Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why Michael Bay Is So Incredibly Awesome

Everyone who writes about movies is now apparently required to hate Michael Bay. The ex-director of commercials and music videos, who has made some of the most successful films of the last decade—Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Transformers, etc.—has become, without a doubt, the bĂȘte noir of modern cinema; or at least of modern movie critics. The critical establishment has never really liked Michael Bay, but the recent release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which despite having been demolished by every respectable critic on both sides of the Atlantic, is hurtling swiftly toward the box-office stratosphere, was unquestionably the nail in the coffin....

It must be admitted that almost everything the critics have said about Revenge of the Fallen is true to a certain extent. It is not a particularly good film, even by Hollywood blockbuster standards, and Bay is most certainly unsubtle, lowbrow, and unapologetically mercenary. Ironically, however, the critics’ belief that Bay is also a threat to all things decent and civilized in the world, the unabashed critical contempt and hatred that has been directed his way from the beginning of his career, says very little about Bay himself. Instead, it says almost everything about the pathetic state of American film criticism.

It was probably dissident film critic Armond White who sounded the first alarm in 2000, when he went to the barricades for controversial director Brian De Palma and his much-maligned Mission to Mars.

Brian De Palma’s critical drubbing over Mission to Mars—reminiscent of the scene in Airplane! where passengers line up to smack an old lady—is the clearest evidence of the catastrophe that has befallen contemporary film criticism. Mission to Mars is a litmus test. It can be said with certainty that any reviewer who pans it does not understand movies, let alone like them. They’d be better off reviewing static, juvenile media like television or comic books.

White, while unquestionably correct, was somewhat premature. As has now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, the real litmus test is Michael Bay.

Read the rest at The New Ledger.