By Mario Ricciardi
So, I’m sorry, but I intentionally made that headline clickbait.
WAIT! Before you vow to never read my column again on account of a broken bond of trust, lend me your attention for one more sentence. Michael Bay is not my favorite filmmaker; Michael Bay is “one” of my favorite filmmakers. I’m very serious about this.
WAIT! Before you vow to never read my column again on account of my taste in movies, read just one more sentence. Michael Bay does not put his stories on screen for critics; he does it for himself and his audience and does a good job, too.
Personally, I can’t think of a better definition of what a true filmmaker or true artist does. Now, just to clarify, I am referring to big time Hollywood director Michael Bay — the only man more associated with explosions than teenagers the day before the Fourth of July and the military combined. He is the reason this world has an entire saga of live action Transformers movies, and not to mention the only A-list director whose name is compounded into what he does best — Bayhem.
For those who don’t know, Bay’s biggest hits include films such as “Bad Boys,” “The Rock,” “Armageddon,” “Transformers,” “Pain & Gain” and “13 Hours.” These are all expensive movies, with big action, big stars and even bigger payouts. Lots of style and little substance according to most. Bay’s movies are almost unanimously disliked by critics and not many prestigious film schools are filling up lecture halls dissecting his work.
Now let me reiterate. Michael Bay is one of my favorite filmmakers. I’m not even talking top 10. I’m talking top five. First and foremost, Michael Bay gets to do something most professional filmmakers don’t get to do: retain full autonomy of his work. Bay gets to make whatever movie he wants without anyone telling him no. If Bay wants to make a movie about cool cars becoming even cooler robots, he can. If he wants to make five of them and a spinoff, he can do that too.
The goal of any filmmaker/artist is to be able to create what truly appeals to them regardless of the opinions of others. If people don’t like a movie Bay makes, he turns around and makes another one. In fact, on the Rotten Tomatoes website, Bay only has four rated Fresh out of 34 movies.
History’s greatest artworks cause reaction, often negative reactions. The artist who then rises to the same level of greatness as said work is he or she who puts their heads down and middle fingers up to make more work just like it.
Many correlate Bay’s lack of critical appeal with lazy directing. That’s lazy critiquing. In reality, Bay is one of Hollywood’s foremost visionaries. He visualizes different worlds, alien-robots and giant action scenes all while intertwining live actors. He combines the awesome with the everyday by balancing the vision in his head with meticulous communication to actors and digital artists. Apart from James Cameron and George Lucas, few directors can mix fantasy and reality with drama’s ageless methods and cutting-edge technology.
Michael Bay is also one of the biggest reasons our 3-D and IMAX movies are so advanced. Bay’s internal motivation as a director to create the best visual experience possible has led him to the become a fountainhead for some of film’s greatest technological achievements. More often than not, advancements in film technologies are due to a Michael Bay film.
These are all desirable qualities of any director, but what impresses me most about Bay is his tenacity. Bay is often the subject of loud negative feedback yet he continues to persist on. He doesn’t let naysayers change his style, not to mention he makes a paycheck that does its fair share of disproving the haters (he currently sits at a net worth of 450 million dollars). He makes the system work for him. Bay seems to know exactly what he loves, became the best at it and gets to make a great living off of it too.
Yes, Michael Bay films are notorious for gaudy cars, explosions and attractive women, but that’s what he likes. Any critic can come up with their reasons for why these are bad things, but I can’t find anything but personal respect for a man who gets to do what he loves, answer to few but himself and make a comfortable living all at the same time.
So, yeah, in this reviewer’s opinion, Michael Bay is one of the greatest directors of our time.
That’s what I have to say, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.