"I'll just get my gear."

recommended reading: GQ oral history of Michael Bay

tn_transformers3A friend of mine recommended this piece from GQ where friends, relatives and subjects of Michael Bay are quoted talking about him. As my buddy pointed out it’s kind of horrifying and also fascinating, just like Bay’s movies. It’s not a thorough career overview, because it completely skips BAD BOYS 2 (which is his FEMME FATALE or ON DEADLY GROUND, isn’t it?). I think it’s meant as a goofy but ultimately loving profile, but to me it makes him just seem like an asshole who gets away with yelling at people because of his job. There’s also an anecdote (one I’d heard before, but maybe it’s new to you) that implies that he was destined to make bad movies since he was a teenager.

Just so you know, I did succumb to my dark side and went to see the new Bay/Hasbro joint last night. It will take me a little bit to formulate all my thoughts though, so if you want to discuss the movie please use the comments here and not the other non-Transformers review that I hope to post shortly.

I will say this, the new one is the least racist of the trilogy, so congratulations on that. It’s not as insane as part 2 but it’s pretty similar and has some new areas of weirdness so I got what I was looking for and I think Mr. Majestyk will probly get a kick out of it. There is no fucking way this qualifies as a genuinely good movie though, so if that’s what you’re hoping for don’t believe the hype. (Yeah, boy-ee.)

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256 Responses to “recommended reading: GQ oral history of Michael Bay”

  1. What other critic gives you that kind of personal attention? This is the small liberal arts college of movie sights.

  2. Well, I’m jealous.

  3. I want to see TRANSFORMERS 3 in theaters so I can experince the 3D, but I don’t want to support the film in anyway finacialy. However, I have a plan. I have a pair of 3D glass I took home from the theater one time, so I am going to go buy a ticket for a film I support then sneak into TRANSFORMERS 3.

  4. Vern how is the action in the last hour? did he finally give coherent robot action? I went the first time to see the original and didn’t get that so I was disappointed. Didn’t bother with number 2. But some endorsements from people I trust with movies have convinced me to maybe give this a shot if the 3D camera finally forced the fucking guy to pan back and shoot wide crisp action scenes.

  5. God bless you for that line, Majestyk.

  6. Charles — My plan as well. Want to collaborate and falsely boost the totals for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS or something? What’s the most deserving movie in a cinemaplex which will also have T3 this week?

  7. Here in NYC that would be TREE OF LIFE at least at AMC theaters. Don’t know how many other multiplexes are playing it across the country though. Too bad I didn’t keep my 3D glasses from THOR since those things are so easy to keep and bring back.

  8. Mr. Subtlety, if it is playing at the theater I go to that works for me. TREE OF LIFE would be good as well.

  9. I have to say that if anyone watched the trainwreck of a show On The Lot Bay as a guest judge actually gave very good if ironic advice to the young would-be filmmakers. I was sort of impressed. Looking forward to your review Vern. Wish I could remember what impressed me about Bay on the show but I can’t at the moment. I implore none of you.gents to do research because the show was pretty unwatchable.

  10. Mr. Subtlety, if it was playing at the theater I go to that would work for me. TREE OF LIFE would be good as well, but I looked it up and neither of those are playing there so BAD TEACHER may get my money. Which is actually fair since I got to see the free AICN screening of it last week.

  11. Sorry, about the double post. I am having technical issues.

  12. I thought this line pretty much sums up the GQ articale and my perception of Bay.

    Bay: I don’t change my style for anybody. Pussies do that.

  13. No one’s giving me the proper credit for the anti-Bay plan I hatched in the Potpourri 3D thread several days ago, but, regardless, I’m glad to see other freedom fighters supporting Woody Allen & Terrence Malick’s Art House Army against the diabolical Darth Bayosaurus Rex & The Big Studio Menace.

  14. caruso_stalker217

    June 29th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I’ll probably Redbox the shit, like the last crappy movie. And regret it.

  15. The weird thing about that entire article is if you’ve never seen a Bay movie, it would have you believe he’s this mad genius; an uncompromising socially awkward prodigy like Bobby Fischer or Rain Man or something, but at the end of the day, I don’t understand why screaming and yelling and being a tyrant is even necessary to make these fair-to-middling movies. I mean, Con Air looks and feels just like a Bay movie, but there aren’t horror stories about Simon West screaming and being a a shithead to people.

    Like it’s kind of universally known James Cameron is an asshole on set, but his movies actually seem like they’re hard to make. The Abyss and Titanic must have been a nightmare to shoot, I can believe an uncompromising asshole would HAVE to be at the helm. Same with Ridley Scott and Black Hawk Down. Everytime I watch that movie, i wonder “How the hell did they make this?” Yet I’ve never once asked myself that during a Michael Bay movie. Maybe it’s his reliance on CGI and his insistence on everyone being super-model worthy and Maxim-posing that gives a weightless, inconsequential feel to everything, I dunno.

  16. I’ve always enjoyed talking to Bay as a journalist. He’s good copy, because he just says amazingly un-PC things. At least he’s true to himself. I think I’ve said before, everything he says and makes speaks for itself and makes a more striking commentary on the national audience than any critical analysis.

    Looking forward to sitting down and reading this when I have time.

  17. neal2zod, I think you are judging Bay on his flaws without acknowledging that the making his films are massive undertakings with thousands of little parts all having to work in unison with ridiculous amounts of money at stake. Anytime you have that much responsibility you have to be the heavy. Having been a retail manger of a staff of over 100 people during the holiday season, I often found myself in the position where I had to be the bad guy when dealing with my staff because if you don’t hold the line who will?

  18. I’m en route to the fucking IMAX to see TRANSFORMERS fucking 3D BARK AT THE fucking MOON the fucking IMAX EXPERIENCE.

    As for my principles, as for my soul, I feel like how Daniel Plainview felt as a father.


  19. I have to confess, I’m debating whether to see this tomorrow or not

    as I’ve mentioned before I’m going on a week long vacation Friday, so it’s either tomorrow or never

    I’m just kind of in the mood for an experience, whether it’s unpleasant or not I don’t know, but I’m sure it’ll be an experience

    or basically, I’m really curious, I felt a similar curiosity with the original Transformers, I wasn’t curious at all about the second one

    well what will probably be the deciding factor is I’m playing a video game currently that I would like to finish before I go on the trip, we’ll see how far I get in it tonight


  21. What game are you playing?

  22. hey! I’m surprised someone wants to know

    I’m replaying Hitman: Blood Money for the first time in a little over 5 years in anticipation for Hitman: Absolution coming out next year

    it’s funny because the game has elements of satire of American culture and I’m playing it not only right before 4th of July, but also on the day of Michael Bays new movie (and what’s more American than Bay?)

    I didn’t plan that

  23. Mouth, I am sure IMAX is the best way to experience TRANS3, and I will not judge you for giving your money to Bay.

    Griff, I can’t imagine TRANS3 is worth watching without the spectacle of 3D. If you are at all curios I would try and see it in the theater.

  24. Charles, I hear ya, but I feel (without really knowing you) that you probably did a better job managing that staff than Bay did directing his movies! To be clear, I don’t dislike most of his movies. Pearl Harbor, while not good, is underrated, and I’m actually in the minority of defending Bad Boys II. There’s good things in The Island and Armageddon. The only one I would actually say is a straight-up TERRIBLE movie is TF2, which seems to be the one he openly disses. I just think he’s mediocre, like Ratner, but at least Ratner doesn’t pad all his movies out by 30 minutes.

    I guess what bothers me is it seems Bay wants it both ways – he acts like making his movies are life and death, so it gives him a pass to be a dick, but then when he gets critically panned, he pulls a modified “It’s not Shakespeare!” defense, like it was all fun and games, he’s just making people happy, why are people so mean to him, etc…

  25. “Michael Clarke Duncan (actor, Armageddon): He’s like one of those Chihuahuas that’s always barking.”

    Like that, sums him up.

  26. Knox Harrington

    June 29th, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I’d fucking hate to be a crew member on a Bay movie. It’s horrible working with an asshole director. I’ve had my fair share of them, and the experience kind of makes you hate the filmmaking process. So sad, because it really can be a beautiful thing.

    Wouldn’t be surprized if one of these days we heard that a crew member stabbed him or something.

  27. Charles: I want to see TRANSFORMERS 3 in theatres so I can experience the 3D, but I don’t want to support the film in anyway financially.

    To quote Morgan Freeman’s final line in Se7en, I agree with the second part.

    I don’t have a plan to see this. I haven’t seen Transformers 1 or 2….and have no intention of seeing 3. He pains me. His existence…..his films existence. I wish I could not be so self-righteous about it…..hopefully I’m actually not. My friends want to see it, and they will, and they’ve invited me. I like to keep my finger on the pulse, the zeitgeist, whatever it is. But this is one road I’m not going down. And you know what? It feels just fine. Don’t feel like I’ve missed a f*cking thing. Like, literally….not one OUNCE of curiosity. I highly recommend it.

    I can’t give that f*cker any money. If we keep paying him, he’ll keep bringing it. I think Michael Bay might actually be the cultural equivalent of anti-matter. I’m still in disbelief that Spielberg goes anywhere near the f*cker with a 10 foot pole.

    Sorry. Rant over.

  28. Having said that, I can’t wait for your review Vern.

  29. Funny, I saw the word “junkie” used in that article, but nowhere did I see the word “cocaine…”

  30. I’m definitely paying for this. It takes a lot of money to get that kind of Baytardedness up there on the silver screen where you can almost look at it. This winning streak can’t last forever. Sooner or later he’s going to have two big bombs in a row, and then that’ll be the beginning of the end. It’s going to be sad when Michael Bay is no longer bulletproof and he enters his Renny Harlin phase. He’ll try to bring his razzle-dazzle to some action-horror flick starring Kiefer Sutherland or one of the guys from LOST, and yeah, maybe he’ll get to flip a car or throw a camera through a window or something, but it won’t be the same. The guy he knew at the Pentagon will have moved on and the new guy doesn’t even know who he is, so he’ll have to get decommissioned military hardware from a rental company, not the new hotness that hasn’t even been put on active duty yet. And oddly the reviews (all online now, no big headlines) are kinder, even somewhat sympathetic. Because nobody likes to see a lion in winter. Even the lion that tore cinema’s guts out and left it for the hyenas.

  31. “We will kill them all.”  

      – Optimus Prime, with a shotgun

    TRANSFORM3dRS is a bad movie, but I liked more parts than I disliked.  My vitriolic inner-critic has learned to forgive, to become a dumb spectator, and the new Michael Bay movie is worthy of my forgiveness, and not undeserving of my money.  

    You have my blessing to enjoy this, this Baytardedness, and to enjoy it unreservedly, and to proclaim your happiness at its successes. This will not be the summer of outrage in my soul. Tis the season for Mr. Majestyk to be jolly.

  32. Mr. Majestyk, I don’t quite know how you did it, but you somehow managed to inject Mr. Bayhem with an element of something I fear his movies have or will never know…..pathos. The ‘lion in winter’ was what almost moistened my eyeballs. I tip my hat. Maybe we should appreciate the unprecedented bastard while he’s here. But what worries me about his survival (I’m cherry-picking here) is, heaven forbid, what exactly would a school of upcoming ‘film-makers’ raised on a diet of Bay Almighty actually look like? Don’t answer that.

    Enjoy the pathos.

  33. I’ve actually been on two sets Michael Bay was directing (The Island and Transformers) and he does shout at the crew, “Come on, pick it up” and rah rah stuff. But I totally got the sense that he’s goofing. I mean, he really wants things moving, and the crew listens, and I know he’s putting on a smile for the visiting press, but it didn’t seem like total dictatorship.

    Honestly the problem with Armageddon, Bad Boys II and Transformers 2 and 3 are all script problems (Well, and Destroyer fucking the pyramid in TF 2, that was Bay.) If he works with a good screenwriter, he might have something here (although both Hensleigh and Orci/Kurtzman fucked up their second Bay films.)

    Oh, and don’t feel bad about the money. You’re paying for talented artists to pay the rent while they save up to make some indie project that really showcases their talents.

  34. ARMAGEDDON had more than just a script problem.

    And who the fuck films a serious scene of President Franklin Roosevelt independently rising from his chair in 1941-42? A sad, sick, strange, stupid little man, that’s who.

  35. That was actually a really fascinating article. Love those stories about The Rock and Bad Boys and I’ve never seen Bruckheimer so revealing. This is the kind of story that makes me fascinated by Hollywood. Just it all seems to make sense, but it doesn’t add up.

  36. I’ll decide for sure when I get up in the morning, but right now I’m thinking I’m probably not gonna see it due to the length and the fact that I really want to finish my game

    but what do you guys think? worth seeing? keep in mind I did not like the first

  37. I’ll be seeing TRANSFORM3RS (heyoh!) in a few hours. In 3D. Totally stoked.

    Of course I’m a fan of Bay’s over the top ridiculousness, and I’ve got free corporate comp tickets, so I think I’m a bit biased on the scale of will this provide my money’s worth.

  38. It’s not very nice to announce your review of TF3 without telling us when it will be released. Now I have to revisit hourly. I don’t care about the movie, I’ve seen only part 1 (fast forwarded through part 2 and even that was boring), but you’re reviews of the Transformers movies justify the their existence.

  39. Master directors show us the world through different eyes. Kubrick could do it. Kurosawa. Very few others. Why does no one ever mention that the insulting, jingoistic and abusive imagery in Bay’s films is *beautiful*?

    It was all there in THE ROCK and ARMAGEDDON, but not until TFMRS 2 did I see that “helicopter” is an *emotion*, and only one director shows us how to experience it.

    Plus he made Meatloaf’s “I would do anything for love” video, which is phenomenal.

    As Ash says in ALIEN, “I admire its purity.”

  40. Well, DocZ, if you think “helo” = emotion, you might wanna pop a couple valiums before seeing TRANS3 ’cause it features several V-22 Osprey hybrid type aircraft. I worry you might be emotionally overwhelmed.

  41. Jareth Cutestory

    June 30th, 2011 at 7:07 am

    After sitting through the first TRANSFORMERS movie, a buddy of mine told me: “This is what a film made by Ellis would look like.”

  42. Griff, I liked it a lot but if you don’t like the first one I can’t really recommend it. It is more of the same. Though it does have the best action of the series. The extended climax alone was worth the price of admission. If only they would release an exposition-less version to theaters I’d go see it again. Unfortunately, since the Weinsteins weren’t involved in the production that doesn’t seem likely.

    DocZ, yeah, I love that helicopter emotion shot. It is beautiful. Without quotes. He has something similar in the new one. Though this time I think the emotion was fighter jets. Maybe Rosie Huntington-Whiteley doesn’t have Megan Fox’s range.

  43. Wilhelmet: But maybe it’s the next generation’s duty to take the trash of the past and make something good out of it. Look at Spielberg and 50s sci-fi, Lucas and adventure serials, or Tarantino and 70s exploitation flicks. Maybe someday someone will take what he learned from Michael Bay and make a giant killer robot explodorama with soul.

  44. Majestyk, I am actually interested to see what type of films Bay makes when he enters his Renny Harlin 12 ROUNDS phase. I am curious to see if he would continue to try and do watered down cheaper “Bay” style films, or if it would force him to grow as a film maker and do things differently. I already posted Bay’s quote “I don’t change my style for anybody. Pussies do that.” However, I doubt he has ever really been in a position where he has had to compromise. After a few flops in a row we will see if he is a pussy or not.

  45. Majestyk, In the future robots will make a giant killer human explodorama with soul.

  46. “These humans…they unstoppable! They possess feelings and a sense of humor! We have no defense for their tears and sarcasm!”

  47. I don’t understand the mentality behind buying ticket for one movie and seeing another. This isn’t a life or death situation, nor is it an important fundamental issue where you need to take it that far. People need to start understanding that film as a medium is meant for entertainment. It can be an expression of art and soul also, but in the end it is still entertainment. It is that way simply because commerce is involved. This isn’t a single person sitting at home with a canvas pouring out their heart and soul, this is something that is collaborated by many, funded by a studio with the intention of a return of that investment with profit. Back to point. If you want to see a movie, pay for that movie. If you don’t want to support it, don’t pay for it and don’t see it. It’s a film, not a life decision. Take it easy. Besides, if you had purchase the ticket for another film in 2D and see Transformers in 3D, you’re technically stealing since the ticket for 3D is more expensive. Is it worth compromising your principles for a movie you probably wouldn’t like anyway? I put that question to you, half-jokingly.

    Since I’m here, as far as Bay is concerned, I think he’s immensely talented. I think the reason he isn’t popular with the “geeks” community as we know it comes down to sensibility. I happen to adore his sensibility of wham-bam thank you ma’am when it comes to movies. I like that he keeps things light considering the subject matter that he’s tackling. When it does get a little dark, it is more intense and “cool” than it is emotionally heavy. I hate superhero films where they take themselves too seriously without the subject matter or the pathos to back it up. I especially hate it when a director gets melodramatic. By far the superhero movie I disliked the most is Superman Returns. That film had very little going for it in terms of themes and pathos, but it just took itself so seriously, and it moved at a snail’s pace. It adds nothing that we didn’t know, and it doesn’t even pay off with anything cathartic by ways of either a great action scene or a satisfying conclusion. Bay understands his audience, and plays toward his audience. Do I think he has what it takes to make a serious film? perhaps, but not bloody likely. Can he entertain me? hells yes.

    Anyway, thanks for reading. This is a good community, and Vern is a funny guy. I don’t always agree with him, especially when Michael Bay is involved, but goddamn he’s an entertaining writer.

