There have been quite a few major internet discussions (read: vicious arguments mainly arising but not limited to the YouTube comments section of any video with decent views) that I’ve seen come and go throughout my time surfing the information superhighway or whatever they decided to call it (the interweb right?).
Some of the more notable ones I’ve seen:
One discussion I never really saw much is whether the Michael Bay Transformers universe (because everything is a universe these days) is any good. Probably because the debate would be a very quick one – the movies aren’t any good. Their plots are poor; they use different characters willy-nilly regardless of their significance to the original Transformers lore. The humor is charitably described as low-brow and more realistically described as puerile and punching down for cheap laughs.
That’s not to say Michael Bay is not a good film director. He wouldn’t be one of the most well-known directors of his generation if he didn’t have any good films in his portfolio backing him up. The Rock (1996), Bad Boys (1995), and Armageddon (1998) are considered classics by most, and his latest film Ambulance (2022), shows that he still has the chops for directing all these years later.
However, this doesn’t excuse or negate the fact that the five Transformers films that Michael Bay has helmed have been overblown, CGI slog fests with bland, forgettable audience stand-ins and eye candy.
Here’s the thing, though… now that the new Transformers: Rise of the Beasts trailer has dropped (if you haven’t seen it or want to know more, check out fellow contributor Lizabeth’s article here), I realized that for all its flaws I really am going to miss Michael Bay directed Transformers films. That’s not to write off Steven Caple Jr. before seeing what he offers. It’s just that while I didn’t enjoy the films for the most part, their action scenes (at least in the first few) were well put together and exciting in a way that can only be described as “Michael Bay-esque.”
Let’s take a couple of scenes from the first Transformers (2007) film and compare it to scenes from the Transformers: Rise of The Beasts trailer and compare the action scenes (such as we can at this stage).
This first scene between Optimus Prime and Bonecrusher is a great example of how to shoot a moving action. It starts off well setting the scene with the highway and showing us all the players in the fight and showing the devastation both the combatants are making during the fight. The fall from the freeway overpass to the lower level is an effective scene transition while continuing the fight and the camera keeps the action in the focus for however the brief fight scene is. One of my favourite parts of the original film, 7/10.
So here we’ve got the final climactic battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron. Here’s what I like about it: it’s evident who we should be focusing on from scene to scene, each scene gives us a different perspective of the fight from other characters on the ground or in the air, it’s entertaining to watch, and, most importantly, I can actually tell what’s going on. It’s not perfect, there’s quite a bit of cutting and characters being at different spots without any clear explanations, but overall, I’d give it a solid 8/10.
Now for the first teaser trailer. First off, the action feels like it is just an excuse to show off how detailed the special effects are, which is a bit tiring, to be honest. There’s also the car chase, which I’ve seen a million times before in other films and could probably storyboard in my sleep at this stage. Also, there’s the small note, not to be that guy, but Jazz could never create other copies of himself in the G1 cartoon; that was Hound.
The final fight shots felt a lot more unfocused and gave me Avengers: Endgame vibes – there are so many moving parts that it’s hard to know what to focus on, and I just find it all too distracting. I’d give this a 4/10, but I’m keen to see how it all plays out once the film is finally released.
Fear not, however, as this new film’s not all doom and gloom. Michael Bay’s going to be a producer, and with the way studio interference goes during film post-production, fingers crossed we’ll get some Bay-level action mixed in.
If this is indeed the end of Michael Bay’s tenure directing the Transformers franchise with no hope of a return, then I would like to say farewell. Farewell to the poor plots, the lacklustre humour, and the character mismanagement. Even though we may end up getting better quality films, I imagine they won’t be as fun to complain about, which is probably why I like the Michael Bay films so much.
Fuck I’m going to miss it.
Are you going to miss Michael Bay’s influence in the Transformers franchise? How excited are you about the new film? Let me know in the comments below.