.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think we're covering old ground here and I'd like to echo the sentiments of some of the other posters here in saying that:

    Dr K- we know you think 3d is a fad and we know you don't like Michael Bay, and chances are, the majority of us agree with those sentiments. But I'd much rather see this blog used as a medium for telling us about some of the things that are great about cinema instead of rants about the bad stuff.

    The recent blog posts about Senna and TT3D have brought films to my attention that I otherwise may have not paid too much scrutiny. By giving much needed word of mouth to these under-promoted 'fringe' films, you're giving them a more of a chance to succeed at a box office dominated by big budget dreck.

    I think I should also point out that cinema-GOERS and cinema-LOVERS are too completely different entities with completely different needs. The majority of people go to the cinema to pay for two hours of effects-laden escapist nonsense, which is where people like Michael Bay provide a service.

    Those of us who live for film want to be given daring, innovative and thought provoking cinema are in the minority and there's no point getting too upset about it. We have earned the right to feel smug about our superior knowledge and taste and voice our learned opinions, but when we go out of our way to knock down films that, despite being intellectually unchallenging, bring happiness to millions it comes across as jealous snobbery.

  • Comment number 59.

    Of course there is the exception to some expensive films that have a bit of controversey around production or run late and get a bad name before they come out, Waterworld.

    Some friends and I went to TF3D just to make fun of the film, we hooted and hollared all the way through at how poorly made it was and had our minds blown by how ridiculous it was. I think it is the worst film ever made, true story.

  • Comment number 60.

    I liked the wriggly robot though I doubted buildings could withstand that amount of wrecking without falling down instantly.

  • Comment number 61.

    @25 Steeleman - It's a bit more complicated than that.

    In Bay's defence, he had to replace the intended set-piece with clips from The Island because an extra was seriously injured during the filming of the intended sequence. She was left paralyzed and it was decided not to include the footage out of respect for her and her family. And give ILM some credit for integrating a huge robot into The Island so seamlessly.

  • Comment number 62.

    This is exactly why I hold Mr Christopher Nolan in such high regard. He spends the big bucks and creates a massive money making franchise with Batman but still makes sure that he creates thought provoking, highly entertaining films. Mind you, I can't wait to see Anne Hathaway in the tight Cat Suit!

  • Comment number 63.

    In fact, I think Nolan should direct Transformers 4 which would end up being highly critically acclaimed and make more money than 3. Plus it will be in Imax instead of 3D. I'm getting excited just thinking about it. Sam should be played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

  • Comment number 64.

    I must say I have now watched the film and people who say it is the worst film ever clearly have not seen the second installment in this franchise. It by no means is a good film. But, I can totally see the escapism in it for those that Full Metal Jackson rightly points out as cinema goers rather than cinema lovers.

    That was my point entirely and hence why I hated seeing the vitriol sprayed at those who went to see this film by certain other posters on this blog. Yes, there were rather reprehensible moments, but much of it was nothing you don't get in other massive block busters.

    Take for example the heavily criticized sexualisation. Yeah, Rosie Huntington-Whitely was just there for eye candy, the line "check out those curves" as she stood beside the retro car was cringe-worthy and how we were introduced to her was equally ill though out. Nevertheless, J.J Abrams's Star Trek was a blockbuster I absolutely loved, however, that still had a moment of gratuitous sexualisation when Zoe Saldana stripped off with Kirk under the bed. She had a similar and ever more gratuitous scene in the A-team.

    I agree with Dr K's sentiments, and I in no way thought that this was a good film. But after having seen it, I really don't know if it deserves to be placed on a pedistal as the anti-christ of modern cinema. The second was much worse. The worst thing about the film was the incomprehensible pacing and lack of developed story.

  • Comment number 65.

    Well for once i do totally agree...the last 40 min was okay..
    who would be the right Director for a great transformers movie?
    and which actors?but yeah it was painful to watch.

  • Comment number 66.

    Off Topic.

    Just finished watching 'Don't Look Now' (1973) on blu ray. Can't recommend it enough. It had been quite a number of years since I'd last experienced Nic Roeg's brilliant second-sight thriller. Trust me, you've never seen it looking this good. Great image and great sound. The only way to see this multilayered masterpiece, outside of a cinema screening.

    If you've not already seen this, or even you have, it's well worth picking up this new edition.

    *Note: I would never normally shill for any particular buy ray release but I will make an exception for this. Get hold of a copy and witness a terrific presentation of a terrific film from one of our greatest filmmakers.

