Blockbusters are not new to cinema. For as long as I can think back, blockbusters have always been at the forefront of movies, though they’ve certainly changed over the last few decades. What was once a stuffed gorilla terrorizing a small-scale city is now full of CGI special effects and explosions and expects to rack in millions of dollars over one weekend.
At the forefront of this blockbuster phenomena, right here in 2014, is the man that is Michael Bay. He’s become synonymous with the blockbuster and if you’ve seen any summer flick over the past couple of years, his has surely been one of them. But, the question that is begging my mind is does Michael Bay overdo it on his flicks? Does Michael Bay over-Michael Bay his movies? Watching any of the trailers of his flicks, you can immediately see his style. The stylized walking, explosions, camera angles–everything. Even a movie that shouldn’t have necessarily had that many explosions (or any at all)–Pain & Gain–was soooo Michael Bay and when the trailer came out last year, I knew immediately.
Now, let me back up a bit. Why, Ash, are you questioning the blockbuster god that is Michael Bay? Well, it all started with the Ninja Turtles. My manfriend is a huge TMNT fan and when we heard that the live-action movie was set to come out this summer with Michael Bay at the helm of it, he basically had a fit. “He’s going to ruin it! Ninja Turtles don’t have explosions! He’s going to put too many explosions!” (This coming from a guy who I’ve had to beg to watch a movie on more than one occasion.) This tantrum got me thinking about how Michael Bay really does overdo it with the explosions and the blockbustery effects. Okay, sure, Transformers sort of had explosions when they fought each other, but did Pain & Gain really need to be that action-packed? Was that crucial to the story (now we know that a lot of it was embellished, Michael Bay style, but that’s neither here nor there)? If we even look back as far as Armageddon or Pearl Harbor or even the Bad Boys movies, they’re all so quintessentially BAY.
Now, I love action movies and blockbusters and explosions as much as the next Fille–there’s something really great about watching shit just get blown up–but it’s come to the point where Michael Bay movies are becoming a dime a dozen and it becomes disconcerting when he takes classic cartoons/comics/action figures and turns them into overblown movies, breaking the hearts of 27-year-old guys (with six-year-old spirits) the world over. (Not to mention his awful casting choice of Megan Fox as April O’Neill–or why are the Turtles so damn big?!–but I won’t even go there.)
There’s a formula for blockbusters that seems to work really well: a villain + car chase + explosions + love interest (but not too sappy) = a good summer flick. But how much is too much? When does it become too much for audience members to sit through the same formula, by the same director, with the same style every. single. summer. Even the most recent Transformers flick, which was apparently terrible, raked in over $100 mil (which was actually only half of the projected), so obviously people are still buying into the franchise, but does this blockbustery quality get to replace a good storyline or how a particular existing franchise (ie. the impending Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick, out this Friday) should be played out in live action? Sorry, but I don’t think it should.
Alas, we shall see how pissed classic Ninja Turtles fans are by the end of this weekend–but I guess either way Michael Bay wins because he’ll make his money drawing in audiences who are going just to see how bad a representation it is.