Most top 10s are a celebration; well this is a very special and unique top 10 in that it is that out of the films Michael Bay has either directed or produced, this is the ten worst, with number one being the very worst. It is a special top 10 for a very special man. This is in my view, his 10 biggest crimes against cinema, though this picture perhaps should be classed as one!
The already ludicrously wealthy executives may love him as he makes films on time, in budget and they more often than not turn a huge profit. Yes I admit they serve a purpose, and if he didn’t make them then someone else would, and maybe criticism should lie predominantly with those that pay to see his films, but that is a discussion for another time.
He may make the industry a lot of money, but that is just it: he makes products with no soul or artistic integrity, not films! These products with him behind the camera usually contain migraine inducing hyperactive editing, endless slow-motion shots (usually involving helicopters and sunsets), genuinely leery and misogynistic ideologies and are always way too long in running time.
There is surely some kind of irony that a filmmaker who, as they say, ‘edits a film to within an inch of its life’, fails to edit out so many pointless and overlong scenes from his films. Using the running times provided by imdb, the total length of his 11 films as director is 1613 minutes, with an average of 147 minutes per film. This is fine if you are David Lean, Peter Jackson or Ridley Scott, but not Michael bloody Bay!
It is worth saying for the record that I did indeed enjoy The Rock, The Island and the first Transformers, so I do not have total hatred for all his films, these were tolerable, but would have probably been better if directed by someone else.
If the films he directed are not bad enough, the production company Platinum Dunes of which he and two others are part of seems to have the sole intention of ruining every good vintage horror film by remaking them with no respect for the original or what it represented.
Well, here is a rundown of what I feel are the ten worst crimes against cinema that Mr. Bay has been responsible for.
10. The Unborn (2009) Producer
Though perhaps not quite as offensive as the remakes Bay’s production company are responsible for, this ‘original’ ‘horror’ film about a young girl who is tormented by a demon is truly laughable tripe. It is more laughable than scary, especially when the narrative involves an exorcism. In the leading role Odette Annable is truly awful and then Gary Oldman turns up just long enough to embarrass himself, obviously just happy to get his payment and doesn’t even want to attempt to do some acting. Not that it would matter if he did as the story and dialogue are truly awful, and this is a very dull and boring 90 minutes.
9. Armageddon (1998) Director
Yes I know it is an unashamedly cheesy popcorn friendly movie with a huge cast list, big special effects and a criminally overplayed song, and I know many love it. Let’s face facts: It isn’t actually very good is it? Not even as a guilty pleasure. The screenplay (co-written by a J.J. Abrams!) is a severe cacophony of clichés that is genuinely sickening schmaltzy bile. The deluded patriotism, heroic speeches and painfully predictable plot and character developments as our group of misfit (naturally) miners led by Bruce Willis trying to mine through and destroy an asteroid that is on a collision course with earth is truly sickening stuff. This is deeply cynical film making of the highest order! Just watch Independence Day instead!
8. Pain & Gain (2013) Director
Bay’s ‘art house’ film ($26million is pocket money by Bay’s standards), may not be his worst film as director, but it is still pretty bad. It is the same as any other film he has done, minus the expensive set pieces, but it is still way too long in running time. It is as misogynistic as his other films and very poorly put together, with brain haemorrhage inducing editing and camerawork. Based on a ludicrous true story about body builders who kidnap a rich businessman to earn their own American dream, it is as boring as it is infuriating and shows that Bay truly has no filmmaking craft whatsoever.
To read my review, click here
7. Bad Boys II (2003) Director
Bay’s unwanted sequel of two Miami cops who try to bring down a drug kingpin is a truly painful and arduous endurance test of the most forgiving viewer’s patience as it is really, really boring. No film like this should be 140 minutes, and it is directed with as much flair as a small puddle. It has a shamefully misogynistic and racist screenplay, while the ‘comedy’ is not funny and Bay’s migraine inducing editing and camera work (not to mention the horrible slow-mos) makes the action sequences seriously painful to watch. Oh, and did I mention that it is way, way too long!
6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) Director
I will happily defend the first Transformers film, while 3 and 4 had some redeeming features, but there can be no defence for this detritus of a sequel. Even lead actor (loose definition of the word) Shia LaBeouf was quoted as saying “we dropped the ball”. I know plot is never at the top Michael Bay’s priorities when directing a film, but the plot makes it seem truly like Bay and his screenwriters made the plot up as they went along; the plot, dialogue and human characters are as boring as they are infuriating. Also, a Transformer that can disguise themselves as an actual human and one that can teleport takes the biscuit. Strangely that didn’t happen in the next two films!
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) Producer
If I were older and from the generation that grew up watching these originals I would probably be even more offended, these were films of their time and remaking them really seems pointless. It is not just how they are made that is deeply offensive to all film fans, but the reasons why they are made too. There is no creativity, soul or integrity to any of these remakes and it is just gratuitous and leery violence for the sake of it. After the atrocious 2003 remake (which I will just include with this one on this list as it does not deserve its own paragraph) of the very culturally significant original, this prequel tries to give an origin story to the Hewitt family. Maybe that could have been potentially interesting, but the result is yet another mindless assault on the human ability to tolerate vacuous crap on screen.
4. The Purge (2013) Producer
Sickeningly this was one of the most profitable films of 2013, and a depressing example of taking an interesting concept and doing absolutely nothing with it. The initial premise of all crime being completely legal with no repercussions for 12 hours a year gives unlimited potential for a film to intelligently examine the social and or political reasons behind, and implications of, such a premise. However, the actual film is a painfully generic and increasingly boring narrative lacking any creativity or tension that not even a typically intense Ethan Hawke can save. Shamefully The Purge made a huge profit and so we can expect there be a plethora of increasingly boring and unimaginative sequels. With The Purge: Anarchy about to be released I may be wrong, but the trailers certainly do not inspire me!
To read my review of detritus of a film, click here
3. Friday the 13th (2009) Producer
Apparently the makers here wanted to put the entire original franchise about the hockey mask wearing killer Jason Voorhees into one film, however that is irrelevant as it is really, really rubbish. Directed by Marcus Nispel, who has only ever directed terrible films, it is a film that is very poorly made that once again goes for gratuitous gore for the sake of it, a misogynistic and disgustingly leery depiction of women, the stupid green/grey cinematography and it is far more boring than it is scary. The scene where Jason puts the mask on for the first time is one of the most cringe worthy scenes I have ever seen.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Producer
Of all the horror remakes, this starring Jackie Earle Haley as the jumper wearing Freddie Kruger is a true to insult to both Wes Craven’s original and cinema in general. It is yet another ‘horror’ film that is not scary in the slightest, just a succession of mindless and gratuitously gory set pieces. Poorly shot, directed, edited and written, this is filmmaking with a heart of darkness. As per the norm with films like this, it has to have an open ending which is as embarrassing as it is irritating.
1. Pearl Harbour (2001) Director
I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone summed it up better than I certainly could with their song in Team America, and Bay’s retelling of the Japanese attack on the American military base of Pearl Harbour is not only a truly exhausting viewing experience, it is a really awful piece of visual storytelling. The dialogue and the acting (except maybe Jon Voight) are appalling; the love triangle that the narrative is based around is a horrendous experience to watch, with all the pouting and posing of Affleck, Hartnett and Beckinsale beyond infuriating, especially as it is often captured in slow-motion. The inevitable big set piece is in my view truly insulting and done with an almost pornographic mindset for action set pieces and made with a total lack of respect. Pearl Harbour still stands as one of the worst films I have ever seen for so many reasons.