Jun 28, 2009

Why Michael Bay is a worse filmmaker then me!

Despite the many warnings against it out there, I had to go see if the dire warnings were true.

Was Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen as bad as everyone said... Oh man they only touched the tip of the iceberg! Now I could rant about so sooooo many things in this film:

A story that revolved around MacGuffins that only lead to more MacGuffins! A MacGuffin being a plot device that propels a plot forward. The item itself is not so important, but what’s necessary is that it pushes the conflict between the characters... Sadly in this film it is unclear which is more unimportant, the items or the characters!

The blatant portrayal and use of racism in half the characters and robots for the purpose of a few cheap laughs.

The blatant AMERICAN F&$K YEAH message of the movie. Frankly it is a little old, especially given how "impressive" your military efforts to keep the world safe have gone in the last 5 years. If you can't handle unorganized lightly armed guerrilla insurgences I'm just not buying you containing city leveling alien robots!

The film's reliance on nothing but toilet, sex, and drug jokes as it only comedy... May I never see one more dog, robot, or human formed transformer try to hump a leg, pillow, or especially Shea LeBeouf (YES there was a BEEPing decipticon who turned into a hot woman for the sole purpose of trying to shag information out of Shea LeBeouf!!!).

However there is one thing about this movie that boggles my mind. This movie was worse then even my worst film (and it was the FIRST movie I ever tried to make... ).

The man responsible for Transformers, is of course this guy, Michael Bay. Who, fittingly in this photo, is laughing to himself about just how stupid we all are for thinking he is any good at directing.

Frankly if I were him, and allowed to produce Revenge of the Falling, I'd be laughing too. Any studio executive dumb enough to give this man $200 million dollars deserves to be shot out of a cannon into space (a far better use of $200 million then this movie!).

On no level was the direction of Michael Bay better then mine, and I'm an amateur home movie maker!

Now before I proceed I'm not referring to the technical elements of this film. There is no way I can match any of the production levels of this film. However their execution and application come across as grossly incompetent and frankly more inexperienced then me!

Most important of all in film is perspective. Now as you can see from this still, Michael Bay insists on two things in his cameras. Hand held and closeup.
WHY would you want that!?!?!?!?! ANYONE and their dog can accomplish this type of shot with a cheap camcorder!!!

To me the shaky "in the action" shots of Michael Bay are telling me he is so incompetent as a director he has to cover up his otherwise pathetic camera work by obscuring it with "realistic" motion. Anyone who has watched camcorder filmed material (especially when the camera moves) the final product it next to unwatchable...

If I had his budget, equipment, and state of the arts effects my movies action scenes would be as wide as possible to show off as much as possible! We don't go to see the movies to feel like we're in real life (and besides I don't know about your eyes, but when I move life doesn't motion blur or shake half as bad as his cameras when I'm moving around).

This is a "long" shot for Bay. Note how the characters just fit inside the frame. To me this is a medium shot, and it should be far more common then Mr. Bay uses them.

Editing is another area Michael is rather amateur in. He can't seem to stand a shot above 10 seconds, and if it last for more then 3 it has to be a moving one.

Now I'm sure he thinks this is cutting edge cinematography, and that the audience will be paying attention to the none stopping eye candy. I don't know about you but it gave me a headache at many points.

It just makes Michael Bay come across, again, as incompetent this time at editing. Can he not get his actors and takes to go right for more then a few seconds at a time? If so, why not show that off ?!? It would make you seem able to, well direct! Besides Mr. Bay I'm sure some of these actors would like a resume piece in which other directors could see them do more then blink twice in a row before cutting to the next shot!

Now one thing about the first movie that hooked me was the amazing robot effects of ILM. They were no less spectacular this time around... or at least I think they were anyway!

You see despite the fact that this is film was marketed as an effects action film, Michael Bay applied all his aforementioned filming techniques to the robots as well... Meaning shots like this one here (a pretty tight medium shot) were a rare treat in his film. However with a budget of $200 million why are these so rare?!?

The reason was that all the effects budget and effort went into tracking Michael's shaky shots and having to track, lock, and sync the CG effects to it. Not to mention the added time rendering that degree of motion blurring adds to those sorts of effects (to get 3D motion blur you have to render each image multiple times to mix them together. This means multiple renders per frame, which makes them cost more time and money... for no added visual impact other then intangible "realism").

Take a lesson from other directors. If you have access to cutting edge effects and the budget to make a lot of them (200 million is more then enough) we the audience should be treated to nothing but long shot after long shot of CG effect. Not hyper cut together blurry shaky shots of people running around robot ankles or ground to towering robots. Seriously you've seen 90% of the visually legible shots in the trailers already, all your missing not seeing in the film itself is transformer feet and the odd really shaky shot of silhouetted robots fighting.

Now onto design. Sure Bay (like the effects) didn't actually design the Transformers. However he was the guy who greenlighted the sketches and designs that would make it on screen.

