You Should Respect the Genius of Michael Bay

I said it. I meant it. now CineFix is gonna explain it.

I’ve long been a fan of Michael Bay’s, ever since Bad Boys. Which I loved. And, as I’ve watched the Bay-hate simmer and grow, I keep thinking the following:

“You cannot deny the man makes enjoyable movies. Most movies suck, so how can you say he’s a BAD director?”

The mistake nearly everyone makes, when criticizing Michael Bay, is they confuse “stuff I don’t like” with “objectively bad”. See, there’s a vast gulf between “things that I like” and “things that are bad”.

I like a lot of things that are not the greatest examples of their art form, like The Core. I like it, but it is objectively a mediocre, cliched, paint-by-numbers movie with ATROCIOUS science. Contrariwise, I dislike a lot of things that are, by any measure, technically marvelous. (Most romantic comedies and many dramas fall into this category.)

Michael Bay is a very skilled and very precise director. He has control over his medium: right or wrong, his movies turn out EXACTLY as he envisioned. That is the mark of a high degree of technical ability, one 99.999% of directors will never achieve. He sets out to thrill the audience, and maybe move them a little bit, and has succeeded far more often than he’s failed, and even his failures are better than the vast majority of movies in existence.

Even if you dislike his brand of hyper-kinetic pop-corn action movies, you need to recognize that his skill as a director is real, and he displays it in every frame of his movies.  That level of skill and industriousness is worthy of respect, even if you don’t respect his movies.

7 thoughts on “You Should Respect the Genius of Michael Bay”

  1. The thing is most movies don’t suck. That’s the binary way to rate movies that people have fallen into. My pop psychology tells me that the immediacy of the Internet is partly to blame for this. So many people want to rate a movie either 1 or 10, where actually very few movies should be either. Bay’s films are classics, but neither are they dross; they mostly fall around the lower to middle range of quality.
    My appreciation of Bay’s movies doesn’t go higher than ‘that was dumb fun’, but often sinks to ‘I didn’t enjoy that’, ‘visually, I couldn’t understand that fight scene’ or ‘I fell asleep’. Do I love to watch Armageddon? Hell, yeah. Is it a good movie? – Hell, no. And with his Transformers films he’s sunk to new depths of stupid. Certainly he can make profitable movies that require enormous budgets and the coordinated labor of countless minions, but all he ends up with now is kinetic visuals vomited on the screen. Without them there is little to recommend about his films. So yes, he certainly does make exactly the film he wants to make, but then again so does Uwe Boll.

    This is not only the best review of a Michael Bay film I’ve ever read, it is one of the best film reviews I have ever read.

  2. I’m with Winston. “Most movies are crap” is no excuse for making a bunch of films that range from “crap” to “mediocre” at the high end.

    I’ve heard, though, that he’s admiredfor his revolutionary camera work. So that’s something, I guess.

  3. I actually feel the hyper-kinetic style IS objectively bad. When I can’t focus on the action on the screen or when the action gives me a headache, the movie has failed. Because you have to be able to watch a movie.

    Now, I don’t think he’s incompetent. He really does know how to set up a shot, how to direct, how to handle pressure. He knows how to cut and he understands the visual language of film on some level. The commercials he shot for Victoria’s Secret are jaw-droppingly beautiful. If you could give him a solid script and sit on him and force him to slow down, he’d be a damn fine director.

    And one thing more, that matters to me if not to most film critics, he is pro-American. He is pro-military. He’s not afraid to show us as good guys and the other guys as bad guys. That, sadly, is rare.

  4. Exactly. I say the Island was actually a pretty darn good movie and one of the smartest ones Bay ever made.

    Box office fate? Bomb.

    So any time someone complains about how dumb Bay is, I want to slap them and say, “YOU DID IT! YOU VOTED WITH YOUR DOLLARS AND TOLD HIM YOU WANTED DUMBER, NOT SMARTER! IT’S YOUR FAULT!”

  5. Michael Bay is also known for a solid work ethic and for keeping his films in budget. Granted, the budgets are big, but he doesn’t go over often (if at all). Hence why he keeps getting work.

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