  48. Actually the more I think about it maybe we don’t like the Transformer films because they are not made for us their target audience is robots and machines. I think TRANS 2 is a boring mess, but my Chyrsler Seabring thinks they are masterpieces.

  49. I have grown to love ARMAGEDDON over the years. The first time I saw it, I thought it was like being ass-raped by a boombox on full volume that was wrapped in the American flag.

    I still think that, but it’s different now. I can dig the bombast and the cornball stuff. It’s kinda so OTT it comes out the other end with a strange kind of dignity.

    THE ROCK is pretty damn good, too and BAD BOYS 2 is on another level to anything else Bay (and maybe anyone else) has made: it’s all kinds of fucked up and nasty with a really mean spirit but fuck, I love that. I should hate it, but I don’t.

    The TRANSFORMERS films, though – there’s just something off with them. The first was kinda OK but the 2nd one is now legendarily misguided in every way. I can’t see it being seen as any kind of “camp classic” in the years to come, either. Unless racism makes a comeback.

    I can’t face pt 3 at the moment but one day I may check it out.

  50. Karlos, Transformers 3 is relentless when it comes to its action scenes. I’m a huge Michael Bay fan, even I got a bit exhausted by the end. It’s just one after another, an assault on your senses. I think it would have been less so if there weren’t so much screaming. But I’ve seen it twice now, once in 3D and once it 2D, and I love it unabashedly, without a hint of irony. Would I recommend it to everyone? yes. But do I think everyone I recommend it to will like it? nope.

    As for Armageddon, it is my favorite movie of all time. Without a shadow of a doubt. I love the idea of average joes saving the world. More so, I love the fact that the people that are trying to save the world actually has a desire to live, and keeps their attitudes positive even in the worst environment imaginable. It’s uplifting. Bay never forgets levity in the film, even in the moments when certain death is staring his characters in the face.

  51. tempurasan, I don’t hate Bay. I just don’t like many of his films. I love THE ROCK, and I don’t find ARMAGEDDON as bad or intellectually retarded as most people do. However, I hate the BAD BOYS films, PEARL HARBOR, and TRANSFORMERS 2 is one of the worst big budget films I have ever seen. Bay has a complete disregard for the cinematic language and seems more occupied with creating visually stunning individual shots then concerning himself with the quality or comprehensibility of the overall film he is working on. His films tend to be long and over indulgent. I think there is a decent film somewhere in the muddled mess that is the first TRANSFORMER film, but you would have to trim about 40 minutes off the film to find it. If I spend money on TRANSFORMERS 3 I am endorsing the studio that bank roles Bay’s work, so I vote with my money and choose to spend it elsewhere. I personally feel like if I do not like the product it can’t just sit there and complain about it while I support it with my hard earned dollars. It only perpetuates a creatively bankrupt system. However, if I do sneak into TRANSFORMERS 3 and enjoy the film I will pay to go see the film with my nephews. Also, I hate SUPERMAN RETURNS as well. It is a better made film then TRANS 2 but it is not anymore entertaining.

  52. Jareth Cutestory

    June 30th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    tempurasan: Your second paragraph could also describe DIE HARD, except the “saving the world” part.

  53. I was only joking about Bay making movies for robots and machines, but unfortunately I may have been onto something. 2008 kia pro-cee-d just posted on the DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY.


    I can’t wait to hear 2003 Toyota Carola’s thoughts on the homosexual subtext in POINT BREAK.

  54. Back from seeing TRANSFORMERS 3.

    I liked it. With reservations. Some action scenes look gorgeous, there is less shitty racist humor (there is still plenty of run-of-the-mill crappy humor), the actors are fine (the Rose girl is perfectly fine Megan Fox replacement), and it didn’t feel like I was insulted by the movie’s plot. No, it’s not an exceptionally good story. Just a very simple and serviceable bare bones summer movie plot.

    So, shit blows up real good and looks really nice in 3D.

    But I think the series has hit a severe case of franchise fatigue. What I loved about FAST FIVE – and a series like MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (by no means a perfect film series either) – is that it changed the game considerably compared to the other entries. Yes, the same characters were there, but it put a different spin on the whole thing. And that felt fresh and exciting.

    TRANSFORMERS 3 has possibly the best action of the three and has excised the worst parts of franchise, but it still feels like just more and more and more of the same. It’s big, it’s loud – even bigger and louder than its predecessors – but it’s still the same type of film with same type of action. It didn’t bring anything remarkably new to the table. It’s still the same cake, just bigger and more elaborately dressed.

    3D was good, possibly the best yet. There are some great sweeping shots here and there, and it has forced Bay to tone down his staccato editing making the film flow much more fluidly.

    But at its core, it’s a flawed technology. Fast movements make the picture strobe and lose the effect, the glasses make the picture darker and are always a constant reminder by being generally clunky and chafing your nose. Also, if you’re not watching at some mega cinema (IMAX 3D?), things on screen look kind of noticeably tiny, and are constantly colliding to the borders breaking the illusion.

    Fundamentally, beyond the restrained hey-this-shot-has-nice-depth-in-it-that’s-nice appreciation, it doesn’t really bring anything to game changing to the cinematic language. I feel the cons ultimately outweigh the pros.

    But overall, I can confidently say liked the movie, as the film it aimed to be. It left me with the feeling exhausted and it didn’t engage me in any real emotional level. But I marveled Bay’s craftsmanship and sense of excess – especially in a few shots like the freeway chase, the wingsuit jump, or the crashing building. And even when it went on some really strange tangents, I never really got bored to it.

    It succeed as a diversionary, roller coaster summer blockbuster experience much better than, say, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4 (which was just limp, unfunny and dull). I appreciate having seen it, and felt that I got my comp ticket’s worth. But I also think this is as far as this particular franchise can go.

    It’s as definite Michael Bay Transformers movie there can be.

  55. Charles, while I understand the sentiment, I still maintain that if you want to see a movie, you pay to see that movie. It’s a movie, not a pair of pants. Once you’ve seen it, you’ve consumed that “product”. There really isn’t a “try out” period. For instance, I had a curiosity to see Green Lantern. From the trailer it looked terrible, and I have a feeling I may not like it. Meanwhile, I want Transformers 3 to do well. I wouldn’t buy a Transformers 3 ticket then sneak into Green Lantern. And look, the whole “support the little guys” sentiment is not lost on me. If you really want to support them, buy the ticket and actually SEE the film. Plus I don’t think you’re seeing the bigger picture. In the end, the money goes back into the same system that you deemed corrupt (I certainly don’t think so).

    As for Bay’s cinematic syntax. I think he has one of the better film vocabulary out there. I think of film vocabulary the same way I think of novels. Everyone director has a different way of expressing film language. Spielberg, for instance, is great at visual metaphors. His scenes are packed with them, from the obvious to the subtle. He uses them in such a natural and confident way that they enhances the writing and characters. To watch a Spielberg film and judge it by the writing is literally missing half the picture. Michael Bay on the other hand, his visual style is more direct and forceful. He fills his screen with details, and his visual choreography enhances the impact of each scene. That’s why he is so good at money shots. His shot coverage is better than most directors. He leads your eyes with his “shaky” cam, rather than just shaking the camera. I hate how people claim that Transformers 2 is filled with shaky shots and quick cuts. It’s just not true. The average action shot in that film lasts anywhere from 3-5 seconds. That is a lifetime in action speak, especially in today’s film culture. Nolan, who is now the heralded director by geeks, cuts three to five times as quick in his action scenes. In fact, the ONLY competent action scene Nolan has ever shot is the tunnel scene in The Dark Knight, and that’s only because his restricted by the heavy cameras. As for “shaky cam”, Transformers 2 don’t shake the camera as much as it has violent movements. Quick pans, snap focusing, quick zooms are the tools Bay uses in the film to lead your eyes. It is busy and complex for sure, but far from incoherence. In fact, the complex robotic designs gave people a tougher time. I also think people like to exaggerate too much.

  56. tempurasan, I never said the system is corrupt. I said it was creatively bankrupt. The TRANSFORMER films play like 3 hour long strings of product placement, with a mix of incoherent action, and a dash of crude humor. They are dumb and soulless, and at times boarder on insulting. I can understand that as a fan of Bay you may feel he is unfairly picked on, and I am not trying to change your mind but it seems like you and I have watched two different films. The problem is TRANSFORMERS 2 shows such a blatant disregard for things like coherent action and story telling that it is as if Bay said I am not even going to bother with these things because my audience is so dumb that they will not even notice because of all the pretty explosions and blurs of CGI robots will distract them. Maybe Bay is right and people want to be treated like idiots and talked down, but I think most people other then just the “geeks” as you call them want more from films. My 8 year old nephew saw TRANSFORMERS 2 before I did and before the negative reviews began to pile on, and I asked him what he thought of it. He said it was dumb and boring, and he is 8.

  57. Tempurasan – thanks for posting. Good to have a serious Bay fan on here. I am one of those people who believes in free speech, even the most despicable views should be allowed, like the KKK can have a parade as long as we can protest it.

    Just kidding about the third sentence there, but not the first two.

    I agree with you that the Transformers pictures are relatively restrained for Bay as far as the editing and camerawork. But you have to admit that he broke new ground with the robot designs. That was an all new type of incomprehensibility that he had to invent, no movie had ever previously sucked so bad for that same reason. I am not exaggerating at all when I describe the shot in the first Transformers which showed a robot flipping through the air in super slow motion and I still had to stare at it to try to figure out whether he was right side up or not. They’re hard to distinguish from each other or from themselves not just in motion but (with particularly bad staging) even in still photos.

    The fact that Bay intentionally chose that visual style and continues to push it further and further is a unique example of his lack of interest in visual clarity or viewer comprehension. It’s more important to him to overwhelm us with ten thousand wiggly bits and spinning doodads than to show us a character with a look and a personality. I agree with Charles that Bay is dedicated to pretty individual shots but doesn’t give much thought to how they connect together to tell a story. Motherfucker knows how to show a great sunset or spin around a guy standing there looking cool but has a hard time with what I would consider a compelling action sequence. (others obviously disagree)

    Yeah, Nolan (like most directors these days) needs to work on his action scenes (but the Batmobile chase in the first one was also great – I think he’s good with vehicles at least. Also the Hong Kong scenes in Dark Knight and of course the hallway fight in Inception). He gets away with it because his movies aren’t primarily about action. He has compelling, thoughtful stories and characters that the audience is heavily invested in. Since even Bay’s biggest fans proudly boast that you’d have to be a huge asshole to look for those things in his movies there is more expectation for his action scenes to cut the mustard.

    Although now Bay’s eyeball-torture style is pretty standard for theatrically released American action scenes it represents the opposite of the type of visual storytelling I prefer. But I take your word for it that what seems like randomly assembled imagery to me forms a sentence to you. I always wonder if there’s something generational about it. Can I ask, did you grow up when some of his movies already existed, or are you older than that?

  58. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    June 30th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Seems like he only gets people to work for him because he promises they’ll look like they are on the cover of Vogue. He sounds like a nasty asshole to be around. I don’t really go out of my way to watch his films because I’m not keen on them. Finding out he is a bit of a tit on set isn’t really making me want to watch his films anymore.

  59. Tempurasan, to piggy back on what Vern was saying I hope I have not come across a disrespectful to you. If I have I am sorry. I appreciate you sharing your perspective. It is clear that you and I have two very different opinions, but we do not have to agree to respect each others point of view. I think a spirited debate with someone that I disagree with is much more rewarding then talking to someone that is only going to agree with me.

  60. I’m glad I’m not the only person to like Armageddon. It’s cheesy and ridiculous but I think it’s OK. It’s the kind of movie I’ll gladly watch the second half of when it’s on TV (which seems to be all the time). I also liked The Rock.

    I have nothing against Bay. I don’t care about him as a person. I just can’t be bothered. What I do care about is what Vern talks about, that his Transformers movies are incomprehensible from an action standpoint and there are no other virtues to see in those films. I wanted to see giant robots do cool stuff but instead I see lots of shiny polygons as a camera is thrown around randomly. I think I’m on board with what Bay wants to do but I think his execution is awful.

    That being said I think I’ll see Transformers 3. The previews show lots of steady shots of cool stuff happening and I’m on board with that.

  61. Thanks for the TF3 review, Tempurasan; it’s got me intrigued!

    Maybe I will go see it after all!

  62. Vern, I’m a fan of Bay’s work too.

    I’m not sure about the generational thing about his editing style. I’m 32, and I think his style of filmmaking is overwhelming, to say the least.

    However, I do think there’s a method in his madness. Seeing his films at the cinema, on a gigantic screen is definitely an assault to the senses. The rapid fire cutting, the explosions, everything. A pure rollercoaster style experience. It’s borderline subliminal.

    But re-watching his films at home on a smaller screen makes them a lot more coherent, and makes me appreciate his skill. You’re not visually beaten into submission as the size of the flowing imagery is smaller, and digestible, in comparison to a multiplex screen. And you have an idea what to expect in the overall sense of structure having seen the movie already.

    It’s still rapid fire cutting at times, but the cuts are very precise and deliberate, and his frequently cuts into slow motion or wider establishing shots to give you a bit breathing room and give a sense of geography. It’s far from the “have two guys wail at each other and shake the camera” style of lazy action directing. You can definitely spot the difference between the kinetic Michael Bay style, and the wannabe aping of the same.

    Yes, I’d claim there’s visual mastery at work in his films, in his shot composition, lighting and editing. It’s a style that’s definitely crazy, and possibly way too much for big screen cinema consumption (at least in my age), but half-assed, amateurish, or confusing and misleading it is not.

    But I do think the robot designs were a complete misfire. Nothing to do with Michael Bay’s directorial abilities. Apart from maybe Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, those things just look all the same to me – and not just in action scenes, also when they’re just standing around.

  63. Vern, I’m 27. Grew up in Vietnam until I was 13. So until then, I only see the very popular American movies. Even then, they’re usually on shitty VHS tapes with terrible quality. My very first theatre experience wasn’t until I came stateside, and it was Jumanji. lol. But growing up in Vietnam, I had no shortage of HK movies and TV serials. I grew up on Wushu and Dual wields. So I was already no stranger to quick cuts and aggressive camera movements. I love it when the camera moves. Firstly, it lets me know that I’m actually watching a movie, rather than a TV show, and that something urgent and important is going on. Secondly, it breaks free of the invisible restraint and gives the scene a sense of freedom and exhilaration. I don’t dislike still shots, as I believe a well framed still shot is as good as a kinetic action scene. I’m still a firm believer that you don’t need to cut back and forth in a conversation scene, and that one to two well framed camera on a tripod will do the trick.

    I have a theory on the difference between the way I view movies, and the way you view movies. It could be generational, and it could be cultural. But bear with me. It comes down to the comic book that we read. If you ever had a chance to pick up a manga, especially one that is action packed, compare it to a good old fashioned Marvel comic book. Flip to a page where there is action going on, and compare. In a Marvel comic book, even in the most frenetic scene, the hero is draw to perfection. Every line is sharp, all the details are there, nothing is missing. The hero is suspended in time, where every bit of him/her is in focus. It is meant to convey the sense of heroic and stoic perfection. Look at the manga, in a scene of action, the lines are blurred, the hero’s dimensions are stretched, nothing is perfect. The way is drawn is meant to enhance to energy and kinetics of that scene. The framing is imperfect, the scene seemingly moving in and out of focus. Sometimes, the panels even invade each other’s space, all in the name of preserving that sense of energy.

    I grew up on Manga, so my brain is wired to try to keep up the energy of a scene. It excites me when a scene MOVES. Sometimes it’s more important to me an action scene is energetic than when it is coherent. I like it when scenes seem to blend together, and I don’t see the edits. Michael Bay seems to have a direct connection to my brain, and knows how I’m wired. He’s one of the very few director that can do this. Spielberg is another. Not to say they are on the same wavelength. Completely different sensibility and style.

    Another reason I like Bay is that I love his sensibility. I think his jokes are funny on a gut level, and that it forces an actor to sell a joke, rather than just let the writing do it for him. The funny is not in the fact that the robot have balls, but in the way John Turturro reacts to it and sells it. Here’s another important reason why I love Bay’s humor. My favorite actor is Nic Cage. Here’s an actor that spends a career selling his lines, no matter how dumb. The guy understands that the intonation, as well as the idea, of a line of dialog is what sells that line. Bay is the same way. He understands that an idea is only dumb when you can’t sell it. So he goes out and sells the shit out of it. I like that sincerity, and I appreciate the effort. Charles, I don’t think Bay thinks people are stupid, rather, he thinks this is what people want. He knows he’s not making high art, and he understands that his audience isn’t expecting it. People don’t have to be stupid to enjoy a B movie, just like you don’t have to have terrible taste to enjoy a hamburger. You don’t always have to eat caviar, in fact it’s not good for you.

  64. Karlos, whatever you do, see it in 3D. I’m pretty picky with 3D movies, as I only watch them when they’re actually shot in 3D. Even then some people just don’t understand that extra dimension. But Transformers 3 in 3D is just a phenomenal experience. You understand the method of his madness better seeing it in 3D. But be prepared, you WILL get exhausted near the end of the film. It’s just simply too much.

  65. I think the most damning thing that can be said of Bay’s technique is that his films –as a whole and as individual scenes — have no rhythem or build to them. It’s constant mayhem occasionally peppered with terrible comedy and then it’s over. As HT describes above, its ultimately more exhausting than exciting. Individual parts may be visually striking, but its such a shiny, fake look that its hard to get more excited about than any number of TV commercials which sport the same style and professionalism.

