Tag Archives: Michael Bay

The Island

Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) lives in a futuristic community where life is prescribed for him: meals, wardrobe, job, friend, all are decided for him and none are negotiable. It’s to keep them safe. There’s been an extinction-level event “outside” in the world, and the survivors survive only because of the safety provided by the colony, and by following the rules. There are two bright spots in Lincoln’s life. The first is Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), a woman who seems to breeze through life unscathed and unoppressed by the sterility and rigidity of her surroundings. Unfortunately, proximity rules keep them apart both literally and figuratively. The second bright spot is the lottery, wherein random colonists are selected to go to The Island, a tropical oasis of peace and tranquility, a sun-drenched retirement highly anticipated by all in the last uncontaminated paradise on earth.

Except lately Lincoln is plagued by nightmares. He has memories of life before the colony. He’s starting to question things.

Unfortunately, what might have been an interesting piece of science fiction turns to shit in the hands of director Michael Bay, who prioritizes explody things over plot and character at literally every turn. Every time there’s a plot hole, he fills it with flames or a car crash or both, like hanging a poster over all the cracks in the wall. Unfortunately, the posters do very little when the whole house comes crashing down, and Michael Bay hasn’t laid a foundation in years. If all you’re after is mindless action (and it’s okay if you are, there’s a time and a place for everything), this is a pretty flashy poster, probably the equivalent of a chick in a bikini straddling a motorcycle. It’s just too bad that he ruined a pretty good concept when he could have left this in someone else’s more capable hands and just filmed another Big Dumb Man Drives Recklessly While Shouting Slogans And Grabbing His Crotch And Saluting The American Flag script instead.

6 Underground

A billionaire who goes by the name of One (Ryan Reynolds) has assembled a team of ghosts. Six men and women, having faked their deaths and truly gone underground, operate outside of the usual channels to clean up the dirt other people can’t, or won’t.

Two (Melanie Laurent) is a CIA spook; Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) is the hitman; Four (Ben Hardy) is a skywalker; Five (Adria Arjona) is the doctor; the new recruit, Seven (Corey Hawkins) is a frustrated, sharp-shooting soldier fresh from Afghanistan. Together they have plans to topple a dictator. Ambitious? You betcha. Especially so early in their mission history. After all, they may be officially dead, but they’re as flawed and vulnerable as the living. The bad guys are pretty angry about their lack of hubris.

6 Underground, a new Netflix original, is directed by Michael Bay and it’s got all his hallmarks: American flags, big explosions, scantily clad women. In fact, there’s sex in this movie where no sex belongs. But it’s the car crashes that are truly nutso bananas. This is Michael Bay, unleashed, unmuzzled, unrepentant. The opening car chase alone threatens nuns, babies, AND puppies. Too much, you say? Bah. Just you wait. Now, Michael Bay didn’t write this one but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occasionally replace dialogue with taglines. The writing is a notch above Bay’s usual tripe, and Ryan Reynolds goes a lot way toward pulling it off. Still, much of the movie is montage, and that’s normally a relief – less cringey lines uttered – though less so when it starts to feel like a wannabe Baby Driver ripoff.

“No man is more important than the mission,” says One, but some of his team disagree. And that’s kind of a big thing to disagree on, real deal breaker type stuff, and the last thing you want during a coup d’état is your little gang splintering. But that’s One’s problem, not yours. If you’re just here to see teeth splatter and brains splatter and people get multiple knife wounds by multiple knives, then this is your jam.

The Top Ten Best Car Chases

There’s nothing better than a frantic, fast-paced, pulse-pounding car chase.

The kind that sticks you directly in the middle of the action at a hundred miles an hour, keeping you at the edge of your seat as the mayhem unfolds.

The kind that keeps you coming back to re-view (and in my case, “review”) time and again,  just to relive it.

The kind that brings something new to a very crowded genre.

The kind that I’m crazy for not including in my top ten list.  Well, did I miss any?

10. Bank Heist (Fast Five)

This would rank even higher if two Mustangs had been involved instead of two Dodge Chargers, but it’s still fantastic to see Vin Diesel and Paul Walker double-team the streets of Rio de Janeiro with a gazillion ton bank safe in tow.

Bonus points for the fact that when the safe opens, it’s to Danza Kuduro so I’m reminded of every Caribbean vacation I’ve taken since 2010.

