Yeah, I know. You already decided. Either Transformers 2 sucks hard-core (the general critical consensus) or it kicks ass no matter what those cocky jerk critics say. So why am I even bothering to write a review of a movie that everyone already seems to have an opinion about, regardless of whether or not they've seen it?
Well, the news is good, if surprising: Transformers 2 is not that bad. While there are a handful of scenes that Michael Bay seems to have exploded all over, particularly during the film's marathon parade of endings, and some seriously annoying, Jar-Jar Binks-y Transformers who won't shut up, it also has genuinely exciting action sequences, really gorgeous visual and audio effects, and some pretty funny moments (as in, moments that are funny on purpose).
The lesson here seems to be all about expectations. Perhaps the first critics to see the film were able to approach it from a neutral perspective; it's possible that some were excited about the much-hyped film. More likely, they expected it to be awful, and were on their guard for anything reprehensible about the film, thus making all the jokes that fall flat, the ultra-short climactic fight, the annoying (but not, in my opinion, racist) robot twins, that much more heinous. Whether because of high hopes dashed or low hopes self-fulfilled, the storm of harsh reviews led me and my cohort in cinematic guilty-pleasure seeking, Mikey, to expect a truly awful movie.
What we got, however, was an okay movie, with some very thrilling highs in action, technology, and humor, and some chuckle-inducing lows in robot dialogue, slow-running to dramatic music, and…humor. And what more, honestly, should be expected of a film that states clearly at its outset that it's presented by Paramount and Hasbro?
For all the critical abuse the film's been taking, moviegoers don't seem to be too concerned about how potentially bad the film might be after all – in its first week, it's broken several records, including highest-grossing Wednesday opening, highest-grossing non-opening Thursday and Friday, and the second highest all-time 7-day gross.
So there you go. "Not that bad." And a box office smash at that. All movies should be so maligned.
Side note: I can't end this review without mentioning how truly floored I am, once again, by the sound design of this Transformers film. The score may be schmaltzy, but the sounds these robots make, especially while transforming, are mesmerizing and beautiful here, as they were in the first film. If you don't care about these things, I willingly accept your scorn. But you're missing out.