What’s so bad about a little ADHD?
Perhaps I’ve been a bit hard on Michael Bay. Armageddon and Pearl Harbor may be awful excuses for films, and my brother doesn’t have a single kind word to say about Bad Boys 2, but everything else that I’ve seen from him has entertained me to some degree. The Rock is undoubtedly his best work, and Transformers, while far too long and filled with bad attempts at humour and tedious robot fights, is actually quite fun at times.
I’ve now seen the UK HD DVD release The Island, his solitary box office flop, and I have to say that I did like it, despite it being little more than a poorly disguised knock-off of Logan’s Run (hardly the best film to use as your source material in the first place). Like all of his films, it demonstrates the aesthetic sensibilities and world view of a teenager, but I’m going to buck the trend and say that I don’t think Bay is a completely incompetent filmmaker. True, he may overuse fast cutting and shakycam to an obnoxious degree, but he certainly knows how to shoot and stage a chase scene, which The Island has in abundance, and he seems to have a knack for getting nicely lit tight close-ups of the Beautiful People™ (and the not so beautiful). I can’t defend it as a great work of art or even anything particularly thought-provoking (although I’m sure you could make a case for it being Bay’s anti-stem cell research film if you put your mind to it - hey, he is a Bush supporter, after all), but I had fun, which, when all said and done, about all you can really ask from a summer blockbuster.
The HD DVD transfer (not doubt the same as what is to be found on the Blu-ray release), by the way, is pretty nice, albeit with some caveats. The look of the film is very similar to that of Transformers, but, unlike that particular HD DVD, someone was let loose with the filters of nastiness. There is a light sheen of edge enhancement at all times, particularly noticeable in wide shots and in Bay’s trademark “posing in front of the sun” money shots, not to mention some light compression artefacts in some of the more action-intensive shots - a by-product, I suspect, of capping the bit rate to ensure that it would fit on a single layer BD-25. Still, a good presentation all in all, with a solid audio mix. I’d consider picking up a copy if I found it in a sale somewhere.
(Warner, UK, VC-1, 20.6 GB)
Posted: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 9:44 PM
| Comments: 16
| HD DVD
You are actually being way too kind to Michael Bay. :D
I like "The Rock" and "Transformers" to an extent (though I don't re-visit "The Rock" like you do, so there must be some Bay attraction in your case), but everything else is pretty horrible IMO. He might be a "competent" filmmaker, but I can think of few incompetent filmmakers who put out multi-million productions out there. He is just, IMO, a bad filmmaker who should have stayed in the second unit.
Not only that but let's not forget he is a complete real-life jerk, is behind Platinum "remakeville" Dunes, and is a member of the Anti-Violence Committee of Hollywood while at the same time making "Bad Boys 2" and producing the "TCM" remake.
I would give "The Island" a (**), I have to admit it's one of his better films (how sad is that?) although I like "Logan's Run". I might have given it (***1/2) if it wasn't for the unnecessary final act.
Posted by: Marcus, January 26, 2008 8:06 AM
I must be alone in thinking that Bad Boys 2 is gloriously unpolitically correct in an age where every action film is PG13 and bloodless (roll on Rambo), has a fabulous aversion to CGI naffness and does pretty much everything "for real" (the speedboats on the highway chase, for example) and has big dead boobies to boot.
I hated the first one, mind, so I'm not sure where my love for 2 comes from.
The Island's okay - it makes a decent stab at some credible SF with a load of bravura action sequences along the way (Minority Report style). And it features Djimon Hounsou being bad ass.
I'm not sure why I'm defending Michael Bay, to be honest: perhaps it's because Bad Boys 2 makes me pine for Verhoeven (well, when it's a brain-dead, non-cynical version of Verhoeven at best). I *hated* Armageddon when I first saw it, and even that's grown on me. I even get a bit teary when Brucey bites the dust. I think I'm having some kind of mid-life crisis.
Posted by: anephric, January 26, 2008 2:47 PM
Make fun of Mikey Bay all you want, but I've not once been bored by one of his films. I've not seen them all yet, though...
Posted by: David Mackenzie
, January 26, 2008 3:29 PM
Pearl Harbour is most definitely boring. If you do what I did in the cinema, which is fall asleep for the middle hour and a half, then it's not bad.
Posted by: anephric, January 26, 2008 5:29 PM
If you liked The Island, try looking for Clonus: The Parts Horror. :)
Posted by: Pat, January 26, 2008 8:06 PM
I'll give you that his films are not boring, but neither is the sci-fi epic "Space Mutiny." Does that mean it's better than Tarkovsky?
Posted by: Marcus, January 27, 2008 12:45 AM
“so there must be some Bay attraction in your case”
You know, I don’t think “Oh goody, a Michael Bay film!” but broadly speaking, I think you can do a lot worse when it comes to brainless action entertainment. The Rock definitely stands out as an exception in his filmography. I always find it rewatchable, something I put down to the fact that he somehow ended up with a reasonably good script (I suspect Sean Connery’s insistence that he bring Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais on board to rewrite the dialogue may have helped), and it certainly has the most complex villain in an Bay film.
