Will Audiences Believe That <i>Transformers 3</i> 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 ExpectationsRemind 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 PolicyMaybe - 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...

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