Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Let's break down the experience of watching a trailer for a Michael Bay film. In this instance, we will use the upcoming Transformers movie as our example, but anything directed or produced by Michael Bay will give you the same results.

The trailer begins with a dramatic opening shot, usually from outer space. About 10-15 seconds into it, you realize what movie is being advertised and then you remember that it's directed by Michael Bay. You immediately decide that you will not see this film.

As the ad unfolds, however, you start to become intrigued. Some of the visuals are quite compelling. Sweeping panoramas, shadowy figures concealed by darkness. The editing of the trailer is, of course, fantastic; revealing just enough to pique your interest, but not enough to give away the farm. If you want to see it all, you will have to pay admission.

With no annoying voiceover, very little dialogue, and absolutely no plot exposition, you become a little stumped as to how the film will unfold. This is good cinema. Pull the audience in, keep them guessing, zig when they expect a zag. A key dramatic moment, is almost, but not totally exposed. As the final moments wind down, you actually think to yourself, "Wow, this looks like it could be pretty good."

Then the title card comes up, followed by four magic words that immediately invalidate everything that has just happened and painfully snap you back to the reality of the situation.

"A Michael Bay Film."

You have just been reminded that no matter how much you enjoyed the previous two minutes of your life, no matter how daring and creative it may have seemed, no matter badly you would like to watch a childhood fantasy play out in all its live action splendor, there is no conceivable way within this dimension of space-time we are currently inhabiting that this film will be anything other than a clichéd, overwrought, and offensively pro-American pile of steaming, rancid, fly-bespeckled horseshit.

It will look fantastic. You may even find yourself slightly entertained at some points. But it will not be good. It is simply not possible.

Michael Bay has directed six feature length movies. All (but one) have been wildly successful at the box office. All (including that one) have been horrible. Talented actors, powerful storylines, incredible production values, and a few clever ideas, but not one decent movie to show for it.

His trailers, on the other hand, are phenomenal. Best in the business. And why not? As Roger Ebert said, Armageddon was the world's "first 150-minute trailer." The problem is that sooner or later, you have to actually show the robot. That's when everything goes to hell.

One other thing: as a kid I loved Transformers toys. I still have my Optimus Prime and the box he came in. Also, when I was 10 years old I would watch literally anything as long as it was on television. I was not picky. But even I thought the Transformers cartoon sucked. So if you take a bad TV show, add Michael Bay and $300 million dollars of CGI effects—oh, and bastardize the original visual aesthetic of the toys themselves—then it's obvious you're just hurting me on purpose.

I would love for this movie to be good. Everything I've seen so far, leads me to believe that it will be. Except for those four little inescapable words ....

"A Michael Bay Film"

Rating: Two thumbs down. So close, yet so far. The story of his whole career.


Maple said...

It's definitely going to look good!

5/17/2007 1:58 PM  

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