Rogert Ebert responds to fans bashing him for trashing Transformers 2

Acclaimed Chicago Sun Times critic Roger Ebert has written a well thought out response to the many Transformers fans who trashed him for his very negative review of the sequel. Ebert called the film “a horrible experience of unbearable length,” and most critics agreed with him. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has a 19% aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with most critics saying they can’t believe how terrible and how long it was. Bad reviews didn’t hurt ticket sales at all – Transformers is still top of the box office and has taken in $593 million worldwide in less than two weeks.

Ebert has some well argued points for those who call him an elitist or somehow overqualified to judge the merits of a summer blockbuster. He also claims that the film did so well due to marketing efforts, not because it’s a particularly entertaining saga of robots blowing up stuff. This is just a small segment and the whole piece is worth reading, with some very humorous photos added:

But am I out of touch? It’s not a critic’s job to reflect box office taste. The job is to describe my reaction to a film, to account for it, and evoke it for others. The job of the reader is not to find his opinion applauded or seconded, but to evaluate another opinion against his own. But you know that. We’ve been over that ground many times. What disturbs me is when I’m specifically told that I know too much about movies, have “studied” them, go into them “too deep,” am always looking for things the average person doesn’t care about, am always mentioning things like editing or cinematography, and am forever comparing films to other films.

I’ve “forgotten what it’s like to be a kid,” another poster told me. One of the most-admired contributors to this blog, who signs herself “A Kid.,” is 12 years old. She hasn’t forgotten. Neither have many other readers of middle school age. Their posts give me hope for the future. For them, to be a kid is not to be uncritical or thoughtlessly accepting. They seek magic, and don’t find it in the brutal hammering of “Transformers.”

A reader named Jared Diamond, a senior at Syracuse, sports editor of The Daily Orange, put my disturbance eloquently in a post asking: “Why in this society are the intelligent vilified? Why is education so undervalued and those who preach it considered arrogant or pretentious?” Why, indeed? If sports fans were like certain movie fans, they would hate sports writers, commentators and sports talk hosts for always discussing fine points, quoting statistics and bringing up games and players of the past. If all you want to do is drink beer in the sunshine and watch a ball game, why should some elitist play-by-play announcer bore you with his knowledge? Yet sports fans are proud of their baseball knowledge, and respect commentators who know their stuff…

The opening grosses are a tribute to a marketing campaign, not to a movie no one had seen. If two studios spend a ton of money on a film, scare away the competition, and open in 4,234 theaters before the Fourth of July, of course they do blockbuster business. The test is: Does the film have legs?

Major league Hollywood seems completely dominated by the belief that money can buy anything and justify anything. When a reader wrote to inform me that Michel Bay paid $8 million to the writers of the screenplay, I very much doubted it. Turns out that figure is correct. With numbers like that representative of big time Hollywood, I observe with Yeats that the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. No wonder. It pays better.

[From Roger Ebert’s blog]

Given the huge box office success of this film, we can be sure that we’ll be treated to more mindless crap like this in the future – as Ebert mentions. Over the weekend I heard a kind of sobering report on The Business, KCRW’s NPR-syndicated show on Hollywood. The panel talked about how the studios are undergoing major cutbacks like many industries and are scared to finance anything that isn’t a guaranteed hit. The audiences have spoken and smash-em-up films are in high demand. More thoughtful fare just isn’t as likely to succeed, or even to get made in this current economic climate. At least we still have smart writers like Ebert who are willing to take them to task and call it for what it is.

Ebert also added this video to his post of Robot Chicken’s “Condensed works of Michael Bay”

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23 Responses to “Rogert Ebert responds to fans bashing him for trashing Transformers 2”

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  1. CandyKay says:

    Well, it’s an international market now. If people really do want thoughtful films and Hollywood won’t make them, film makers in Iran, Denmark and South Korea will.

  2. Jess says:

    Yep, sounds about right.

  3. michelle says:

    I like Ebert, but I also like Transformers 2. I am 26 and not a sci-fi nut, but I really did like it. The transformer alien dudes are super cute and so is Shia. I could do without Megan, but oh well, sometimes we don’t get everything we want.

  4. Praise St. Angie! says:

    team ebert.

  5. truth-SF says:

    That movie was a total crapfest. Thank goodness I ddin’t waste my $7.50 to see that shit.

  6. Bodhi says:

    Go Roger Ebert! Jared Diamond, whoever he is, is 100% right.

  7. jane says:

    My husband is a die hard Transformers fan. He had the day off yesterday and went to see T2. When I got home, he told me how horrible it was and how mad he was at Michael Bay haha.

  8. pomme says:

    i’m a woman and i saw the movie:it was horrible! misogynist,idiot,stupid,too long,not funny,loud!
    sorry,see this movie is burn your brain!

  9. Sauronsarmy says:

    Come on seriously? I can’t beleive people are defending this movie so much. I saw it and it was THE worst movie this year, so far (that I’ve seen and I’ve pretty much seen them all).

  10. Fan of none... says:

    T2 is quickly closing in behind Dark Knight, box office-wise, yet I doubt VERY SERIOUSLY T2 will be considered at awards-time, like the latter was…

    Ticket sales during summer months is no more an indictator of taste/quality than your weight indicates how tall you are…

  11. Iggles says:

    I did not see this movie. Nor did I see the first one.

    CGI crap doesn’t NOT appeal to me. I like movies with an actual plot and character development. I guess that makes me an elitist to be able to smell the sh** of this stinker from far away.

