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Half man, half CGI explosion, Michael Bay gets a lot of flak for making movies that are deemed only as a lure for the popcorn-hungry masses. If you go to a mister Bay movie you sort of know what you’re getting, a lot of Computer Generated Images, hot girls, stuff blowing up, and slow motion revolving shots of the said blasts. Bay is touted as the villain of cinematography world, we’re not here to say that’s not true, as we’ve seen the Transformer movies, the unlikeliest of all pentalogy movies, but we’re going to play the devil’s advocate and say that some Michael Bay movies are actually good.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t have explosions, hot chicks, and guns, of course, they do, but they are utilized inside of creative stories and portrayed by talented actors. And there might be slightly controversial omission since the nostalgia goggles made a lot of people like the first movie, but this is a Transformers-free zone.
Good Michael Bay Movies
Bad Boys (1995)
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A breakout big screen hit for one of the planet’s biggest movie stars Will Smith also put Bay on the map, and while it wasn’t a great cinematic achievement, it’s a great summer flick with the right blend of action and comedy. A Michael Bay movie that introduced the signature slow motion 360 degrees revolving shot, that honestly best worked with Martin Lawrence and Smith looking in the distance. The duo plays two off the hook detectives trying to protect a murder witness while searching for a large amount of stolen heroin, and also ridiculing each other. When it comes to directorial debuts in the action movie-obsessed 90’s, there’s hardly any better out there, but the problem is that Bay got lazy and rarely implemented any new tricks.
The Island (2005)
A truly underappreciated action sci-fi movie that delivers spot-on world-building and action sequences, while evoking emotional investment from the viewer. Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor have a natural flow between them, the roles were challenging from an actor’s standpoint, but the movie was made a whole by ideal supporting performances from Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, and Djimon Hounsou. A type of movie that will keep you thinking “what if” after you watch it, wanting more films like this to be made. Bay coming off an underwhelming Bad Boys II and abysmal Pearl Harbor really hurt this movie, and it was only because his next movie Transformers already had a huge following that allowed Bay to bounce back to the blockbuster scene of Hollywood.
The Rock (1996)
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Probably the best Michael Bay movie, and it’s really not surprising as it had the head start of starring one the best and most charismatic actors in the history of Hollywood – Sean Connery. The movie also had one of the coolest premises in action movie history as a renegade general threatens a nerve gas attack against San Francisco from the former island jail of Alcatraz. An ex-con played by Connery has to help a peaceful chemist, played by Nicolas Cage, and what might seem odd to people who only know 2000’s Cage, he actually gave a great performance and had chemistry with his co-lead. Besides the amazing action and the highly believable villain in Ed Harris, the movie also has some greatly placed bonus mystery. The iconic last action shot of the movie is what promoted Bay into a highly promising directorial prospect.
13 Hours (2016)
After the third Transformers movie people sort off just waved off Michael Bay movies and his directorial prowess, that’s why 13 Hours flew under the radar even in such a poor summer movie year. And it went unnoticed despite the movie being based on a highly important real-life political event that happened in Benghazi back in 2012, which was relevant throughout the election year. John Krasinski went the Chris Pratt way and from being a chubby comedian turned into an ex-special forces soldier, along with five other men who were a part of the security team of the under attack U.S. compound in Libya. Unlike earlier Michael Bay movies, 13 Hours looks gritty and the action is shot pretty realistically, truthfully depicting the chaos and the fear such an event creates. It’s an imprint of light and hope for the resurrection of a once highly-promising career.
What are your favorite Michael Bay movies and what do you expect from this director in the future?