Is it just me, or is action director Michael Bay being treated with a strange new respect? A.O. Scott's review of the third “Transformers” movie, while tongue in cheek, is surprisingly positive (“[B]y far the best 3-D sequel ever made about gigantic toys from outer space”). Then you have Chris Ryan’s essay in Grantland, ESPN's high-end, Bill-Simmons-edited sports and culture site, defending Bay's reputation: “[H]as there ever been a filmmaker whose work is so consistently popular while the man himself seems so loathed by the thinking public?” And there’s this viral video making the rounds that satirizes Bay in a respectful manner:

For what it’s worth, I even found myself enjoying, against my better judgment, “Transformers 2” when it was on cable the other night. Or maybe I was just bored. In any case, you know Bay’s critical reputation is changing when mainstream candidates for the 2012 Republican nomination are copying his methods: