Understanding Michael Bay – The Man Behind ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’

michaelbay_500bigDisclaimer: If you hate Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to bits, then please approach this article with care, because I may be referring to you as a ‘complete buffoon’.

Now, where the hell do I start with ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ (affectionately known as ‘ROTF’)? There are just way too many things to say about the film, Michael Bay and popcorn flicks in general that I am afraid this will explore more than just the movie itself.

Again, where to start?

"No, Mekah is in the other way..."
"No, Mekah is in the other way..."

I know this is a bit unorthodox, but I shall start off with my final verdict. So here goes…I really enjoyed the film. Sure, there are buts, but overall, I had a really good time at the cinema the first time and enjoyed it even more the second time. Yes, I saw it twice in the cinema, wouldn’t mind watching it again for a third time and would definitely own it on Blu-Ray. Now, some of you might be wondering, “How the f*ck is that possible?”

Well, it’s all about managing your expectations. If you’re walking into a Michael Bay film, you should very well know what to expect and what not to expect. The most important thing to note here is that you’re watching a Michael Bay film and not a ‘Transformers’ film. If you were actually expecting to relive you childhood memories, then you should really walk down to Speedy Video and get a box set of the original cartoons instead because you will get none of that here. This is ‘Bayformers’, not ‘Transformers’. Those experienced with Michael Bay will know to expect a storyline that doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense, a lot of mild cursing, unnecessary booty shots, never-ending plot, loads of explosions, relentless action sequences, plot holes, superfluous humor, racial humor, inconsistencies, generic but awe-inspiring scores, cool slow-motion shots, two and a half hours running time and overall awesomeness. This has been the case even from the start of his career. “‘He’s technically very gifted,” said Sean Connery, doing the press for ‘The Rock’. “If he has a weakness, it’s in understanding the actor’s dramatic line, the pacing and rhythm of a scene.”

So based on those points alone, does ‘ROTF’ delivers?

Yes it does! It follows Bay’s Standard Operating Procedure. All expectations would have been met, if you have set your expectations accordingly. So herein is where the problem lies; there are some who were expecting ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

Cage, Connery: fresh.
Cage, Connery: fresh.

I am sorry but I just can’t sit around seeing everyone from the critics down to my younger brother trashing this movie without first understanding the background and historic record of the filmmaker. It does not bode well with me that these people are spreading the word that ‘ROTF’ is a horrible film and thus, declining its box office intakes. Yes, ‘ROTF’ is a horrible film, make no mistake about it. Calling it preposterous can even be considered an understatement but its directed by Michael Bay, for goodness sake. Obviously you can’t expect it to be a potential Best Picture nominee. Out of the 7 films that Bay has made, (the ‘Bad Boys’ movies, ‘The Island’, ‘The Rock’, ‘Armageddon’, ‘Pearl Harbour’ and ‘Transformers’), only ‘The Rock’ is said to be excellent while the rest were either bad or average. According to Rotten Tomatoes, only the Rock earned a ‘fresh’ rating of 66%; the rest were all rated as ‘splat’ (under 60%). Incidentally, the lowest ranked is ‘The Unborn’, a film he produced, rather than directed. So you see, he doesn’t really have a good track record. What makes you think that ‘ROTF’ is going to be any better? Yes, the trailer looked good but so does the trailer for ‘10,000 B.C.’ and we all remember what sort of disaster that was.

Some may argue that this is an adaptation of an 80s cartoon and expected Bay to stay true to the source material. Besides Zack Snyder’s ‘300’ and Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Sin City’, nothing stays true to the original. Look at the ‘X-Men’ films and the upcoming ‘G.I. Joe’ film, do they look anything like the originals? No, they don’t and why is that? Two things. First of all, it may look simple in a cartoon or a comic book, but when adapting it into live-action, it’s not the same. Can you imagine how silly the robots would have looked in live-action if they were to transform like in the cartoons? Will it make sense if Megatron is to transform into a gun and have Starscream (who is about the same size as him in robotic form) hold it? Won’t it look silly if there is a robot out there that has a tape deck for a chest? Yes, these will not work well in live-action as it did in cartoons. Bay and his team took the extra effort to add a little bit of realism in the robotic designs and sadly, not many appreciate this. I for one am happy with the modern designs and my only gripe is the coloring scheme on the Decepticons. They are all silverfish/grayish and are hard to differentiate when they’re standing next to each other.

10_chris_columbus9
Before Beth Cooper, there was Harry.