    As frantic as his film are, they’re also noticably short on clever or memorable ideas, setpieces, or even action sequences. They’re big and loud but that can only cover their blandness for so long (with the notable exception of the morgue truck in BAD BOYS 2, which is a legitimately memorable, crazy idea).

  66. I don’t think I’ve ever been “exhausted” over a Bay film. Hell, the only film that really exhausted me was when I saw Blackhawk Down in a theatre and when I say it exhausted me I mean that in the most complimentary way as I think that was part of the film’s goal. Or maybe I’m just a wuss.

  67. HT, Bay is very capable of stunning visuals, but I would argue that he is more committed to them then important things like character development and a cohesive narrative. As his career has progressed, and his work has been validated by the box office returns he has shown even more disregard for those aspects of the cinematic language. Starting with PEARL HARBOR Bay began to even grater distance himself from the aspects of the cinematic language that he did not want to be bothered with even more so then in his previous work, and it has been a steady progression from there with TRANSFORMERS 2 being the pinnacle of his indulgent flashy but hollow style. Also, during that time he tried his hand at something with more depth that required a greater grasp of the cinematic language and character and made THE ISLAND, but he failed miserably at it.

  68. Mr. Subtlety, your name explains why you don’t like Michael Bay. Perhaps that’s part of the joke.

    But calling Bay short of clever ideas is kinda daft. His ideas are more on a raw reactionary level than they are on an intellectual level. He want to get a reaction out of you. The way you deal with those reactions is all on you. Why do you think he incites so much love/hate. And when Bay comes up with an idea, he goes out and really sells it, rather just say “that was clever” and call it a day.

    HT, love it or hate it, The Transformers designs are all on Bay. The intricate Transformations ties directly into the way he directs an action scene. He doesn’t want them to clunkily transform in a few twists and turns. If you noticed, They rarely transform while standing still. The complex robot designs allow the transformations to be quick and smooth while in motion. It fits right in with the way he moves the camera, and the way he shoots an action scene. That’s why they are busy, the more parts the smoother and easier than transformation. The last thing he wants to for a Transformer to clunkily twist and turn while in motion trying to transform. It has to acrobatic and kinetic. For things to be acrobatic and kinetic it has to be streamlined. I personally love the complex designs, I look at them the same way I look at a Samurai armor. It’s more about the silhouette and the menace than it is about being easy to distinguish.

  69. Charles, did he fail at making the Island, or did the Island failed to attract an audience. There’s a difference. I personally think The Island is one of his more successful work. The first half of the film is confidently shot to build the suspense, and the second half is all catharsis. Some interesting ideas were bounced around in that film.

  70. I remember years back, maybe it was THE ISLAND, when Beaks at AICN talked up about Bay’s “evolving sensebilities.”

    Eh what? Bay doesn’t evolve, only his budgets get larger, he gets maybe some more explosions.

    Seriously in what way has Bay “evolved” as a filmmaker comparing say BAD BOYS with his TRANSFORMERS series, except in budget and more shit blown up?

    (ok Shia doesn’t run like an idiot with his shirt open, so I guess that could count.)

  71. tempurasan, I know you are new to these parts, so I must warn you that you are wading dangerously close into “what do you expect it is not Shakespeare” territory with statements like “He (Bay) knows he’s not making high art, and he understands that his audience isn’t expecting it.” I am all for a good genre or exploitation movie, but those films often aim high but miss their mark, but you are trying to defend Bay by claiming I should lower my expectations and except that he is going to just aim low. To use your example I like hamburgers but don’t like shity poorly made hamburgers.

    As I side note I am fascinated by your comparison of American comics and Manga. Very insightful stuff.

  72. Oh, I absolutely agree, Charles.

    Bay is a master in a very technical sense. Individual shot construction, set design, lighting, visual effects, and such. But I can definitely admit that his films lack the heart and soul that makes films truly great rather than just visually stunning. He does try to inject those things with everything being imminent and seemingly the most important and dramatic thing at the moment, and he makes his actors sell them. But those are snapshots of individual moments that don’t come together as any fully rounded characters we can really care about.

    For example, I can buy the scene of Shia pointing a gun, with tears in his eyes, demanding where his kidnapped girlfriend is. The guy sells the shit out the scene with his earnestness. And it works in the moment, and all Bay’s movies do this. But you never get the sense that there is anything beyond that, between the actual relationship between Shia and the girl. It feels dramatic and tense simply because the scene is dramatic and tense. It’s approximation and imitation of human emotion, than the genuine heartfelt version of it, if you want to be cruel about it.

    But like I said, I do like Bay’s work. I do think his purely technical merits are more than enough for me to spend my summer money on his films, and invest on the DVD/BluRays. And enjoy watching the documentaries and listening to the commentaries on how the films are put together.

    Sure, I would love to have every film to be technically excellent as well as have genuine dramatic moments and great writing and characters and all that. But I’d rather have Bay and his cold, masterful bag of technical and visual tricks than the blockbuster directors that don’t even have that.

    TRANSFORMERS 3 gave me exhilarating action scenes, explosions and cool visuals to fill the void left by non-existent characters and paper thin plot. Films like PIRATES 4 or THOR forgot to do even that.

  73. RRA – I also don’t think he’d have Shia stumbling into random houses announcing to anybody that may be around to not be alarmed that he’s jewish. So there’s some progress.

  74. tempurasan, I would be interested to know what other films you like other then Bay’s work. The reason being I can’t understand how you could praise THE ISLAND, other then that you have never been exposed to the more competent si-fi films that Bay borrows from in THE ISLAND. There are no ideas in that film that have not already been better explored in other films before it. Vern, recently posted his review of AI, and that is a perfect example of a flawed film that is way more skillfully made and thought provoking the THE ISLAND.

  75. Charles, I never said lower your expectations. Nobody ever wants to go to a movie expecting lowly of it. It’s not fun. I certainly don’t walking into a Michael Bay movie. Quite the opposite. I have high expectations of what I’m about to see. The question is not how high or how low, but what to expect. I don’t walk into Lord of the Rings and expect a laugh a minute. I expect to be taken a way to a world I’m not familiar with, and I’m expected to be shown the heroics that I don’t see in everyday life.

    Funny side note, I think it’s funny that people say “what do you expect it is not Shakespeare” when Bay is very similar to Shakespeare. Shakespeare used to play to the cheap seats too, aiming at the very basic human emotion. He would invent words to convey his emotions, and is never above resorting to sex and violence to please his audience. He was popular during his time, but was looked down upon by the more “sophisticated” ;-) society. He was considered crass and “unevolved”. See the similarities. It’s about sensibilities my friend.

  76. tempurasn — I get that Bay’s films are not meant to be thinkers, but that’s not quite what I mean by clever ideas. A good action film isn’t just the one with the biggest explosions, its the one that gets you excited and engaged. An explosion without any imagination is just boring by this point, especially since you know its all just CG. The opening hiest in DARK KNIGHT is ten times as exiting as the huge explosions in the TRANS films (in my opinion) because its unique, unexpected, and has a gradually escalating build of craziness.

    And yes, I know Michael Bay is trying to work on a gut level, but brute force is not always the best way to go about it. He’s the guy who’s just screaming obscenities, trying to get a reaction. But without imagination, it’s just kind of tepid. There’s nowhere to go with that that we haven’t already been ad nauseum. OLDBOY is also going for the guy level, and that gets there and then some without a single explosion by just showing us something unique and crazy.

  77. OLDBOY achieves it’s goal not because it’s just showing something unique and crazy but because there is some fucking grace and actual heart behind it and it’s evident in the final product. The violence gets an emotional response from the audience because it has weight to it due to the director actually making the world and the characters involving enough for the audience to empathize.

    That’s the key factor Bay’s movies are always missing. No matter how pretty the explosions and how sharp the cinematography there is NO HEART to any of it so it just comes across as boring and artificial like a TV commercial. He makes action movies that actually make you sick of watching action scenes because of this and in my book that is failing.

  78. I don’t think that’s what he’s saying, Charles. He’s not saying that Bay is just like, “Fuck it, make it suck, who cares?” He’s saying that things like character development and thematic resonance are all well and good in various other kinds of storytelling, but Michael Bay is not interested in them and nobody else wants them from him anyway, so why should he even try to fake it? He just gives up the goods and lets the spectacle be the story. It’s what makes Bay’s movies different from other franchise product. He doesn’t pay lip service to “the boring parts.” He just cuts them right the fuck out to make room for more weirdness and action. That’s not because he thinks you’re too stupid to notice. It’s because he thinks you’re too smart to be fooled by some half-assed bullshit other directors throw in to try to make their feature-length toy commercials seem like they mean something.

    That’s why TF2 and BAD BOYS II are the purest expressions of the Bay aesthetic. They’re completely cut loose from the bounds of narrative and logic. They exist completely in the moment, expressing with great intensity whatever the hell is on Bay’s mind right that second. They have a scattershot, fever dream, Troma-esque anarchy that I prefer to other big-budget blockbusters that have no more depth than Bay’s work yet strain for gravitas. They’re trying to transcend their genre, while Bay is trying to boil the genre down to its basic components. Of course it’s exhausting, because it’s not a well-balanced meal. It’s all marshmallows, no cereal.

    Obviously, I prefer classically “good” movies to the entertaining trainwrecks Bay makes. But there’s obviously room for both. I’m glad somebody’s out there making these huge, bizarre monstrosities. I don’t recall any of the more normal and well-intentioned movies that came out so far this summer getting this kind of response, and most of us haven’t even seen the thing yet. There’s your drama right there.

  79. Or to put it another way, Michael Bay is Mariah Carey, howling away at full drama with everything turned up to maximum EMOTIONAL. She’s going for the gut level too, and going about it just as superficially and with the same high degree of professionalism. But Tom Waits gets more power out of a single, garbled note.

  80. Charles, I don’t subscribe to the “all or nothing” idea. I’m not saying The Island is fantastic scifi unlike anything I’ve seen before. All I’m saying is it’s pretty competent, has some good ideas, has its heart in the right place, and gave me a pretty good two hours.

    My taste is pretty eclectic, kinda all over the place. I love the Golden Age of HK cinema (late 80’s to early 90’s). Guys like Tsui Hark, John Woo, Johnny To, Wong kar wai used to rock my world. I love old Samurai films from the 50’s, Kurosawa knows how to make a Samurai film. I adore Takeshi Kitano’s films, even his unsuccessful ones. I late 80’s and early 90’s animes. I love traditionally drawn Disney films. Not much of a Star Trek guy, as I find it kinda nerdy. My favorite Alien movie is Aliens, and I love all the Star Wars movie. I usually don’t care too much for true science fiction films unless there’s an action scene or two. Films like Solaris and Moon bore the crap out of me. Even Blade Runner tries my patience. Here’s one that will make your head spin. I LOVE Paul WES Anderson’s films. To me, he’s like the younger quieter and more artistic brother to Michael Bay. Not to many action directors can do atmosphere like Anderson. His Death Race is the best of the new age “Grind house” flicks. Oh yeah, I love Sonny Chiba’s movies, without a hint of irony. I think they kick so much ass.

  81. Mr. Majestyk, elegantly put.

    And seriously? comparing Mariah Carey to Tom Waits? How about this? J-Lo to Tom Waits. I find it really hard to dance to Tom Waits, but when J-Lo is on, where dem girls at and watch the fuck out for my elbows. Though I have managed to dance to Tom Waits before… not an easy feat, and it scares the girls away.

  82. Jareth Cutestory

    June 30th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Can’t do no Metropolitan Glide to fucking J.Lo.

  83. “They’re trying to transcend their genre, while Bay is trying to boil the genre down to its basic components.”

    I don’t know, Mr. M, that sort of makes it sound like Bay makes lean, mean little genre exercises or something, which is definitely not the case. I mean, if he’s trying to boil it down to its basic components, then why does he keep making these epic spectacles that stretch on past the 2 1/2 hour mark?

    The marshmallow metaphor might work better, in that Bay seems to want to serve up an epic 5 course meal that’s made up only of hot fudge sundays. I don’t think it’s just a matter of him trying to cut out all the boring parts (seems to me there’s still plenty of tedious exposition and uninteresting romantic relationships and whatnot in his films), more so that he’s not good at that sort of stuff (mainly relying on the varying chemistry of his cast).

    And I, for one, don’t think he needs to be good at that shit. I’ve argued in the past for an action cinema that’s pure form; one based on technical skill, spectacle, and pure sensation. I could care less about solid story structure, interesting plots and well developed characters if you replace them with genuine spectacle. I have high hopes that TRANSFORMERS 3 will be that movie for me.

  84. Mr Subtlety,

    Is it wrong that I consider myself a fan of both Mr Waits and Ms Carey? There’s room in my heart for both.

  85. Broddie- obviously having heart makes a huge difference, but I’d argue that even a soulless action movie can still work if it has the discipline to come up with something exciting and new and execute it well. OLDBOY showed me some crazy fucking shit like I’d never seen, and had the discipline to execute the fuck out of it and let it build to something. Nothing Bay’s ever done has really had that effect (except, as I mentioned, the Morgue truck scene).

    Imagination: It’s what separates the Craig R. Baxleys of the world from the mere Stephen Hopkinses, the Russel Muclahys from the Len Wisemans.

  86. Oh, I definitely don’t think he’s trying to make lean, mean genre exercises, like Walter Hill in his heyday. I think he’s trying to identify the components that entertain the most (explosions, chases, comic relief, hot chicks) so he can expand them to epic size and fill a monster epic with them. Sure, it’s overkill, but like a far lesser film once said: “Overkill is underrated.”

  87. Majestyk, I mostly agree with you, but I don’t think you can say Bay takes out the boring parts. I mean, all three Transformers movies are more about the fucking kid and his girlfriends and parents than about the robots. The new one spends the first act on him doing job interviews and being sad that his girlfriend’s boss is more awesome than he is and the robots don’t hang out with him anymore. I think there’s strong evidence that Bay either wants you to care about this bullshit or at least assumes you do care about it so he better put it in there.

  88. Mr M,

    Well, I know you share my love of BAD BOYS 2, which for me is a brilliant combination of ruthless (most likely unintentional) satire of action movie excess, with actual, honest-to-goodness spectacle-level action.

  89. I’m not comparing Mariah to Tom, I’m comparing Mariah to Michael Bay. Both have a similar hysterical drive to sledgehammer things in the name of intensity, but both fail fairly spectacularly in my view. J-Lo is probably more of a Simon West, in that its servicable but unspectacular. Maybe Lady Gaga is George Miller, still ridiculous but with a lazerlike precision at hitting the target. And let’s say Tom Waits is more of a William Freidken. And GG Allin is probably in there somewhere too.

  90. Well Subtlety I would say to Bay’s credit that the Alcatraz climax from THE ROCK to me was quite visceral in that same way you describe. Much more so than BAD BOYS TEAR THROUGH CUBA. Which didn’t really hold my interest despite the WTF element of corpses being thrown around the road cause by that point I was bored out of my mind with that unnecessarily long ass movie.

    There was an element of charm that helped enhance the action and make it something that was actually captivating during THE ROCK’s 3rd act. I think the pacing of the film (it’s not full of tremendous filler like ARMAGEDDON or BAD BOYS II) helped. But also it was in part due to how imaginative that entire setpiece was. Bay disappoints me cause I know he’s capable of it; he’s done it before.

  91. Okay, I’m a big Bay fan (and now Mr M and tempurasan fan too).

    Technically this film is exceptional: the effects are flawless, the action’s incredible, the stuntwork’s amazing, the 3D’s the best I’ve seen in a live action film. All these are done better than anything else that’ll be released this year. But it felt kinda flat, like Bay treading water. You can see really see all the call backs to Armagedon / Pearl Harbour / the Rock / the Island and Bad Boys 2 – not to mention the earlier two Transformers. It’s just like a mildly one uping what he’s done before – nothing really new or original.

    In response to Vern I would say Bay’s different to other directors and it trying for something different, which is why you shouldn’t judge him the their standards, and why I love his films. He doesn’t try and generate emotion by building characters and having us identify with them, instead he has this real advertising sensibility where he tries to communicate it using hyperreal stylised iconography. (Take Sam relationship, his happiness isn’t introduced through Shia’s acting, but through the Carly skipping through this idealised flat in her pants with the giant bunny; or the chaos at the end of the film, the disaster’s communicated not through the acting, so much as the distictly Challengery and 9/11ish imagery). I suppose the difference in impressions might be our relationship to advertising – and whether you’re just willing to buy into this from the start.

    As for the action sequences. He has really cluttered framing and I can see how this could be confusing. But again he’s not really going for a clear depiction of a fight or chase like others would. He always foregrounds bystanders or victims, so you have the incredible violence and explosions happening in the background with it’s effects shown by people being thrown towards or running screaming toward the camera. That’s the heart of the Bayhem. There’s a scene I love in T1 where Megatron shoots Optimus into a building, and it’s crap from an action perspective, but the magic comes from camera swooping past cowering civilians and office workers being thrown about by the after effects. That’s what no-one else does – it’s not really about what the robots are doing or which way up the are, more the sheer impact of what’s happening on the rest of the world.

    Totally looking forward to Pain and Gain, hope that’ll be a real shift of pace.

  92. Vern: I haven’t seen the third one yet, but I think he thinks that, for instance, the stuff with the mom eating pot brownies and Bumblebee humiliating alien robot hookers IS the good stuff. There’s no reason for it to be there except that he thinks it’s funny. Even in his rare non-exploding scenes, he throws in humping dogs or John Turturro’s scrawny buttcheeks. He’s identified comic relief as an important element of filmatic-type entertainment, so by God he will throw it whenever he can. Sure, there’s some crap about Sam and whatever chick he’s inexplicably boning but that’s because he knows there’ll be girls in the theater too so he tries to throw them a bone. He’s just not very good at it so he tries to get it out of the way as fast as possible.