9. Mall Escape (Terminator 2)

Normally, if you’re choosing between a dirt bike and a big rig tow truck for chase purposes, you’d take the terminator2truck, right?  But what if the dirt bike also comes with an assist from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800?

What makes this chase all the more awesome is that if you go in to this movie cold, you cannot be sure which killer robot is on little John Conner’s side – a masterstroke by James Cameron which the movie’s trailers spoiled for anyone who’d seen them.

8. Mall Break-In (The Blues Brothers)

You expect a crash or two as part of a chase.  Maybe a car even flips over once in a while.   The Blues Brothers took crashes to an entirely different level.

A total of 103 cars were wrecked during the film, many of them during Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi’s wild ride through a shopping mall.  That triple-digit destruction was a record until Blues Brothers 2000 deliberately smashed one more car during its production.  But it’s the original receiving the crown that matters, namely a spot on this prestigious list.

7. San Francisco Tour (Bullitt)

Steve McQueen takes a spin in maybe the most iconic Mustang ever and tames the bullittstreets of San Francisco and a rival driver in a Dodge Charger.

But it’s not only the car, it’s also that McQueen made sure to keep his head in view of the camers so you knew it was him doing the heavy lifting the whole time.

6. World’s Worst Valet (The Rock)

This is mostly about the car, as Nicolas Cage borrows a beautiful yellow Ferrari F355 Spider to chase down Sean Connery in a Hummer H1.  And fucks it up badly.

Michael Bay puts his own spin on a San Francisco chase, complete with a runaway trolley car, and reminds us that at Bay’s peak his set pieces were as good as anyone’s.

5. Catching the Train (The French Connection)

french connectionThe French Connection’s chase is iconic for good reason.  This claustrophobic subway/car chase was filmed without a permit in real Brooklyn traffic, causing real car crashes that were left in the film (the producers paid for the repairs, but still).

While the choice to film on uncleared streets is one that would never be allowed by a Hollywood studio today, the camera angles used by director William Friedkin and his crew are still being used today.

4. Bellbottoms (Baby Driver)

It’s rare to have a car chase open a movie, but when it’s done right,  why not?

Here, Edgar Wright gets the opening chase scene SO right, in part because he’d been dreaming of making this very car chase (complete with accompanying song) since the 90s.  It was worth the wait!

3. Chasing a Black…Tank (Batman Begins)

Christopher Nolan can do it all, can’t he?  You’d think the streets of Gotham City would be perfect car chase fodder but only Nolan got it right.batman

Nolan also got a Gotham chase right in The Dark Knight, but for my money the chase from Batman Begins is the best one since it shows us how bewildering it would be for the cops trying to keep track of a superhero’s black…tank as it defies the laws of physics.

2. Fourth Quarter Magic (Drive)

As good as Baby Driver’s opening is, the opening sequence in Drive wins out for Nicolas Winding Refn’s patience and subtlety.

This chase feels like it actually could have happened, and more importantly sets the tone for the rest of the film with its gritty realism, a hint of the pulsing synth soundtrack, and amazing attention to detail (only after seeing the chase play out do we understand why Ryan Gosling’s character is such a big basketball fan).

1. The Whole Enchilada (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Mad Max: Fury Road is FURY ROADessentially a two-hour long chase scene, so on that measure it has to be number one.

But what is most impressive is that I couldn’t pick just one short sequence of that chase to focus on because it’s all fantastic.  The madness and desperation in Max’s world lend an unmatched urgency to the chase, and George Miller never takes his foot off the accelerator even for a minute – fitting for the best car chase scene of all-time.

Transformers: The Last Knight

I wrote a whole other review of this horrible, awful, infuriating movie and then accidentally deleted it.  Honestly, my review was unremarkable for the most part so it’s not a huge loss.  This movie makes no sense, it’s the fifth movie in a tired franchise that was only ever enjoyable if you, like me, liked seeing robots decapitate other robots in slow motion (and which stopped being awesome four movies ago), and it’s got Mark Wahlberg doing his usual “acting” by which I mean that he talks really fast in a whiny voice when he is under pressure and otherwise just stands around flexing his biceps and looking confused.  In short, it is the why-critics-say-transformers-the-last-knight-is-2017s-most-toxic-movie (1)worst Transformers movie yet, and the next one will probably be even worse.