  • Comment number 67.

    One of the most mind-numbing, sonically pervasive and dire trilogies in the history of modern cinema...

  • Comment number 68.

    As I've commented on previous blogs, I liked the film - I've seen it twice, and I enjoyed - properly - more the second time. I appreciated it more, and I feel it is a good film of it's sort - not perfect (heavens no!) but I feel it is certainly not deserving of the slagging it is getting.

    I'm not sure what's peeved people more - the huge box office (probably even better than Paramount hoped) or the good word-of mouth amongst viewers that has been oft-quoted.

    Nobody - NOBODY - should pay to goes to see a film wanting to hate it. If you do . . does this make you clever and arch, or daft and a bit of a prat? Why would you?

    I personally can't stand X Factor, BGT, et al . . . but other people like them, so they watch them. So what do I do? I choose not to watch it, and life goes on.
    Ditto music. No fan of an awful lot of the charts these days (I'm 36). So what do I do? Shrug, and listen to The Holy Bible, Rumours & Like A Prayer - namely, I stick to my own tastes and forget everyone else.

    I've never seen a film because of it's cost. Why would I?

    I like Transformers - all 3 of 'em. I also like Inception, Dirty Harry, 12 Angry Men, WALL-E, Jaws and Grease amongst heaps of others. Going by the tone of the commentators on this here blogs, though, it appears I'm not allowed to . . .

  • Comment number 69.

    I confess to contributing what to me seemed like a small fortune towards the opening box office as I took my otherwise intelligent but transformers loving boyfriend to see it in IMAX 3D. The IMAX 3D was brilliant, the film didn't make me feel quite as unclean as the second one.

    Lots of people go to see these blockbuster movies to see the special effects. Tantalising the public with the previously impossible has been the idea since the birth of cinema othersise why did the lumieres film a train pulling into the station?

    Special effects - good or otherwise - however are not enough to make a quality film (no matter what my boyfriend says)

  • Comment number 70.

    I am spending far far too much time replying to this particular blog post, but Arch Stanton you really are propagating this aloof image of blockbuster haters and becoming an enemy of the subjective realm. With the list of top 20 highest grossing films, I would say, in my own opinion, eight of those films are very good films to say the least. four of those films (The Dark Night, Jurassic Park, the Return of the King and Toy Story 3) I would say are absolutely brilliant. So that shows that films that gross insane amounts of money are not always horrendous. It's as if people posting on this blog have a set criteria of what makes a great film and are leaving absolutely no room for opinion.

    Please do not take this as me sticking up for Transformers 3, I have said in previous posts that it is not a good film at all. I'm just startled at the lack of acceptance of opinion from certain film fans.

  • Comment number 71.

    Listening to and viewing your inimitable rants on the Transformers series and others of the same ilk, I cannot help but wonder what standards must be applied to blockbuster cinema. To use an analogy, does it make sense to apply the same yardstick to measure Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana and any play by Tony Kushner? Should we be speaking of Michael Bay and Xavier Beauvois (Of Gods and Men), in the same breath? Should we be comparing apples and oranges?

    I think that going to Blockbuster cinema is a bit like visiting an amusement park. You are in it for the noise and the rides. The plot doesn't need to make sense. The characters don't need to be believable. Having said that, every once in a while, one gets see a blockbuster film (e.g. Inception) which is every bit as good as art house or independent films - but that's an exception, not a rule.

    You need to lighten up a little on transformers, pirates and such. They are bad, but they serve a purpose. You may not like spending a lot of time at Disneyland, but a lot of people do.

    One final note: I love your rants anyway, they are such great entertainment! My five year old daughter Anya loves your review of Angels and Demons (running, running etc...). So on second thoughts, don't stop doing what you are doing.

  • Comment number 72.

    This film is awful. It is a far worse film than Plan 9 from Outer Space, because whatever you say about Ed Wood, he at least tried to make good movies.

    I've seen it, and in spite (or perhaps because) of the relentless zoom, crash, boom bang, pow, it is a very boring film. My only thoughts where: "why is SHE going out with HIM?" and "Why's Spock it? No, seriously, he's saying lines from Star Trek and everything!" but mostly just "God! this is so DULL!"

    I think it's a symptom of the age we live in, the capitalist machine churns out whatever tat it likes then sends for the marketing guys. Back in the day you got blockbusters like Ben-Hur, now...

  • Comment number 73.

