Blu-ray/DVD Reviews

Film Pet Peeves: Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich

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If there are two filmmakers currently in Hollywood that I cannot stand, it is the work of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich. How these two were able to make more than one movie in Hollywood is beyond me.

 

Michael Bay is known for his many box office smash hits, including “Armageddon,” “The Rock,” the “Bad Boyz” movies and the Transformers film series. While Roland Emmerich is the guy that brought us “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Godzilla” and “White House Down.”

 

The reason I group them together is because they’re quite similar in their approach to making movies: Appealing to the lowest common denominator. They get success because they make their films flashy and filled to the brim with eye candy. Story, characters and logic take a back seat in their films, instead focusing on explosions and action sequences.

 

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I feel it is because of this line of logic that has led to the deterioration of the summer blockbuster. Studio executives are looking at how successful the Transformers films are doing at the box office and believe that this style of filmmaking works, and thus use it for many other movies. This is what created films like “Battleship” which looks and feels like a Michael Bay film without Bay’s influence.

 

Here’s the thing about eye candy in cinema: Even though film is a visual medium and relies heavily on its images, that should not be the only thing to admire. If there is no substance to what I’m looking at, then it is the filmic equivalent of junk food. It might taste good while you’re feasting on it, but once you’re done you feel empty. You eat too much of it and you feel sick to your stomach and ultimately regret your decision and end up taking patriot power greens in order to feel better.

 

Bay and Emmerich’s films mostly exist just to get to the action sequences. I give Emmerich a little more respect, because at least his action sequences can be comprehended. Bay, on the other hand, usually has the camera moving so rapidly and edits his shots so much that it is sometimes impossible to tell what is going on.

 

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This is especially worse in the Transformers films, when many of the giant fighting robots are all the same color, gray or slightly darker gray. The only Transformers that can be identified in an action sequence is Optimus Prime, whose primary colors are red and blue, and Bumblebee, who is yellow.

 

If you can’t tell which giant robot is which, then your movie sucks. If you don’t even bother to give half of your robots names and personalities, you fail as a filmmaker.

 

Not to mention, most of the “comedy” in Michael Bay’s films are questionable at best. Most of it just makes me tilt my head, wondering why anyone would laugh at Shia LaBeouf’s mom accidentally eating a pot brownie and getting high. Or showing us John Turturro’s butt. Or worst of all, useless sidekick robots that only serve to dish out the most racist personalities since Jar Jar Binks.

 

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The fact that Michael Bay’s movies make so much money is not so much infuriating as it is fascinating, in an ironic way. I get little to no enjoyment out of his film, but I can understand why others would enjoy them. What I can’t fully understand is the truckloads of money they continue to rack in, all because they appeal to the lowest common denominator.

 

Instead of making a compelling story, or giving us relatable characters with a struggle that is all too real to many people or just giving us an interesting world can be both terrifying and awe-inspiring, Michael Bay is all about the eye candy in an attempt to make some money. And it works.

 

This is almost like anti-filmmaking. Where instead of the creators doing it for the passion and love of cinema, Bay is handling it like a business, only interesting in the money.

 

While the reason Hollywood continues to make movies for all the dough they create, the existence of well-made movies and quality products shows that not everyone is in it for money. Some just want to make a film that others will remember after they leave the theater. They don’t just want their money, but their hearts and mind as well.

 

Not Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich though.

2 replies »

  1. Really? While I value some of your opinion regarding how Michael Bay and Ronald Emmerich make money off eye candy films and Bay’s lack of knowledge on Comedy, you have a lot to learn about the film industry. The fact of that “eye candy” is what draws many MANY people into the theaters because why, it’s eye candy and people love it. Michael Bay has made arguably some of the most successful actions films to date (Armageddon, Transformers, Bad Boys 2, and so forth) with some underdogs like “The Island” (great film by the way, out of the norm for Bay) and “The Rock.” Look at the gross of these films, Millions and millions of dollars and while Bay’s film may lack substance he does make up for it in style. I’m sorry but I know i’m not the only one who balled at Armageddon when Affleck and Willis make peace, while Willis sacrifices himself. Bay knows how to do emotion and get you pumped for whatever action sequence comes next. As for Emmerich his films are (also) some of the highest grossing films of their release year, why, because of how intense and spectacular his sequences are. Walls of water or fire, buildings crumbling, explosions and so forth, they look amazing and while I tend to lean on Emmerich’s films more for substance than Bay’s I still look forwards to the next great action sequence. He not only conveys action together quite well for most of his films (have you seen “The Patriot?!”) but he also has a human side to every one of his films. There is always some sort of family storyline in every film of his and he has the emotion of such storyline down quite well (although I will say that “white House Down” was a poor entry on his resume). Sorry bud, but your post seems biased towards the mainstream opinion of these two directors. They have talent, and you sir just need to relax on the bashing of these modern Hollywood giants.

    • I see where you’re coming from, but I respectfully disagree. I understand that people love to see eye candy and that is why Bay and Emmerich’s films gross so much, but to me, that is very lame reason for a movie to make money. Film is, among other things, another form of storytelling so story/characters and substance should always take precedence over effects and style, unless the film is trying to be different like “Gravity” or “The Wind Rises” but I don’t think any film by Bay or Emmerich has tried to be “different”. Their films are high on adrenaline and extremely low on intelligence. There is certainly a time and place for that, but it always gets old fast and never has any staying power. Give me a film with meaning, suspense, relatable/interesting characters and rewatchability over any one of Bay or Emmerich’s films any day. There films may have made lots of money at the box office, but I don’t really care about that. That doesn’t tell if the movie is any good, just that a lot of people went to see it. And if “Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen” is any indication, an incredibly terrible movie can still make lots of money.

      The whole point of my post was to say that I can’t say I like any Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich film. Their films might make lots of money but that doesn’t mean anything to me. Their films still lack characters that I can care about and stories that flow naturally and can carry the film. Like I said, they appeal to the lowest common denominator, which I feel is distasteful. Instead of making the type of film they would want to see, they make the film that’ll make the most money. It is treating film like a business instead of an art form. Their films come across like they have no passion for filmmaking and are just in it for the money. That’s why I don’t like them.

      And yes, this is a biased perspective. But there is nothing that can be done about that. It is impossible to do something like this and not be biased. Any time I give my opinion on anything, it will be biased. My opinion is my bias. But that doesn’t stop me from believing it, even if it is contradictory to the majority. I don’t believe Bay and Emmerich are bad filmmakers just to be contradictory. I believe they’re bad filmmakers because that is how I legitimately feel, and my post was my explanation as to why I hate their work. I never shape my opinion based on the views of others. If what I say is in line with what others feel or is the complete opposite, it is only a coincidence.

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