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Will Audiences Believe That Transformers 3 Is Better Than The Second?

If rumors – not to mention anonymous sources talking to various industry news sites, which should probably cast some doubt on the veracity of the rumors right there – are to be believed, the real reason that Paramount moved the release date of the new Transformers movie is because it’s just so damn good that the world deserves to see it a few days early. The only problem is, after the mess that was the last Transformers movie, will audiences believe that, even if it is the truth?

According to Deadline, sources inside Paramount explain the release date shift from July 1st to June 29th as all being down to the studio being excited by reaction to footage:

Early response to footage, especially the 3D footage, has been great so we want to get the word out that this film is as good or better than the first and much better than the last.

This is, more than likely, spin: The release date is only being moved a couple of days, and it’s not even vaguely unusual for summer tentpole releases to debut on Wednesdays instead of Fridays these days with what are generally called “preview” showings, so I tend to believe doubters who think that this was the plan all along. What’s much more interesting about the whole thing is that the spin is, essentially, “Oh, this is much better than the second movie.”

I’ll admit; I thought the second Transformers movie was a disaster, lacking a coherent plot, saddled with a lazy script and an over-emphasis on special effects, even in relation to the first. But what’s been surprising is that everyone involved with Transformers: Dark of The Moon seems to agree with me – even though they’re the same people who made Revenge of The Fallen (Director Michael Bay famously said that the second movie “tried to do too many things” and “didn’t give enough time in any one of them,” agreeing with critics that it had “dorky comedy”). I won’t argue that any of those criticisms are wrong – that they don’t go far enough, sure, but not wrong – but I’m trying to work out why there’s a seeming emphasis on trashtalking the last movie to promote the new one.

As far as I can see, these are the potential reasons:

Lower Expectations
Remind audiences how bad the last one was – or, perhaps, sew the seed of it being bad in the first place – in order to make the bar the new movie has to clear that much lower.

Feign Honesty To Gain Trust
“Hey, we’re willing to admit when we’ve made a crappy movie! That last one? Totally crappy! But this new one is great. Don’t believe us? We just admitted that we made a crappy one, why would we lie?”

Honesty Really Is The Best Policy
Maybe – just maybe – everyone genuinely felt bad about how Revenge of The Fallen turned out, and wanted to ‘fess up.

…Okay, that last one may be a stretch. We are talking about Michael Bay and cohorts, after all. But never mind the motivation, the real question is, will it work? I’m leaning towards yes: Those who pay attention to this kind of thing have been… charmed may not be the right word, perhaps “drawn in” would be better, by the candor of the attitude towards the second, it seems, and that mixed with admittedly impressive trailers (Say what you like about the Transformers movies, they give good trailer) and fun high concept (There are other Transformers! Hidden on the moon!) seem to have won people over to the movie’s side (Those who don’t pay attention to this kind of thing – that would be the majority of moviegoers, let’s face it – probably didn’t have that much problem with Revenge of The Fallen in the first place. That movie made a lot of money).

The proof, as ever, will be in the cinematic pudding. Will Dark of The Moon live up to the expectations and hype-by-comparison-to-anti-hype? If it does, then Bay et al will look like heroes for their honesty. But if it doesn’t, then any future attempts by moviemakers to talk down their old work will be viewed with suspicion from all sides…


  • Justice Gray

    Wow, I read this headline and thought,
    then I thought
    “I’m betting this is a Graeme Macmillan”

    I was not disappointed!!

  • Knightoftomorrow

    I saw the trailer before Thor, and it actually does look much better than the last one.  It appears to actually have a plot.

  • Anonymous

    depends on whether or not they thought it was bad?
    because i enjoyed it when i first saw it.

  • David V. McIntyre

     One of your criticisms of ROTF was that it was too focused on Special FX? Really? In a film about giant transforming robots?

    Also, it’s nice to see a critic who insults the integrity of a director and his crew. Real classy.

  • Matthewross999

    I read this “article” and was very lost. Isn’t an article supposed to be impersonal, and objective? This Graeme McMillan needs to go to college and take a few classes on writing for/in the media. 