But there was one part of my review worth saving, and it’s this: Mark Wahlberg was clearly born to be in Michael Bay movies.  It is the perfect match of all perfect matches.  These two eventually found each other, but there are so many Wahlberg-less Michael Bay movies, and isn’t that a shame?

So…what if Michael Bay made special editions of his back catalogue, George Lucas style, and digitally inserted Wahlberg into all his “classics” as a way to link all his movies together?

Think about it!  It would be the greatest shared universe of all time.  We could have Bad Boys fighting bad robots under the supervision of Wahlberg and his good friend Joe Pantoliano, the space shuttle in Armageddon could be a robot who owes a favour to Wahlberg and who figures out a way to save Bruce Willis as payback, and Wahlberg could help bring Sean Connery and his estranged daughter Claire Forlani together while at the same time helping Nicholas Cage foil Ed Harris’ plot to steal that face-meltingly-deadly VX gas, this time without losing Michael Biehn’s whole SEAL team.  And then Wahlberg could assemble a team of one million Ewan MacGregor clones along with the time travelling pilot duo of Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett to destroy the Transformers once and for all, saving us all from ever having to see Transformers 6: Shia’s Revenge.

This needs to happen.

 

Pearl Harbor

Yesterday, December 7th 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.

It’s been 75 years since that fateful attack on US soil, and 15 years since Michael Bay made a movie about it, and people are still arguing about which one was worse.

Oof, okay, sorry. No more joking about it. Sean and I are actually in Honolulu right now, visiting the Pearl Harbor site, and that’s a super-somber thing for uss_arizona_memorial_4sure. But beautiful too, in its way. There’s a floating memorial right over top where the USS Arizona lays beneath the ocean. You take a small shuttle boat over to it, and you can walk around on the very spot where it happened. It’s a lovely memorial, sobering as it is built right over the battleship, where 1102 of the 1177 crewmen killed still rest. In aerial shots, you can make out the outline of the ship. Lots of quiet moments to think about this loss of life.

Does Michael Bay’s movie afford the same opportunity? Not so much. The spectacularly bad dialogue makes it hard to take seriously. And critics derided the love story, though lots of Pearl Harbor-era veterans thought it pretty accurate. It’s maybe not the kind of love story we’re used to today, but if you compare it to a romance from the actual 1940s, it’s not so far off the mark. pearl-harbourPlus, war and love make us do crazy things. Michael Bay, however, is just the worst choice to convey those things. The 40 minute action sequence: superb. Very Michael Bay. Very explody. It’s even in the Guinness book of records for movie with most explosives used. There’s one shot of 6 explosions in “Battleship Row”, which was staged on real Navy ships. 6 ships, 600 feet each, rigged with 500 bombs on each boat, using 700 sticks of dynamite, 2000 feet of cord and 4000 gallons of gasoline. It took 7 months of coordination, a month and a half to rig them, permission from the government of Hawaii, the EPA, and the Navy, plus 100 extras on hand and 6 planes flying overhead, and 14 cameras to film it and in the end, it was a 7 second explosion that was stretched to 12 seconds on screen. That’s how Michael Bay do.

Otherwise it’s bloated and clichéd and weak in both plot and character. Bay has a special kind of super power where he routinely takes 3 hours to say very little, and almost never authentically. But there’s a lot of flag-waving. 1503b4f462b99050922864481f727176Wouldn’t you like to see Michael Bay and Clint Eastwood in a flag-off? Who would drop first? Pearl Harbor manages to make a spectacle out of a profound moment in history, where blood was shed by real people embroiled in their own acts of love, intimacy, bravery, fear, courage, and duty. But those stories never get told. Instead, Michael Bay offended the Japanese by upping the “barbarism” of the whole thing, which also insults American vets, who would be right in thinking the real event was bad enough. A better tribute to those who died, and those who survived, is found at the memorial, where a 23 minute documentary is shown, and manages in those 23 minutes to be more honest and more informative than Bay’s 183.

