As I type this the Michael Bay blockbuster Transformers Revenge of the Fallen is already nearing…wait… just passed $400 million dollars in worldwide ticket sales. The film is the follow up to 2007′s Transformers, which also spawned massive success across the globe. We all know how easy it is for bloggers, critics, and journalists to harp on Bay for being an over-hyped and over-paid director. I actually wrote an article examining this entitled, “Why Does Everyone Hate Michael Bay?” After watching Transformers ROTF, paired with my past viewing experience of Pearl Harbor I think I’ve found the answer.
Some spoilers ahead…….
Michael Bay is good at action, there’s no denying that. His films are pure eye candy, and take minimal brain function to absorb. His usual formula involves a mediocre story, with comedic elements, paired with amazing action. Yet, every once in a while he tries to do something that isn’t in the best interest of anyone involved, he tries to “expand.”
If I could give the director a few pointers they would be the following:
- If you’re over 90 minutes pull back, you’ve gone too far!
- Romance is not your strong suit, stay away! Do you want your dialogue to sound like it’s from Star Wars: Episode II?
- When shooting action scenes that involve robots, don’t be afraid to throw in a wide shot. We can’t tell what’s going on.
- If fire and chaos is covering the screen, and I’m still bored. You’ve done something terribly wrong.
Remember 2001′s Pearl Harbor? You could say it was Bay’s answer to James Cameron’s Titanic. He used a well known historical event as the backdrop for a love story featuring attractive, young actors. You’d think that would be a simple and successful format to follow right? Wrong! This isn’t just any love story, it’s a triangle between childhood friends, who are fighter pilots in the armed forces. They fall in love with the same woman, who in turn gets knocked up, but there’s no time to deal with that because they’ve got a country to protect! The movie was excruciating to watch. It ran at just over three hours, and you had to wait a good hour and a half before the first ship is bombed. The script was not good enough to hold my attention, and it had far too many story lines going on simultaneously.
For Bay’s most recent fare Transformers ROTF, he promised us that everything would be bigger and better than the original, so when I saw the almost two and a half hour run time I didn’t flinch. The first Transformers wasn’t that much shorter and I thoroughly enjoyed that movie. I began to think that it was possible for Bay to direct something over 2 hours that doesn’t have 80 different subplots running at the same time. Oh, how I was wrong.
ROTF is a prime example of everything I hated about Pearl Harbor. It was long and pointless. I had no idea what I was watching, and the main character’s motivation changed so many times that during the last 30 minutes I had no clue as to why the film was still going. It’s as if he felt pressure to pull every cliche’, every lame joke, and multiple characters from the first film (that we didn’t need) to make the movie longer. Why?
I don’t hate Michael Bay, I just hate what happens when he tries to step into an arena in which he clearly has no business. Everyone can’t pull a Cameron or a Ridley Scott where you can seamlessly infiltrate action with a multifaceted story. There’s no shame in it, it’s just not his forte. Unfortunately, his longer films just don’t need to be, and could use a good half an hour trim. The Associated Press hit the nail on the head when they called ROTF the “Worst Reviewed 400-Million Dollar Hit.” How can something so action packed, be so boring as well? Please keep the extra long run time away from Bay, he just doesn’t know what to do with that kind of power.
Were you bored by Transformers 2 and Pearl Harbor? Do you think Bay allowed certain things to drag on for too long in both films?