    It’s not a perfect theory but I’m standing by it anyway. Because changing your style is for pussies.

  93. Since we’re getting a little philosophical about action movies, let me briefly make my argument for their potential not just as entertainment, but as art that we should cherish.

    The thing that sometimes irks me is that action movies don’t get any serious respect as art. The rare times that they do, it’s usually because of certain story elements and not so much because of the action. Think of something like THE HURT LOCKER. If Kathryn Bigelow made essentially the same movie, with the same quality of action, performances, story, etc, but had set it in the future as some sort of sci fi story instead of during an actual war… well, I still think people would have liked it, but they wouldn’t be calling it an important work of art or anything. Just a fun thriller.

    I contend that, much in the same way a painting doesn’t need to tell a story but can be praised for numerous elements (use of color, depth, contrast, placement of objects, visceral impact, etc), so can an action scene. A GREAT action scene is a masterful study in spacial relations, motion, kinetic energy, and so on. Yet most critics and filmgoers would view a legitimately great action scene and not think of it as more than “fun,” especially if they think the plot/characters/themes/whatever in the film is weak.

    I know I’ve made similar points here before in the past, but a film, to me, doesn’t need to have an easily defined “point,” or deep themes, or good characters, or anything so easily articulated to achieve greatness. Some of what good art accomplishes is non-verbal, non-logical, or more abstract/less concrete, and a great action scene can be a momentous achievement along those lines.

  94. Yeah I do think Bay whether people want to admit it or not actually WANTS to put compelling characters on screen. THE ISLAND was pretty much a great example of this. Throughout the whole thing it’s Bay going “look guys I’m attempting character development here; watch me make you LOVE Ewan McGregor and care about what happens to him”.

    ARMAGEDDON has the same thing with lots of characters there same with PEARL HARBOR (which I will never see) apparently. Most importantly this is evident in Bay’s best films THE ROCK and BAD BOYS. He actually succeeded there too. The latter actually doesn’t have that great action in it but the chemistry between Will and Martin and how Bay translates all that onto the screen and gets you engaged into what these guys are up to is the main hook.

    You see the effort he puts there to have more than just “whiz bang pow” and he succeeds. It’s what makes it such a different animal from the horrible sequel cause in that one I find them extremely unlikeable and unengaging since it was emphasis on spectacle over everything else. With THE ROCK you have an extremely likeable Connery and even Ed Harris you sympathize with and end up finding misunderstood. It’s not high art but there is enough substance in the execution and what those actors brought to it that gives those characters some dimension and actually makes you care for them.

    So yeah I do agree with Vern that Bay actually does try often and hard to deliver the depth. Unfortunately the couple of times he did manage to do so seem like flukes cause every attempt ever since is just beyond laughable at times.

  95. That’s a good point, Broddie. I rewatched THE ROCK recently and was surprised by how well it worked on a dramatic and character level. I think that was a sign of the times, though. It was just a few years out from THE FUGITIVE being nominated for Best Picture. Action films were expected to be a little more down-to-earth and human at the time. I still think the more dadaist wackiness of his later work is a purer version of what he’s about.

  96. Majestyk, I agree that Bay’s films are all about spectacle, but I also agree with Dan Prestwich. I don’t think he is just “boiling them down to their base components” Starting with PEARL HARBOR Bay’s films have all been bloated and at least 20 to 30 minutes to long, and they are not packed with action. It is usually ineffective and heavy hand comedy or pointless side plots that he substitutes for character development that bog the narrative down. I bet if you sit down and count the amount of time in the first TRANSFORMERS film (or PEARL HARBOR, or BAD BOYS II, or …) that is actual action it will be dwarfed by the amount of time spent on talking and buffoonary. I would actually probably like Bay’s film more if he just dropped the dialog all together and made 3 hour and 20 minute long music videos.

  97. For as much of a tyrannical control freak as Bay is supposed to be, it’s interesting how many times I’ve heard that he just sort of lets his casts go wild and make up their own characters, improvise scenes, etc.

    It cuts both ways. Nic Cage was supposedly allowed to add a lot of weird character details into THE ROCK, which is what helps make him an appealing, entertaining lead in that film. On the other hand, it’s this kind of looseness that also leads to some of the worst stuff in Bay’s films, like how most of TRANSFORMERS 2’s dialogue scenes feel like the work of a really, really bad college frashman improv comedy troupe with a $200 million budget.

  98. My biggest problem with The Rock was actually that Ed Harris’ villain was TOO well-developed and likable. I liked David Morse’ second in command guy too – their goal (not their methods) was a righteous one and surprisingly thought-provoking for a big summer movie. So then when Connery and Cage are running around snapping necks and knifing their dudes in the throat, I felt conflicted, especially at the end when Harris turns out to be bluffing anyway. The Rock is one of the few movies I think I would have enjoyed more if it had been DUMBER, i.e. if Harris’ character was a simple black-and-white bad guy.

  99. I’d love to see Michael Bay to direct a musical. Minimal dialogue, just pure visuals and a soundtrack.

    Similarly, I wonder what kind of film a hypothetical Michael Bay’s SUCKER PUNCH would have been.

  100. Dan: I addressed this in a previous post. The one right above the one where you get all philosophical.

  101. The actual best way to view a movie is in a regular, non-IMAX, non-3D theater with good surround sound. I paid like 10 bucks extra to see Tron: Legacy in IMAX 3D and I’m pretty sure I’d be just as indifferent to the film in a regular theater and not having to pay that huge extra cost.

  102. Oh and re: the guys who are planning to buy tix to something else and sneak into TF3. C’mon, 1) that’s one step removed from the old “but i’m shoplifting from Walmart” defense and 2) it’s not like it’s the Sarah Palin documentary or something. That’s a movie I actually AM curious about seeing but cringe at where my dollar is going.

  103. Sternshein,

    I’ve seen both 3D and 2D version. 3D is better. Watch it a high quality theatre where they will not dim the bulbs. I’ve seen 3D films at good theatres where it is brighter than 2D films at crap theatres.

    I repeat, you HAVE to see this film in 3D to fully appreciate it. It’s astounding.

  104. Well, I’m not thinking of the juvenile humor, so much as his willingness to let his actors add lines, make up shit, work their backstory into the scene. The commentary on THE ROCK (released by motherfucking Criterion, of all people) is kind of mind blowing because every time it comes to a Nic Cage interview, Cage is basically explaining how nearly every detail about his character is something he made up and Bay let him put into the final product. I can’t tell if it’s a sign of faith in his actors, or if he really just doesn’t give a fuck about what they’re doing, so he’ll let them do whatever actor-y shit makes them happy.

    It reminds me of something I heard about John Carpenter. During the filming of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, Harry Dean Stanton thought his character was stupid, so he asked Carpenter if he could be allowed to rewrite all his own dialogue. And Carpenter basically said, do whatever the fuck you want, just don’t do anything that would alter the plot.

  105. tempurasan, I also don’t prescribe to “all or nothing” idea either, and in general I feel like I am pretty forgiving when it comes to bad films as long as I am entertained or at least some way stimulated. Bay’s more recent films just don’t work for me.

    While, we are all on the subject of THE ROCK I would like to point out that it stands as proof that Bay can be a good action film director. It features the right balance of spectacle, broad comedy, action, and character moments with a cohesive narrative and good pacing. It is part of the reason I find his more recent films that much more frustrating.

  106. Except the 55 minute climax of Transformers 3 is just boring. It’s big, but who cares? So a building falls over and there are people inside. They don’t DO anything with it. It just happens. The freeway chase was a bigger badder version of the freeway chase in Transformers 1, but then I was thrilled when they tore through the bus. When the humans get flipped out of the car and caught by the robot… meh.

    I don’t mind paying for it. It’s a privilege to pay $10 to see $200 million at work. Bad movies have done well for all eternity.

  107. Well let me ask you guys this, by disliking Bay’s work and demanding more from my popcorn films am I being unrealistic? Is Bay really a man of the people that speaks to what they want out of big budget summer entertainment, or have audiences been conditioned to except less and settle for hollow spectacle?

  108. Charles: It’s still your choice. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I find something freewheeling and intoxicating about Bay’s aesthetic. Others just see a calamitous mess. I don’t think I’m settling when I watch a Bay movie. I legitimately enjoy what’s there; I’m not forgiving it for what’s not.

  109. Majestyk, fair enough. Different strokes for different folks.

    I am genuinely not trying to be combative and want to understand, what it is that I seem to be missing.

  110. Yeah I agree with Charles. We all watch and have unapologetic appreciation for DTV on here. It’s not like we’re pretentious ass fucks. Shit I could say I went into GREEN LANTERN expecting the worst thing ever and instead was entertained because despite it’s glaring flaws it had moments of greatness sprinkled across. I love coming here cause it’s a film community where just enjoy movies for being what they should always be; and that is entertaining.

    ARMAGEDDON bored the shit out of me, TRANSFORMERS repulsed me and THE ISLAND had some good in it and for that I do rewactch it if it’s on cable but it also had a whole lot of “MEH”. So it’s not like I stopped trying.

    I saw BAD BOYS back in ’95. To be honest being a kid growing up in the 90’s I wanted to see it more for Will and Martin. It was a very special R-rated crossover episode of MARTIN and THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR so how could it fail? so I got my money’s worth. I didn’t go see it for Michael Bay.

    I found myself impressed with Bay while watching the movie though. So much so that I made it my business to keep an eye out for his future work. I grew up on all of the 80’s & 90’s action movies. I haven’t seen BAD BOYS in years but the one thing that always sticks out to me was that chase with them in the truck after the club shit. To me that wasa very impressive 90’s action movie setpiece and it’s why I kept an eye on him. THE ROCK speaks for itself. That movie is the shit. So I genuinely wish I could say I enjoyed all the guy’s movies but they just seem to be getting worse and worse.

    He’s way too unbalanced for my tastes now a days but crom bless anybody who still genuinely likes his movies and thinks they get better with each release. I just can’t do it to myself anymore. I’m not that much of a glutton for punishment.

  111. I think there’s a room for a Bay’s style of filmmaking along with everything else.

    Bay is not the last word in directing and the only choice, and he definitely should not be. I don’t think people should “settle” for anything.

    As long as there is choice in the marketplace, I welcome the variety. I enjoy smart, well-plotted action thrillers like INCEPTION. And I also enjoy a balls to the wall, devil may care lets-burn-hundreds-of-millions FX/military/explosion porn films Michael Bay makes.

    I don’t feel like the existence of TRANSFORMERS 3 has made the world a more stupid place. Nor has it robbed the chance for a more thoughtful action (or any other kind of) film to come into being. It’s just one of the many films that are being released. If you don’t like it, that’s cool. I think there’s enough to choose from.

  112. Temp, you can’t convince me that spending the extra hard earned money on 3D that in no way enhances anything. 3D is just a cash cow that doesn’t change whether or not a movie is good or not. I’m completely done with 3D unless Piranha is before the 3D part.

  113. HT, I agree with you, but don’t assume that your average American gets exposed to more intelligent or “smart” films. I live in Austin TX, but I work in a small town about 40 minutes outside of Austin, and they only have 1 movie theater with 2 screens and your choices if you want to go to the movies this weekend are TRANS 3 or GREEN LANTERN. Also, if you want to buy a DVD or Blu-Ray without driving 35 minutes your only option is Walmart, and it is not like they have the highest quality of movie selection either. Yes, they can utilize the net, but what are the chances of them stumbling across a site like this that could broaden their horizons on their own. Then there are people like our new friend tempurasan (and I mean that genuinely not sarcastically) who comes form another country, and had limited exposure to our cinema except for the biggest of studio films. In addition there is the issue of the cultural dialog, and often with these big summer event pictures they are designed a marketed in away to make you feel like you need to see the film weather it is good or not or you will be left out of the conversation. For example I can’t count how many times people have been shocked and taken back when I tell them that I have never watched American Idol and have no desire to do so. They look at me like I am a mutant.

  114. Christ, guys, do I gotta be the one to call out Mr. tempura on the ridiculous, cursory Shakespeare comparison? I’ve made some comparisons that stretch things, arguably beyond the bounds of movie comment board flexibility & decorum, but I can’t let my Shakespeare allusions & comparisons, valid or not, suffer any Bay seasoning by proximity here.

    You gotta come correct if you’re gonna drop that kind of gibberish, chief. That’s my field of expertise, you see {stretches suspenders with thumbs}, and, uh, that hurts.

    Here, to cleanse our good sense palates & talkback palettes, study this Sonnet, #29, and figure out if the speaker is making fun of you or Bay or lesser artists or me in the 3 lines before the ending couplet, and if the ending couplet is serious or sarcastic.

    When, in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
    I all alone beweep my outcast state,
    And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
    And look upon myself and curse my fate,
    Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
    Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
    Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
    With what I most enjoy contented least,
    Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
    Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
    Like to the lark at break of day arising
    From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate

    For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

  115. Mouth, there have been so many statements in this thread that I disagree with it has been hard for me to keep track of all of them much less respond to all of them. I have a hard enough time just trying to keep the typos to a minimum.

  116. Sternshein, I think because Bay’s work is more spectacle and amusement park ride then cinema the 3D format is the only reason to bother watching it in a theater otherwise why not just wait and catch it on TV sometime.

  117. Mouth, c’mon, these are movie blog comments. They’re not supposed to be Shakespeare.

    Having said that, I see no evidence for sarcasm in that sonnet.

  118. Vern shouldn’t tolerate someone badmouthing either of the Bruces without noting an objection.  Mr. Majestyk should defend Charles motherfucking Bronson if someone were stupid enough to mess with his good name here.  My thing is Shakespeare.  There is only one thing about which I’m sensitive enough to test, even in a good-natured sarcastic manner, the “don’t be a dick” rule here, and that thing is when someone disrespects the guy who wrote this:

    Doubt thou the stars are fire, 
    Doubt that the sun doth move, 
    Doubt truth to be a liar, 
    But never doubt I love.  

    If Bay ever accomplishes or publishes something a tiny percentage as effortlessly passionate & intellectually stimulating as those 4 lines, I’ll dedicate all my resources to somehow hosting a screening of THE ROCK at the Globe Theatre and you’ll all be invited.  

  119. Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, I guess. But if you think the car chase in KING LEAR is anywhere near as good as the one in BAD BOYS II you are crazy.

  120. Jake, congratulations, your ticket across the pond to BayFest at Stratford-upon-Avon just got upgraded to 1st class. [Insert LearJet pun here.]

  121. Actually, I would pay to see Bay do Shakespeare. It can’t be any worse then MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING staring Keannu Reeves.

  122. I am still hoping someone will make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s HAMLET from LAST ACTION HERO.

  123. Jake, I think we are onto something here. How, about a Bay directed HAMLET staring Arnie with a 500 million dollar budget.

  124. The last Bay film I saw in a theater was ARMAGEDDON, and sometime after that I swore never again. He certainly knows how to film some impressive, nicely lit, dramatic shots that are perfect for music videos or movie trailers. Unfortunately he is either a moron or he doesn’t care if his movies contain any intelligence, wit, or genuine emotion.

    However, Scarlett Johanssen in a white jumpsuit takes THE ISLAND from lousy/horrible to “can’t take your eyes off the screen”. There are shots in that movie where Scarlett looks like a goddess with her blonde hair, white outfit, blue sky behind her, and the desert sand all in perfect harmony.

    Bay seriously needs to become a cinematographer and let somebody else produce and direct his movies.

  125. Charles, if I owned a studio you would have just sold your first pitch. And how could it fail? You got the Shakespeare of writers, the Shakespeare of directors and the Shakespeare of actors. Was that noise I just heard the sound of CITIZEN KANE dropping a notch? I do believe it was.

  126. Jake, that is exactly what I am talking about! It would be to big to fail!

  127. Y’all are some manic motherfuckers.

  128. Well, I saw it. I’m actually somewhat relieved to confirm that my long streak of disliking all of Michael Bay’s films continues unabated. This one is indeed more competent than the last two, and somewhat closer to a real movie. Unfortunately it’s nowhere near a good movie, and that actually makes it a little less interesting. It has a few cool moments, though. My review’s on my blog, you can click on my name to get there (its at the top).

  129. Mouth, I’m not saying Michael Bay is as good as writing sonnets as Shakespeare, that’s just daft. Then again, Shakespeare didn’t direct 200 million dollar epics on a yearly basis either. But did you really read my comparisons? I stand by it. Point out what I said that was completely untrue. Both play for the cheap seats, and both never tried to elevate the subject matter they tackle. Instead, they just do it really well, and their focus was the audience. The talent of both Bay and Shakespeare lies in their crafts, not their ideas, which are nothing revolutionary. Shakespeare knows how to use language, and Bays knows how to point a camera. Completely different thing, but there are similarities in the way they approach their art. This is in NO WAY disrespecting Shakespeare. I give him all the credit in the world for being ahead of his time, and I certainly think that when the words available can’t describe what you’re trying to say, invent new words is a bad ass way of remedying it. I’m sorry you feel offended, but I understand why you did. If someone had compared Bobby Flay to Kurosawa I’d jump down their throats too before closely listening what they are REALLY trying to say.

  130. Mr. Subtlety, I read your review. Is your name ironic? Cool review though, I don’t really agree with most of it, but I see where you’re coming from. You certainly had A Lot to say about it. I don’t really think the elephant metaphor is apt, but nice try. I still think you should have paid for it, but I guess Cars 2 deserve it more since it’s also a big Hollywood movie from a huge studio that’s poorly reviewed… Yeah, didn’t make sense to me either.