 

 

 

 

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

I was a little torn about this one: it stars my beloved John Krasinski, but it’s directed by my arch enemy, Michael Bay. When I saw the trailers in theatres, it wasn’t possible to sit through the two minutes of footage without smirking – yet another opportunity for Bay to wave his proud American flag. Except it’s impossible to feel sympathy for anyone in this movie, since the Americans weren’t supposed to be there in the first place. They’re secret soldiers for a reason – as in, shhh, don’t tell the UN. I passed on the movie while it was in theatres but when I attempted to track it down now that it’s available to rent, images.jpgthe best I could describe it was “that stupid war movie with Chris Pratt.” Because in my mind I’d confused two of my most adored chubby funny guys on TV-turned ripped movie stars. Also: Chris Pratt starred in Zero Dark Thirty. Different war, same shit. And Michael Bay is not Kathryn Bigelow.

The first thing I noticed about this movie is that everybody has a beard. Everybody has a beard! Michael Bay has literally done his casting by watching whatever television shows were available on this in-flight menu (lazily casting a couple from The Office – both of Pam’s beaus!): 24, Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie. Then he told all his handsome-but-not-too-handsome TV stars to grow beards. Must be bearded.

John Krasinski plays a contractor – he’s not actually a soldier because of course the Americans aren’t really supposed to be there, it isn’t really an embassy, so they don’t rate real military. They’re hired guns, and they’re resented by the officials they’ve been hired to babysit.

It’s a Michael Bay movie, so you know it’s bloated. It’s bloated with glossy, whispery flashback scenes. It’s bloated with homoerotic, soft porn shots of sweaty muscles getting worked out. It’s exactly the kind of movie where a dude will fight a holy war in shorts and think nothing of it. Where all the characters in Krasinski’s periphery are cardboard cut-outs until Michael Bay brilliantly inserts one piddly little scene in which every single one of them krasinski2-xlargesimultaneously Skype their families so that we know they have loved ones at home and are not as expendable as they feel. They’re the same loved ones these guys abandoned to fight a war that isn’t theirs, that they don’t even understand, in a country they don’t care about, unable to distinguish bad guys from good, and won’t be rewarded for either way. It’s real uplifting!

It’s actually fairly mature and restrained for a Michael Bay movie. You would only get medium-belligerent drunk making a drinking game out of spotting crisp American flags waving around in a light breeze. Don’t worry, his patriotism is alive and erect as ever; he’s an apologist for this shitstorm if nothing else. And of course there’s no character development; its excessive 144 minutes are devoted to packing in as many explosions as possible – they still give Mikey a chubby after all this time. He never misses an opportunity to show us a dead body or a dangling limb. He lives for this stuff. Krasinski is woefully out of place, too good for his surroundings. Sticks out like a sore trigger finger. Hopefully he’s learned a lesson, and bought a ridiculously nice car with the pay cheque.

13 Hours is better than all the Transformers movies combined, which isn’t saying nearly enough. There’s still more merit in the first 5 minutes, or any 5 minutes of The Hurt Locker, than in the entire 2.5 hours of this piece of glorious war-porn Americana. God bless Michael Bay.

I second that emotion!

Conman had such a cool idea for a blogathon that I couldn’t resist – here’s my last-minute entry into the Emotion Blogathon from the most emotional mess on the planet, and for balance, Sean-the-Robot’s picks as well.emotions Joy: The movie that makes me smile the most? Can I say my wedding video? No? A real movie? Billy-Elliot-billy-elliot-13639478-760-499Okay then. The movies that make me giggle the most are Hamlet 2 (the always-hilarious Steve Coogan is a failed actor-turned drama teacher who writes a brilliant sequel to Hamlet) and Eagle Vs Shark (Jemaine Clement plays an irredeemable weirdo; the wit is dry and unapologetic). The movies that make me happy are Singing in the Rain (I’ve never remained seated while watching it. It’s infectious.) and Billy Elliot (oh, no theme there at all). The movie that puts a song in my heart is Up. Gets me every damn time. The movie that gives me that Fuck yeah! feeling is Big Fish.

Sean’s pick:  Amelie – there’s something about this movie that makes me feel hopeful, not just one thing, repeatedly, over and over, it captures something raw about us.We are at our best when we do good and help each other, just for the sake of it, and sometimes we forget that.