  • Matthewross999

    And as for ROTF being worse then the 1st… well, It’s Michael Bay. It was a Michael Bay movie. Lots of explosions, lots of crashes, and loud noises. That’s what Michael Bay does. (South Park said it best when they said to him “explosions and crashes don’t make plot.” Bay said “but I don’t understand.” Then the other guys said “we know you don;t.”
    And, and this is a big AND… it was the TRANSFORMERS. On the big screen. Get over the fact that the movie wasn’t as campy as the cartoon 25 years ago (and I am a HUGE fan of the cartoon by the way). These movies are a Transformers fan’s wet-dream. Just seeing these giant robots on screen like that is enough. So, if you don’t like it, don’t write a shitty article, just don’t go see DOTM.

  • Anyone

    Revenge made $836,297,228 worldwide.

    It doesn’t matter if it isn’t good to us. The general audience loves it.

  • Scarletspeed7

    Seriously,Graeme.  Do you even think before writing such inane articles?  “Will audiences believe this movie is good?”  There’s a simple answer for that:  they will believe it if they enjoy it.  It has nothing to do with your BS article’s half-assed theories.

  • Fluffy6079

     I actually liked the last movie.  It was very entertaining and hilarious in spots.  I didn’t find the twins to be offensive, even though tons of critics told me I should have been.  I believe this one will be worth seeing.

  • Chelseajohnson20c20

    This author just wanted to say something. I dont even understand why people are paid to critisize things for others. I do not find the majority of them helpful! FYI… I love Transformers and I will be going to see this as soon as it hits the theaters!

  • Anonymous

    And yet he keeps cranking out these articles. I honestly don’t believe that Graeme or anyone else at Spinoff Online reads the talkbacks.
    I’d like to see this article: “Will Readers Believe That Graeme Macmillan’s Next Article Is Better Than The Last?”

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    Spinoff needs to have a separate category for articles such as this–“Graeme’s Rants,” “Fanboy Editorial,” or something like that. Quite a few of his articles come across less as news articles and more like personal tirades against stuff he doesn’t like.


  • ZB

    If by “quite a few” you mean “all.”

    I defy you to find a piece of news in any Graeme McMillan posting. Hell, I defy you find a Graeme McMillan posting that’s a personal tirade about stuff he DOES like.

    The amazing thing is, even though 90% of the comments on all of his postings are just about people wondering why a has-nothing-insightful-to-say Negative Nancy like Graeme gets to continue posting, neither he nor Spinoff does anything to change what or how he posts.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    You win.

  • Drhiphop85

     While I think the article was useless, if you hate what this writer does so much why do you constantly read them and complain? Are you all masochists? If so then hell he/she should keep them coming right?

  • Richard

     As always, Graeme, a great article. Some fascinating theories. 

  • Toneloak

    I’m in complete agreement. Some people seem to forget that certain movie are design as escapism. Leave your baggage at the door.

  • Bz01

    TRUST ME, they have totally fucked up the plot with a ridiculous idea. I wont spoil it, but when people see how silly it is. Bay will earn his moron stripes again. Surrounded by Yes-Men, No one is going to tell him his ideas suck. We all know they do and we all know it AGAIN when it is going to be proven for a third time.

  • Ticklefist

    I doubt it will be as good as Team Fortress 2. 

  • Customart

     Sound theories. Your op eds are always interesting to read. I don’t think I’ll see this is in the theater either way. I saw the other two. The first one was ok, I guess, but the second one left me cold. I went with a friend and it was a tough 2+ or however long it is running time for both of us. Devastator’s makeshift, swinging wrecking ball testicles pretty much sum up that experience for me.

  • Anonymous

     That’s for actual news articles. This is an op-ed piece. News articles report things that happened, quote things that people said, etc. Op-ed pieces are reactions to news. If you’re gonna criticize someone you should get it right and not accuse them of the same ignorance that you’re guilty of.

  • Kenneth Robert Marlo

    I don’t get the ire toward Graeme in this at all. The studio has made an interesting move in addition to essentially “fessing up” about the critical issues with the last one. Graeme is commenting on this move and offering speculation on the hows and whys. This is what writers on film sites/blogs do…this is what you click through to read.

    Take a friggin chill, people. We’re all still here and it’s after 6:00 on May 21st on the East Coast. Have a frakkin’ drink and stop whining.

  • Jenns1973

    I honesty thought there was nothing wrong with the 2nd one… I loved it… this one im not sure since there is a different girl in here? Is she playing the same roll or is she supposed to be a new girlfriend different???? But I LOVE some Sam Witwicky…LLOLL!!! 

  • Derrick

    So, is anyone here that likes the “Transformers” movies real sticklers for the dramatic quality of the films as works of art? Seriously?

