The Audacity of Awesome

[Peter Suderman]

The Vulture has the scoop on how Michael Bay, auteur of awesome, plans to outdo himself with Transformers 2. Basically: even bigger robots! I fully support this.

Here's the thing about Michael Bay's movies, especially Transformers: While objectively terrible (except for maybe The Rock, which might be possible to defend, at least up to a point), they're nonetheless incredibly fun to watch*. It's not even that they're so-bad-they're-good, like, say, Paul Verhoeven movies, or something like the recent Doom adaptation. No, there's something legitimately entertaining that goes beyond ironic enjoyment -- a weird creative spark.

The first thing, I think, is that he's a surprisingly capable cinematic craftsman. True, his actions scenes often appear to have been edited by a pack of nine year olds after a Cocoa Puffs binge. But his production design, sound, and candy-coated cinematography are all top-notch. The character designs in Transformers, especially, were spectacular; the intricately animated transformation sequences alone justified the price of a ticket.

He also displays a genuine and delightful devotion to over-the-topness. So many mid-list action directors seem content to produce functional, half-competent gunfights and car chases. They're okay doing basically the same things that action directors have done for decades. Bay doesn't want to reinvent the genre by any means, but he very clearly wants to make it bigger, badder, more ridiculous, more outrageous, more fun, more awesome, and, well, just plain more everything at nearly every opportunity -- and in general I think he succeeds.

*I'm pretending Pearl Harbor didn't happen.