Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Film Pet Peeves: Update on Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich
A while ago, I wrote an editorial on one of my biggest film pet peeves; the continued success of "filmmakers" Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich. In that editorial, I talked about why they continue to piss me off and how appealing to the lowest common denominator might work for box office success but makes for poor filmmaking success.
Looking back on it, I believe a more solid point is that Bay and Emmerich are good businessmen, but poor filmmakers. They know how to make a film look enticing to audiences. To make them want to go see their film, through clever marketing, bringing in big name stars and, of course, lots of mindless action that anyone can enjoy. To them, film is nothing more than an outlet to make money.
My problem with this is there is so much more to cinema than just a business. Filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan don't keep making movies to get some money (though that does certainly help), they do it because they're passionate about movies and love to make films that they can be proud of. Films that they can look back on and realize that it is an accomplishment that they can proud of. As opposed to Bay and Emmerich, who probably look back on "Transformers: Age Of Extinction" and "The Day After Tomorrow" as a big paycheck.
Some responses to my earlier editorial have made the point that Bay and Emmerich's films are glorious eye candy that can be a pleasure to view. That people love to watch eye candy and their films personify that feeling.
I both agree and disagree with this assessment. I agree that people like to watch eye candy and that films by Emmerich and Bay encapsulate that feeling. But I disagree that this makes their films "good" or redeemable in anyway.
Film is, among other things, another form of storytelling so story, characters and substance should always take precedence over effects and style, unless the film is trying to be different like "Gravity" or "The Wind Rises." However I don’t think any film by Bay or Emmerich has tried to be different in that regard. Their films are high on adrenaline and extremely low on intelligence. There is certainly a time and place for that, but it always gets old fast and never has any staying power. The more you watch their films and you watch these racist characters and bland-colored characters fight, the more you realize just how irritating their movies can be.
A good film grows on you. The more you watch it, the more you end up loving it and appreciating. A good film is not just a waste of time or a way to keep you distracted, like many Bay and Emmerich films.
Their films may have made lots of money at the box office, but I do not care about that. It does not tell me anything about the movie, other than a lot of people went to go see it. These days, tons of people go see terrible movies, like "Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" so box office success means even less.
The whole point of my editorial was to say that I can’t say I like any Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich film. Instead of making the type of film they would want to see, they make the film that’ll make the most money. Their films come across like they have no passion for filmmaking and are just in it for the money. It is disrespectful to the art of filmmaking.
Finally, I understand this opinion is contrary to the majority opinion out there. Most people enjoy Bay and Emmerich's films, which is why they gross so much at the box office. As a result, my opinion may come off as biased.
To that I say, of course it is biased. There is nothing wrong with that though. It is impossible to do something like this and not be biased. Any time you give your opinion on anything, it will be biased. Your opinion is your bias. But that doesn’t stop me from believing it, even if it is contradictory to the majority. I don’t believe Bay and Emmerich are bad filmmakers just to be contradictory. I believe they’re bad filmmakers because that is how I legitimately feel. I have never enjoyed watching their films, even when I was younger and didn't understand film that well.
I remember watching Emmerich's "Godzilla" and immediately hating it. As I left the theater, I contemplated what was wrong with it, but couldn't see anything other than the monster not being anything like Godzilla. But now I see that the characters are nothing more than stereotypes, the story is poorly paced and makes no sense, the sad attempts at humor are pitiful and the action sequences are ripped straight from other better films.
Let's face it; From a critical perspective, there are no good Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich movies. Every single one of them is tedious, repetitive, filled with far too much CG and not enough life in the actual human beings and are nothing more than dumb excuses to watch lame action sequences.
Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay are terrible filmmakers.