  131. Remember the Gandhi exmaple. We don’t mean to take away anyone’s enjoyment of something. However, we’d like to offer examlpes of alternatives. Would a fan of Transformers not appreciate the action of Aliens, True Lies, Terminator 2 or Universal Soldier: Regeneration? Would a fan of shakey cam Bourne fights not appreciate Way of the Dragon, Hard to Kill or Undisputed III where you can actually see what fighters are doing?

    Yes, different strokes all around. I would be interested to discuss how a spectacle can be as big as Transformers 3 and have no impact on me. I mean on a sheer spectacle level. A skyscraper falls over with people inside, cars eject their drivers and then catch them as robots, robots do get their robot on robot fights without humans getting in the way… and I’m not excited.

    Has anyone addressed the story yet? Sorry, I haven’t read every single comment, but what’s the deal with 90 minutes of plot exposition? Maybe the problem isn’t that “it’s not supposed to be Hamlet” but rather their trying too hard to make it Hamlet. As if you can’t have robot destruction without explaining that NASA was an alien investigation mission and [SPOILER] McDreamy was in on it all along and Shia can’t find a job.

  132. Obviously would have rather gone with TREE OF LIFE or something, but thats the classiest thing they were showing at the theater I went to. Pixar’s made it pretty clear the level of genius and risk-taking they’re committed to, so I forgive them a lousy-looking sequel and hope my small contribution gives them the independence they need to swing for the fences next time.

    I stand by my elephant metaphor as a perfectly valid comparison to any large, unusual, visually dynamic object. But I do appreciate you taking the time to read my reaction and to thoughtfully and politely and thoughtfully respond. I know you liked the film, but do you have a full review somewhere? I’m genuinely curious what specifically you liked so much about the film that you’re here defending it so strenuously (or do you just feel like someone ought to offer a counterpoint to the haters?) Please forgive me if its above somewhere and I missed it (this conversation moves very quickly).

    My name is ironic. It would be cool if it were my actual last name, though. I guess Majestyk isn’t Mr. M’s real last name either, but it was SOMEONE’s last name. Maybe I should consider going to the one-name system and eliminating the Mr….

  133. I’ll keep it short.

    I’ve always liked the way Bay plays his characters, or to most of you, caricatures. I like that he pushes them to a bizarre place that most normal people don’t go to. They are odd, they push the limits of social interactions, and often times invade people’s personal space. Bay jams these characters into the plot development, so no moments are dull, even when it’s simply plot exposition. The oddly energetic way the characters interact with themselves keep the mood brisk and the momentum forward. I find their antics amusing, and I find Bay’s humor hilarious. His humor always evoke a real laugh from me, not just a “heh that was clever” chuckle. In Transformers 3, I have a whole gallery to choose from, and my favorite is the ever entertaining John Malkovich. He is just so off the wall eccentric that he tickles my funny bone. Turturro, MacDormand and Tudyk also had their moments, and I love feeding off their energy in the film.

    As far as the plot goes, I like the fact that Bay continues with his conspiracy theory streaks. I can’t understand the folks that accuse Bay of Jingoism. Bay is always leery of authority figures in his film. The government officials in Transformers 3, as well as the first two, often lies to the protagonists. They always have a lot to hide, and often are presented as, excuse my language, assholes. But I like the way the plot unfolds in Transformers 3. I ate up the whole human working with Decepticons idea, and now are being betrayed when they are systematically assassinated. As cool as that sounds, the way that Sam is frustrated with his hero to zero status intrigued me much more. It once again ties in with the way that Bay views authoritative figures and government officials. The boy saved the world twice, and barely got a job in a mail room. It is governmental red tapes and coverups up that keeps him from being heralded as the hero he is. I like his struggle to try to seek out adventure, rather than having it placed on his lap and he begrudgingly agrees to take it on. It’s a story that has been done to death, and I always hated protagonists that do that. It was one of the things I dislike about the second one, I’m glad Bay remedied it. There were quite a few more plot twists that i didn’t see coming, and I am happy about that.

    I’ve read a few complaints about how the action is too relentless and nonsensical, with no contexts. I don’t think so. I think a mission statement is clearly spelled out for what needs to happen, Bay just makes it difficult for the characters to achieve it. He throws obstacles in the way for characters to overcome, and sometimes they fail. When they do, they don’t spend time crying over it, instead they look for other way to achieve it. Explains the whole building toppling scene. I like the way he balances coverage of the plight of both Transformers and humans. I love the idea of human taking down Transformers. I re-enforces Bay’s optimism for the human capacity, a notion that defines NASA and Space explorations. Is the action relentless? yes, and it did wore me down a bit. But I view that as a way that the characters must feel also. No victory that is easily achieved is worth fighting for. What of the spectacles? They are once again astounding. People complain of the way the Transformers look, but it is meant to be that way. As I have mentioned above, the complex way the Transformers are designed, and their sophisticated transformations allow Bay to put these Transformers in the middle of the action. Most of the transformations are taken place while moving, either flying through the air or speeding down the freeway. It is streamlined and it is a neat way to present something we haven’t seen before. Everything from Transforming to robot form and back again with the character in tow the whole time is really clever and well done.

    Finally, to talk about this movie and ignore its 3D is criminal. It is by far the best 3D effects I have ever seen. It is amazing to look out during the action scenes and even during the conversation scene. One of the most astounding 3D moment in the film is when Sam is talking to his parents in the alleyway, and the city stretches in the background. In 2D, the scene is wellshot, in 3D, you’re there. If you have only seen the movie in 2D, you’re literally missing half the picture. This is only one of two cases where I felt the 3D actually improved the film. The other being Resident Evil 4, which not only was shot in 3D, but edited in 3D as well (story for another time).

  134. Tempurasan, I love the first Transformers but hate the sequels. As someone who appreciates all three, do you feel there is anything distinct or different about the first one in the series?

  135. Holy crap. This much discussion about the Bay aesthetic and Transformers even before Vern does his review?

    I do agree about The Rock though. Ed Harris was one of the most sympathetic, conflicted villains I had seen in films and not just action blockbusters.

  136. Bah, my comment was eaten by the god of interwebs or something. I’ll re-create:

    tempurasan, you realize you said Bay makes “epics,” then 4 sentences later you said he “never tried to elevate the subject matter” he tackles? Either you contradict yourself or you & I have differing definitions of “epic.”

    Then you sort of make most of my counterarguments for me, presumably accidentally, but maybe you’re fucking with us. WS’s core audience at times may have been the groundlings, but no one ever presumed to be his equal at mastery of iambic pentameter & neologism, and he is without contemporaneous equal in terms of literary awareness & advancement in the fields of philosophy & psychology, scientific & sociological endeavors which did not officially exist in his lifetime.

    Whatever, I didn’t think my degrees would ever be applicable to a pre-school level syllabus, but hey, even fetuses jam to Mozart these days so maybe there’s a buck to be made here.

    I miss Paul in times like this. His confounding jibber-jabber somehow centers & comforts me, unlike this new, less innocuous inanity.

  137. But I would actually attach the success of that to Ed Harris and his ability to make use of what he was given in the script. That character was in his face and his eyes.

  138. Fred, The first one is the one that stuck the most to traditional narrative structures. The film adhered mostly to the three act structure, and it stayed mostly within those boundaries. It was also the first time you’re introduced to the Transformers, so the build up and the pay off were more rewarding to new viewers. Plus Bay hasn’t gone off the deep end just yet, and you can still feel Spielberg’s reins on him. There weren’t as much action, and even those scenes were kept light (compared to the sequels). The humor was also not as crude, and there is still a sense of innocence to everything. Watch the scene when the Transformers landed for the first time. The music and the way it was edited gave it a more magical and awe inspiring feel. This is also where you see Spielberg’s influence the most. If you paid attention, whenever a Transformer landed, the only humans that can see them are children. They weren’t afraid of the Transformers, instead their innocent curiosity allow them to greet Transformers without fear. The parents and most adults were kept in the dark. Even still through most of the films, the Transformers were viewed mostly through the point of views of teenagers. It made them accessible as a whole.

    By the time the second rolled around, Transformers were no longer in hiding, and politics have entered the picture. Bay also restructured his sensibility, changing the focus from boy and his car that was so central to the first one, to the more politically and bureaucratically charged climate. It takes away the innocence and allows a much more sinister and jaded tone to the whole franchise. The Transformers also got more vicious, especially with Optimus. No longer is he a noble figure who extols the virtue of pacifism and value of life, instead he’s out there ripping out hearts and faces. The violence were kicked up a notch, and the humor took a turn for the toilet (quite literally at one point). Even when Bumblebee pees on somebody in the first one, the tone was still light. There’s nothing innocent about a pair of robot balls, as funny as it is (at least for me).

    Just a few things that set the first one from the sequels.

  139. It is nice to face a wall of wrongness; one may penetrate & rend it mercilessly or one may make of it a more useful entity against which to bounce ideas. Such a practice sharpens one’s own arguments and refines & strengthens one’s convictions. Having this absurd wall around is preferable to existing in an echo chamber feedback loop.

  140. Well said, Tawdry. That’s exactly why I love the first one, although I’d suggest there’s just as much action. I remember losing count of how many action scenes there were in Transformers 1. And as I’ve suggested in other threads, they were better than sex (and sex with crazy girls to be specific.)

  141. Gandhi approach, Mouth, Gandhi approach…

  142. Sorry, Tempurasan, my fingers called you Tawdry but I knew I was writing to Tempurasan.

  143. Mouth, we have different definition of epics.

    And I’ll repeat myself once again. I don’t think Bay has the same grasp on philosophy the way that Shakespeare had. I simply meant that both guys tried to push the limits of their crafts, and were always at the forefront. Shakespeare on language, and Bay on Special Effects and action staging. COMPLETELY different things. But I feel their sensibilities often aligned. They never turned their nose up against violence and sex. They don’t shy away from things that plays to the cheap seats. And they seem to piss off the established order. But hey, I don’t have a degree in Shakespeare. I just think you misunderstood my intentions.

  144. Mouth, I like the way you put me down. It is the most well written condescension that has been directed toward me… in like… Ever. Keep that nose up bro, so you can smell the way we suck down here. How’s that English degree working out? I mean… besides belittling others trying to share some ideas with you.

  145. Careful, Mouth and his buddy Michael Jai White could double team you and film it for Never Back Down 3: No Backing Down Times Infinity.

  146. So according to that article Michael Bay directed that awesome Aaron Burr Got Milk commercial!

    If you are thinking ‘huh, have I misjudged the man? Is he more intelligent and talented than I thought?’ Nope! Here’s what Bay had to say about the commercial:

    “When I did it, I was like, ‘This is a terrible commercial. I don’t get it.’ It won the Grand Prix Clio for Commercial of the Year. I think it’s an OK commercial.”

  147. Paying for Tree of Life or whatever and then going to see Transformers instead is such an unclassy thing to do. That’s like asking someone to please pass the butter, but then after they do instead of saying “thank you” you glare at them because they’re helping you to clog your arteries.

  148. How about you pay to go see the Tree of Life and then go see the Tree of Life?

  149. My condescending tone is a symptom of my natural state of being. I hate toilet humor; to me, it is natural to feel insulted by its unwanted presence in movies or in conversation. I hate testicular humor. (The obvious corollary indicates that I despise much of the Transformers movies.)
    Thus, as these hatreds are a part of my very nature, it is when I scribble in reaction to less sensitive talkbackers without allowing my natural self to leak into my diction when I am truly engaging in condescension, for I take great care never to deign to address these odious topics, and almost as much care never to deign to insult someone who enjoys them. This is perhaps unfortunate, since Louie C.K., for example, would be a funnier guy if listening to his bodily humor schtick didn’t make me want to spew.

    It’s exercise time. Friday = Ruckmarch day so we have the weekend to heal our feet. My close personal friend MJW (He says hi, Fred.) just showed up with a 99 pound ruck, so I’ma top off my canteen and make my load 100 pounds cuz I don’t get outrucked by a dude who let himself get killed by the Joker.

  150. Wow I was like 10 when that commercial used to air & even I got it. Mikey Bay may be more fundamental than even I ever thought. Funny thing is now that I looked back on that commercial you could see how it was “directed by Michael Bay”.

  151. Tawdry Hepburn has the best comment in this entire thread right now.

  152. ThomasCrown442

    July 1st, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Is there any way we can pay to see Raiders of the Lost Ark and see Transformers 3? Or do i actually have to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark?

  153. fyi I decided to skip Transformers 3

    let’s face it, at the end of the day Bay just isn’t my cup of tea

  154. tempurasan

    Your assessment of film equaling simple entrainment is both historically inaccurate and also untrue of the present. You describe Hollywood film as if it were the only filmmaking style in the world. This is patently untrue. A great many countries have public funding to subsidize fllmmaking. National cinemas are entirely separate from Hollywood cinema*. In fact, a great swath of filmmaking exists wholly for the purposes of propaganda. Much if not most of the current filmic language was developed by the Soviets for the purpose of promoting Communist values and systems of belief. Battleship Potemkin, anyone?

    In summary, watch more foreign films and read up on some of the history of film.

    *I would further argue that there is an American cinema that is separate from a Hollywood cinema, though there is an occasional overlap. I would count filmmakers like Gus Van Sant, Larry Clark, Richard Linklater, Gregg Araki, Todd Solondz, the Dulpass brothers, David Mamet, early Spike Lee, early Hughes Brothers, early John Singelton, perhaps Kevin Smith and perhaps the Coen Brothers as some examples of American national cinema.

  155. ThomasCrown442

    July 1st, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Larry Clark huh. Wow, i applaud you for including him in your roll call. He seems to be deemed as some kind of old perv but I think there is some brilliance in his filmmaking. Good job sir.

  156. I also like the part where Bay tells Spielberg that Raiders is gonna suck.

  157. I think that Clark’s work is more fully formed if you contextualize it as an extension of his photographic work in the books Tulsa and Teenage Lust. In those books you see, in painful, horrific detail, the kind of life he lead/leads. There are many beautiful, erotic images in the book, but there are also images of a pregnant woman shooting up amphetamines jammed up against a still from the funeral for her stillborn baby.

    Clark is neither a pervert, nor an exploiter, not a fraud. His films are deeply moral. In fact, he is almost the only American filmmaker to ever produce a piece of cinema that reminded me of the realities of my own adolescence. I didn’t live KIDS, but I certainly knew many of the kids from that film, (no one like Telly, thankfully). Plus, if he were diddling his stars, we would know by now. He would have been caught. There is so much ire and revulsion about his films that if there was any real questionable behavior on set, he would be in jail. Also note how many of his actors line up to work with him again. He has launched some major and fairly major careers include Rosario Dawson, Chloë Sevigny, Leo Fitzpatrick, John Abrahams, Bijou Phillips, Nick Stahl and Michael Pitt (reinvented him from a prettyboy). Many of these people have a lot more clout than Clark these days and would certainly speak out against him continuing to make films with young children if he were actually the pervert that so many people claim him to be.

  158. All I have gathered from the comments (that’s a lie, I learn a lot from everyone here and feel inadequate to contribute much) is that I should do a double feature with Transformers and Tree of Life.

    Question, which order should I see them in and what should I eat at the food court? I think a gyro with sweet potato fries but I’m open to suggestions!

  159. – tempurasan

    I appriciate that you`re sharing your opinions with us. It`s fascinating stuff and well-argued. It`s also pretty scary stuff to read, sort of listening to Hannibal Lector explaining the finer qualities of roasted human liver.

    I do aknowledge that Bay is somewhat skillfull. I`ve watched his movies several times on dvd and his action-scenes are actually pretty well put together when you rewatch them, beautiful to look at and way ahead of his fellow filmmakers in sheer spectacle. I guess that I can compare it to the car-chase from Quentam of Solace; it`s an brilliant edited sequence when you watch it for the tenth time, but is incomprehensible on your first viewing.

    I agree with you, when you say that movies are made for entertainment; so is music and litterature. But entertainment doesn`t (always) equal spectacle or toilethumour. I find Solaris very entertaining, because of it`s ideas and comments on humanity, society, science etc. I actually get bored when watching a Bay-movie; I don`t care about the characters, I don`t care about their world and Bay doesn`t have any perspective on life, like most storytellers does.

    The reason I keep coming back to Bay is my fascination of exploitation. You compare Bay to Sheakspeare, claiming that both are storytellers who aim at the very basic human emotion. I guess that what most storytellers do, but we only recognize the exploitation-directors cause they go a step further in abandoning good taste for sex, violence and toilethumour. I could make a case for David Lynch, Trey Parker, Larry Clack, Casper Noe, Lars Von Trier, Paul Verhoeven etc being modern exploitation-directors, but their audience aknowledge that they have plenty to offer besides blood and nudity. Bay doesn`t. Even a bonafide explaitation-director like Russ Meyer has something to say about sex, violence, gender stereotypes, drugs, sexism, racism, society and the human condition, even though his movies are mainly an escuse for showing big boobs.

    Now, I don`t think that a movie has to have clever ideas or a profound subtext to be brilliant, it doesn`t even need a great story, if the story is told well, but Bay simply doesn`t know how to tell a story. He doesn`t know how to engage his audience and make them wonder what`s gonna happen next. He doesn`t know how to create relatable or believable characters. He knows how to make them look good in sunset and blow up shit real good, but he might as well be doing porn. Yeah, if he just had the balls to substitute all the talking with fucking (and keep the exploisions), he might at least be the best porn-director in the world.

