Friday, 1 April 2011

The Directors: Michael Bay

Note: This post was an April Fool's prank in 2011. So no new readers would think I was completely insane, here are the corrected ratings for Michael Bay-films.

As action directors go, probably the most talented there ever has been is Michael Bay. He's a true auteur in Hollywood, allowed to make films that feel like his own handwork is in the every last image of the film.  And his films rank among the best in each of their respective genre. Unlike a lot of people seem to think, Bay's films are not just simply "explosion" porn. they contain a lot of really deep human characters and their heart-breaking relationships among really harsh times. It would be time to take a look at his brilliant filmography and to start eagerly await his latest, Transformers: The Dark of the Moon. I bet this summer delivers another satisfying trilogy closer to a great toy movie franchise, where characters can go out in style.

Bad Boys (1995)

Putting the "Bad" back to the "Boys in Blue", Bay stuck gold with his very first full-length film. Taking the buddy cop formula that had been getting tired with each successive Lethal Weapon sequel, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith shift a new gear in. The story involves a hilarious mixup, as Martin Lawrence's married cop has to pretend to be Will Smith, a swinging bachelor. He can't get any from his wife and to avoid her wanting a divorce, not from the hot witness he protects from the EuroTrash gangsters, either. Hilarious! Of course protecting a hottie such as TeĆ” Leoni is a full-time job and he needs Smith's help to spur one-liners and to shoot a lot of bullets. There's a suitable amount of car crashs and explosions, yet one can clearly see Bay is just learning to perfect his tools. This film's success allowed him to come up with a real banger!


The Rock (1996)

Ready to Rock? The Rock is probably the best movie ever made to be watched before going to a bar or a party. It gets those sweet, sweet adrenaline juices flowing. And now YOU'RE the Rocket Man (someone please help me). The film is about Colonel Ed Harris kidnapping the Alcatraz prison and all the tourists there and apparently blowing them up with bath soap? The world needs Nicolas Cage's Beatle-fan pencil-pusher and Sean Connery's escape artist ex-spy (now a bearded convict) to break in and stop him. Cue a lot of meaningless car chases and stuff blowing up just for the hell of it. Bay was still a modest Bruckheimer-boy, doing what the producer told him to. But he still delivered one of the most shamelessly quotable and explodable action films of the '90s. His later films were more like his own babies. I'll still have to take one point off for not allowing Nicolas Cage to swear. What in the name of Zeus's butthole indeed.


Armageddon (1998)

If a giant meteor truly were to hit the Earth and destory us all, I wouldn't trust no pencil-neck scientists or experts to get us out of that trouble. Bay agrees, and puts out a team of good ol' boys that aren't afraid to get their hands dirty to explode the space threat. Bay's first real masterpiece has all the bangs of a Roland Emmerich movie (and the famous landmarks destroyed. Top exploding the entire Paris, Roland!), but has a great ensemble cast of character actors having meaty roles. We have Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Isaacs and Michael Clarke Duncan, for starters. I just wish Steve Buscemi wouldn't almost ruin the whole thing with his overacting, but the sad finale saves a lot (like the entire Earth, for instance!). The payoff to the film's sweet and touching romance made me cry. How about you?


Pearl Harbor (2001)

Love is stronger than any war, is the message of Bay's next tear-jerker. And it really one-ups Titanic in the historical melodrama genre. Three hours simply aren't enough to absorb all the tragedy and the futility of a war that had to come between the love triangle of Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale. Wise old Bay shows us how surprising things such as WWII starting with an attack on US Army base can drive us apart. The action scenes are pretty good too, but the real meat of the film is in the strong romance. Bay does know how to create a strong, independent and intelligent female character we in the audience can all fall for. It's not just boy's enetertainment any more from this point on. The film was unfairly mocked in Team America, but then again, Parker and Stone were wrong about The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as well.


Bad Boys II (2003)

'Nuff said.

The Island (2005)

Fun and larger-than-life films and touching romances are one thing Michael Bay proved he's also a thought-provoking artist with this deep sci-fi thriller, that goes to questions about our own existence. Ewan McGregor lives in an odd society where everything is seemingly OK and everyone is promised a trip to a paradise island. But he finds out that an evil corporation is cloning pretty people and harvesting their organs. He himself is one of the clones. Now he and another, female, clone Scarlett Johansson must go on the run. The Island is light on the explosions, but heavy in the mind as we come to ponder what really makes a human? Bay agrees that it's the emotions, evident with the fact that the two clones start to fall for each other. But evil society won't allow it, in a classic romance way. Today it's a cow, tomorrow it's you.


Transformers (2007)

OO! Shiny new toys! Bay takes the Hasbro format of giant robot and has a playtime that's so amusing to watch, two and a half hours just seem to fly by. One of his greatest ideas was to strip the robots from their boring characteristics and focus the film on all too real life scenarios. I mean, which teenager hasn't tried to get laid by getting his dad to buy him a car? Poor ones, I can tell you that. But with Megan Fox, one has a plausible MacGuffin to strive for. Nevermind the weird cube thingy, exept that's pretty cool, too. Evil robots want to get their hands on that cube to rule the universe so Shia LaBeouf must organize a group of good robots capable of turning into cars (the bad ones turn into scorpions and such) to fight the evil and to keep the cube safe. It's a miracle of a summer-film, with so many deep backstories and mythologies, and at the same time hilarious humour such as a robot pissing on John Turturro. The only reason this only gets four stars is because the second one managed to top even this!


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Loving the latest Transformers film might get a big backlash in the internet. Sure, the film's story is a little hard to follow, there are a lot of characters to keep track of and the mythology of the films gets a lot deeper from the previous film. But that's what repeat viewings are for, right? Once again, Bay wisely leaves out all sorts of drama with the robots and instead focuses on more realistic action scenes. The continuous scenes with soldiers in a Navy carrier sending jets to do the fighting giddy up the viewer's excitement for some serious explosion scenes. Bay also perfectly replicates the chaotic feeling of a real war battle. Where is the enemy and what should I do is constantly in the viewer's mind at all times during the battle scenes. But it's not just an action film. Bay also peppers his masterpiece with hilarious college humor scenes. I hurt my stomach laughing so much of Sam's mom eating hash brownies, or the running jokes about things humping people's legs (first a dog and later a robot! Brilliant foreshadowing). And John Turturro's ass for no reason! It's the best action blockbuster of recent years. Just ask Armond White.


So, Michael Bay scores the astonishing 4,5. Wow, I might have gotten a bit carried away, but one can't deny that every last film the director has made hadn't been excellent in their own genre.

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