Now I show you Optimus Prime in both his lovely simple, but yet iconic cartoon look and...

His unbelievably complex mutant metal redesign. He can barely claimed to have remained loyal to the original. Which isn't good as he fared the best of the conversions, and EVERY other robot in the film bares little in common with its cartoon originator.

Now a re imagining I guess can be claimed to not hurt anyone (but I'm sure car manufacturers would be taken to court over the safety repercussions of wheel redesigns). This complex new look ties into Bay's attitude towards "real" photography. Sure a "real" living robot may very well might be made of 1000's of parts like this, however the human eye can't process them (especially when the average shot of them moves all over the place and lasts for only a few seconds!). We don't need real. Like a film, we need a simplified simulation of real.

I can't fathom how Bay watched the dailies of the effects and not wondered himself which robot was which in the battles, as there is next to no way to tell them apart in the majority of the battle scenes (the first film benefited from most of the fights featuring either the bright red and blue optimus prime or yellow bumblebee...). Longer shots (in both distance and time) would have helped, but simpler (truer to the source) character designs would have solved this too!

This is a lovely example of a fan made Devastator based solely on the action figure. I would have loved to see this version even on screen, more then the Bay version of the character. Just imagine a ILM quality version of this design?!?

I can't say there was too little sound in this film. No there sure wasn't that. The soundeffect people sure had to earn their pay check this film (though they could retire if they were paid by the individual effect!). There was so much sound from this film that when I came out of Transformers I could share notes with my girlfriend who'd been watching the Proposal in the next door theatre!!!
To build suspense sometimes less noise is better. Something Mr. Bay couldn't take advantage of this as the sound was always between a metallica concert and a supersonic jet engine.
One thing even a none established director like me knows is that when characters are delivering dialogue, especially important to the story, you shouldn't have their voices competing with loud sound effects. This happened all throughout this film!
This scene with Jetfire being the worst of all. Not only was the character literally ranting in a uncaring manner about a convoluted MacGuffin, leading me to wonder why I should care about it if he didn't, but I couldn't properly hear him. See his beard made of metal, well while he talked it moved about. Well Michael Bay thought it'd be 'awesome' if it made authentic metal beard sounds. In other words loud chains clanging and clattering together. At the same volume as or louder then Jetfires voice, and both only happened when he talked...
I seriously had no clue what was going on for the next 10 minutes of the film (though fortunately as the writers seemed to anticipate Bay losing us poor audience members along his way, and so they wrote in convenient restatements of the plot every 5 minutes. Which were handy till you'd caught one of them. Then it was just insulting! I digress though...

Take in the scenery of this shot. Okay good now that you've taken in Fox's boobs, seriously look at the set she is lying helplessly in...

This film had a 200 million budget (I keep reminding you, as if we were just left with Bay's film as evidence it might not be apparent), yet the whole climax happened on a set from the first film... not even redressed. I'm not kidding!

Bay seems to have a thing about desert robot fights (though its not due to the nice openness of the sand dunes allowing for nice easy unobscured shots, that's for sure!), and apparently Paramount only has access to one desert set.

Remember the scene where the army boys fight the giant robot scorpion in a desert village. Well that same village is reused as a villa just below the pyramids, and apart from the big stone triangles being CGed in behind, the village is identical. Seriously, there is only a bit of an extension in the back section.

With a budget like this how could you not afford to redress the set a bit, or better yet completely!

Hell in my latest film (Delta Patrol) I used the same room as 5 different location in my film. With my mere budget of $100 dollars (no millions attached to this sadly), and none of that money spent on sets other then some X-Mas lights for futureness, we were able to make it look like 3 different places (admittedly the morgue and science lab look the same, but that works when you think about it).

I'm going to stop here.

I could take on the script and dialogue, characters, plotting ,and such. However none of my movies have ever outmatched this film on those. Only matched. In our defense our movies weren't two years in the making with hundreds of ppl involved. Usually 2-5 of us sitting down one evening coming up with an rough idea and filming it over the next week in our spare time off work.

Which I think is a key point. I don't know how people like Michael Bay get so much money to make such crap movies. I could do better with a fraction of his budget. Hell, just give me his camera and audio gear and crew, and I guarantee I could make a movie 100 times better then this (and with his effects people it could even have a transformer in it... unlike this one ;p ).


Anonymous said...

Not sure which review I like better: Your's or Peter's. All I know is that I do NOT want to see that film! I'm NOT going to waste my time with crap like that!! So, Thanks Craig from saving me from seeing that movie! I was going to go see it until I read you and Peter's reviews and I must say again, Thank you for saving me from seeing that garbage. I owe you one!

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

I was invited to see that film last week but had some reservations after hearing terrible comments about it. That day I read Peter's post on how terrible that film is so I declined the invitation. Now I see it was worse than what I expected. Definitely I won't waste time and money on it.

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