    I have no problem with special effects and I love sci fi. I saw Star Trek 4 times! (and plan to see it one last time before it leaves theaters)

    It pisses me off that crap like Transformers 2 has made so much money when there are better movies that deserve this success.

  12. eggy weggs says:

    I review movies on occasion for my job and it’s amazing the reactions you get. In part, people don’t like mean. They want to hear nice things all the time for no particular reason. Perhaps they took to heart the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

    People don’t like it being pointed out that their tastes are not the same as yours — to put it lightly.

    When I reviewed “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” I got the comment “It’s just a movie — why are you taking it so seriously?” People forget that there’s a lot of work that goes into movies — so why WOULDN’T you take seriously something that someone put a decent amount of time into making? Ditto “Transformers 2” — that’s why Roger Ebert SHOULD know about cinematography and editing. Perhaps those are the only saving graces for a movie like “Transformers 2.”

    Sorry. People are idiots. Team Ebert all the way.

  13. Nev says:

    I saw Transformers 1 it was better than 2.
    Trans 2 was too long. A lot of the scene should have been cut out.
    1. The Megan fox sitting on the bike.
    2. The high mom running around on campuss.
    3. How come Bumblebee didn’t know the girl was
    A Decepticon?
    4. The actor John T pulling down (Leo) Roman’s
    Pants should have been cut.
    5. Why would (Sam) Shia give the shard to
    Megan and not tell her to get it to the
    Lot of things in this movie I did not like.
    I hope they can improve on 3.

  14. Geebz says:

    As a child of the 80s and a fan of Transformers, I was so totally disappointed in this movie. There was no linear story to follow, there was useless close-up footage of female parts, there was a pair of “hood” transformers complete with gold teeth and….EXPLOSIONS!

    Personally, there is nothing redemptive of this film and Mr. Bay needs to quietly collect his check and take a break from movies. Shia did wonderfully as did Duhmel and Gibson as the army professionals. Everyone else was a typical type-cast movies character. The vamp, the hot girl next door, the excentric conspiracy theorist, the evil administrative government official that is out of touch with the real world…shall I really go on? It was awful!

    My heart breaks for a childhood that was raped.

  15. JustV says:

    I just saw this movie last night because hubby was so intent on seeing it.
    Because I’ve read the bad reviews about it, I had low expectations going in. Also because I’d read about the two not-too-subtle, stereotypically hood robot characters, I also did not want to see it. But, it was hubby turn to pick (my last pick was Star Trek).
    I thought the movie was about as good as the last one, in the C-D grade range.
    I could not and cannot get over the two newest and very unnecessary ghetto robot characters with their monkey-like facial features, gold teeth, tendency toward violence to each other, curse-filled speech and avoidance of reading.
    These characters also stuck out because (as I’m a fan of the original Transformers toys and cartoons) they are not original to the brand as was pretty much every other robot character (with the exception of the origin [old] robots, JetFire, the Fallen, etc.).
    I was also annoyed by the overreaching sexism going on against the female characters played by Megan Fox and the seductive temptress thing.
    This does not bode well for the upcoming G.I. Joe franchise knock-off.

  16. Because I Say So says:

    I love Robot Chicken.

    I refuse to see anything Michael Bay does because it’s all the same. Public Enemies, Harry Potter,, and Bruno all the way!!!

  17. Feebee says:

    I haven’t seen T2, have no intention to ever and am totally with Mr Ebert.

    However, please don’t knock all “mindless crap” movies. Every now and then everyone need to see one. It’s so subjective that one man’s m.c is another man’s pee in your pants funny.

    We need the occasional T2, it is summer after all.

  18. daniel says:

    number 2 sucked! it was also way too much adult sex references in the movie which made it uncomfortable to show my 10 year old son. I won’t be watching any more michael bay pics. I think his days are numbered.

  19. Granger says:

    Well, I thought Michael Bay’s days were numbered after Pearl Harbor (what a piece of crap), but apparently I was wrong. Sadly, Daniel, I think you are too. Bay makes way too much money for the studios to ever lose his place in Hollywood.

  20. Try try again says:

    I never see these movies, but the hype and the commercials just drive me crazy! It makes me sad that these movies do well, because that means more of the same is coming. Can’t wait for all the hype for Transformers 3, 4, 5, 6 . . . ughhhhhhhhhh

  21. Able_Danger says:

    I agree with Ebert and his contributing writer 100%, there are a lot of movies today that cater to the lowest common denominator. (There are still Republicans out there with money in their pockets, including this one)

    And I’m tired of being hassled for criticizing garbage movies. Example, I thought Terminator Salvation was crap (though I liked some of the cinematography), full of nostalgia bits and a plot that was nicely laid out at the end by a digital Helena Bonham Carter like I was an idiot.

    On the other hand, though I hate Michel Bay and acknowledge T2 was garbage, I couldn’t help but get sucked into, and enjoy, this summer blockbuster.

    And really, isn’t that what we’ve come to expect when we hear “Blockbuster”? An entertaining crap movie meant to stimulate that part of our brain that likes squishing bugs, not a deep, thought provoking classic.

    Sometimes you have to throw out all your better judgment and just enjoy yourself…

    Let the me bashing begin!

  22. T~ says:

    I dont have any plans to see this version since i have heard from a few people that it is not as family friendly as the first one was. I sincerely do not understand why they mess with a good formula. My then 7 year old could watch the original and i felt ok with it. No real gore, no sex implied or otherwise, no real swearing. it was actually a good almost family movie, yet this one is not. i get that is it making more money, but i just dont think i want to contribute to the theory that sex, violence and foul language is what the american people want.

  23. Hi,what a beautiful pants,thanks for sharing.I will get one like that.bill