Sunday, June 29, 2014

A chance to catch up

For weeks now I've been feeling terribly behind on the theatrical new releases.

For a combination of reasons -- no car, second child, high ticket prices -- I've been getting to the theater a lot less in Australia than I did in the U.S. So in late May when I should have been seeing Godzilla -- a movie I will now need to wait to see on video -- I was catching up with Captain America: The Winter Soldier instead. The delays have snowballed, and each new worthy release keeps the cycle going. (On a side note: When did nearly every new movie that gets released start earning at least a 70 on Metacritic?)

Thank goodness for Transformers: Age of Extinction, then, which figures not only to give me the chance to catch up, but also to stop the pattern identified in the parenthesis above.

I think I've pretty much decided not to see this Transformers movie at all. Not in the theater (as I saw the first two), not on video (as I saw the third). Just not at all. Not even to help round out the bottom of my 2014 list, which as of right now contains exactly zero movies that I've given lower than 2.5 stars.

One reason is that I don't want to be one of the people in a review I read of Michael Bay's latest robot blockbuster abomination, which I thought of linking to, except that the sentiment is certainly not original to this writer (Bryan Bishop of "But as long as audiences continue to flock to movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction and forgive their shortcomings, that's what Hollywood will make. Not the movies we want, but the movies we deserve." This is of course the flip side of my recently made argument about why you should see Edge of Tomorrow. If you are going to see Edge of Tomorrow for the reasons I stated, you have to not see Transformers for the same reasons.

I already felt like this three years ago, when Transformers: Dark of the Moon came out. I had seen the first two in the theater because I actually liked the first one, which made me think I might buck the critical trend on the second one as well. I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it either. Then a certain number of opinions bubbled to the surface, as they always do, that Dark of the Moon was actually good, so I thought I'd give it a shot on video. At worst it would be one of the bottom-feeders on my year-end rankings (which is precisely what happened).

But with Age of Extinction, I'm not even going to do that -- and not just because 2 hours and 45 minutes are extremely hard to come by for a father of two. Really, it's because even my video viewing will be/might be tabulated by somebody, somewhere, as evidence that Transformers 5 is worth making. They will probably find that evidence without me chipping in any of my own, but the next president of the United States will also probably be elected even if I don't vote. You do it even though your voice is a drop in the bucket.

These are all pretty conventional arguments against the Transformers series, so let me return to what I was originally talking about: catching up. With no release that I care about coming out either this week or next -- the 4th of July falls on a Friday this year, making that a peculiar release date -- I can actually use my next theatrical trip to go to the arthouse, maybe either to finally see Under the Skin (having been thwarted by an equipment failure the last time I tried to see it) or to catch something like The Double before it leaves theaters.

Either would be the ultimate antidote to something like Transformers.

Meanwhile, if you want to celebrate the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction by taking the piss out of the series, check out below what Red Letter Media has done in watching the first three Transformers movies simultaneously. Good for a laugh -- and a reminder how depressingly uninspired the cookie cutter approach to making movies can be.

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