For a long time I’ve been carefully watching for the end of the world. According to the Bible (the world’s most accurate and consistent book), the world will end in a fiery shit storm, ushered in by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Well, that time is here, albeit not in a form that anyone expected. In fact, all the pestilence, war, famine, and death are not coming literally, but figuratively in the world of cinema.
Horseman numero dos is none other than Michael Bay. Just like our friend Roland Emmerich, this guy’s “movies” have also grossed over $3 billion worldwide. It’s an impressive feat considering that his “movies” are little more than paper-thin stories used solely for the purpose of stringing together a series of explosions. Here is a list of some of this auteur’s “movies:”
- Playboy Video Centerfold: Kerri Kendall – Bay’s best work, and only a moderate number of explosions.
- Bad Boys – Surprisingly, this had fewer explosions than Bay’s first “movie.”
- The Rock – OK, I actually liked this one.
- Armageddon – An asteroid is going to hit Earth. Should we send astronauts to stop it? Fuck no, let’s send some oil drillers!
- Pearl Harbor – Just like Titanic but with 100% more Ben Affleck
- Bad Boys II – 20 times more explosions and car chases than the first one.
- The Island – a remake of a movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Good choice, Mr. Bay
- Transformers – This made over $700 million? Really?
- Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen - *facepalm*
- Transformers 3: Please God Will It Ever End?
Similarly to Emmerich, Michael Bay’s production values are usually quit high. However, his directing skill is far, far worse. He doesn’t so much direct his “movies,” as he just blows up a bunch of shit and films it. He also has an unusually high reliance on special effects, probably the most of any of the horsemen. I would say that 50% of his “movies” are filmed in front of a green screen to showcase more special effects bullshit. I think the only director who uses more green screen than Bay is George Lucas. That guy devotes about 99% of his movies to the green screen. He would probably feature all CGI actors too if it were possible. However, since Lucas is only a niche director (his niche is specializing in ruining our favorite childhood franchises) he doesn’t count as one of the horsemen. Anyway, back to Michael Bay…
So, what about Bay’s “movies?” He spends far more time setting up and filming big action sequences and explosions rather than getting nuanced dialogue and realistic performances from his actors. Of course, when the dialogue consists of such gems as “My bad!” and comes from giant robots from outer space, I don’t know how nuanced or realistic things are going to get. But still, the story should always come first and not the explosions. Bay also has a proclivity for 360 degree hero shots. You know, any time the camera whirls around the main character while some epic music plays in the background. Usually this shot will occur in between explosions or just before a bunch of explosions are about to go off.
Bay’s editing techniques are about as ADHD as they can get. If only one of his “movies” looked like they were put together by a retarded kid on speed, I would give him a pass. However, all of his “movies” look like that. So it must be his doing, not an editor’s. I seriously doubt any editor would claim responsibility for working on any of Bay’s “movies,” as they would get laughed right out of the Film Editors Guild (if such a thing exists). The longest any shot will last for is three seconds, but most are far shorter than that. Take any Michael Bay movie, throw it in your DVD player, skip to a random scene, and I guarantee you that scene will play out like this:
ACTION SHOT! EXPLOSION! ACTOR’S PENSIVE FACE! EXPLOSION! EXPLOSION! ACTOR’S SURPRISED FACE! ACTION SHOT! EXPLOSION! ACTOR RUNNING FROM EXPLOSION! ACTION SHOT! EXPLOSION! ACTOR’S DETERMINED-TO-KICK-ASS FACE! EXPLOSION! ACTOR’S CONSTIPATED FACE! EXPLOSION! EXPLOSION! EXPLOSION!
With all the fast cuts in his action sequences, it is impossible to know what the fuck is going on. In Transformers, for example, the final battle sequence is nothing more than a bunch of gray metal robots fighting another bunch of gray metal robots. They grapple each other and roll around like they’re having sex. While all that is going on you can’t tell which ones are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys. Perhaps they should have made them different colors? But Bay was probably too busy jerking off over the explosions to think of that.
Bay also has no apparent ability to choose between good scripts and bad scripts. I would assume that as a big time director he must have good scripts coming his way all the time. Bay, however, seems to only pick the smelliest turds of them all. Let’s take a look at a few his movies to better explain what I mean.
