With mega-robot destruction sweeping the world cinemas and the countless critics tooting horns of lofty opinions, I'd like to share my take on the second-most prominent celebrity named Michael currently carpet-bombing the news.
In every sense of the word, Michael Bay is the People's Director. He knows what the average moviegoer wants (bouncing boobs, bombs, bright lights, fast cars, thundering soundtrack). My grandfather once referred to Bay and his posse as "a wrecking crew." That's what Michael Bay does- he wrecks things in ever-so-beautiful and poetic hues of glorious devastation, because this is what people generally want when they go to the movies. Movies are the world's waking dreams, and we want to watch on screen what we generally can't have in real life.
Now it's easy to just blow things up and have busty babes running around in slow motion, but I will contend that Michael Bay delivers such normally low-class entertainment elements with flair and bravado that no other Hollywood director can match. Bay's films are masterpieces of color and light. Many directors have their own particular tones and hues that they favor, and Bay opts to go with the disco club palette. If it's dark, it's really dark, but if it's light, it's really bright, but never glaring. Every camera angle is dramatic, every frame is excellently composed. I wouldn't call his action sequences gritty but they don't seem like watery CGI cotton candy either (see X-Men Origins: Wolverine). I guess the best word would be "visceral." It's as close to 3-D as you can get without being 3-D.
Of course it's well known that Bay favors effects over story and characterization, but most of the time (though not always), his story and characters are enjoyable, if implausible. Bay's dialogue is always peppered with up-to-date slang and contemporary humor (though the racist depiction of black people in Revenge of the Fallen's Twins was a bit heavy-handed). His films have an MTV hipness infused in them that irks critics but resonates with young people and with which I identify. But he never feels like he's reaching either. The jabs and jokes flow like wine but never feel like they're forcing the social relevance with pop-culture references, as many children's cartoons do.
Perhaps what I admire most about Bay's style is the tightness of his ship. Every detail is meticulous but never pretentious. The editing, the sound effects, the sets, everything is well-executed and solid without being overly flashy. Bay knows he's delivering a fluffy cream pie rather than a hearty meal, but damn if he doesn't make that cream pie as beautiful and sugary as possible. He makes the best-tasting cinematic junk food out there and if I'm not mistaken, he's the most profitable director active today in proportion to the number of movies that he's made.
Michael Bay is McDonald's. I've been going to McDonald's since I was a wee tot, and while I only go every so often, when I do, it's a treat, and I enjoy a cheeseburger now just as much as I did when I was five years old. The critics can say what they want, but when you have a winning recipe, it doesn't matter whether it's healthy or not.