"I make movies for teenage boys. Oh, dear, what a crime."
Michael Benjamin Bay is an American movie director. He's known for an incredibly energetic direction style that some claim is impossible to follow, while a lot of other filmgoers don't seem to mind.
Bay got interested in action films when he set firecrackers on a train set, filmed it with his mom's camera, and got grounded. As a teenager he was as a clerk for Lucasfilm in the early '80s, and worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark. He thought it would suck, but ate his words when he saw the final product. That got him interested in directing.
Then Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer hired him to direct Bad Boys. The film was a modest hit and kicked off Bay's film career. When The Rock came out it solidified him as someone capable of making energetic, entertaining and profitable action films.
Around the time Armageddon rolled around he gained a very vocal Hatedom among film fans, it seems for mostly the same reasons. The fact that every film has been a substantial hit (although The Island was significantly less than expected) suggests that they might just be a Vocal Minority. If you look over his interviews, especially for Transformers, you'll see that he is more than aware of it, and even makes fun of the fact.
He is also well known for being a tough General on set, because he is aggressive and moves at a very fast pace. The movies he makes would cost probably about 30% more with another director. Despite a belief that everyone in Hollywood hates him, because of his ability to work within a budget and demanding a strong work ethic from his crew and actors has earn him a great deal of supporters just for turning filmmaking an actual work experience. He is ranked up among the most elite directors in Hollywood today, with strong relationships with friends James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
But his aggressive directing style and occasional Jerkass behavior has earned him some enemies. People like Bruce Willis, Scarlett Johansson, Megan Fox (who compared him to Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte in a recent interview) and Kate Beckinsale (who claimed that Bay made her feel "ugly" on the set. We haven't quite worked out how this is possible.) have spoken out against Bay and refuse to work with him again.
In 2008, possibly to hype Postal, Uwe Boll called out Bay (among others) for his supposed lack of talent (at least from Boll's point-of-view) while insisting he's "the only real genius in the whole fucking business." Bay's response qualifies as his own personal Crowning Moment of Awesome.
While he may be hated by film critics everywhere, you should always remember one thing: You mess with Michael Bay and you mess with America!
His films to date:
- Bad Boys (1995)
- The Rock (1996)
- Armageddon (1998)
- Pearl Harbor (2001)
- Bad Boys II (2003)
- The Island (2005)
- Transformers (2007)
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) - His first 3-D film.
- Pain & Gain (2013)
- Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
- 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
- Transformers 5 (2017)
- Adam Westing: See Self-Deprecation.
- America Saves the Day: He uses this a lot--as noted below, he likes the US Military, and they like him because they always look good in his movies. One exception is The Rock which was a major aversion--Sean Connery Saves The Day instead.
- Artistic License: A few of Bay's films take certain liberties with things like history or astronomy in the name of telling a story.
- Author Appeal: BAYSPLOSIONS
- Awesomeness Is Volatile: "Michael Bay presents EXPLOSIONS!!!!!" - Robot Chicken
- Backed by the Pentagon: He has a direct line to Film Correspondent at the Pentagon. "The military likes me because they look good in my movies." and "I am a world class ass-kisser."
- Bad Boss: If Bruce Willis is to be believed.
- Chase Scene: Which, at least in three movies, always involved a truck/semi, usually with stuff flying off. Simply dodging traffic at high speeds just isn't enough.
- He did Transformers partially because he felt that he had done plenty of chase scenes, but none that had giant robots transforming at 80 mph.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Apparently they're so thick his assistants have to translate for the special effects people.
- For the movies themselves, both Bad Boys films.
- Concept Video: His video for "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)", by Meat Loaf, features Loaf and Dana Patrick as a motorcycle-riding Beauty and The Beast.
- Creator Backlash: He admitted that Revenge of the Fallen deserved some of the hate it got.
- Creator Cameo: He's a NASA Scientist in Armageddon, has his car nearly taken in Bad Boys II, and is in the airplane carrying Optimus Prime in Revenge of the Fallen.
- Death by Cameo: That random bystander who Megatron flicked like an insect with his finger in the first Transformers? Yep, that was Mr. Bay himself. Oh and in Mystery Men, he plays the leader of The Frat Boys (his line: "Dude, can we bring the brewskis?"), who are all killed by the movie's Big Bad, For the Evulz.
- Creator Thumbprint: Helicopters or planes flying into sunset are very commonly found.
- Cue the Sun: All of the Big Damn Dramatic Scenes in his movies are set at sunset. Sometimes, if the scene is dramatic enough, then it will magically become sunset at the same time all over the world.
- At the Transformers Wiki, one of the film's errors: "Sunset occurs roughly every fifteen minutes."
