“We will never forsake freedom”—Optimus Prime, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Okay let me say upfront that some day I will be writing a series on the top 20 directors of all time. Michael Bay is not on that list. Michael Bay isn’t on the list of honorable mentions either. Michael as a director, has many flaws…some directors can save a bad script or a push a bad actor to the point that you wouldn’t know either was bad. Michael Bay is not one of those directors. Pearl Harbor, The Island, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (how exactly do you have a movie called Revenge of the Fallen, when the character named The Fallen is in the movie for what a whole of 10 minutes?). These movies suck beyond the telling of it. Now when things work (i.e. decent script, decent actors) his films are enjoyable and re-watchable…no one will ever say his work is on par with Casablanca, but it’s fun and even probably worth buying before it even hits the five dollar bin at Wal-mart. But if he has one great quality it’s that his films are patriotic.
So what makes his movies patriotic?
Well there is first the fact that he almost obsessively puts the America flag into scenes with our heroes, no matter what the film. You see the stars and stripes you see heroes. During the President’s speech in Armageddon I counted at least 7 flags in a speech that isn’t 3 minutes. Bay has the correct amount of respect for the flag (infinite) and the proper understanding of what is means (it is a symbol of heroism and the good guys).
Second for all of his flaws, Bay understands good and evil and doesn’t shy away from the basic concept that sometimes the way to deal with evil I “we will kill them all.” Yes we’ll try talking, sanctions and diplomacy and whatnot but sometimes you realize as in the case of Bay after three Transformers films it’s just time to plant a giant battle axe into Megatron’s head and blow Sentinel to hell…because it’s just not going to end any other way or in the case of America, you can sink a nation’s entire navy, destroy all their overseas holdings, fly thousands of leaflets over a city telling people you need to leave the city NOW!…and in the light of this you there are still sometimes when you’re faced with costs of tens of millions of civilian lives plus maybe a million soldiers because the country in question is too dumb to know when to call it quits…you know it’s just time to nuke two cities off the map (we should have followed it with taking Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, and wherever Mao’s army was concentrated, but we had a coward in the Oval Office and also we only had three of the things at time and we wasted one in New Mexico…Sacramento would have been such a more useful choice). Sometimes you just have to go the whole way and bomb the enemy into oblivion (again we should have tried it in Russia, China and Iran), because their stock in trade is absolute evil (before some liberal wants to say that my claims about the Japanese is unfair, look up the phrases “Rape of Nanking” and “Bataan Death March”…you’ll wonder why we didn’t ship the entire Japanese hierarchy from Hirohito to the lowest ensign to Nuremberg and hang them all.) There is good and there is evil, and America at its best is one of the few countries that has ever really understood this…and Michael Bay also understands this one.
Finally, of course, Bay had endless respect for the armed services. Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, all three Transformers the U.S. military is shown to be just the biggest bunch of bad-asses who are more than worthy of your undying respect.
Throw in some not so subtle insults at Obama in Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon it just gets even better.
Again, unless something miraculous happens, Bay will never be up for an Oscar, but he is still a enjoyable story teller who will always show America as the good guys.