    Of course no one in their right mind would say 'oh its good-look at the box office figures!' (even if had I pound for everytime I've read such bunk...) and very true that just cause it made so much it doesn't mean everyone who saw it liked it, it just means they paid to see it, thanks to the ubiqituous marketing.

    However, not all expensive films generate hits and so far this year these have flopped with numero uno being the Heaven's Gate of animated film bombs:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/movie-report-card-10-biggest-205951

    Also, you missed in your entertaining rant(which I agree with btw) the trivialising of other tragedies in Tf3: DotM such as the Challenger disaster and 9/11.

    Some articles on Tf3:DotM: Self-explantory - http://filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2011/06/new-transformers-video-michael-bay-demands-wingsuits-base-jumping

    This on the sheer inanity of the script: http://www.toplessrobot.com/2011/06/topless_robots_transformers_3_faq.php

    And the best of the rants/reviews:
    90 min one(a lot of strong language) - http://spoonyexperiment.com/2011/07/03/spoony-and-brad-uncensored-on-transformers-3/

    A 40 min rant(strong language again) - http://thecinemasnob.com/2011/06/29/midnight-screening-transformers-dark-of-the-moon.aspx

    Spill.com's review: http://youtu.be/QIPtXiLpE8g

    Movie Bob's review: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/escape-to-the-movies/3634-Transformers-Dark-of-the-Moon

    Peter Travers(an eccentric uncle type): http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/blogs/the-travers-take/damn-you-hollywood-peter-travers-rages-against-transformers-3-20110707

    The Movie Preview Critic: http://youtu.be/7GeffJvOuDw

    To be honest Mark, they leave your diatribe in dust in terms of withering critique :D
    I read that there's a post credits scene that's incredibly bad as if two and a half hours of it isn't enough.
    I'm convinced Bay is posessed as I've seen an interview with that man-child and there's nothing going on behind his eyes apart from greed.

  • Comment number 74.

    *'of of course its good' I meant to type in my opening paragraph, sorry.
    Which is worst out of these, Mark - Tf3: DotM, Hangover Part 2 or Sucker Punch? I personally felt Sucker Punch was far more pretentious than Tf3(haven't seen H2).

  • Comment number 75.

    Oh and add PotC4 to that Which is the Worst? list :D

  • Comment number 76.

    *'oh, of course its good' I meant. Still got it wrong the second time!

  • Comment number 77.

    I don't see why this even needs debating. Of course box office takings have zilch to do with quality - just like music charts don't automatically tell us what's worth listening to. You're in for a losing battle, though, if you want to claim that most people who see Transformers 3 won't enjoy it. There IS such a thing is taste - bad and good.

  • Comment number 78.

    RE:Grant DIck@70

    Point taken.

    However, I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that my comments are somehow, "propagating this aloof image of blockbuster haters and becoming an enemy of the subjective realm."

    I didn't -and would never- say that the 20 most finically successful films of all time are all horrendous. No, I think you have misunderstood my point. Did you read the 'fantasy' replacement list posted directly after?

    Good or bad, my own list is totally subjective. How could anyone's favourite list of anything not be? All I'm suggesting to anyone, for whom it may be of passing interest, is to examine their own list personal classics, films that they'll still be wanting to watch twenty years from, and see if they're are many of them on that list. It appears that, clearly, a number of your's are. NO PROBLEM WITH THAT. I loved 'Jurassic Park', I loved 'The Lord Of The Rings' trilogy and I also loved 'Back To The Future', 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' etc, etc. Even one list contained 'Jaws', 'Mad Max 2', 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'The Thing', hardly the touchstones of an aloof, art house set.

    Of course, you are entitled to consider these films your own 'classics'. Although, it's still pretty depressing that 15 out of the top 20 films are sequels. Shame.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think the Transformers series is nothing more than the cinematic equivalent of Bay marking his territory and masterbating on it, interminably, but under the guise of a well loved kids toy brand, cartoon etc.

    He may as well make the Call of Duty film he really wants to make as he obviously is very jingoistic about the US military.

  • Comment number 80.

