Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Love Letter to the Michael Bay(s) of Hollywood - Part 1

This ended up being longer than expected, so I split it into two parts. Part one today and part two tomorrow.

I wouldn't say that I've ever ranted outright about Michael Bay, whether it be on YouTube or any other medium for that matter. Granted, when he does happen to come up in one of my video ramblings, he and what he sells as his "art" is discussed in a distasteful tone, then quickly tossed to the side shortly after.

Let me be clear before I begin, I don't dislike Michael Bay as a person. We've never met, spoken, or communicated in any shape or form, so to say that I did dislike him as a person whether I like his films or not, would be irresponsibly and irrationally judgmental. Of course, there are those supposed "reports" from his crew or the actors he's worked with that he's an egotistical douchebag. Considering the sources, that's about as reliable as a National Enquirer headline, but I digress.

The main reason why I find Bay's films, and really his career up to this moment, so disappointing is because how frustrating they/it are. As movie fans, we've all seen bad movies. Some movies are bad just for the sake of being bad. The Coca-Cola and popcorn type flicks that rot our brain cells instead of our teeth, but are fun in their own right. Others can be bad because the personnel behind the camera may lack a necessary kind of film-making talent, but the audience can still feel the heart that was put into it. We wouldn't give that film an Oscar for effort but nor would we throw it in the trash, even just for the sake of respect. However, there's the third kind of bad. The bad that results from giving less of an honest shit in what is being created as time goes on. The Michael Bay (and others like him) bad. Believe me, there are others as guilty, but none come to mind as immediately when it comes to me feeling genuinely pissed off by the time the end credits start to scroll up the screen.

Anyone who knows me has probably already guessed that this venting session is going to lead up to and center around the Transformers films, and in fairness, that would be and is accurate. The abundance of potential wasted on those movies has me irritated even thinking about it, but for the sake of argument, I feel I need to back track to films before that particular movie saga began. That's really the most bothersome part. Things really didn't start that poorly.

The first Bay film I ever watched, that is still my favorite of his and what I consider to be his best work, is The Rock (1996). A perfect film? Nay, but it has a great cast with entertaining chemistry, and more importantly, plays to Bay's strengths and passions. I don't know this for an absolute fact, but M.B. seems to have a large calling with the military, and this helps cement my feeling of why The Rock works as well as it does. It's sleek, has fun military-inspired action with pleasing special effects to boot, good enough characters and story to make you want to care, and comedic one-liners that don't make your brain want to dry heave inside your skull. Again, not Oscar worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but in my opinion, it's a damn good time.

Another example of one that I like almost as much is Armageddon (1998). Natural disaster films are fun anyway, at least within reason. Hell, it's been a long time since I've last watched it, but I even remember Volcano (1997) being fun to watch. I'm sure I probably still would enjoy it, as long as my expectations still remain on the same level as "Awesome! Lava's is literally melting Los Angeles, but it's okay, we have Tommy Lee Jones on our side!" Again, I digress. Does Armageddon work as well as The Rock? No, however as with the latter, Armageddon has a great cast of characters that mesh well together and have another story to work with that make you cheer for them (or cry, c'mon, I know some of you still choke up when Bruce Willis fades away from the T.V. screen before he blows up the asteroid), it has suspenseful action and special effects that still hold up nicely in 2014, and comedic elements that serve as sincere relief instead of stupidity for the sake of stupidity.

As far as the few remaining in-between, such as, The Island (2005), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Bad Boys II (2003), they are not bad movies persay as long as you're strictly looking for something watchable to pass the time, but still not honestly memorable. Decent, albeit one-time watch efforts at best. (That's not true, I technically watched Pearl Harbor three times, but only because I feel asleep the first two tries.)

Up until this point, while his movies were more spectacle than substance, I didn't groan when "From Director Michael Bay" flashed across the screen during the previews.

Then, 2007 came....

To Be Concluded

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