The Politics of Robots

Typically, I don’t pay attention to movie reviews. But, I do like to check a few out to see if there’s any risk of me grossly wasting my money on a film. After reading a review or two, and hearing of other reviews my friends had read, I was wary to go see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I enjoyed the 1st film, but with the bad reviews and increased prices at my favourite theater, I was leaning towards waiting until it was on DVD. But, several of my good friends wanted to see the movie anyway and I went along them. And, I have to say, I enjoyed the movie immensely. I’m rarely very satisfied with films these days, but I must say that I found this one very much to my liking. Some time, perhaps I will sit down and analyze why I feel this way about the film, but in general it was very entertaining and well constructed and developed (which is very difficult in sequels). After the film, I wondered why so many reviews were so bad. I know that there is often a big disconnect between reviewers and the public, but this seemed strange. Well, I wasn’t the only one who noticed this oddity.

Transformers 2, by  the 5 day mark, has made over $200 million, just a little bit less than The Dark Knight made in its first five days. In short, this has been a very successful film. If it hits $400 million, it will be in the top 8 of money-making films, including the likes of  “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man,” “E.T. the Extra-terrestrial” and “Star Wars.” Two others, “Shrek 2” and “Titanic”. The difference between these films and Transformers is that all these films had good reviews. All of them scored over 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, many of them scored over 90% (according to this AP article).

So, why is this the case? Well, there’s probably several explanations, including the fact that director Michael Bay doesn’t often get reviewed terribly well, but here’s one idea.

In many movies, U.S. Presidents are fictional characters. In Transformers 2, I thought it was interesting that the president was Barack Obama. My friends watching the film with me thought it was interesting as well. I, frustrated, considered it just another example of Obama hysteria. As the story unfolded, the head of the NSA in Obama’s administration (a fictional character) turned out to be a less than savory character. Variety puts it this way:

[David] “Cohen writes, “So as usual in these movies, the federal bureaucrats are portrayed as annoying if not villainous. The President’s man, “Galloway,” is a bespectacled blowhard who becomes an obstacle to our brave fighting men and their alliance with the noble Autobots. Operating specifically under presidential authority, he makes all kinds of mischief. He says the President wants to try “diplomacy” against the evil Decepticons and hints the President would consider handing over Shia LaBouf’s character to be killed by them. He eventually is ditched by the fighting men (tricked into parachuting out the back of a transport).”

As I watched the movie, my friends and I quickly realized that the whole scenario made Obama look bad, pretty darn bad.

As it is generally assumed, Hollywood and the media are usually very left-leaning. Are the critics upset with this portrayal of Obama? Does this explain the reviews that so grossly deviate from public opinion? Well, if it is, then maybe it isn’t the first time. Michael Bays film, “The Island” featured conservative and even pro-life ideas, according to Pro-Life news and blogging website: Life Site News. So how did “The Island” do with the critics? Not terribly well, achieving merely a 40% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Hm….

Well, just something to think about.


~ by thelastinkling on June 30, 2009.

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