    But then again, different folks, different strokes… But, as a Bay-fan, do you actually feel any interest in his characters, or do you ever wonder what happens next, when watching one of his movies from the last decade?

  160. tempurasan, going back to my earlier questions and your response to it of what other types of films that you enjoy, I have to say that we seem to have pretty similar tastes except for when it comes to Bay. I don’t want to continue to question your appreciation of Bay, but one thing you said stood out to me that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around and that is, when you talked about how much you love Bay’s humor. I can see how someone could enjoy the spectacle of Bay’s work and appreciate the polish and gloss of it, but I find Bay’s humor to be one step below Americas Funniest Home videos. It is often juvenile and mean spirited if not outright offensive (the twins from TRANS 2, Martin & Will Smith in the BAD BOYS films). I actually have much higher tolerance for bad film making than dumb or juvenile humor.

  161. Casey:

    What you need to eat is a LARGE POT BROWNIE. It will improve both films.

  162. Gyros & sweet potato fries are delicious. Make sure you get extra tzatziki sauce. MmmMmgood. What a beautiful world we live in where such fine things are so easily & cheaply available.

    TRANS3 first, then make a double feature of THE TREE OF LIFE & ON DEADLY GROUND so maybe I can feel validated about my comparisons of those 2.

    I’ve never had a pot brownie. Was always a blunt man myself, and a blunt boy before that. I’ll use that response as a gateway to a harder drug question: Is there anyone else who’s never done heroin before but plans on trying it someday when you’re like 50-60 years old when there’s no reason to fear having to pee in a cup or freaking out, just to see if it’s fun?

  163. DNA, again the “no story” argument. Isn’t the problem trying to tell TOO MUCH story? All the conspiracies and explanations, why WON’T they just do the robot fight movie?

    I’m feeling oddly compelled to watch Revenge of the Fallen right now. I think I want to see if there were signs of the Sam/Mikaela breakup in Megan Fox’s performance. Somebody talk me down from this ledge.

  164. sorry fellas, I’m still struggling to conquer the Transformables 3 review, and I gotta go to work. I think/hope I’ll have it up late tonight or tomorrow morning.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion here.

  165. Fred, I think you are completely right. You are addressing what I was trying to debate with Majestyk. Bay does not strip away story and streamline the cinematic experience he applies it in heavy handed, convoluted, and clunky ways that are often full of exposition, time consuming, and boring. It is the main reason most of his films have a 3 hour plus running time, and the pacing is so bad.

  166. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts Vern.

  167. Fred — although there are many plot developements, I think DNA’s right that there’s not really a story, in that there isn’t exactly one major, complete arc in the whole thing. There’s a ton of events, but not really a narrative.

    tempurasn — Well dude, if that’s truly how you feel I can only say it sounds like you’re just on his wavelength in a way which I’m not. To me, every one of those things you say sounds like a thing Michael Bay consciously tried to do and utterly failed in my eyes. You absolutely articulate everything the film is definitely trying to do and be (better even than Bay does) but I’m honestly stunned to find that it actually works as intended on anyone. I would love to find a director that works on the level you describe that actually made movies that work for me, so I’m glad you’ve found yours. I know we can be a bit hostile to any Bay people, but thanks for sticking around for a civil discussion can has to end in agreeing to disagree. Comapring Bay to Shakespeare in the general terms you use borders on trolling, but I’ll let it slide because of its complete brazen ballsiness.

    Tawdry Hepburn — dont worry, already paid for and watched TREE.

    For those of you who are mad at me for not buying a ticket, fuck you all. There was no way on this Earth I was going to use my money to vote for them to make more of these and more movies like this. That would not be striving for excellence.

  168. Mr. Subtlety, that’s beautiful. “Fuck you all,” you say! Ha! That’s fucking phenomenal. That’s given me the warm & fuzzy feeling that reminds me what Striving for Excellence is all about. I’m a ticketbuyer x4 for THE TREE OF LIFE so far, once dragging 2 people who otherwise would not have seen it and having seen it a second time by myself, so I hope my soul is saved despite my not breaking the law & IMAXing the shit out of TRANS3.

    Nah, fuck it, it was actually a fun time at the movies. My conflicted soul will just have to deal.

  169. Holy shit, Broddie. Is that accurate?

    Reminds me of a sadly prescient comment I made 10 months ago.


    **Dude’s already been ripped to shreds by critics, amateur & professional, in virtually every obviously questionable aspect (plagiarism, stupidity, arrogance, bigotry, etc.) of his career’s output, but I’m totally willing to look past the usual allegations and try to give him credit for adding beauty or at least facilitating some new nuance of the discussion of beauty & art in this world despite his shortcomings.

    . . .

    . . . this imbecile is so in on his own joke that maybe he truly is some of kind near-genius anti-artist.
    . . . But then he continually borrows from himself. He’s shown no progress as an artist, only as a multimillionaire. I’ve reluctantly convinced myself that he’s a genuine moron, at least in the part of the brain that would garner respect from someone like myself.

    He prides himself on self-copycatism, and thus his efforts smack of studio-budget acquiescence and going the safe route. And, most recently, he has inserted the worst, unfunniest attempts at humor that I’ve ever experienced. **

    And yes, TRANSFORMERS 3 suffers from not having a big enough budget. This YouTube video seems to prove this, and perhaps we’ll discuss when Vern punches the clock on his day job and gets to work on his real job here.

  170. Charles, I would also say I’m a fan of the comedy in Bay’s movies. I think John Turturro, Ken Jeong, Alan Tudyk, Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Nicolas Cage, etc. are all funny people and I like that Bay gives them free reign to be as goofy as they want to be. I think part of it is the context. I find John Malkovich as a ridiculous office tyrant who can’t stand the color red funny, but it is even funnier because it is in a movie with serious scenes of people being disintegrated. I kind of doubt I would find the humor as funny in a straight comedy.

    The comic relief in Bay’s movies is a lot like the evil Peter Parker jazz dance scene in SPIDER-MAN 3 for me. That’s my favorite scene in the movie in part because I can’t believe it is in a movie that was not made in the 1980s. It’s great.

    And, no, I wasn’t high when I saw any of his movies.

  171. Jake, did you laugh when Bumble Bee peed on John Turturro, or at anything the twins from TRANS 2 did or said? I think Nic Cage has some funny moments in THE ROCK, but I think that has to do more with him as a performer then Bay as a film maker.

  172. Now hold on just a god damn moment. I can borderline believe people could like Bay’s films, could actually find them exciting and artfully made. But I just don’t believe for one single second that any person could seriously find John Malkovich funny in this. I can believe someone watched it without weeping quietly at a once-great thesbian brought to this sad state. I can believe that you remember him in an effort to wipe from your mind any trace of memory regarding Ken Jeong in this film. But I simply cannot believe you or any human found him funny. I cannot and will not allow myself to believe in a world where that’s possible.

  173. Bay also reused footage from PEARL HARBOR in some of the carrier shots in the first TRANSFORMERS. So yeah, there’s a precedent.

    As for Malcovich, he was, and was absolutely horrible, in MUTANT CHRONICLES and ERAGON. So as far as I’m concerned, he took a big shit on his career a long time ago. His antics in TRANSFORMERS 3 barely register.

  174. Mr. S, I am reminded of an interview Malkovich gave when promoting CON AIR, and he said he did at least one big popcorn movie every year or so, so that he could pay the bills and have the freedom to take other roles he really wanted to do but that pay little to nothing. So, I guess you could say in a roundabout convaluted way Bay supports quality cinema. He is helping to subsidize actors like Malkovich’s (Turturro, McDormand, and others) careers so that they can afford to do more quality work. Thank you Michael Bay for helping to support the arts!

  175. Recently, someone here was kind enough to post some Uwe Boll footage, showing that he made 2.5 films with 1 set, 1 cast, 1 costume department, and 2 scripts. I recall Hunter Tawdry noted his admiration for Boll’s business acumen.

    Is Baygiarism a word now?

  176. Thanks for the support, guys!

    I’ve smoked my fair share of pot, it’s hard not to when you live in Puerto Rico and go to Ziggy Marley concerts, but it’s never really had an effect on me outside of making me feel more anxious. When I worked as a stage hand and then as a roadie I smoked a bit and it just never did anything for me.

    Question, does my paying for Transformers 3 go against the ethos here that we should all strive for excellence? I mean, I’ve only really seen bits and pieces of the first two on DVD (my 8 year old nephew loves them) and I thought they were incomprehensible and boring so I’ve yet to give any money to Bay.

    Not that I’m a huge fan of Malick, either. I’m excited to see Tree of Life and Transformers back to back because I think Bay and Malick have some of the same problems and some opposite problems and I’m excited to compare and contrast them. Hell, I’m really hoping I end up coming out of both loving the experience each delivers.

    I don’t understand Malkovich. He’s been in some good movies but he doesn’t always try to be excellent or do something interesting with each role. He’s not bad or anything but I find him fairly unremarkable. He’s no Nic Cage but neither is he a sign that a movie is likely to be bad like Ron Perlman.

  177. Mouth, lets give credit where it is due. It sounds like Boll is working form the Roger Corman playbook.

  178. Casey, I can’t speak for everyone here, but I am not going to judge you for giving your money to Bay. Aas many people have pointed out in this thread, there are a lot of talented people Bay employs so you are supporting them and helping to subsidize actors like Malkovichs careers. However, I could not do it. I would feel like I a hypocrite. However, I could do it if I was in Vern’s position because I could justify it as a necessary evil that I was required to do to further my study and analysis of badass cinema.

  179. Casey — I think its probably a case by case basis. If you think like Bay’s stuff and want to support him and similar films by giving them money, I say go for it. To me, that sounds like the opposite of what I support and its not like they’re hurting for funds either. So its worth it to go a little out of my way to direct my consumer dollar elsewhere, even if I have a mordant curiousity.

    I love that Bay has been compared favorably to both William Shakespeare and Terrance Malick on this board, though. Who knew there were all these guys in the woodwork who consider Bay to be a master craftsman with a misunderstood product?

  180. Indeed, Mr. Subtlety, we have glimpsed the vanguard of the debasement of everything.

    As Taylor Mac revealed to me at Spoleto ( http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/may/28/review-comparison-drag-and-we-love-it/ ), comparison is violence.

  181. Not only did Boll make 3 films at the same time, with the same crew and the same sets, one was a non-narrative film about a day in the life at Auschwitz, the second was part 3 of the Bloodrayne franchise and the third was a spoof of the Bloodrayne: The Third Reich called Blubberella (yes, those are the real titles) using the same script and actors, but replacing Rayne with a morbidly obese woman who periodically told fat jokes.

  182. Tawdry, Roger Corman would be so proud.

  183. I apologize if I compared Bay and Malick favorably to each other. I’m not overly fond of either one, but still I did not mean to say they are equal or that Bay is somehow good in relation to Malick.

    Malick leaves me cold and I can’t get terribly excited by his work. I guess some of my problems with him, in as much as they affect my viewing of his films, is that his movies feel longer than they are and they already feel very long. I think he frames some excellent shots but they usually last a few beats longer than I feel they should. I think Bay’s films are also long and feel longer. I think he also frames some excellent shots but instead of having long single shots he has lots of quick cuts that give me a headache.

    I apologize if I compared Bay favorably to Malick. That was not my intention. I can obviously see that Malick is a better film maker than Bay for many reasons. Even still, his films don’t really work for me and I feel that some of the issues I have with them can be compared to issues I have with Bay and I think comparing an auteur film director with a music video director who was given a big budget can be interesting.

    Actually, I really like The Thin Red Line and I’m excited for Tree of Life because I hear it is very personal and emotional and I hope it works as a film. Malick’s other films, especially The New World, feel very detached and impersonal to me and I hope Tree of Life doesn’t.

    Again, I apologize if I misspoke.

    I actually like Uwe Boll. House of the Dead is insane and I don’t think his movies are ever boring. They’re awful but I can remember most of the scenes from them. House of the Dead was an awesome theatre experience since a bunch of friends and I drank a ton of 40s and went to go see it. That movie is seriously hilarious. I never understood the vitriol he got. Sure, his movies are bad but at least they aren’t boring.

  184. Casey, didn’t Boll combine screen shots of the video game cut together with live action footage in HOUSE OF THE DEAD?

  185. Charles, humor is like sex, I can’t tell why certain things turn me on, nor can I tell you what makes me laugh. They’re not something you can really intellectualize. Because the moment you do the effect is lost, like explaining a joke to somebody. It is an associative process that your brain goes to, apparently I’m connecting things that you aren’t. I’m not saying you don’t get the joke itself, but it may be nothing but face value for you, while I associate it with something from my past that amuses me.

  186. Okay, 3D is dead to me. I just came out of the theatre and it was the first TRANSFORMERS movie that really bored me, because thanks to the – on a technical level very well done – 3D, I had to stare blank on the middle of the screen for 2 1/2 to make it work, which somehow made me feel like I was looking through it and also set me into some kind of trance. It sucked all possible exciting out of the movie for me. It’s very likely that I will enjoy the 2D DVD version better.

  187. He did, Charles! A lot of the fades, or whatever they’re called, between the scenes were quick cuts to the video game in a particularly action filled moment.

    I was trying to find a particular scene to share and instead found that Youtube has the entire movie up there in a legit format. The action scene starting at around minute 50 is ridiculous and stupid in the best way.

    You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPEUaiXyIiI&feature=watch-now-button&wide=1

  188. Unfortunately it does not have the director’s commentary on it. I remember it being especially awesome because Uwe gets really upset that many of the actors did not stick around for when they blow up the house. I just remember him yelling “They should have stayed for the fucking explosion!” in his German accent and it makes me happy.

  189. Charles, I should probably tread lightly here for fear of blowing Mr. Subtlety’s mind, but yes, I laughed at the robot urinating and at the stereotype twins. Because I couldn’t believe that stuff was in a mainstream movie in the year 2009. Goofiness on that level was supposed to have been purged from movies with advent of irony in the 90s. So I appreciate that his movies remind me of the 80s when people would put any crazy thing in a movie and not worry about whether it would be too corny or uncool.

  190. Brilliant link. Say what we will about basic fimatical competence, that action scene is clearly the result of a man & a filmmaking crew with a unique vision. Shame about the fate of AmericaGirl and the legs of UniformGirl.

    Also thanks to Casey, I’ve learned that an associate producer for HOUSE OF THE DEAD is named Max Wanko. Why is that funny, but nothing in the Transformers movies is?

  191. tempurasan, I don’t disagree with you. Humor is very objective. I guess I am just surprised to hear anyone say that the humor was part of what they enjoyed about Bay’s work. Others have echoed your fondness for Bay’s humor since you mentioned it but you have to be the first person I know that has ever said they liked Bay’s humor.

    I know we don’t agree about Bay, but I have really enjoyed the conversation. Since you like Bay so much and grew up on HK cinema, I imagine you are a fan of over the top action. Have you seen Ringo Lam’s FULL CONTACT? If you have not I would highly recommend it. It is a crazy and action packed film that just drips with style, and I think would appeal to your tastes as a fan of Bay’s. I absolutely love it and would be interested to hear your thoughts.

  192. There’s a lot of humor in House of the Dead. Or at least things I think are funny. First, they go to the biggest rave of the year on an island in the Pacific Northwest. That’s hosted by Sega. They are taken to the island by smugglers who run into the Coast Guard on the way there. One of the people in the Coast Guard, and who later shows up as a zombie, is named MacGuyvers. That makes me laugh. The captain of the smuggling boat played the captain on Das Boot and is named Captain Kirk and they milk both facts for all they’re worth. His First Mate is played by Clint Howard.

    Also, the one girl has really jiggly lady parts and they play that up a lot.

    Oh! And, what may be my most favorite part, is that the action scene I referenced above goes so long that it not only plays an entire House of the Dead rap song but the song actually ends and they start playing another song as though it’s part of one big playlist. There’s just so much wrong and earnest about this movie that I just can’t but help love it.

  193. Casey, I can’t access Youtube while I am at work, but thanks for the link and I will check it out later. I am not that familiar with Boll but what I know I am absolutely fascinated by. I compared him to Corman earlier, not because of his film making skills, because from what I understand Boll is a marginal to bad film maker that has been learning on the job for years, but because his strength lays in his ability to stretch a budget and get financing. Hence, his rather prolific out put despite having not ever made a film that is considered any good.

  194. Jake, you just blew my mind, but if I understand you, you are laughing at his attempts at humor not with them.

  195. OK, so we’re talking ironic amusement here? That’s a different story. I don’t have to give up on life and become a Scientologist after all.

  196. (and now someone is going to come out defending Scientology and compare L. Ron Hubbard to Michaelangelo or something)

  197. True story:

    Once, during college, some of my friends set up a student film festival. Between shorts they had some live acts. One of these live acts was a stand up comedian. Unfortunately, the original selection had to cancel, so they found a replacement the day of with no time to hear the routine.

    He got up on stage and went on for 13-15 minutes before they had to literally PULL HIM OFF. During that time he told a long series of jokes. He clearly had worked on the material and rehearsed it and thought it through, but none of the jokes hit. NOT ONE. No one in the entire theater laughed. He went on and on and on and never got a single chuckle from anyone…except me. I was sitting in the back dying of laughter. I was so enamored with this kid’s inability to tell a joke or understand his audience. It was like a brilliant Andy Kaufman routine or a Samuel Beckett play. You could see how it was a “Joke” but none of them were funny in any type of rationale way. It was one of the most excellent things I have ever seen. So, the idea of an unfunny joke can, indeed, be very funny.

