I should start by saying I really don’t care for Michael Bay’s ‘work’, and from the recent Megan Fox blowup it doesn’t sound like he’s a great guy on the set, either. But I do believe Bay helming the new update of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be a good thing for the franchise. And it’s for the very reasons that I don’t like his work that he’ll do well with this type of film. Here’s why.
Michael Bay is not a good director regarding actors, story or dialogue. Just try and sit through Pearl Harbor. It’s excruciating, except the last half hour of the attack. I once heard a film school teacher say, “Yeah, I’ll see it. I want to see what $100 million gets me.” His comment was made regarding the special effects, the only thing worth seeing in the movie. And you can look at his other films (Armageddon, Bad Boys, Bad Boys 2-ugh!) to determine what school of thought he comes from: it’s the James Cameron model. Long on action and visuals, short on every other aspect of film-making. So my respect for him as a director is minimal, at best.
But when I saw “Transformers”, I realized that these are the perfect vehicles for Bay. They don’t necessarily require the acting, script or storyline of a Scorcese film. You just need a good eye for action films, and this is what Bay possesses. Great writing would be nice, but the audiences may not care. The TMNT franchise and its fan base may be well served, probably better than ever by Michael Bay guiding the new project. He will put a lot of thought into the costuming, visuals and most importantly, fight scenes. The hallmark of the Turtles is their martial arts abilities, and I’m sure it won’t be as cheesy as past incarnations. Their comic personalities, as well, are perfect for this kind of film.
I honestly don’t know how many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans there are who will pay to see this movie, so I can’t predict what the box office numbers will be. I do believe for hardcore fans (is there such a thing?) they will get their moneys’ worth with Bay guiding the ship. I should say one thing as a disclaimer: If Michael Bay is just producing, and not very hands-on, it may be another one of those films that goes right to the bargain bin. An unknown director may just need a resume. This has happened many times in Hollywood.
I guess in the end it’s a big part of Hollywood to do the formula, partner with McDonald’s and put asses in the seats. These are the kind of films Bay is good for. I’d be absolutely stunned if Michael Bay ever made a film like “Platoon” or “The French Connection”. Which is a shame because Hollywood has more resources than ever to do it. But they like the formula, so stick to it! Even if we have to deal with twenty-five awful films for every good one.
In the fictional HBO series entourage, the actor Vinny comes off a film version of “Aquaman” directed by James Cameron. During a meeting for the sequel he is told that Cameron will not return. “Who’s directing” he asks. “Michael Bay” is the reply. His face falls, and Vinny’s disappointment is evident. That little scene says it all. Stick to what you’re good at, Michael Bay, and you’ll have many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans giving you money.
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