Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spotlight: Michael Bay

Summer is approaching, and you know what that means - more explosions from Michael freakin' Bay. The relatively young director has become synonymous with "summer blockbuster" over a short career and has earned MASSIVE numbers of online haters along the way. I've said many times that I am a fan of his work, and I've defended him from the legions of people who inaccurately label him as a "hack" director. (For the record, Brett Ratner is the other...ahem...high profile director who gets as much sh*t as Bay from the online community. They actually have a legitimate case with Ratner, since none of his films have a signature style, flair, or anything that would make them stand out from other generic movies, ala the definition of a hack. Bay, on the other hand - he makes damn sure you know you're watching a Michael Bay movie.)

This post has been a long time coming for a couple reasons. One - I wanted to display my support for the guy and make a definitive post about it so I don't have to mention it again. Two - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is coming out in a few months and a lot of people are going to see it, regardless of whether they like Bay or not. Three - I find it fascinating that he has the ability to polarize people so heavily with his films. We'll get to that in a second - first, let's take a look at this new featurette on Transformers 2 thanks to MTV.

Unbelievable! I wasn't really impressed with the trailers or Super Bowl ads for this movie, but that featurette skyrocketed my interest faster than Bay can say "awesome." Are you guys as pumped at that as I am?

The thing about Michael Bay I like the most is the persona he has crafted for himself. He's the prototypical American male, making movies for people just like him. Yes, he comes off as kind of a douche. But at least he has a personality. Click that "awesome" link above and you'll see exactly how highly he thinks of himself. The best part is that he realizes that he's ridiculous and isn't averse to making fun of himself, which is highly appreciated by this viewer. This guy made a pretty humorous video parody that's worth checking out. And even though I hate Twitter (by that I mean I really don't understand its purpose - why do people care what you do every 40 seconds?), somebody had enough gumption to create a fake Michael Bay account and post as if he was the boom-happy director. Some other Bay-doppelganger created a fake script of The Dark Knight (funny stuff). Even Robot Chicken gets in on the action.

Let's get on to his filmography. From a lowly production assistant (hey, that's what I do!) on the 1980's television show "Night Court" to directing a couple music videos and a Playboy centerfold production, Bay slowly moved his way up to his first big time directing gig and hasn't looked back since.

Bad Boys, 1995
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence
Decent, but he wasn't exactly breaking new ground with this one. I've seen it a couple times, and I barely remember it. Notable more for launching Will Smith's mainstream action movie career than Bay's directing, it was enough to get MB a second directing job - and that's all he needed.

The Rock, 1996
Starring: Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage
Basically Die Hard in a prison, The Rock was a fantastic action movie that really allowed Bay to showcase his penchant for over-the-top ridiculousness. That car chase scene in San Fran was out of control. Bay actually coaxed good performances out of his lead roles in this movie, too - something that generally goes by the wayside in favor of super slow motion shots. It helps when you're working with some of the best - Ed Harris, Connery, and Cage before he was a joke.

Armageddon, 1998
Starring: Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler
I already covered this one in the Spotlight on JJ Abrams a couple months ago, but suffice it to say that this movie is pretty awesome. Here's a little-seen blooper reel from the Criterion Collection release of the film.

Pearl Harbor, 2001
Starring: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett

Bad Boys II, 2003
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence
Much better than the first film. Funnier, sleeker, and infused with the Bay-style that he had the chance to cultivate over the past few movies. That last scene where they drive the Hummer down the village hill is monstrously stupid, but you just can't take your eyes off it.

The Island, 2005
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Ewan McGregor
While most people don't really care for this one, I think it's Bay's finest work so far. It goes deeper than his typical action movie but still delivers all the high-action fireworks we've come to expect. Plus, ScarJo is at her absolute hottest here.

Transformers, 2007
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox
I really enjoyed this, despite not being a fan of the animated show when I was a kid. As I said in my review when it first came out - I've never seen as much debris in one movie before.

Those are just movies that he's directed. Bay has actually become a producer for some of his films and co-created Platinum Dunes, the horror-remake production company responsible for new versions of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, Friday The 13th, the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street, and the hey-this-actually-sounds-interesting Fiasco Heights. I'm going to attribute some of Bay's success to solid working relationships with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, two of my favorite writer/producers in the industry who coincidentally work with JJ Abrams on a regular basis.

That'll do it for Bay's spotlight. I'm not going to take this time to give thorough analyzation to anything that he's done (I'll leave that for other people, or maybe myself at a later date), but I wanted to kind of summarize some of his work and gather all of the funny Michael Bay-hater material out there into one place for you guys. Until next time...


Blogette said...

Can I just say that I absolutely love The Island?

I remember when it first came out on DVD, my mom rented it for the weekend, and I spent the whole weekend watching it again and again, trying to figure out why I loved it so much. I can even enjoy the signature Bay chase scene.

Boomer said...

I'm pumped

Ben Pearson said...

Just to amend my own words here: I'm actually a fan of Twitter now. The main misconception is that it is only used to tell people what you're doing every 40 seconds, and if you use it for more than a week you'll see that's not the case at all.