Micheal Bay: A Reflection of America
Act I: The Exposition
Before I start let me read you some quotes about the person I am focusing on here;
"The crassest hack in the business," Rolling Stone's Peter Travers
"Is Michael Bay the Devil?" Entertainment Weekly
Now why would people say such things about a film Director/Producer? I'll get to that in a few. First let me get my theme out here.
I am not going to get into this guys personal life. I don't care what charities he's involved in or how many hungry people he feeds. I am here to talk about his movies and the relationship between popular film and our society.
Let The Good Times Roll
Ah the good old days. I remember watching movies in the 80's (yes I am a 80's baby) everything was 'epic' all the dialogue was 'smooth' and even the nerds were 'cool'. The 80's had Rambo, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Blood Sport, RoboCop, Aliens. This is the type of stuff that had me feeling like it was Christmas when I heard we were going to the movies. Then the 90's hit.
The 90's brought action up a level or two. You could probably say that this was the era when action films started getting a little smarter. If you look at a movie like Lethal Weapon you say, "okay, crazy ass, fearless young cop and his odd couple too old for this shit partner team up to take down evil drug dealers. Hey that's all we needed back then. When the 90's hit everyone turned into freaking bored, geniuses We all had a 'seen this before' attitude and wise cracks and drug dealers was no longer enough. Now look at a film like T2: Judgement Day. The quotes, "hasta la vista, baby". The special effects (T100 morphing). The story, the same robot that came to kill Sarah Conner in the first movie has been sent back in time by her own son to save his own life. Huh? Yeah that was the next level. So we will start from there.
I'm a movie guy, but if I had to pick one genre that is my favorite it would be 'Action'. I don't care if it's in space, the wild west, in a computer simulated world or ancient Japan, If the action is good and the plot makes sense I am in. Notice what I just said there; the action has to be good and the plot has to make sense. Let me explain what I mean here.
What is 'good action'? Good action to me is something I haven't seen before, or if I have do it in a different way. If movies usually have a guy firing one hand gun at a time, gimme a guy who fires two! Forget hand guns, have a guy running around with a shot gun! Oh that's been done before? Hmm. How bout we make the guy slow down time with his mind just long enough to lean his body back and dodge bullets in mid air?
The Matrix. Oh yes, The Matrix. This movie hit us right on the cusp of 2000. The year was 1999 and people got that party Prince was talking about in that song (Party Like It's 1999). The action was different, the special effects were incredible, and the plot made sense (some may disagree, but either way it made you think). This is what we came to expect in the 90's, but all good things must come to an end right?
Bad Boys - EPIC SCENE
Act II: Rising Action
Now back to Bay.
Remember I said I was an Action movie junkie right? Well Michael Bay makes a lot of Action movies. So lets just say I have seen enough of his films, enough times to have a concise opinion about him as a Director/Producer.
You see that picture to the right? Bad Boys to this day is still one of my favorite Action films of all time. It was believable. Who would of thought two funny sitcom stars could turn into Action/Comedy/Buddy Cop gold. These guys made me believe they were two bickering best friends who were the coolest cops since Miami Vice's Crockett and Tubbs.
The action was something I hadn't seen before. It was like a music video. Music playing, slow motion running and shooting. The scene where Will Smith saves Martin from the cab has got to be one of the most epic scenes I have ever witnessed in any film. You get chills watching it. Don't believe me? Look over there to your right and press play, then come back. Please excuse the water mark, this is the best video of the scene that I could find online. You won't even realize the mark was there by the time you finish watching the scene. CLASSIC.
You finished? Okay lets continue.
Would you believe this movie was directed by none other than Michael Bay. Yes the same guy I am bashing in this article. This is part of the reason why I am upset with this man. How can you do this so right and then start doing things oh so wrong?
Lets look at some films he directed after the success of Bad Boys.
The Rock (I liked)
Armageddon (I liked, the Bruce Willis 'daughter scene' almost makes me cry)
Ahem now it gets ugly.
Bad Boys II
Transformers (I liked)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Pain and Gain
Please excuse my acronym language but, WTF happened? I think I have an idea.
Now mind you I do not know if any of my theories are right or wrong, but I can say that they are logical. I see a guy who made some really classic Action movies get stupid rich and start losing his way. It's kind of like a music artist who has 3 great albums, then they can never come up with a good song again. Is it because they're rich and could care less? I mean Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen made a lot of money. Maybe Bay doesn't care what you think. Maybe he no longer cares what he thinks. Maybe the money is all that matters.
Let's stay with the music analogy for a sec. Lets say the artist just has nothing left. They went back to the well too many times and can no longer come up with anything original anymore. What happens in this situation? The artist usually tends to nervously go back and just copy things that worked in the past.
Or maybe it's laziness. Maybe Bay just has so much money and success that he goes to work with a 'who cares' attitude. Who cares about the audience. All they want is explosions and mindless violence anyway.....heyyyyyyyy.
Act III: The Climax
Who cares what the audience wants? We tell them what they want.
This is sadly the mantra in Hollywood these days. This is sadly the mantra in America these days. Let this sit in your brain for a few and bounce around like the bullets that miss the hero in Action films;
Micheal Bay is hated on because his movies have senseless violence, unnecessary explosions, cardboard acting, and action scenes that go on way longer than they should. But people keep paying to see them, why? Its simple, Americans like senseless violence and explosions, as long as you can package it correctly. For example, put the name of a popular well known 80's cartoon in the title. Make a sequel or remake to a movie that was actually good. Just package it correctly. Once you get them in there just make sure you have a lot of special effects, crude humor, sexy women, and mindless violence.
Have you noticed how all of his movies seem like commercials for the US ARMY? I mean he works with the military on all of these films, you have to see the connection there. The United States government is not going to willingly lend him vehicles and personnel if they weren't getting something out of it. Something besides money. They want you to see these movies, become emotionally immune to violence and point you in a direction to which you can blow off all of your newly attained aggression brought on by these films.
We have all heard it before. Do violent films make violent people? Well just ask yourself this question, Does anyone put a hand gun or two hand guns or a shotgun to your head and make you watch this stuff?