    To quote Gary in Team America "Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies?
    I guess Pearl Harbor sucked
    Just a little bit more than I miss you"
    I'm going to pitch a movie to Michael Bay about a strange virus that makes buildings walk and attack each other, causing 18 year old girls trousers to fall off. It would make money

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm thinking that one reason for the success of movies like Transformers can be likened to what Charlie Brooker said about X Factor and I'm paraphrasing here: "In an increasingly worrying and uncertain world it's probably nice to watch something where you know exactly what you are going to get for 90 minutes(In this case 157 mins)" I know i'd prefer to hear *BANG* *BANG* *WALLOP* HUMAN! DECEPTICON! *CRASH* PHWOAR! BLIMEY! than VAT rises, falling interest rates, phone hacking scandals, "we the government can't honour manifesto pledges" etc etc.

    But Ahem...I agree with the other point that financial success is not a measure of quality.

  • Comment number 82.

    Another point here: Transformers is a massive name property. I've heard it theorized, and to some extent agree with this, that there's a big reason for this nostalgia wave sweeping through cinemas lately. Who was the biggest audience for Hollywood's summer blockbusters? Teenage boys. Where are most of them now? Glued to video game consoles, where they can cause their own destruction and such and therefore have no reason to go and see DIE HARD, LETHAL WEAPON, etc. So with this nostalgia wave of "Hey, I remember that!" you can pack cinemas with the people who want to see how CLASH OF THE TITANS, THE SMURPHS, TRANSFORMERS, GI JOE, TRON, the endless stream of horror remakes, etc. have been jazzed up with modern gloss. The audience for TRANSFORMERS consisted of all ages, from kids to adolescents to adults who remember when the show aired. Remember even back in the 1980s, the TRANSFORMERS franchise existed for one reason and one reason only: to sell toys. Any good storytelling in the comics or TV series was just a byproduct of an ambitious writer. Bay has obviously moved many of the toys off of shelves, and by the standards of big blockbusters, the first TRANSFORMERS film was modestly budgeted. Certainly, that's a big as, but Bay brags endlessly about it, but there are movies that have cost more have taken less in merchandise and tickets. This really isn't a film so much as a thing, a toy commercial, a tent pole for a studio, etc. Bay is perfect because not only do his movies make money, he feeds the hype machines. It exists as a money-making prospect and a brand name. But I reiterate: look at Bay's career. Maybe it's just because he was paired with Bruckheimer and Spielberg (and it's worth noting that his film without Bruckheimer or based on a pre-existing property, THE ISLAND, was his biggest bomb), but the fact continues to be this: Bay is a massive, massive box office draw. He can get people into seats when other directors couldn't. He can sell tickets to movies other filmmakers couldn't and make stars out people other fiilmmakers couldn't. He's a businessman, and one of the best there is, and his mass audience (ie, the masses who want explosions and special effects) eat him up more so than they do most similar directors. Maybe he's just caught lightning in a bottle and his career will go on a downswing and he'll be forgotten about, perhaps not, but the fact is this: he's perfectly placed. I think that so many people hate Bay precisely because of what he represents: along with Bruckheimer, he's walking epitome of post-STAR WARS Hollywood, where business goes before everything else and films are just a series of major action sequences filled in with boring stuff in between. Bay's personality, to be sure, has not endured him to many people either, but I think that us "pretentious movie buffs" simply don't matter: Bay's built his success on focus-grouped movies that have perfect combination of everything: militarism, sex appeal, patriotism, etc. TRANSFORMERS obviously has the perfect blend of "human drama" (ie, with fulfillment about how the average guy can be a hero, how good overcomes evil, blah, blah, blah) and fighting robots to appeal to the average consumer. We don't matter. The critics don't matter. It's the way it goes. Maybe one day the dust will settle. I've been far too guilty many times of overpraising a film because I was caught up in the hype, and part of the job of a good critic is to look beyond the hype and weather the storm and be right in a few years. OK, so that's totally untrue, but it makes me feel better :P. But seriously, just like many old Hollywood hands like Sirk took a long time to be appreciated maybe culture moves so fast that no it's the opposite and it takes time to realize that something isn't that good. Or maybe we're just pretentious highbrow idiots, but either way, people obviously like these movies Mark.

  • Comment number 83.

    In other words, a blockbuster movie doesn't have to be good, just good enough.

  • Comment number 84.