- Doing It for the Art: For Michael Bay, explosions and chase scenes are an art. Even in his SFX heavy movies he has these stunts done for real, and has commented such stunts wouldn't look as good if he relied on CG or models. There is footage of the first Transformers movie where a car was launched into the third story of a building on accident (the resulting scene was Bumblebee's return to the battle in the tow truck). He has stated that he doesn't like blue-screen work. When it came to making Transformers 3 a 3-D film, he refused to work with anyone besides the best. In other words, the same team from Avatar.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: He has a 360 Steadicam® shot in almost all his films, including when Optimus Prime transforms in the climax of Transformers.
- Explosive Instrumentation: Devastator, the most complex of the Transformers in the films, melting the computer being used to render him is probably as close as you'll get to this trope in real life.
- Fan Nickname: His Signature Style is called "Bayhem."
- Follow the Leader: Bay admitted that his quick-cutting style was to bring more energy to the relatively low budget Bad Boys, which couldn't afford the same scale of actions sequences his later movies would offer. He also said that since then action movies have become more like his style and sometimes include even more cuts than even he would do.
- Genre Savvy: He knows that no matter what he does or how hated his movies are going to be, they'll be commercial successes anyways. In other words, he knows that people Love to Hate him.
- Godwin's Law: Megan Fox compared him (unfavorably) to Hitler in an interview, although in the dictator sense than anything else.
- Good-Looking Privates: Pearl Harbor and Transformers (2007)
- Gun Porn
- Hidden Depths: Bay is a lot more intelligent and observant than people give him credit for. He normally doesn't care much about the critical hatred he gets, but he did once make a poignant observation that movie critics have their own fandom and thus will often say things that would make them popular, and hating Michael Bay is pretty popular. And while not mentioning Roger Ebert specifically, he noted that some critics take the industry so serious they alienate their readers (Ebert basically said that anyone who likes ROTF is stupid, which is something that will guarantee an angry response from people who didn't even like the movie).
- Honor Before Reason: The defining attribute of a Heroic Male in a Michael Bay movie.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: In regarding his use of 3-D in Transformers 3, he stated outright that people may hate his movies, bashing the characters, storyline and plot holes, but you cannot fault the technical side of things. The special effects, camera work and sound design are all "technically precise."
- Its Always Sunny in Miami: And it is also always sunset. With big clouds of steam (or something else) coming out of the manholes.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The quality or lack thereof of his movies is rather debatable, and he has a reputation as an absolutely tyrannical director, but when he's not actually doing anything regarding movies he's reportedly quite nice, and he's shown himself to have quite a sense of humor on a number of occasions.
- Mad Bomber: Not in any of his films... the man himself. He's a nutcase pyromaniac. When you consider that his films are probably 80% practical effects, and that most of those explosions are real?
- Made of Explodium: Seemingly everything...in all of his films...
- Ms. Fanservice: He usually has more than one in each of his movies.
- Mundane Made Awesome: If it's not awesome already, Bay will likely make it so.
- Ominous Multiple Screens: Multiple screens showing same thing. Best example is when Bruce Willis is talking to his daughter and every screen in NASA shows his face.
- Pet the Dog: Perhaps literally. Bay is an animal-lover, owning two mastiffs (who can occasionally be seen in his films), and offered a $50,000 reward for anyone who had information leading to "the arrest and successful prosecution" of a woman tossing puppies into a fast-moving river. He also donated his Bar Mitzvah money to an animal shelter when he was a teenager.
- Precision F-Strike: When demonstrating Devastator he got the normally reserved Steven Spielberg to use one. He considered it a high honor.
- Prima Donna Director: Infamous for his maniacal style of direction, with many stories of actors collapsing from exhaustion and Bay throwing temper tantrums.
- Rule of Sean Connery: It's usually considered that Bay has made just one good movie, The Rock (his only 'Fresh' at Rotten Tomatoes). Guess who stars in that?
- Self-Deprecation: He's known to poke fun at himself, like in this ad.
- And this one. He used seven helicopters!
- Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: A deal of coincidences, his cousin Susan Bay is married to Leonard Nimoy and it was their influence (due to being frequent donors) that got them to film at the Observatory in the first film. This lead to Nimoy being cast as Sentinel Prime in the third movie as well.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Heavily slanted towards the Idealistic side.
- Stuff Blowing Up: "Awesome barbecue!" *BOOM!* "Awesome pool!" *BOOM! Why doesn't he just marry explosions?
- "What is your favorite thing to blow up or demolish?" "Well, I don’t have a favorite, as I like to blow up a lot of things."
- This is a prevalent opinion as evidenced by the Michael Bay Presents: EXPLOSIONS!!! Robot Chicken skit.
- Notably, during the making of the second Transformers film, one of the computers melted while trying to animate Devastator. See here. Also they needed around 4 terabytes of memory to store the data for Devastator. Awesomeness Is Volatile indeed.
- Summer Blockbuster
- Technology Porn