Friday, July 3, 2009
Has there ever been a film more review-proof than Transformers 2? The word is so uniformly and excoriatingly bad, not only from the egghead academic critics from such august publications as the New York Times and Aintitcool.com, but from our friends who saw it - to let us know it was so god-awful bad to try to, fruitlessly it turns out, warn us off.
That's a more immediate and direct kind of "word of mouth." From the very type of people who were predisposed to like it or were at least up for the dare and waited in lines (and there were long lines) on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd days and paid for the privilege of being simultaneously bludgeoned by the effects and sound while being insultingly starved by a paucity of content or intentional nuance.
$200 million worth of people saw Transformers 2 (and that's only domestically) and if the word of mouth really has serious effect and the grosses fall 75% each week for the next 4 weeks its sheer momentum will still ensure it will finish closer to $1 billion by August.
Is it worth all the money that was spent on and for it?
It's not high art (and I submit, it is art) but rather, an instance of performance. A triumph of marketing, branding, of sheer hype and push. No one wanted this film who hadn't dodged the 1st one, but its existence seems to assert itself - as a kind of fait accompli - as an event by its mere monumental presence. It's being sold not as a continuation - as a sequel or even a deeper exploration of plot points introduced and hinted at in the first. Shia and Megan aren't anywhere to be found in the materials.
Its about being in line, surrounded by a hundred other half-drunk fratboys, screaming and "ahh"ing, and covering your ears. The digital billboards on the day it opened didn't even insult us by listing the title, as some desperate hat-in-hand attempt to sell tickets.
They merely say "NOW." That muscular blue and orange image was enough.
We get it. This is happening. You in or out? Where's the line?