    Mark, you seem to have got a little confused. Transformers is not a film, it's a commodity. Just like other things which are commodities (X Factor music, fad novels, Monopoly.) What they are classed as is irrelevant: they are merely money spinners whose manufacturers don't particularly care about artistic quality. Judging them on that basis is pointless. The problem with mass media commodities is that they have to share the same shelf space as the more lovingly crafted stuff that hasn't been made to a formula, and, as a result, we persist in treating them the same.
    Sure there are times when something that was originally intended just as a commodity turns out to have some value, but it's almost always when someone involved actually cares and has enough clout to make sure that what they think survives the hell that is modern production. Compare e.g. Thor with Green Lantern: they are actually pretty much the same film (OTT off-earth scenario spliced with small town/base under siege scenario) but one transcends it while the other is just pedestrian (although still way better than Tr3.)

  • Comment number 85.

    Dear Mark, greetings from Brooklyn NY. Have you ever seen the original Transformers animated film from 1986? I don't think you can truly appreciate how awful the new films are unless you can make the comparison. The giant robots had actual personalities, motivations, flaws, a society even! And the special effects were better! I only saw the first Michael Bay Transformers movie and it will almost certainly be the last Michael Bay "film" I will ever allow myself to suffer through. Check out the original, I'd love to know the thoughts of someone who wasn't a fan of the cartoon as a kid. I'm sure you'll at least agree that it's much better then anything Michael Bay's done.

  • Comment number 86.

    #85 . . . you're part right, the original animated movie was great - frankly, they should've made the live action trilogy based on that. But hey . . .

    I've been banging on about this over the TF3 blogs over the last week or so, and I ask again : those of you writing on here who have seen the film and slagged it to the skys - why the heck did you go if you all were so sure it was going to suck?

    NO-ONE has answered that. Mark is a critic, it his job. What's your - genuine - excuse / reason?

  • Comment number 87.

    Agreed #86. I have to admit, I liked "The Rock" and "Con Air", but only saw them when they came out, maybe my pallet has improved since then. So when TF1 came out I thought maybe, just maybe it might be good. Plus I was a TF fan and wanted to see what a big budget live action version would be like. It was the last straw for Micheal Bay and me. I don't think I would sit through any of his movies for free, let alone encourage Hollywood to crap out more with my own money.

  • Comment number 88.

    @roadblaster 86

    To answer your question. You cant review it unless youve seen it. A film with that kind of budget should at least be a spectacle worth seeing .Plus Mark, bless him, is often wrong, case in point `Taken`. He and a lot of other critics thought it was rubbish, i and everyone i`ve lent it to, thought it was fantastic. Plus the opposite is also true, case in point `Once` critics loved this story of a busker finding love and music in Dublin.So i bought it , it was boring ,the songs were rubbish and it was terribly pretentious about his serious art.
    I hate Michael Bay for making Pearl Harbour ( see 44 above) but that didnt stop me from watching and realy enjoying `The Island`.Maybe he should make more films that are less successful. Its a bit like songs, you think a band is crap, then they suprise you with a gem. Also some films are good to watch because they are such car crashes. Thats my excuse anyway

  • Comment number 89.

    Also spreaking of carcrashes, watch `The Tourist` with Angelina Jolie and Jonny Depp, No plot,and your sat there watching ,thinking is this some kind of a joke.Is it a spoof. Nervous laughter starts,your a third of the way in and nothing has happened.I admit i enjoyed the expiereince right to the end,me and the wife kept looking at each other , going `whats going on ??`definately ,a very odd guilty pleasure

  • Comment number 90.

    I agree with you Mark, blockbusters are all about the hype not the actual content of the film and certainly not about storyline! I have to say the more they hype a film, then the less likely I am to see it, I usually get bored of trailers telling me how amazing the latest blockbuster will be, then you see it and everything that was any good was actually in the trailer and the rest is just drivel to fill in time! And for me the more explosions/car chases/fight scenes there are, the less likely I am to go see it in the first place.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oh and I have not and never intennd on watching ANY of the transformers films #86, but I will still say they LOOK like awful pieces of 'cinema' of you can call them that with a straight face.

  • Comment number 92.

    Ah, some answers at last . . .

    # 87 - you saw the first one, didn't like it, didn't see the rest - fair enough.
    # 88 - totally agree with your comments - balanced and fair enough
    # 91 - you are basing your opinion on what other people have said and from what you've seen through the trailers. No issue with that at all - but YOU cannot say that you know the film is genuinely hopeless, because as #88 pointed out you can't review it if you've not seen it.

    I know I'm slightly biased - as I've stated before, I've paid to see it DOTM twice by choice and I enjoyed it more on the second viewing - but why slate something you've not seen?

