While it can be fun to slam Bay’s hyper-aggressive style of filmmaking, it’s also lazy. Setting aside the $4.6 billion his 10 films have earned, the 49-year-old filmmaker has held more influence over the shape and form of the modern blockbuster than anyone. “He’s a kind of abstract artist. It’s almost experimental, the way he treats shape and colour and movement,” says Jeanine Basinger, Bay’s film professor from his days at Wesleyan University. “I want to live in a world where there’s all kinds of movies—small talky movies and big explosive movies. But whatever it is, i want the person doing it to be the very best at what they’re trying to do. And Michael is: he’s the most cinematic and fluid and unafraid director.” While many people make films like Bay’s—think of Pirates of the Caribbean, or every entry in the Marvel cinematic universe—Bay makes films like no one else.
Bay was the only one who kept pushing the genre to its natural extremes. “He put cameras on skateboards, swapped out lenses for every other shot,” says Robbie Consing, a storyboard artist who’s worked on nearly all of Bay’s films, including The Rock and The Island. “It was crazy, but the results were amazing.”
“It’s visceral, big-toy filmmaking,” says Scott Foundas, chief film critic for Variety ...“I’ve compared him, in all seriousness, to someone like William Wyler, because if Bay was working in Hollywood in the ’50s, he would have done Biblical epics like Ben-Hur. He has that grand, epic vision, and where else can you apply that today except in action or comic-book movies like Transformers?”
“You cannot underestimate the impact he’s had on the industry. Everyone else in town had to raise their game to compete with the spectacle of the Transformers franchise,” says Jeff Snider, a film writer for the Hollywood news site The Wrap. Adds veteran producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s worked with Bay on everything from the first Bay Boys to Pearl Harbor: “People never realize how hard it is to do what he does—Michael is helping push cinema forward.”
Scarlett Johannson, who starred in The Island, suggests it’s not just the paycheque. “The epic scope of the cinematic world that Michael creates is more obvious than his appreciation for strong character arcs and subtle moments on the surface,” she said by email. “But just beneath the enormity of this world is a truly ambitious storyteller who celebrates characters actors and leading men and women alike.”
Friday, June 13, 2014
Bays Transforms The Blockbuster Film