I think he’s probably somewhat more than competent. He’s pretty good at what he does best - the bravura set-pieces and exploding vehicles - and more variable when it comes to the niceties of plot and character development (as I said before, The Rock sticks out as being pretty decent in those respects, with most of his other work falling short in terms of plot and character). I don’t doubt that he is a complete jerk (his childish posturing over the whole HD DVD/Blu-ray debacle gave me an insight into just how immature he really is), and the whole Platinum Dunes thing annoys me to no end.
I can’t defend Bay the person (nor would I want to), but Bay the filmmaker has at least given me several hours of enjoyment (in addition to a few of wrist-slitting tedium).
Posted by: Whiggles
, January 27, 2008 10:08 AM
Like I said, he should be a second unit director. This way we wouldn't have to watch his stuff remembering how evil he is.
Rumor has it a stunt person got injured in "Bad Boys II" and he just kept on shooting as if nothing happened. Let's not forget his claims that he casted the female lead in "Pearl Harbor" because "she looked plain like Kate Winslet." Or his defense that he is a great filmmaker because some guy he knew who lived in a hut in Beirut or something loved THE ROCK.
Posted by: Marcus, January 27, 2008 7:47 PM
All this makes a fine case for Bay being a complete jerk, but it doesn’t really say anything about his abilities as a director. Horror stories exist about many of the best filmmakers in history (not that I’m trying to claim Bay to be one of the best filmmakers in history!), but it doesn’t detract from their films in any way.
Posted by: Whiggles
, January 27, 2008 8:24 PM
Bay is the anti-Christ (if there would be one!)
"poorly disguised knock-off of Logan's Run (hardly the best film to use as your source material in the first place)."
Sure LOGAN'S RUN aged badly but I remember when I saw it at the time it came out... people were amazed by it. And for that alone it deserve respect! Now Bay copying LR and CLONUS... now thats something else.
Posted by: ARCVILE, January 28, 2008 1:22 AM
I once had an argument with someone online (Christ how sad does that sound?) who said Bay should have directed BATMAN BEGINS because "at least" he could've delivered good action sequences.
I disagreed with that statement on so many levels and not only because BATMAN BEGINS was my favorite film of 2005. Would Bay have delivered good action sequences? Without a doubt yes. But I did not have a problem with the one Nolan's team did for that movie (a lot of people complain the camera was too shaky and we couldn't really see Batman in action, but I think they were missing the point.)
But how would Bay have handled the rest of the film? The score would've been identical since it's the exact same score used in "Transformers" (I am still surprised they haven't sued yet, it's the exact same music) but the darkness, the atmosphere, and above all the epic score of it would've been buried under his frenetic cuts and editing.
Bay represents IMO everything that is wrong with MTV cinema today. He was the first music video director who became a real successful filmmaker. I think that's one of the reasons most film fanatics tend to blast him.
And true, I forgot how a lot of the people (actors, directors, singer, etc...) whose work I admire were complete jerks in real life (Otto Preminger being the prime example.) So I guess it was a combination of both in Mr. Bay's case.
I wonder how people will remember him in the future. There isn't a single doubt in my mind he will have fans, and I fear he will become some sort of cult figure who was "misunderstood" by critics of the time.
Platinum Dunes is abominable though, and this is his "independent" remake company. What will he remake when he has his own studio? "Birth of a Nation"? Couldn't think of a better choice.
Posted by: Marcus, January 28, 2008 7:31 AM
Brian De Palma's a huge prick - doesn't stop him making good films. Same for Oliver Stone, who, during NBK, made DoP Robbie Richardson run into a door with a hand-held camera again and again until he eventually broke a finger. And James Cameron's a monster on set. Again, not that I'm defending him, apparently Bay was nothing but lovely to cast and crew on The Island and Transformers.
As for pop promo directors in Hollywood, Bay was not the first nor shall he be the last - no one really had problems with advertising bods (the Scotts, Lyne, Parker) invading Hollywood in the 80s. The same's true for Fincher, Bay, Jonze, Romanek, McG, Ratner et al, and I'd much rather watch a Michael Bay film than anything McG or Ratner vomited into the world.
Posted by: anephric, January 28, 2008 7:31 PM
Glad someone else liked The Island. Honestly, the hatred visited upon it by critics and film snobs alike is amusing in its misguidedness. The HD DVD certainly is a cracker and despite what your brother may think of Bad Boys II, I for one can't wait for the Blu-ray. Over and out.
Posted by: rebel_scum, January 29, 2008 12:27 AM
"Glad someone else liked The Island. Honestly, the hatred visited upon it by critics and film snobs alike is amusing in its misguidedness"
The only misguidedness I got while I was about to see THE ISLAND is that some folks told me it was actually good! And that wasnt amusing, trust me!
Posted by: ARCVILE, January 29, 2008 2:59 AM
I'm going to have to disagree with most of the stuff anephric said. I disagree about Brian DePalma (not about him being a jerk, but about him making "good" films).
And I like both McG and Brett Ratner better than Bay (though it means very little, I am pretty sure I like Paul SW Anderson AND Larry Clark better than Bay).
Posted by: Marcus, January 29, 2008 5:35 AM
I also forgot about the "good" music video directors who became filmmakers, but they are forgiven. :D
Posted by: Marcus, January 29, 2008 5:39 AM
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