  198. When you think about it, L. Ron Hubbard is just like Jesus. So many similarities.

    And, you know, up is just like down, too. They’re both directions. They both rely on the concept of verticality. They both seem to enjoy playing off the concept of gravity, and neither will change its will because of what some uppity Ivy League snobs might think of them. And if you just twist your body far enough to one side, you can see that up & down are really almost the same thing, many similarities.

  199. Yes, it’s a touch ironic but that’s not exactly it. It’s more a genuine enjoyment of ridiculousness. Not some kind of condescending irony, where I consider myself better than the film and its makers. There needs to be a new word for this kind of enjoyment. It’s kind of like my appreciation of ON DEADLY GROUND or ROAD HOUSE. I am maybe sometimes laughing in ways that are not intended but I am genuinely glad the crazy stuff is in there for me to enjoy.

    And I will always maintain that this exchange is genuinely funny:

    Sam Witwicky: No, uh, it’s just this friend of mine went to get you a tighter shirt…
    Frat guy: There is NO tighter shirt! We checked!

  200. I love being that guy, Tawdry. Glad to hear you got to experience such a thing in such a pure form. My friends have told me similar stories about a couple of awkward, brilliant Neil Hamburger performances the last few years.

    A similar sensation occurs on New Year’s upon the countdown & ball dropping or whatever — I choose to turn away from the central item of everyone else’s focus and look at all the gleeful idiots holding up their cell phone cams and embracing their loved ones in preparation for this meaningless flip of the calendar. It’s more memorable & interesting to be that one guy who’s not into what everyone else is into, plus I just can’t get excited about a ceremony for an annual administrative move.

  201. “And, you know, up is just like down, too. They’re both directions. They both rely on the concept of verticality. They both seem to enjoy playing off the concept of gravity, and neither will change its will because of what some uppity Ivy League snobs might think of them.” – Mouth, Outlawvern.com, 7/1/11

    Now you just blew my mind and made me smile. :)

  202. I saw Neil Hamburger open up for Tenacious D and a year later for Tim and Eric. The Tenacious D audience HATED him but the Tim and Eric audience ate him up.

    He tells one of my favorite jokes ever: How are disgraced rapper Tupac Shakur and Ocean’s Eleven similar? They were both shot in Las Vegas.

    His delivery of it kills me. My friend I went with and I still laugh at and wonder why Tupac is “disgraced”.

    I’ve seen that guy, Tawdry. I feel more sympathetic for that person than anything. I guess I’ve been around too much sarcasm, snark, and snide that I can’t help but pull for someone that’s sincere.

  203. No, the guy was a horrible comedian who had no reverence for the fact that there were quite a few families in the audience. I really admired his gumption and wanted to be his friend…but I think he left/was kicked out the theater before the festival ended. My animated short about a time traveling Adolf Hitler went over similarly. But at least in mine, the discomfort was clearly intentional.


    Can I suggest “Horatian Schadenfreude” for the term?

    Horatian Satire is a satirical piece where you are supposed to feel sympathy for the protagonist. Don Quixote is the most famous example of this. Juvenalian Satire, meanwhile, is a satirical work designed to ridicule the subject, a famous example of this style is Voltaire’s Candide. Schadenfreude is a German term that means, roughly, the most pure joy is that which is taken in the pain of another.

    If we enjoy watching the protagonists/filmatists fail and take joy in laughing AT but not WITH them while still remaining generally sympathetic to their plight, I think this term might fit. It could also apply to the works of Ed Wood or The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

  204. I would like to go on record and say that Scientology bashing makes me very uncomfortable. The whispered paranoia, especially among semi-militant, internet-savvy youths strikes me as philosophically identical to any other form of bigotry. People get up in arms about the so-called “evils” of Scientology while completely ignoring the actions of Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism and all other major organized religions that I have ever encountered, as if they were sinless.

    Even if the worst statements against Scientology were all true, I think you would be hard pressed to conclude anything but that it is the most benign form of organized religion on the planet. Compare their alleged body count of 7 and their alleged attempts at media manipulation with the absolute fact of millions murdered by any of the Big Three, the scandalizing of basic medical information in Sex Edu classes, the bullshit controversy over evolution, the 1 in 3 gay youths who will attempt suicide, the inability to get decent beer in Utah, et al.

    No one will ever stand up for Scientology. You have a free pass to say whatever hateful thing you want about them. That strikes me as problematic. And while you can find Jew jokes and Catholic jokes ect. all over the place in a playful mood, I never see any jokes about Scientology that don’t seem like thinly-veiled slurs.

  205. That’s not a bad term you’ve coined but it isn’t quite what I’m experiencing. Since I’m not really laughing at the movie. Though I suppose I’m not quite laughing with it either. I guess I’m laughing near it and in the same general direction.

    To try and clarify, I see four ways to react to a comedic scene of John Turturro talking about a robot’s “scrotum”:

    1. Laugh because a robot has testicles. (I assume this the reaction many kids have watching the film)

    2. Laugh in genuine appreciation of the fact that they spent thousands upon thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours to put wrecking balls on a robot just so John Turturro can make a testicle joke smack dab in the middle of the climax of the movie. (My reaction)

    3. Laugh at this scene for how stupid it is and how much smarter you are than it. (I assume this is the reaction of the annoying hipsters making lame jokes during the midnight screening of SHOWGIRLS I went to because they don’t see how great that movie is)

    4. Don’t laugh at all and kick yourself for watching this stupid, insulting abomination of a movie and vow that you will never see another Michael Bay movie ever again or at least until he comes out with a sequel to this very movie that you hate. (It appears this is the reaction of several people here)

    I know it is not a competition but it seems to me that the kids and I are the winners here. The kids probably more so than me. I realize the hipsters also get plenty of enjoyment out of it too but unfortunately for them they are still condescending hipsters.

  206. Not to totally get into another discussion about religion but I definitely agree and disagree with you about Scientology.

    All religions are really goofy when you think about them. I think Mormonism gets a real bad reputation because of the snark directed its way about its origin but every other faith has a ridiculous origin as well.

    I think making fun of Scientology because of its cosmogony is just silly. Granted, my preferred cosmogony is the Heliopolitan Cosmogony.

    Still, I think there is a very legitimate concern about the perceived, I honestly don’t know enough to make a judgment, cult that surrounds Scientology. I have known friends and family that became incredibly active in one of these mega “Bible” churches and those appear very much like a cult but from what I’ve heard and read about Scientology it is much more like a cult. Again, I don’t know too much about it but I do think Scientology could do a lot for itself by not being as secretive and by being more open.

    I do agree, though, that the blind bigotry that is directed its way is kind of disgusting and reprehensible. It’s as if liberal bourgeois nerds found a religion they could make fun of with no consequences. Billy Jack would not approve so I don’t approve. WWBJD?

  207. I know nothing of Scientology except what I learned in an interesting The New Yorker piece a few months ago and the snippets I’ve absorbed from pop culture & news outlets. The history of the belief system seems pretty groovy, actually, but it’s still sad for me to see people devoted to living in accordance with myths.

    I’d argue that bigotry is founded in ignorance, not so much in a particular philosophy or philosophical approach, but that’s probably just semantics. I’m proud to be an equal opportunity offender of all religion and religious adherents, if only for the selfish reason that I fear future generations will laugh at my current world in which legislation is based on scriptural interpretations while atheists/secular humanists are the minority.

  208. Michael Bay flicks are kinda like Texmex food. It’s pretty good and it gives you what you expect. We don’t have to have a whole discussion about it.

  209. Charles, Thank you so much for bringing Full Contact back into my life. I immediately went on youtube to look up the trailer, and was transported back to the 12 year old me sitting in front of the TV in my shorts and T-shirt worshiping Chow Yun Fat. I can’t say I remember much from the flick, but it is now my life mission to seek it out and watch it again. Ringo Lam is the man, even through his Van Damm phase. He directed a direct to DVD flick a while back called In Hell that I thoroughly enjoy. And of course, his infamous Jackie Chan flick, Twin Dragon, (though when I saw it I just called it the one with two Jackie Chans) one of the most nonsensically awesome movie made during that time.

    Since we are making recommendations, in your spare time looking for something to watch, may I suggest the 2004 Johnny To’s movie called “Throwdown”, one of the most bizarrely lyrical and beautiful film he has ever done. It is Johnny To’s love letter to Kurosawa, and I love it like no others. If that whet your appetite for more, watch To’s “Sparrow”. The only way to describe that film is it is as if Truffaut and John Woo got together and direct a movie together. It’s pretty astonishing that movie gets made at all, and it’s staggeringly magical.

    Anyway, It’s getting off topic.

  210. Jake, please post your in-depth analysis of Showgirls.

  211. In regards to Bay’s humor, why do people keep forgetting that he has made more action comedies than just the Transformers series. Did we suddenly forget that The Rock, Armageddon, Bad Boys 1-2 were also action comedies as well. And The scripts that Bay has shot has been written by people from JJ Abrams to Tony Gilroy. Heck even the great Sorkin put in a few pages here and there for Bay as well. His “brand” of humor has been prevalent in all of his movies, and they all feature some pretty sharp one liners and jokes. But once again, I guess it’s subjective right?

  212. It was pretty funny in THE ROCK when the effeminate stylist cowers and says, “All I care about is: are you happy with your haircut?”

  213. Exactly. You don’t know any Scientologists, you don’t know anything ABOUT Scientologists. Every piece of literature you’ve ever encountered about Scientologists has been framed within the context of, “Are they really as wacky and evil as they seem?” I have never once seen an unbias, fair account of the religion in any form of news media.

    Also, if you look further into the jokes and innuendos about the faith, other troubling trends become apparent. People love to conflate Scientology and homosexuality; Tom Cruise is gay, John Travolta is gay, et al. is the punchline to a great many Scientologist jokes. The implication is that Scientology is a vile secret…like being gay. Because what could be worse than being gay, amirite?

    The jokes and innuendo and snide remarks are very, very often coupled with racism, homophobia and sexism. The argument is not against the religion at all, I think. It is simply a “safe” place for people to act like bigots in modern culture.

    And for all the talk of Scientologists controlling the media, I see no evidence. If this were true, wouldn’t you see SOME positive portrayals of Scientology? I have never, not one, EVER seen a tv show, movie, cartoon, comic strip, human interest story ect. with a positive portrayal of a Scientologist character. Have you ever seen a film where the love interest was a Scientologist? Where the football captain was a Scientologist? Where the war hero was a Scientologist? No. To my knowledge this have never happened.

    There are news stories in LA about Scientologist groups buying out entire theaters whenever Tom Cruise or John Travolta or whomever opens a movie. These stories are almost always tinged with a, “What a freakshow!” angle but the same stations also cover Christian groups buying out theaters to see Soul Swimmer, The Passion, Fireproof, Narnia and so on with a “Finally, a positive movie!” angle. It is utter hypocrisy.

    The level of fear-based discussion of Scientology is not entirely different from the generalized Antisemitism found in the US before the mid-1930s (Before this point Jews were not considered, “White” and you would see signs that said things like, “No Jews, No N******, No Irish, No Dogs” on storefronts. Obviously, Scientology does not face that level of discrimination, but the fundamentals of people’s perceptions are psychologically similar, in my opinion.

    Basically, I think that if you’re against bigotry and discrimination, you should be against bigotry and discrimination across the board.

    Some things about Scientology make me very uncomfortable. But those are the same things that make me uncomfortable about religion as a whole. As an avowed Atheist, (who prays before eating meat or sleeping and can’t go 24 hours without quoting the bible), I reserve the right to say less than nice things about religion, but I think it is wrong to accept people slandering just one religion while they turn a blind eye to the same forces in their own faith.

  214. I am not the “Bay-hater”, but this movie was not good. The actions scenes are cool and that’s all the good things I can say about this. And what’s funny is, that in the end of the movie I’ve got tired, it was so heartless and without soul. My brother liked it though…I cannot understand him.

    Anyhow, I always say, Michael Bay made ONE great movie: The Rock. I kinda grew up with it, watched it many times when I was a child, and it’s a classic to me. Not without flaws but a superb action flick.

    I even like the Bad Boys-movies. Especially the second one. Yeah, I know that’s crazy but I love that “Fuck you!”-attitude

    Pearl Harbour, Armageddon, Transformers 1-3…all the same shit to me. And of course The Island…Which had a potential to be a great and thought-provoking movie but Bay fucked it up with his visual style and lack of storytelling-abilities

    (sorry for my grammar, by the way. I’m hungarian)

  215. Oh yeah, wait I do know some things about Scientology. Shit, man, sorry if this undermines your first paragraph there, Tawdry, but I forgot about this until my ladyfriend here told me about this time a guy at the NYU campus was offering to get the xenu-thetan-meter readings of passersby.

    I think maybe I’ve told this story before somewhere in the comments, but I forgot about it because the day it happened was a really fun, interesting day with a lot of great memories of other shit, and I got pretty drunk at the end of it. It’s always a good day when the least interesting thing to happen is a visit to the Director’s Guild HQ. Anyway a couple years ago I took vacation from OIF and went to Hollywood. One afternoon, I checked out the Psychiatry: Industry of Death “museum.” I like unique, challenging installations, and I literally just happened to be walking by with some time to spare. And it was free, so hey, that’s not true of much anything cool in L.A..

    I traded my video camera for a ticket, small talked the front desk chick, and began my journey. It had some interesting stuff ranging from collages on eugenics to a sober account of the horror of Dr. Freeman & his Lobotomobile to multimedia presentations on the 1950s boom of prescription uppers among homemaker women.

    After going through the self-guided tour for about 20-30 minutes, I get to the last section of the museum, and the messaging & true purpose of the whole place came into focus. The entire goddamn thing was a setup to get people to see the Scientologist view of modern medicine & psychiatry. Suddenly, the interesting photos and examples of industrial propaganda disappear and you’re surrounded by monitors prepared to reveal to you the truth about the future of mental health without drugs, without the evil medication that is only meant to take your money & enslave me.

    I step out to return to the lobby, and unfortunately I had to converse with the front desk lady, an attractive girl my age as it happened, because she had my video camera (not allowed in the exhibits). She might have been flirting with me, which I hope isn’t too hard to believe, or she might have been greasing the wheels to solicit me, since I was wearing some fine clothing that day and may have given the appearance of wealth, but in any case she held my little camera hostage until I engaged her in polite conversation for several minutes. It was not pleasant. The word Scientology never came up, but she was intent on driving home the message of the tail end of the museum’s exhibits. I got her business card and half-ass invited her to come out for sushi that night with my friends.

    That particular Scientology establishment did not present an accurate, unbiased history of medicine, in my opinion. And it gave me the fucking willies.

  216. People think Travolta is gay?

  217. Ooh, I found some pictures I took during my visit! I guess iPhones were allowed? Or I was too badass to let the rules restrict my inner-journalist!


  218. Tawdry, I’ve read many fair, unbiased articles about Scientology in Germany, where it’s not officially accepted as a religion and is also under surveillance of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution because it’s suspected of violating the human rights of its members.

    However, I think you’re right absolutely about the bigotry, but some of your comparisons are inaccurate.

    For example, you can’t compare a religion that already existed before the Dark Ages to a cult founded by a pulp fiction author in the 50s in terms of »body count« and come to the conclusion that Scientology »the most benign form of organized religion«.

    I’m against bigotry and discrimination, but also against populism and oversimplification.

  219. Sorry for the delay in responding, Fred. I was out at a showing of THE TREE OF LIFE. Obviously I paid for a ticket to TRANSFORMERS 3D and then snuck in.

    Anyway, here are some of the reasons I love SHOWGIRLS. Remember you are the one who said in-depth. So I can’t be blamed for the length. I recommend everyone skip it and just assume that it is undeniably brilliant and changes everything you thought you knew about sexiness.

    The pacing. I love that this film has more momentum than almost any action movie. Even SPEED has a couple parts where it slows down (once after the elevator bomb and then after the bus blows up). Whereas SHOWGIRLS hits the ground running and never lets up. Just relentless forward motion. Which makes sense because it mimics the main character herself. Nomi is like a shark, always on the move and always hungry. And also just like a shark she is willing to push her rival down a flight of stairs if she needs to. I mean, I’m not a marine biologist but I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that sharks do that all the time. They don’t even care. A shark would push it’s own mother down a flight of stairs if it could be lead dancer in Goddess. That is a fact. I believe it was Jacques Cousteau who called them “Nature’s most vicious social climbing douchebags”.

    Nomi. This type of ambitious backstabber could be a very unsympathetic character. I recall Anne Baxter in ALL ABOUT EVE being pretty unlikeable, for instance. Yet I really like Nomi. Which I think is testament to Berkley and Eszterhas’s talent since they get me to care about and root for this overly ambitious, angry person with violent tendencies. Good work, team. I recall Tarantino describing SWITCHBLADE SISTERS as a movie that sneaks up on you. You might start out kind of laughing at it but by the end you realize you genuinely care about what happens to the characters. I think the same can be said for Nomi. You might start out disliking her but by the end you feel for her and are rooting for her to get revenge for her friend. (Side note: During one of the scenes early on when Nomi is snapping at her friend or violently stabbing some fries into ketchup one of my fellow midnight movie patrons shouted out jokingly, “She’s so angry!” You, sir, are a card. Unfortunately, that’s not a joke. That’s the character! Did you also notice how Forrest Gump was developmentally disabled? Top marks for you, my friend. But I’d like to think by the end of the film even the jokers in the audience were rooting for Nomi to beat up the rapist.)