    A personal example is, for me, Return Of The King - I think all of Dr K's issues with TF3 apply to ROTK, and then some. And I paid to see that (indeed, the whole trilogy) at the cinema. So when I opin that I think that film is, personally, an over rated pile of tripe, it's my opinion - not someone else's recycled one. And I accept without rancour that hey, eveyone appears to see it rather differently. That's life . . .

  • Comment number 93.

    Not blasting it at all, just personally don't want to, sorry if I was misunderdstood as I completely agree you cannot review if you have not seen. My real point was surrounding the hype that goes with most of the big blockbusters if you watch enough trailers you have probably seen most of the film lol!

  • Comment number 94.

    Arguing that Transformers is good because it has taken so much at the box office is such a flawed arguement. After all the biggest selling newspapers in the UK are the Sun and... The News of the World. No-one could argue that those papers contain quality journalism.
    Transformers movies are the equivalent of the red-tops- page 3 eyecandy included!

  • Comment number 95.

    People who say that high-brow critical standards can't be applied to summer blockbusters like Transformers 3 need to be reminded that it is possible for films to be critically praised as well as being expensive and popular - Christopher Nolan's excellent Inception, for example. Yes, a film having large numbers associated with it does not necessarily mean that it is bad, but nor does it mean that it is good, and the work of the critic is just as relevant.

    Back to the Future is another good example of a summer blockbuster that is mainstream, popular and fun, yet in many ways very, very good.

  • Comment number 96.

    # 93 - I understand your point, and I agree that if you don't like the trailer, then don't go see it. Makes sense!

    #95 - I agree entirely, but be wary of applying the high brow critical standards argument - and Inception is a good point. It's a good film, and we as a family (40, 36 & 14) thoroughly enjoyed it. But if you set - and state - your aims high (keep up, as Mark kept insisting), then your film deserves a more forensic going into. With regards to Inception, the internal logic of the film simply doesn't stack up.

    That doesn't make it a bad film - far, far from it, and I certainly think it is a better FILM than DOTM - but it makes it just as worthy a target for critical analysis, and also from a more 'high-brow' perspective. That means acknowledging perceived flaws as well as applauding the acknowledged strengths. If you don't really mind the flaws, then why didn't you? If is was due to great acting, direction, lighting, script, whatever, then great. If, on the other hand, it's ROBOTS HITTING EACH OTHER REPEATEDLY (was for me) or Rosie H-W's backside, fine. Whatever works for you.

    And if you feel beforehand that it'll not be for you, then give it a swerve. Everyone's happy then, right?







  • Comment number 97.

    Hi Mark

    Totally agree with your point about movies that have large budgets essentially become an "event." The hype generated can of course be the main culprit for that.

    Even more so when it concerns a sequel. But it doesn't automatically make such a film a good one.

    A few for thought: Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy, Indiana Jones 4, Terminator 3.
    All big budget sequels generating a lot of hype due to their predecessors and subsequently making ridiculous amounts of money at the box office, yet, all terrible.

    Which begs the question, how many films in recent years have actually lived up to the hype surrounding them? I can only think of two, The Dark Knight, before that we'd have to go back to 2001 for The Lord of the Rings.

  • Comment number 98.

    Box office hit does not equal good film. I mean, the Crazy Frog got to number one in the singles charts, does that mean it's one of the greatest songs of all time? Of course it's not!

    But it doesn't mean a financially successful film automatically equals rubbish film either. E.g. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy raked in a mountain of money and they're quality films. And if you look at the "All-time Highest Grossing Films" list when adjusted for inflation, you'll see a lot of films in there that are considered as classics:

    http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

  • Comment number 99.

    #97 - Again, subjectivity. You wouldn't dismiss the Star Wars prequels, Indy 4 & T3 box office-wise had you enjoyed them.

  • Comment number 100.

    #99 - Spot on comment.

    Subjectivity is a very pertinent point. As I've stated many times, I personally found ROTK a stinking pile - and this after loving Fellowship, and enjoying / tolerating Two Towers (and I could give you a great argument on THAT film). Ditto The Dark Knight - I personally found it inferior to Batman Begins, and amongst Nolan films, The Prestige.

    Best way of summing up peoples views on blockbusters is perhaps Simon & Mark themselves - with regard to U2. Simon loves them and is on good terms
    with them, it seems. Mark cannot abide them, no matter what, and his review of U2 3D reflected this personal dislike.

    So there we have a blockbuster act loved by one, derided by the other . . . is either of them right? And that, I think, is a great metaphor for films such as TF3.

 

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