    Both movies were TERRIBLE films and I still love them because I got exactly what I paid for: Giant robots that transform into things and fight each other. The fact that one of the robots has the voice I grew up with is just gravy. It’s actually okay to occasionally enjoy things even if they’re not masterpieces. “Transformers” is a toy commercial. It was always a toy commercial. It was never anything BUT a toy commercial.

  • Wildstorm

    Lets see, no Megen Fox.  Great start already

  • Mega Mike

    i’m so tired of every saying that revenge of the fallen was a bad movie.who cares what a couple old critics say.If you are a real transformers fan you will like all the movies. 

  • Derrick

    My thoughts here are that something can be really bad in every quantifiable sense and still be liked. But even so, being able to see when something has massive flaws doesn’t make anyone any less of a fan. Unless, of course, you use the root word for “fan”, which is “fanatic”. In that case, rationale isn’t a part of the equation.

  • Brian

     I think people will flock to this movie and love it. 

    And I’ll say this too.  I don’t Transformers 2 was terrible.  Was there some flaws?  Sure.  But I went to see big damn robots beat the stuffing out of each other, and I got that in spades.  I didn’t come in expecting Shakespeare, and I didn’t come out disappointed.

  • JMC

    Both Transformers films were crappy, but like a lot of posters have said, indulgent, fun crap.  They’re not made by Michael Mann or the Coen brothers – they’re made by Michael Bay, the bastard son of Roland Emmerich.  They’re what they appear on the outside – commercials to sell toys, t-shirts, and bed sheets.

    The Transformers, like GI-Joe, have always been B-grade garbage.  Everyone knows that, no one is surprised by the crappy acting and storylines.  They just want to see Optimus Prime kick arse.  Although I could do with more Transformers and less Shia.

    And this is coming from a guy who not only saw both films, but has them (and GI Joe) on DVD. 

  • Madcattv2

    Same writers, director and mostly the same cast so I have little to no hope that it will be anything less than more of the same. My only hope is that this franchise will eventually get rebooted and next time the transformers will get the movie treatment they deserve.

  • wangbumaximus

    It should be good! The last one is really uninspiring and mostly boring! No more cheesiness! A good and solid story trumps over just everything!

  • Aeonstrife

    The Baybots series is  is not films or film adaptations at all, but simply smut. Saying Baybots 3 is better than Baybots 1 and 2 is like saying manure is better than feces. They are all crap.  If the studio was serious about wanting to do right by the audience they would fire Michael Bay and get an actual director to do a Transformers film series. One that can rival Nolan’s Batman films.

  • Keith

     Just because the movie crew have said there were problems with the second one, and just because critics and some hardcore fans said there were problems with the second one is completely immaterial to why the release was moved up by 2 days.  Firstly, large movies, especially ones about to hit on a holiday weekend always move up to Wednesday to increase ticket sales.  Secondly, despite being panned, ticket sales and DVD sales of the second one were huge, meaning a ton of people still enjoyed it despite it’s flaws.  Paramount knows this movie is going to do well, and just want two more days of it.

  • Derrick

    While I agree that it would be great to see a “Transformers” movie I didn’t have to feel guilty about enjoying, the last two films made enough money to float the economy of many island nations or possibly build an actual, working Transformer. From their standpoint, why on earth risk loosing out on possible box office success in favor of critical acclaim. The only people to make money off of critical acclaim are critics. 

  • JB

     Nice article.

    I can’t believe so many people are defending the second movie. IT WAS TERRIBLE. I understand that some movies are just stupid fun and don’t need to have artistic or critical value. I ENJOYED the first transformers. It was fun. It was light. It was a good summer movie.

    That being said, the second movie was ATROCIOUS. The writing, acting, and dialogue were so bad, that it was impossible for me to enjoy that movie, even on a superficial level. That movie was terrible. Saying it was just supposed to be a fun, summer movie is no defense. It failed even as that.

  • Nameless

    I haven’t seen many reviews that DON’T question the integrity of a director and crew.

  • Matt Bolinger

    did you actually read the article? I don’t usually read spinoff because it is generally useless, but he made some valid points. The second to last paragraph is entirely relevant and on point.

    “Those who pay attention to this kind of thing have been… charmed may not be the right word, perhaps “drawn in” would be better, by the candor of the attitude towards the second, it seems, and that mixed with admittedly impressive trailers (Say what you like about the Transformers movies, they give good trailer) and fun high concept (There are other Transformers! Hidden on the moon!) seem to have won people over to the movie’s side (Those who don’t pay attention to this kind of thing – that would be the majority of moviegoers, let’s face it – probably didn’t have that much problem with Revenge of The Fallen in the first place. That movie made a lot of money).”