Sadness: Which movies has made me cry the most? All Dogs Go to Heaven was probably the first to turn me into a giant puddle of weepery. In grade 7 I turned purple and had to lock myself All-Dogs-go-to-Heaven-all-dogs-go-to-heaven-4984580-780-588in a bathroom stall in school when we watched The Outsiders. And we’d just finished the book so I knew what was coming. The Last Kiss (Zach Braff cheats on his wife with Rachel Bilson and then regrets it and tries to win her back) had me totally choked up when I unknowingly watched it during the throes of my horrible divorce. Furious 7 reduced me to tears on numerous occasions just thinking of the movie or hearing that damn song on the radio for weeks after I saw it – I’m not proud of that, but in my defense, I did lose 2 very close friends to car accidents and that movie seems to have triggered a lot of grief for me.

Sean’s pick: Big Fish – this is a movie that exemplifies “good sad” which I didn’t even know existed for the first 25 years of my life. Billy Crudup’s story of how his dad dies is hands down the finest cinematic expression of the love between a father and son.

(I think it’s sweet how we overlap on happy\sad)

Anger: A movie that fills me with rage and inspires Jay-Hulk to rip off my shirt and rant for ages? Well, that’s probably like every second movie I’ve ever seen, come to think of it. 40 Days and 40 bayNights (that Josh Hartnett one where he tries to be celibate for 40 days) really makes me seethe because the dude gets straight-up raped in the movie, only nobody calls it that because he’s a guy, and the rapist is a woman. I literally think steam comes out of my ears. 50 Shades of Grey makes me livid and I haven’t even seen it. But I can’t believe we’re allowing this to exist, this dumbing down of society, and this glamourization of an abusive relationship. Thanks, 50 Shades, for setting us back about 65 years! And you know who really steams my broccoli? That Michael Bay. Does anyone so consistently annoy the shit out of me by making steaming piles of crap? Michael Fucking Bay!

 

Sean’s pick: The Amazing Spiderman – if you reboot a superhero franchise, don’t rehash the origin story in the reboot. It’s lazy and terrible and makes me angry. The only way Chris Nolan got away with it was by capturing the essence of the classic “Batman: Year One” storyline, but I can’t think of any other situation where that would work. So please, none of these origin stories are complicated, just do it in the opening credits and get to the good stuff, i.e., the conflict between our hero and one of his/her (though let’s be honest, it’s always his) classic villains.

 

childrenFear: The movie that scared the bejesus out of movie? Precious. That got under my skin. No horror movie will ever bother me half as much as the degradation of a human being. Children of Men made me fear for the future. Man Bites Dog made me fear for our souls. The Act of Killing made me fear for the human race. Complete lack of empathy. I mean, wtf. Boys Don’t Cry can probably go into that same category. Hotel Rwanda. Like, I’m just sad for humanity for days.

Sean’s pick:  Friday the 13th – As a kid before I even saw the movie (but knew the basic concept) I was terrified of killers in the woods at camp because of this movie and its (first few) sequels. Especially at night, when I was walking through a wooded area at camp, I would be freaking out.

Disgust: This is my favouritest emotion ever and I’m full of cringes and upturning of my cute-as-a-button nose. How can I ever pick just one? I’m disgusted by just about any movie that’s a waste of space. I famously reenacted nearly every scene of 2012 when I was flummoxed as to how such a terrible movie ever got made. And I feel that way of about a third of the movies ever made. So that’s a lot. I’m also disgusted by anything poopy or farty (I’m looking at you, street-poopBridesmaids). Even toilet humour. Oh god. And that scene in Big Daddy where the kid spits this big long string and then slurps it back up? I have to go take a shower just from writing that. And that blonde chick in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist who just will not throw out that revolting piece of gum to save her life (or more realistically, MINE). And obviously anything eye-related. I have to actually turn away, and when Sean tells me it’s safe, I’m like, are you SURE? Because no. Not even. And Minority Report seems to have been made solely to make me squirm. Tom Cruise gets his eyeballs swapped out in a crude and unsanitary procedure, and then goes on to blindly eat THE MOST DISGUSTING THINGS IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE. I’m making retching noises right now and I bet if you listen carefully, you can hear them wherever you are.

Sean’s pick: Pixels – The feeling when you hope for a return to form and then receive the laziest possible effort from a guy who used to have his finger on the pulse of a generation, and more egregiously, the exact generation who remembers the greatness of pac-man and donkey kong and centipede.

All right. We’ve fessed up, so now it’s your turn. What movies would you pick? And if you’ve participated, be sure to leave us your link!