Secondly, one has to understand the role of a director. When a film is being made, many different individuals are involved but who is it that is the most important one of all. Unless you’re one of those girls like my sister who only watches films with hot guys, the director, dubbed the maker of the film is always the most important person. It is his film. That is why films are sometime referred to as Ridley’s Scott’s ‘Gladiator’, James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ or ‘Transformers’, a Michael Bay film. If you’re one of those lazy directors like Christopher Columbus who adapted the first two ‘Harry Potter’ movies page-by-page, you will certainly not get any recognition (from me at least) because all you do is take something and just translate it to film. Good filmmakers, besides being able to make original films, should be able to take a source material and adapt it according to his unique vision. Look at Alfonso Cuaron, director of ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’. He took J.K. Rowling’s work and interpreted it in a way that he sees fitting, in a way that make sense and adds his own touch of magic to the overall film. The result? To this day, people say that ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ is best damn Potter ever.

That’s exactly what Michael Bay is doing. Instead of just taking the concepts straight from the cartoon, he tried adding his own personal touch to the film. Some of course may not like the direction that he’s going for. My advice? Make your own god damned movie. Bay has his fans, such as me, who enjoy what he does. “I make movies,” he wrote recently on his website, “for people to take a ride and escape.” And with a total box office gross of $1.4 billion, a lot of people have gone along for the ride. Bay’s idea of a movie is exactly why I go to the movies. I couldn’t care less about these independent filmmakers who makes realistic films focusing on domestic lives, which more or less is resonance of our own dull lives. ‘Rachel Getting Married’, hello? Sorry, I rather see cars getting flipped than seeing a woman preparing for her sister’s wedding, no matter how Oscar-worthy her acting may be (but I still love you Anne!).

Billy Ray didn't tell her it's rude to point.
Billy Ray didn't tell her it's rude to point.

What I am trying to say here is that if you’re walking into ‘ROTF’, a Michael Bay film, and expect it to be ‘Citizen Kane’, its like you’re walking into a Miley Cyrus concert and expect it to be as good as Madonna’s. Even, if she is doing covers of Madonna, Miley Cyrus is not as legendary as Madonna. You should have known better. At the same time, you’re making yourself look like a complete buffoon when you go around and tell people that the concert sucks because she doesn’t sound like Madonna. Who the hell asked you to watch that concert in the first place if you don’t like Miley Cyrus’s style? She has her own style and it’s whether you like it or you don’t. If you like it, then you’ll enjoy the hell out of the concert. If you don’t like it, then why bother? Of course you might then question, who in their right mind asked Miley Cyrus to do covers of Madonna? Well that’s probably because she’s able to bring a certain amount of energy in their concert that not many can. Yes, you can get Norah Jones to do it and expect it to be good but Norah Jones is dull and slow and boring. With Norah Jones, the audience is just going to sway from side to side, holding a lighter in the air. Is that the kind of person you want to do covers of the energy-driven Madonna? No! You need someone to bring the house down and Miley Cyrus is the bimbo who can do it, as lame as she may be. Applying it back to ‘ROTF’, if you’re doing an adaptation of an action-packed 80s cartoon, who else would you get to helm the project if not Michael Bay. Yes, you can get Bryan Singer (director of ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Valkyrie’) and expect it to be good but is he the perfect director for action-driven ‘Transformers’? With Bryan Singer, you’ll probably get less than 10 robots, 2 action sequences (good ones) and 2 hours of Shia Labeouf’s character bonding with Bumblebee? I am sorry, but when watching a Transformers film, I want to see big f*cking robots, not character development and Michael Bay was born for this!!!!

"Give me more robots...here."
"Give me more robots...here."

I feel that enough is enough. Michael Bay is a great filmmaker who has his own unique style. I grew up watching his films and his films are the ones I loves the most. The highway chase scene in ‘Bad Boys 2’, the attack on ‘Pearl Harbor’, the Autobots arrival in the first ‘Transformers’, Scarlett Johansson wearing tight white pants in ‘The Island’, every minute of ‘The Rock’, Will Smith’s and Martin Laurence’s on-screen chemistry and humor in ‘Bad Boys’, the climax of ‘Armageddon’ and now Devastator in ‘ROTF’. These are just movie magic. Its whether you like it or you don’t. Like I said, if you don’t, please don’t bother with his films. Nobody is putting a gun to your head to watch these films. Some people simply just don’t deserve to be entertained by the Great Bay. As a matter of fact, you should just check out ‘Transmorphers’ and ‘Transmorphers: Fall of Man’ (yes, these films do exist) because maybe that is what you deserve. Hopefully then, would you will realize what Michael Bay is actually giving the world with ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’.

Fazil’s other favorite directors include Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott and Mel Gibson.

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