Is Transformers director Michael Bay finally getting respect?
By the time you read this story, the third Transformers movie will have made a ton of money at the box office.
True, that's no big news flash. Still, it is surprising to see that Transformers: Dark of the Moon actually received (gasp!) a number good reviews. Not uniformly good notices (the Hollywood Reporter called it a "spectacularly empty spectacle"), but the fact that Hollywood's long time whipping boy has been getting any good reviews at all is definitely a change of pace.
There's certainly plenty of reasons to hate Michael Bay. His movies, his arrogance, and his colossal ego are usually insufferable, he also has a well deserved reputation for being an abusive, slave driving bully on his sets.
Good press doesn't really matter with Bay. His films are critic proof, and bad behavior is always tolerated in Hollywood as long as the bucks keep rolling in.
Yet Bay has gotten some surprisingly good notices lately, and not all of them appear to be calculated spin control, like the Variety article, "Michael Bay, Seriously," where he was called an auteur (meaning a total filmmaker), and "a singular voice."
The New York Times gave Transformers 3 a backhanded review, but also wrote that for what it was, it was "among Mr. Bay's best movies and by far the best 3D sequel ever made about gigantic toys from outer space... Dark of the Moon is one of the few recent 3D movies that justify the upcharge."
The L.A. Times also noted, "Excellent 3D and a sense of fun make this entry considerably more watchable than Michael Bay's last outing... Bay has delivered a leaner, meaner, cleaner 3D rage against the machines."
Meanwhile, Batman/Inception director Christopher Nolan just came out to Movieline as a Michael Bay fan and James Cameron - who convinced Bay to make the third Transformers in 3D - paid his filmmaking a compliment in the Hollywood Reporter in a joint interview.
"When I heard that you were considering 3D, I thought, 'Man, I gotta talk Michael into this somehow,' because the marriage of your technical filmmaking and action, and the lucidity of the shot design that you create – these long, evolving shots that just go and go until your jaw's dropping – I thought, 'I've gotta see that in 3D."
Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the screenwriting team behind the 2009 Star Trek reboot and Cowboys and Aliens, wrote The Island and the first Transformers for Bay. As Orci told me, "Michael's primary concern is with the audience. I know he'd like critical acclaim, but he talks to his audience, and that's one of the great things we learned about him. He just wants to make sure they have a good time. The rest of it doesn't really matter."