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Pet Peeves for the Common Man: Michael Bay Movies

Let me begin by stating that I have a liberal arts college education. As any liberal arts student will tell you, they force you to learn liberal things, like foreign languages and thick books written by foreigners. So I know fancy words about literature and art. I’ve watched old black and white French films and, better yet, I’ve enjoyed them. I’ve even seen contemporary dance productions. Sure, I might have said “what the hell was that supposed to mean?” afterward, but all that matters is that I was there. That being said, I enjoy some heady movies, i.e. the kind that critics actually praise. I’m not trying to laud myself or anything (although I’m not above that, because I’m awesome) but I needed to lay this foundation before I got into the actual subject of this article.

And that subject is Michael Bay movies. Not his movies, actually; his critics. I’m not sure if you’ve ever read a review of ANY of Michael Bay’s movies, but they all generally criticize him for the same things: the plot is horrible, the characters are flat, the pacing is ridiculous, the dialogue is unrealistic, racial stereotypes, blah blah blah, etcetera etcetera etcetera. We get it film critics, Michael Bay doesn’t make the “deepest” or the most “meaningful” movies.

I’ll tell you what he does though – he delivers what he promises to deliver. This man makes action movies. He does not make art films. I’ve heard some people say “the plots in Michael Bay movies are just weak stories strung together to allow for more explosions and car chases.” You’re exactly right! That’s exactly what they are. I’m not going to argue that he makes “good” movies in the traditional sense. These movies won’t change your life, grant you some deep emotional catharsis or lead you to some kind of revelation or epiphany. Here’s the thing, though: Michael Bay isn’t trying to make that kind of movie. When you criticize him for doing exactly what he wanted to do, it really just makes you look like a pretentious, ignorant dumbass.

You don’t go to a fireworks show and bitch about the lack of narrative or the shallow characters, do you? No. You go to watch explosions. You can’t go into a topless bar and expect to have a deep, meaningful conversation with a stripper. You’re not paying for that, my friend. You’re paying for some boobies. If you want deep, meaningful conversations, you’re in the wrong place. Similarly, you don’t go into a gun store looking for a vinyl recording of Beethoven. Let’s take these metaphors to the next level: When you walk into Michael Bay’s Guns, Fast Cars, Explosions, and Cleavage Store to take advantage of their well advertised special on giant robot fights, you shouldn’t complain about how you can’t find a Shakespeare anthology. They don’t sell that there. Are you following me?

You can’t go into Michael Bay’s movies thinking you’re going to be watching The Departed or American History X. This isn’t deep stuff, guys. This is an action movie. You go to watch things happen that you will never see in real life, not watch some violently depressing depiction of real life like The Wrestler. This is truly mindless entertainment, and that is exactly what it is intended to be. You can’t criticize it by saying “this is mindless.” Of course it is! It’s called Transformers for craps sake! It’s based on a cartoon about robots! What in the hell were you expecting!?

Don’t act like you’re some kind of glorious film critic just because you can point out that the movie was just a bunch of explosions, boobs, and penis jokes. Anyone could see that, it just takes an idiot to act like that was a bad thing. If you want to criticize it, criticize it for being bad at what it was trying to be. Talk about how the explosions could have been cooler, or how there weren’t enough slow motion boob bounces, or how the cars didn’t do enough power slides around corners. Don’t sit there and try to wax intellectual, talking about how Shia LeBouf’s character was “so two dimensional.” This isn’t a new phenomena! Watch any Schwarzenegger action movie. This is how they do it.

So please, if you go see a Michael Bay film or any action movie for that matter, go in with the correct expectations. I’m honestly really damn tired of hearing the same pissing and moaning about action movies. If you don’t like them, don’t go see them. Otherwise, stop trying to rain on my parade just because I know how to enjoy two and a half hours of wanton destruction.

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