Transformers: Age of Extinction is now number 12 on the all time worldwide charts and is a million away from unseating Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest for the 11th position.
It’s time to admit that Michael Bay was right.
Now, before everyone goes pulling out their pitchforks and storming the castle, lets take a moment to look at the evidence.
1. We can all agree Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was a terrible film and one of the worst films to ever hit theaters. Though visually it still had some great set pieces, it was bloated, overly long, terribly scripted and badly paced.
2. Despite ROTF and the way many if not all of us felt about it, Michael Bay and crew still managed to turn it around with the follow up ‘Transformers: Dark of The Moon’.
3. Improvements in that follow up included a better plot(though admittedly that’s not saying much), a story much more focused on the Transformers… mainly that relationship between Sentinel Prime and the Autobots. The film had much less crude comedy than the previous 2 iterations, limited mainly to Ken Jeong’s Jerry Wang character.
4. Though many in the online community waged and continue to wage a hate war against Michael Bay and his work, though they speak of not supporting his work any more, and despite all the problems exhibited in ROTF, Dark of the Moon still exploded at the Box Office. Though admittedly the film made about 50 million less in the U.S. It made more than 300 million more than ROTF overall, breaching the billion dollar mark and earning 1. 123 billion dollars. Now Age of Extinction this year has only made 243.8 million in the United States but it has grossed 1.065 billion worldwide.
The thing of it is many take the lower box office numbers of Age of Extinction as an indication of how people are finally growing tired of the franchise, when in actual fact, it shows the strength of the franchise. In a year that has only 1 film breaking the billion dollar mark at the box office, that movie is Age of Extinction. Every other major release, even the biggest of Marvel and Disney’s guns, failed to make more than 750 million worldwide so far. Meanwhile Michael Bay’s Transformers broke 600 million in it’s second week out. And currently sits at 1.065 billion worldwide. People in the United States have stopped spending money at the movies nearly as much as they used to and even Transformers suffered from this, yet unlike every other movie out this year, it has still broken that barrier.
Now many will also try to attest this all to The Transformers brand and none of it to Bay… but if one looks at the history of many of these Brands, arguably the strongest of the toy/cartoon/comic brands out there right now, is Marvel. For all their popularity, Marvel films outside of Iron man 3 and Avengers have not made the kind of Strides Transformers has. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Lego Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2 have all failed to gain the kind of popularity Transformers has gained. Animated movies not making as much money as a MIchael Bay film… that says more than most might be willing to admit.
If watching them objectively, Michael Bay can seen to be learning with each iteration, his pacing of Age of Extinction is nothing short of remarkable. For a film that lasts almost 3 hours, it does not feel that long. And even it’s length though some complain about it, others argue as Transformers fans, if The Lord of the Rings can be as long as 3 hours, why not Transformers? But that aside, the framing, of each scene and sequence, the bots introduced, the color and the audio, even the complete lack of crude comedy in this latest iteration, is proof that Bay was still listening to feedback.
All told, at the end of the day, for all the hate he receives, Bay knows what he’s doing and he clearly gives more people what they want than not, if not. The Franchise would at this point be looking like The Xbox One is against the PS4. Instead, in this race, at the Box office, the success Transformers: Age of Extinction clearly makes it the PS4 in the conversation.
I make that last comparison to say this, it doesn’t matter what people say, numbers don’t lie. Transformers as a franchise is no master piece and it never was, but it is fun and entertaining if you are willing to let yourself sit and enjoy it. After all it is entertainment, it does not have the cringe inducing acting of a Twilight film or the bloated exposition of a Nolan film. It does have some annoying characters in it’s film history but nothing the level of a Jar jar Binks or Bella Swan.
And that’s why MIchael Bay was right when he told MTV’s Josh Horowitz the following
“They love to hate, and I don’t care; let them hate. They’re still going to see the movie! I think it’s good to get a little tension. Very good. I used to get bothered by it but I think it’s good to get the dialogue going. It makes me think, and it keeps me on my toes, so it’s good.”
Whether those who already hate him are willing to admit it or not, the criticism did help him make better Transformers Films. And though the bias will generally always lend to more hateful reviews of his work than unbiased ones, it won’t matter to those who enjoy them as they will continue to vote with their wallets.
I guarantee if Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction were the very same films they are but were directed by the likes of Guillermo Del Toro or Spielberg, the reviews would be different. One need only look to the things people say about Pacific Rim for evidence of that.