First, we have Armageddon. I saw this back in high school, and it pissed me right the fuck off in the movie theater. I didn’t know who the hell Michael Bay was at the time, but by the time it was over I knew it was the work of a hack. Bay has no talent for directing anything other than explosions. In this “movie” he tries to show Ben Affleck’s romantic side by having him play with a bunch of animal crackers over Liv Tyler’s body. Not that I minded seeing Liv Tyler’s body, but who the fuck actually thought that shit was romantic? It was like a 10 year old girl’s idea of romance. “OH MY GOD KELLY I JUST HUNG OUT WITH JOSEPH AND HE TOTALLY RAN SOME ANIMAL CRACKERS ALL OVER MY BODY LOL!” The whole plot of Armageddon made no sense either. If it takes years of training, not to mention a high degree of intelligence, for an astronaut to go into space, why would NASA send a bunch greasy oil drillers instead? Couldn’t they have made the same movie with astronauts? What the fuck? And my all time favorite part was when they busted out the gatling gun on the lunar rover. Well, of course they brought heavy artillery to an asteroid devoid of life. Were they expecting to find a race of super aliens up there they would need to battle? In real life space missions, they have to account for every ounce that goes on the spacecraft so they can take off and land without a disaster. Obviously, they felt it was important to bring a fucking gatling gun and a shitload of bullets, you know, just in case.
Next, we have Pearl Harbor. Apparently, Mr. Bay didn’t get enough Ben Affleck with his last “movie,” and when you want to make a serious war film, you should go straight to the guy who was in Gigli and Reindeer Games. As mentioned before, this movie is the same thing as Titanic, an overly long, completely trite love story with a historical disaster added in as an afterthought. So yeah, the first two hours of the “movie” meander around with this bullshit love-triangle, and the final hour is a bunch of non-stop explosions. What else did you expect? Cuba Gooding Jr. is in this “movie” too, and plays a fairly interesting character. Unfortunately, his story takes a back seat to the love-triangle, so he is hardly in the “movie.” I get the feeling he’s only it is become some Hollywood producer said, “HEY MICHAEL BAY WE NEED TO SELL TICKETS TO BLACK PEOPLE SO MAKE SURE YOU PUT A BLACK ACTOR IN THE MOVIE!” The worst part is that Cuba Gooding Jr. is the best actor in this “movie,” and he is completely underutilized. If they had made the “movie” about him, it would have been 10,000 times better. The “movie” tries to be patriotic and force-feeds the audience a heavy-handed message about war being bad, but mostly it fumbles every step of the way. Team America: World Police had it right when they said, “Pearl Harbor sucked.”
Finally, we have Transformers. When this “movie” first got announced, I remember thinking, “Oh cool, I was a fan of that show when I was a kid.” But after Michael Bay was announced as director, I thought, “Oh fuck, this will be terrible.” And terrible it was. The first thing they did was give Optimus Prime a bunch of faggity flames to make him look extra stupid. After that they put in a bunch of ridiculous stuff with engineers and computer programmers that made no fucking sense whatsoever, and seemed to exist only so it could pad out the length of the “movie.” And of course, the action scenes were completely incomprehensible, as mentioned before. Let’s not forget that the vehicles featured were soley Chevrolets. After all, it wouldn’t be a blockbuster Hollywood “movie” without tons of product placement! Just for good measure, in the sequel they made sure to throw in Mudflap and Skids, a couple of ridiculous black stereotypes, complete with a shiny gold tooth, just to make the “movie” appeal to that white supremacist demographic. I could go on about how much I hated this shitty “movie,” but I don’t have the energy.
Michael Bay is the emobidment of all that is wrong with Hollywood today. It’s all about bigger and bigger explosions, more advertising, more money, more PG-13, more 3D, and less characters and plot. Bay is the king of the cheesy, loud, dumb action “movie.” That’s why he is the namesake of the Michael Bay Shit-Spectacular.
Suffice it to say, Michael Bay is a terrible director. He can’t pick a good script, his primary focus is making explosions, the logic in his “movies” is non-existent, his editing is seizure-inducing, he remakes movies so awful they appeared on MST3K (even though Bay swears it’s not a remake, but come on, the plots of The Island and Parts: The Clonus Horror are identical), and he even manages to squeeze in advertising and racism. The most shocking thing to me is that when Transformers 2 was out, people kept on talking about how awesome it was. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was due to a general lack of taste and intelligence amongst the movie-going public (likely), or were expectations so low that people ended up not hating it as much as they had anticipated (unlikely)? For all these transgressions, and the countless more he will undoubtedly make in his future career, Michael Bay is one of the Four Horsemen of the Film-Making Apocalypse.