Laserdisc and DVD fans might be familiar with the Criterion Collection. Criterion releases what they consider “important movies” in definitive editions, usually with pristine prints and sound, commentaries by the filmmakers and/or film historians, and other extras.
Now, nowhere do they claim to release exclusively good movies, but they do try to limit it to movies that were important in the history of cinema, or are excellent representatives of genre films, or bring little known foreign films to a broader public. Among their titles are lowbrow fare like “The Blob” and “Carnival of Souls,” genuine classics like “The Seven Samurai” and “The Lady Vanishes,” and modern material like “Chasing Amy” and “Do The Right Thing.” They’ll even shoot for purely artsy stuff like “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeousie.”
Last year, they released an enormously hyped, two-disc set of “Armageddon.” OK, this was a big, loud, dumb summer blockbuster. It made a boatload of money. It’s a perfectly representative example of the state of Hollywood moviemaking. So, to that extent, I suppose it qualifies as an “important movie,” although important for all the wrong reasons.
Now comes word that Criterion is giving similar treatment to “The Rock.” And all I can ask is, WTF? Is Michael Bay such a force in the field of cinema that two of his titles merit this treatment? Was “Armageddon” not considered a complete enough examination of his contributions to the “Poorly Scripted Exploding Things Action Movie” genre? Does someone owe him money?