I'd like to think i'm fairly knowledgeable when it comes to films. I watch quite a lot of films every month. I reckon i watch a reasonably mixed variety of films, not limiting myself to any one particular genre. I've watched films from Soviet Russia, 1920's Germany, 30's USA, from Brazil, France, South Africa and Japan. I love watching films that challenge me, films which make me think, films which have depth and complexity.
I also adore films like "Armageddon". I love sitting down and watching an utterly stupid film. The medium of film is all about escapism and films like the previously mentioned asteroid apocalypse film, or Independence Day, or Dead Snow (Nazi zombies. Need i say more?) achieve that escapism with a gleeful abandon that i really think should be admired rather than treated with snobby disdain.
I doubt Michael Bay ever intended the Transformers films to go down in history as cinematic classics; judging from what he actually produced i'd guess he wanted to make an entertaining film that paid only the most passing lip service to reality and which would only have been inconvenienced by a complex plot.
Yet so many of the reviews decided to focus on tearing apart the plot or criticising the dialogue. The Transformers films are genre pieces and should be viewed within the context of their genre. As with shadows in film noir, last minute reunions in Rom-Coms, underdog victories in Sports movies or poorly thought through plans in horror movies, wooden dialogue and a plot that not just could, but probably should, have been created by a 6 year old are pre-requisites for a good summer blockbuster.
This weekend i watched "Armageddon", i also watched "Jackass 2" and only a few days earlier i sat down to "The Other Guys". Now none of these films will be remembered in 30 or 40 years time most likely, and rightly so. They're not classics, they don't do anything particularly new or clever, they don't challenge the audience beyond asking for a high threshold for the suspension of disbelief and they don't include Oscar-worthy performances. And they never attempted to.
These, and films like them, only ever aspired to entertain an audience for a couple of hours. They're films made purely as entertainment rather than artistic or intellectual masterpieces. For 2 and a bit hours they invite an audience to lose themselves in a world of unrealistic heroes and villains, excessive explosions and cheesy one-liners.
I for one am grateful for the service they provide. They may not be the important films of any particular year, but they have a crucial role to play and i feel much of the criticism is, if not unjustified, at least unnecessary or even irrelevant.
As much as i enjoyed "Shutter Island", "Fight Club", "Donnie Darko", as much as i suspect i will enjoy "The King's Speech", "The Fighter" and "Winter's Bone", the two films i'm currently most excited about are "Battle Los Angeles" (a film being billed as 'Black Hawk Down with aliens') and "Sucker Punch" (a film in which five girls battle WW1 Germans, robotic samurai and dragons).
Films which are entertaining and idiotic in equal amounts have a permanent place in my heart and i'm really hoping those next two live up to the sheer low brow excitement of some of their predecessors.