    The sex and nudity. I am a fan of exploitation cinema. I like the films of the 70s that weren’t so coy with the sex scenes. So I am ecstatic that some unsung hero of a producer said, “Yes, we are going to bankroll the biggest sexploitation movie ever made and we are going to get the best director on the planet for this type of film to make sure we deliver the goods.” That perfect of a combination rarely happens. Which explains why SHOWGIRLS is almost unique in the history of cinema. Please let me know if you think I’m mistaken about that. I would love to be.

    The humor and satire. As has already been demonstrated in this thread I enjoy crude humor. And it doesn’t get much cruder than SHOWGIRLS. I think this is one of those films where people think they are laughing at it when really they are laughing with it. Like the scene where they share their love of dog food. How can people not see that is intended to be funny? I don’t know but they seem to. It is also strange to me that many people seem to miss the satire. I could maybe understand it if it wasn’t one of Verhoeven’s trademarks. But still, he has a catfight scene which has the sound of a cat growling (or maybe it was hissing) on the soundtrack. Not particularly subtle.

    Also, I love that she basically puts on makeup warpaint (including on her nipples, well done whoever came up with that part) when she goes to get revenge. Kind of like the equally awesome scene where Shoshanna does the same thing in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

    In conclusion, SHOWGIRLS is one of the best films ever made. Q.E.D.

  220. I think Shane Black said it best about using humour and throwaway gags in action films. He only likes to use jokes that are conversational and not stupid. He doesn’t like the use gags and what he calls a certain Jerry Lewis style. He use 48 Hrs as an example of good use of humour, when Nolte and Murphy is trailing a suspect and Eddie says: “For a cop you’re pretty stupid, man. You’re driving too close.” And Nick says: “Yeah, well, most cops are pretty stupid, but seeing as you landed in jail what does that make you?”

    I think this shows the difference between The Rock and The Transformers films. All the humour is in the dialogue in The Rock and is either character or plot driven. In Transformers there is gags and character that doesn’t really fit in and takes you out of the film. There are several scenes that could be taken out without hurting the films plot. In The Rock the humour balance the tension in the action scenes. The same way it does in films like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. Lethal Weapon series got worse when there was more gags in the films.

    This is from an article from the Guardian that was written when 12 Rounds was released, and he gave 10 advice of good action film writing. It’s a pretty good read. His other advice are about having action driven plot (he thinks in most modern action film you can take out the action scenes and it will not change the plot at all), highs and lows, sudden impact, subjective action (he uses example from No Country for Old Men and the shoot out between Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin), awkwardness (he uses example from The Hitcher and the dog licking the corpse) and a lot more.

  221. Jareth Cutestory

    July 2nd, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Tawdry: One thing that distinguishes Scientology from other cults is the extent to which they’re litigious against intelligent discussion, to the point of inhibiting free speech. They have no interest in tolerating an open discussion of the merits of their cult in an intellectual forum wider than their own recruiting centers. They “control” the media in the same way that Ed Meese controlled it: by instilling a climate of fear over what people feel they can discuss. Any organization that feels it needs to completely dictate the terms under which it can be discussed is going to attract exactly the kind of attention that it is trying to suppress.

    Tom Cruise’s anti-psychiatry jihad isn’t all that different from Kirk Cameron’s anti-Darwin bullshit, nor is the Scientology cult’s position against medication any more wrongheaded than the Catholic church’s ban on birth control, but for those of us who work in fields where there these ideas have concrete negative repercussions, it’s kind of hard to not get a bit vocal in our opposition.

    Also, Scientology gets conflated with homosexuality precisely because Scientology publishes homophobic material in their pamphlets. In rebuttal to Scientology’s homophobia, some activists adopt a tactic of turning that homophobia back on the practitioners (a practice I think is a better suited to SOUTH PARK than to real social action). It’s an old rhetorical device that sometimes gets applied to homophobic professional wrestlers, certain heavy metal singers and Freddie Phelps. No, homophobia within Scientology isn’t more pronounced than in the major religions of the world, or in the NBA or in society in general, but I can understand the strategic appeal in an activist tackling a perceived social problem in a place of vulnerability. Scientology’s isolation from other sites of perceived social ill, such as the mainstream churches, makes them a logical target.

  222. I liked that article, Ghost. I agreed with all ten points.

  223. That’s well said, Ghost. As many others have noted, it’s rare to be able to explain humor or a joke/gag and then to still find the joke humorous, but you’ve sort of accomplished that by opening my eyes to the organic-conversational-versus-shoehorned gag analysis.

  224. billydeethrilliams

    July 2nd, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Griff: I know this is a late post but if you happen to read this I have a question for you: What do you think of Hitman:Absolution? Blood Money is one of my favorite games of all-time and it seems like they’re turning the franchise into a Splinter Cell Conviction clone. Their already was a Conviction clone by the name of 007: Blood Stone( I still thought it was decent though). I hope the gameplay shown so far is just a very small taste and not representative of the whole experience. On topic concerning Bay: I don’t have anything to add. He sucks. the end

  225. Michael Bay is like the chick who has discovered that pushing up the cleavage and engaging in sexual innuendo with guys is a fruitful exercise, if all you are interested is in banter without purpose.

    She stops at that. Bay stops at that. She’s not interested in taking things any further. And Bay stops at what Bay does. It doesn’t evolve any further, and it was never intended to, nor could it evolve any further. There is no life beyond the presentation and the surface. Perhaps because they’ve nailed presentation and surface so well, they know what they do best.

    But I guess, in a certain segment of the movie audience, such as posting here, Bay leaves one hungry for much more. Because Bay turned you on with all the visual sugar. Because you can imagine the possibilities.

    You are all excited because Bay gives you a cinematic erection, and nowhere to stick your dick in some cinematic substance. Well, some of you have to learn the art of telling your cinematic-movie-experience-as-excited-dick that some exciting cinematic cleavage is just for show, and you just shouldn’t get so excited, thoughtwise.

    It doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy the cleavage. Enjoy it. But stop trying to build castles in the sky of expectations that all that visual sugar is going to go anywhere. Let the cleavage excite your visual cortex, and stop engaging your cerebrum’s frontal lobes of higher thought. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

    It’s just like imagining the possibilities with Ms. Cleavage-and-Banter: there is no more possibilities. It’s all she does, and intends to do, with any guy: she’s all talk and no substance.

    Bay’s output is what it is. Enjoy the surface, smile at the cleavage, and don’t gnash your teeth in frustration at what could have been: nothing could have been.

    Bay does what he does well. He’s just like that receptionist last week: stunning presentation, nothing more. Enjoy her, or him, for that purpose only, and prevent your mind from wandering into the realm of excited possibility: there is none.

  226. Good stuff Ghost. I agree with your point, there is nothing organic about the comedy in most of Bay’s work. It all feels forced.

  227. Excellent points, Baraka.

    I do worry that other, smaller-titted movies will get jealous if they see me chatting with Bay’s movies.

  228. Tempurasan, thanks for the THROWDOWN recommendation. I really like Johnny To’s films. I have seen VENGEANCE, MAD DETECTIVE, EXILED, TRIAD ELECTION, and CHUEN JIK SAT SAU (AKA FULL TIME KILLER). I have only discovered To’s work more recently and have been trying to watch as much of it as possible ever since.

  229. “other, smaller-titted movies”


    Alternative allegory based on Mouth’s analysis:

    Bay’s movies are the like the chick with the great tits you meet on the Summer beach and have a really great time in the sack with. But you can’t stand talking to her, and you can’t wait to get away from her the next morning.

    When you go back to school in the fall, and you meet the small-titted movie that’s still good in the sack, you wind up liking and then loving her for years to come, because she engages your mind.

    That’s Bay’s movies in a nutshell: a mindblowing Summertime roll in the hay, but you can’t stand her personality. Her personality doesn’t prevent you from fucking her, and you do indeed have a great cinematic orgasm that you will always fondly remember, but her personality makes your skin crawl and you drop her ASAP. Until the next summer rolls around and you see another great pair of tits on the beach.

    So the problems with cinema are the same problems with romance:

    Why can’t we find a woman with a great personality AND a great rack?!

    Why can’t we find a movie that talks like Aaron Sorkin and looks like Michael Bay?!

    And in both worlds, we are own worst enemy, because WE SET OURSELVES UP FOR FAILURE WITH OUR OWN EXPECTATIONS.

  230. It seems like a lot of Johnnie To’s work is hard to find on Region 2 DVD/Blu-ray, and just his most mainstream films are easy to find. I have a hard time finding The Mission and Running on Karma. Also really want to see Expect the Unexpected (which he only produced), which is suppose to have a very surprising and unexpected ending. If you look at reviews from the film nobody so the ending coming, so I really wonder what the ending is.

    I have seen a lot of his most mainstream work like Vengeance, Exiled, Election 1 & 2, Breaking News, PTU, Fulltime Killer and a Hero Never dies. I also want to see Running Out of Time 1 & 2, Triangle (it seems like an interesting experiment). I think I have Mad Detective laying around, but I haven’t seen it.

    David Bordwell has an interesting chapter on Johnnie To in his ebook version of Planet Hong Kong. You can get it from http://www.davidbordwell.net for $15 and it’s worth the money, a great read about Hong Kong films and a lot about there action style and how they are produce. Great read for any fans of Hong Kong cinema.

  231. BR BARAKA
    In the GQ article Jerry Bruckheimer quotes that Aaron Sorkin wrote pages for The Rock daily. So I guess The Rock is what you get when you mix Michael bay and Aaron Sorkin

  232. I hereby retract my implied criticism of the good people of Scientology and substitute the less offensive imaginary religion “Jedi”.

    Now the ball’s in your court: favorably compare Hubbard to some acknowledged master in an unrelated field based on fundamental motivations and basic tools and the circle will be complete.

  233. Ghost, I have also found that it is hard to track down region 2 copies of To’s work. I really want to get my hands on a copy of THE MISSION. Bordwell also has a great esay on MAD DETECTIVE here:


  234. Michael Bay should only direct action scenes, they should get someone like David Fincher to direct the dialogue scene as he likes to shot does kind of scene and makes them interesting. It will be kinda like Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen working together on The Transporter, one direct the actors and one direct the action. Alexandre Aja and his partner Gregory Levasseur has a similar relationship, Levasseur was credit as art director on the first three films, but as a second unit director on the others.

    George Lucas said that he and Francis Ford Coppola where great together, because Lucas loved the technical and visual, while Coppola loved working with the actors and script. I think this was when Lucas was attached in the late 60s to direct Apocalypse Now.

  235. Bordwell has a lot of great articles about Johnnie To and his films. He keeps using examples from his films and I even uses a quote on regular basis from To’s cinematographer about why not to use shaky cam. It’s in the article about Bordwell set visit on the Triangle.

  236. Ghost, I also remeber being suprised to read that Sorkin worked on THE ROCK, but I guess it makes sense considering how much better THE ROCK is than the rest of Bay’s work.

  237. In the 90’s a lot of the great writers seemed to be script doctors on a lot of the big films. Too bad it doesn’t seem Michael Bay uses them on his Transformers films. I think they could use a Shane Black or Joss Wheadon touch.

    I was reading yesterday, “Action Speaks Louder” by Licthenfield (Vern has reviewed the book some time ago), and there it was said that Terrence Malick co-wrote one of the Dirty Harry draft with John Milius, it was the draft that was written at the time Frank Sinatra left the film.

  238. Ghost:

    Thanks, I hadn’t read the whole GQ piece before proposing my fantasy combination of Bay and Sorkin, which is actually a past reality. There’s other fantasy combinations I can think of: Michael Bay and Ang Lee’s cinematic love child would be godlike, I think.

    Oh, and btw, now that I’ve read the whole piece, best quote evar:

    Bay: I’m a serious guy, but I don’t take myself so seriously. Some people are so serious.

  239. Jake, thank you for sharing your introductory paragraphs. I’d like to read the rest of your analysis one day.

    Seriously, it’s great. I love seeing a sincere deconstruction that way. I know I have Showgirls laying around on Blu-ray here. Would you consider it’s maybe the Caligula of our day? That was pretty outrageous too, although I guess now they do those orgies on Spartacus on Starz.

  240. Yeah, I was kind of wondering if CALIGULA is maybe similar, but unfortunately I still haven’t seen it. I just recently got the blu-ray though so I’ll be watching it pretty soon. I know Tarantino has compared SHOWGIRLS to MANDINGO and I can definitely see that. Both are very graphic and over-the-top and even while watching the evidence in front of my face I almost can’t believe they actually got made by major studios. Hopefully I have the same reaction to CALIGULA.

    You might have to wait a very long time for the rest of my analysis. While I’m pretty sure I could write a book about that movie I don’t really enjoy the process of writing about movies too much so I’d generally rather spend my time doing something I enjoy more. Like watching more movies. I think my ideal job would be a film critic with a ghost writer.

  241. Tempurasan, should I revisit The Island? I’ve got the Blu-ray sitting here… If so, how should I look at it for maximum enjoyment?

  242. You might this enlightening as part of your ISLAND experience:


    Plagiarism & idiocy everywhere.

  243. Jake– CALIGULA isn’t exactly an effective narrative film, but it is actually quite an impressive, nightmarish experience. Parts are quite beautiful, parts are stunning and upsetting, parts are amateurish on a level which few movies dare leave on screen. If you can get into films by Argento and Fulci (ie twisted ideas, some cinematic genius mixed in with some total crap), I suspect you’ll find things to like about CALIGULA.

    But please note: don’t watch it as a lark thinking you’ll make fun of it. My date where I tried that did not go as planned.

  244. Thanks, Mouth. Unfortunately, that only makes me want to see Clonus AND the MST3K edition of Clonus before watching The Island, so it moves to the bottom of the stack until Netflix can ship those two DVDs (not part of the MST3K instant collection.) I guess I can watch Peter Pan tonight so it’s ready to ship back. Good compromise, a probably better big budget studio movie I’ve never even seen yet.

  245. best comment: Michael Clarke Duncan (actor, Armageddon): He’s like one of those Chihuahuas that’s always barking.

    yeah, but don’t pretty much all humans look that way to Michael Clarke Duncan?

  246. I’ve always thought that Michael Clark Duncan does indeed view the rest of us as pokemons. My favorite quote was from Tuturro. It was such a backhanded compliment I couldn’t help but laugh. Not “he’s a passionate director” or “a true visionary” but “He likes blowing things up.”

    That shit is Classic with a capital C.

  247. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 9th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Fred Topel,
    Did you wind up watching Peter Pan?

  248. Yes, Chris, I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it. I think I see why it didn’t go over well. It’s oddly lit and colored, a fantasy effect gone wrong. Typical early ’00s CGI and actually the scenes with kids and Captain Hook made me really uncomfortable. I thought Ludivine Sagnier was phenomenal though. What a delightful little mime performance in there.

  249. Oh, I also did watch The Island again and I still hate it. It helped me articulate why many of Bay’s action scenes don’t work for me. He just shoots stuff falling down and breaking. Destruction is only cool when it’s about something. Scenes in The Rock have definite goals and direction. I had no problem with Transformers 1. I understood how the robots tore up a bus and skated down the freeway. But in Dark of the Moon buildings fall down just because, well, because they do. Same in The Island, Ewan and Scarlett crash through a building and knock the neon letters down because, well, it’s the end of the chase scene so it has to stop.

    If you look at disaster movies like Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno, the destruction is great, but you know what’s breaking and what deep trouble the survivorrs are in and how they have to get through it. Even Volcano, it’s a volcano in fucking L.A., but you know how the lava is flowing and how it’s going to creep along for the next 90 minutes.

  250. The article almost lost me at “Did you see the car chase from Bad Boys 2”? I did, and I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on. The same three shots over and over again, with nothing to tell us who’s who or where anybody is in relation to each other. (At least the original “Bad Boys” had the sense to be racist about it, so you knew that all the white European guys were evil and all the black American guys weren’t.)

    But then Ehren Kruger, the guy who wrote “Scream 3” came up with: “He’s in command of a massive army, all in the effort to create the ultimate Everlasting Gobstopper.” And suddenly everything was worth it!

  251. I finally watched 6 UNDERGROUND. I’m still processing my thoughts and don’t want to lapse into hyperbole, but this might be the greatest motion picture ever made by mortal man. Every frame is the most transcendentally beautiful image of the most soulless and/or unconscionable thing imaginable. It is filmed and edited like the very fate of mankind rests on every shot. This is the action blockbuster as art installation. I watched with my mouth agape the entire time. It has both restored my faith in cinema and cemented my disbelief in a higher power. No loving god would give Michael Bay’s gifts to Michael Bay. The universe is chaos and Bay is its unholy conductor.

    The only thing I hate about it is that it’s on Netflix. Power to them for letting Bay do his thing unencumbered by good taste or common sense, this film deserves to be seen on the big screen and then freeze-framed on Blu-ray. It seems that even the devil himself has to make Faustian bargains these days.

  252. I don’t think it tops BAD BOYS 2 (nothing tops BAD BOYS 2) in terms of being the Blockbuster As Art, or as a perfect distillation of everything morally objectionable about mainstream entertainment (in a good way), but it is the most pure and uncut Bay we’ve gotten since that film. I loved it, and although I don’t understand how making movies like this can be at all profitable for Netflix, I hope they throw more money at Bay in the future, since there seems to be less interest in delivering hard-R action spectacle at the cineplex these days.

  253. Footage of Mr. M watching 6 UNDERGROUND:

    "From now on we are enemies, You and I." -Salieri (children of bodom)

    Children of Bodom - Warheart Salieri: From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile bo...

  254. I like that the guy who posted that scene attributes it to a Children of Bodom song that sampled it at the beginning.

    Like, yeah, you know. Salieri’s famous speech? From that Children of Bodom album? Where else would you know it form? AMA-what-US?

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