I should preface this by saying that I didn't go to see Transformers 2. I saw Transformers in the theater, and I've seen enough Michael Bay to know what I was in for, and I opted out. This summer, I have opted out of "It looks shitty, but I loved it as a kid, so I'll go in hopeful" movies. I didn't see Terminator Salvation. I didn't see Transformers 2. I'm not going to see G.I. Joe. But I feel like I've seen enough shitty Hollywood blockbusters to talk in generalities here.
There seems to be some backlash building up to the overwhelmingly negative reviews of Transformers 2. Many fans, including folks whose work I respect, are writing text pieces that essentially say (sometime using this exact wording) that "Not everything is Shakespeare, this is just a fun movie about aliens turning into cars and planes." What they're saying is that no, it's not a great movie, but it's a good enough.
And hey, that's fine. You want an "OK" movie with lots of explosions, borderline sexism and racism, Michael Bay is *definitely* your guy.
But this isn't an "art movie" vs. "commercial movie" thing here. Let's not pretend it is. It's about intelligent escapism vs. dumbed-down escapism. Die Hard is an escapist movie. Terminator 2 is an escapist movie. Wrath of Khan is an escapist movie. Aliens is an escapist movie. All of these have as their number one priority to give the audience a big, loud thriller. You know what else they have?
Decent dialogue, a plot that makes sense, isn't needlessly complicated and full of ridiculous holes and actors who can do more than look pretty in skimpy clothes or scream "No no no no no" over and over again to express their dismay.
Enjoying Transformers 2 is fine, everybody's welcome to their bad movies. Hell, I own Lethal Weapon IV and Armageddon on DVD, I can't really throw stones here. But seeing Transformers 2 held up as the focus of some kind of "get the critics" crusade disturbs me even more than seeing Transformers 2 making so much money that Bay will probably get to do Transformers 3.