Stephen King has dropped yet another hot take on his Twitter account, and this time, he’s throwing a major Hollywood hit – and its director – under the bus. King has authored some of the greatest horror novels of all time, which in turn have been made into some classic films. In response to a recent tweet by crime novelist Linwood Barclay, however, King revealed that he’s only once walked out on a film: Transformers. When prompted by other Twitter users to specify which one, he confirmed it was the first film, released in 2007. He also made it a point to mention director Michael Bay by name, as Cinemablend reported.
While Stephen King has never been afraid to voice his opinion, it seems odd that the 74-year-old author would make the effort to single out that film as so terrible that he couldn’t finish it. While most fans would agree that the first Transformers isn’t a classic film, at the very least, it is entertaining, with some solid visual effects. It scored a 58% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn’t great, but it’s hardly among the worst ratings the website has dished out. It does have an 85% audience score, so at least a majority of moviegoers had a good time watching it. Re-watch the original trailer, and tell me you don’t want to see it again.
Transformers, even without Stephen King’s support, earned over $319 million domestically in 2007, and over $700 million worldwide. That would be considered a box-office smash even today, fifteen years after its release and with the totals not adjusted for inflation. Sure, you could take issue with the film’s script, or the over-the-top mayhem that has a total disregard for the civilians in the movie (seriously, how many people did the Autobots kill inadvertently because they got in the way?). On the plus side, the movie has Megan Fox in it, which kind of makes up for the film’s pitfalls. Stephen King may have walked out before she appeared on screen, however, but he didn’t elaborate as to when he hit the theater exit.
Critics would likely point out that Stephen King should hardly throw stones at other filmmakers, even if it is Michael Bay, a favorite punching bag for critics. While his novels have been made into some of the best films ever made – including The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption – when King took the chair to direct, he made a film that actually does deserve to be walked out on. In 1986, King adapted his short story “Trucks” into a film called Maximum Overdrive, which starred Emilio Estevez and told the story of a group of people who try to survive when machines come to life and try to kill them. It’s like Transformers, only way, way worse. It scored a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is among the lowest scores the website has ranked. In his defense, King claims he was addicted to cocaine at the time and was “coked out of his mind” for most of the film, and it shows. At least Emilio Estevez would go on to cinematic immortality as Gordon Bombay in Disney’s The Mighty Ducks about a decade later, so this film wasn’t the career killer for him that it was for King’s directing endeavors.