    I was apathetic to the first and thought the second was one of the most boring action movies and had the most bogus plot devices I’d ever seen ( I still do think that). People can say what they will about expectations being no higher for these movies than robots hitting each other with swords, but when the main character carries a secret key across a desert in a gym sock, thats when I stop watching. even the action sequences felt like they were choreographed by a seven year old playing with his action figures. The trailer of the third movie looks enticing (even for someone who hated the first two,) and I think you guys are being way too harsh on the guy who wrote this article. 

  • Anonymous

     The 2nd movie got one of the lowest scores of anything I’ve ever reviewed. I usually don’t like to review movies I hate b/c it’s just a chore to relive all the moments, but it was such a terrible movie I had to talk about it.

  • Raskal67

    The second movie was a turd, that remains wet and pungent even after a year and a half on the clearance racks at most used video stores.

    While, if in fact Bay and company are having a confessional moment, and one can only believe so much of what anonymous sources say until they are proven right, ROTF was so bad that it made any subsequent attempts at salvation a home rental only option for me.  With Bay’s name on it, I can’t risk another $10.  Redbox…maybe.

  • Mindz i

    LOL! Are you kidding me? Have any of the people who are complaining about the Transformer movies watched the original cartoon? This is a movie based off of a cartoon and toy line that was geared towards kids in the 80’s. Giant transforming robots duking it out screams action and special effects extravaganza! Leaving your logic at home and bringing your inner child is almost a requirement.

    When I heard that they were making the first movie, I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull it off. I pictured the original characters from the cartoon fighting on the big screen and thought for sure it was going to be a failure. But then some images of the bots were released and I became excited. Then I picked up on the “soldier fighting for something bigger than himself” theme of the movie and was a huge fan. The second film was also about sacrifice as well. While parts of ROTF’s humor were too crude for my taste, most of it made the movie enjoyable. And as far as Michael Bay movies go, why do critics expect every movie to have a Tom Clancy plot? Michael Bay is great at doing movies with lots of action and excitement. That’s his signature trademark. Why would you expect more?

    I think critics of the movies have grown up watching the cartoons in the 80’s and want the movies to grow up with them. The films’ plots did a good job of appealing to adults while not alienating younger viewers. It wouldn’t be transformers if they completely alienated kids. Something the last one about did with some of the crude humor.

  • Anonymous

    The very fact that the question “can it be any worse” is being thrown around without irony speaks volumes. 

    Maybe they figure “Well, it worked for Domino’s Pizza…”

  • Gyan Prakash

    eagerly w89 for d movie 2 come!!!

  • Flip Maker

    I love how people are taking shots at the writer of this article who clearly have no understanding of the news surrounding this movie and Bay’s own comments — just four or five months ago Michael Bay HIMSELF apologize for how bad the second movie was.  So why are you all piling on Graeme?  Especially since most of you who complain aren’t actually citing specifics, they’re just saying, “Hey, I don’t like Graeme and this article sucks” but you never say why.  Twits.

    Here’s the part that makes me wonder the most: studios promoting sequels by saying it’s better than the last one.  Well, first off, duh, it better be.  Second, apologizing for the previous take is also dubious and something you need to be careful about.  It sets a precedent that could backfire, ultimately.

  • C.F.Godwell

    Well, let make two “twin” Jewbots and call them the Gefiltecons and have them with big curly springs hanging off the sides of their face like (Hasidic Jews locks on the sides of their faces) and have them yell silliness like “Oi vey” and “Oh my freakin’ God, I think I just busted a freakin’ gasket” and see how the Israelis and the Jewish community reacts. Michael Bay would have been hung right along with his career.

    I get so tired of blinded Whites (and passive Blacks) acting as if two robots with raggedy gold teeth, monkey ears (to mock Obama?), talking gangster jive and constantly infighting while yelling such ignorant nonsense as “Reading? We don’t do much of that!” are not obviously implying that MY Black people are not ignorant apes who only talk slang and listen to gangster rap. Michael Bay is either an overt or closet racist moron and judging from the way he did Meagan, he is probably a sexist too.  

    Both of you and Michael Bay can go straight to hell. If I get a bootleg (and I will) I am going to  give it out for free to stop people from seeing it.