Michael Bay Go Boom.

There are great directors who specialize in a certain style or genre, and have spent an entire career honing their specific skills. Other directors are great for their versatility and ability to put their mark on a variety of genres, and can do a lot of different types of films well.

And then there's Michael Bay.

Bay, often partnered with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, has brought us some of the greatest action sequences and blockbusters of our time. Spinning camera shots and sweeping fanfares accompanied by explosions and unlikely acts of heroism and survival have become his “thing”. You can criticize the Summer popcorn model as an art form, but for what he does, he does it well, and always entertains. Except now he's looking to move past what he's known for: ”I need to do something totally divergent, something without any explosions.”.


I doubt Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will be his last entry in that franchise, though in his interview he suggests otherwise and says he won't be back if there's a third installment. Perhaps it's just my fear of someone like Joel Schumacher coming along and ruining the sequels. Nipples on Optimus Prime's windshield? Chris O'Donnell coming out of retirement to play Chip Chase? No thanks. As bad as Bumblebee relieving his oil on to John Turturro might have been, it could get much worse.

Bay is good with machismo, camaraderie, and patriotism. His movies often have scenes of the troops being rallied, whether figuratively or literally, and it's easy to get swept into it. Other things he doesn't do so well. Attempts at romantic subplots dragged down both Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. The scene in Armageddon with Affleck and Tyler and the animal cracker was physically painful. The movie handled other relationships much better but stumbled with the romantic one. As for Pearl Harbor, focusing on a love triangle with war and explosions and actual (approximated) historical events as an aside made for a poor hybrid. Nehring's Short Review always summed that mess up perfectly for me. I suppose some blame can fall on Affleck, who was involved in both fiascos.

Perhaps Bay just needs a break after this film, as he did with the last one. It certainly is a big undertaking. And I hate to be cynical, but if he's not the “explosions guy” then I'm not sure who he is. On the production side, he seems to be going down the dark path of remaking the horror movies I grew up with. Friday the 13th was just bad, and while I was never a big fan of that series, the remake does have me concerned about A Nightmare on Elm Street, the next remake he's producing. The originals are probably my favorite horror series, so there's more at stake for me. And in general, it seems like remakes and sequels are dominating where original films once thrived. The problem is lack of quality more than lack of originality. Also, expectations are higher when you attempt to repeat or continue something that was done before, and done well. Perhaps a break is a good thing, and will give Bay the time he needs to come back and do the best possible job on a third installment. If he doesn't come back, hopefully we get someone better than Schumacher, if we're lucky. And if we're really lucky, maybe Bay will miss his signature style so much that we finally get a third Bad Boys.

There's nothing wrong with a little wishful thinking...


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