Multiplex marauder's big booms to mark Transformers IV
Time Out Doha staff
There are two schools of thought when it comes to Michael Bay. To some, he is a movie brute. He is the shamelessly jingoistic director of Pearl Harbour, the cheeseball responsible for Armageddon and, of course, the multiplex marauder behind Transformers – the bizarre toy-inspired franchise which, when launched back in 2007, no one would have predicted he would be milking for a fourth time this summer.
Yet to others, he is simply a master of his medium. His résumé of apocalyptic action movies, which also includes The Rock, The Island and Bad Boys, represent the pinnacle of the genre – no one else does films quite so big, dumb and fun. And Bay’s own answer to the debate? In an oft-quoted backswipe: ‘I make movies for teenage boys. Oh, dear, what a crime.’
Fan or hater, there’s no denying Bayisms work in the marketplace – his movies are reported to have grossed more than QR14 billion, placing the Californian as the sixth most successful director ever, trailing Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Peter Jackson. Perhaps that softens the blow of all those critical maulings, worst director polls and Golden Raspberry awards.
So, as Bay revisits his most lucrative project with Transformers: Age of Extinction, set for regional release this summer, we round up Bay’s most typically over-the-top movie moments to date.
5 The Rock (1996) Bay used to be known as a car-chase expert, very much in the Beverly Hills Cop mould. While The Rock is mostly set on US prison island Alcatraz, early in the movie there’s a destructive romp through the streets of San Francisco. If you think right-wing politics can’t be conveyed in terms of pure stunt work, time to be schooled. A Humvee ploughs through a peace-sign-laden VW Beetle, totals a truck of bottled water and, finally, derails the ultimate symbol of socialist conveyance: the trolley car.
4 Pearl Harbour (2001) This director should not be allowed near serious subjects. His love of technique and mastery of craft has the unwitting effect of making a traumatic event seem, well, totally cool. Then again, that tension is also what makes Bay so dangerous – and maybe even culturally significant (we said maybe). His attack on Pearl Harbour takes up a lengthy sequence, with Bay’s infamous ‘bomb-cam’ perspective of the destruction.
3 Bad Boys II (2003) This movie, a steroidal improvement on the first one (which Bay also directed), has car chases as thrilling as those in The Rock. But it’s Bay’s detonation of a Cuban mansion which supplies an even bigger jolt. Multiple camera angles compound the blast; Bay is something of a genius at this style of cutting. Also, crucial: plenty of reaction shots, like the guy at the end screaming.
2 Armageddon (1998) Perhaps Bay’s most notorious demolition, this wipeout of the entire city of Paris (sorry, France) elicits whoops in jingoistic audiences. Undeniably, the destruction is breathtaking, a landmark Hollywood achievement, if a decidedly crude dramatic device. Arriving in the pre-9/11 wave of disaster flicks, this scene pretty much rewrote the rules. You have got to love the gargoyle.
1 Transformers (2007) In many ways the ultimate Michael Bay film, the first Transformers combines his military fetishism, sentimentality and love of big toys with the introduction of Megan Fox in ways that many find totally toxic, others dumb-movie perfection. There are too many explosions to pick the absolute best, but the casual destruction of a city bus and a Los Angeles freeway system is tops in terms of total Bayhem. Transformers: Age of Extinction is set to be released this summer.