Michael Bay proved surprisingly diplomatic the other week when he was asked about film critics and their universal panning of his often highly successful “Transformers” franchise. Bay essentially said he used to be bothered by it, not so much now, and actually welcomes it as it “makes me think, and it keeps me on my toes.”
Series producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura was also asked by ScreenCrush the other day about the criticism of the franchise, and the just released ‘Age of Extinction’ in particular. His answer was far more condescending and dismissive:
“Well, first of all, I think every filmmaker cares what critics think because, you know, you’re being judged. I think if someone says they don’t care, baloney. Does it affect the gross of the movie? Probably a little bit. But, I think the problem with critics and the big movies in general is they don’t understand the format. So, they’re judging it against the kind of movie experience that it is not trying to do, nor should it… What I mean is it’s like they’re locked into like, “OK, let’s compare this to a Marty Scorsese movie or a two-hour drama.”
Ryan shot back at Di Bonaventura then, saying that the critics definitely seemed to like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” a lot. Di Bonaventura continued on though, essentially saying film reviewers don’t get blockbusters and the ones they do praise they are doing so because of peer pressure:
“But, my experience with the critics is that when they like a big movie, it’s because they’re afraid they’re going to so go against the tide that they act like they liked it. That’s my opinion. I think it’s baloney. I don’t think they understand the form of entertainment and I don’t think they appreciate the form of the entertainment.
So, I think in that respect, the reason critics don’t hurt a lot of the big movies is because the audience is smart enough to go, “I don’t care what he’s talking about or she’s talking about. What I care about is did I have a great experience? Was I wowed? Did I laugh? Did I feel like I was transported to a different place?” And they’re judging it on story elements and things that…
I’m frustrated that they don’t get moviemaking today. They don’t get it. I don’t understand why they can’t evaluate movies on different experiences. My experience when I was first in the business, I really valued critics. Because even when they didn’t like something, they talked about what was good in it. So now it’s like these feasts of criticism – they just love killing the whole thing. I’m not really speaking about my movies – my movies have been generally pretty well-reviewed. ‘Salt’ was really well reviewed, ‘Side Effects’ was well-reviewed. I’m a fan of film and so, OK, you don’t like the movie? Nothing was good in it? That’s what I’m talking about.”
Read here for the full interview in which he also claims that critics hated the first “The Matrix” film saying: “Everybody else wrote second reviews like a week later, sort of re-imagining the history of their first review.”