The Secrets of Bayhem



Not even going to try to click that on. Why in fucks name would I want to watch something from Michael Bay? Although I did read a tasty article about how the new transformers flick makes zero sense.

Because, to echo both the clip linked and the opinions of several directors I’ve read or heard, for all Bay’s abundant faults he’s actually an extremely skilled cinematographer. His films are crap, but there’s a reason why they’re so popular.


The author of this short video captures what I understood but never could express about Bay’s work: it’s illegible.

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every single scene has to be visually-sophisticated and dynamic

In other words, overproduced.

he’s actually an extremely skilled cinematographer

I don’t think so. Even when he has some of the best special effects tools at his disposal he never manages to make it all work in a way that’s compelling. The lighting and shadows are almost always off and no one ever properly taught this guy about pulling back on things from being too busy and muddled.

He’s a shit cinematographer, actually. One of the worst. He takes the most state of the art digital effects and uses them in ways that a decent cinematographer would look at, refine and improve. He’s half-assed and uses technology as a crutch instead of as a refined tool.

He should be doing car commercials, not feature films. And, even then, he shouldn’t be in charge, just told what to do.

When I look at the the first Alien movie and then hold my nose watch a Transformers flick, the difference is like night and day.



So basically, his style can be summed up like 0:14 to 0:30 in this video

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What the narrator gets really close to but doesn’t quite reach is that big bombastic shots have to be interspersed with “boring” shots. When every frame is full of a thousand moving parts it lessens the overall impact of those movements. This is why Yngwie Malmsteen is a much worse guitarist than Jimi Hendrix, even if he can move his fingers twice as fast. This is why you can’t ever tell what the fuck is going on in a Transformers movie. There aren’t any beats.

Compare to, for instance, the shot in Dark Knight where the Joker’s 18-wheeler flips over. The scene is all building up and building up in pace and volume and then… silence as the truck goes up. I saw that in a crowded theater and the palpable collective audience reaction (HOLY SHIT!) remains the last (non-comedy) time I felt like “This is why we go out to movies instead of just downloading them.”

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  1. Because you don’t have to like something to learn from it.

  2. Because after watching the video, I have to grudgingly admit that Michael Bay does a few things very, very well (even if he does it so much that the overall movie implodes under the weight of his excess).

  3. Because seeing something taken apart, then being taken step-by-step through its inner workings, is educational.

  4. Because in understanding how these particular shots work, you’ll be able to spot Bay’s influence in other directors’ work. For example, the vid showed a superficially similar shot from (the downright awful) ‘Battleship,’ and explained why it fell flat in a way that the Bay shot didn’t.

  5. It’s not only possible to learn from art you dislike, the ability to do so is useful.


It’s like Bay has an amazing knack for finding the best spices in the world. But when he tries to become a master chef, he fails because his omelettes have more salt than egg. Proportions matter.

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Same. I think he could be a passable film-maker one day, when he actually learns how to tell a story.

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eh, ok. I’ll give you some of that. Perhaps Bay is good at cinematography. But he can’t make a film that interests me. I will watch all kinds of shit so long as it isn’t boring. Bay’s crap is boring from about two minutes after the credits stop. Even Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong was somewhat interesting if for nothing else than that the filler before Big Giant Things (Jack Black didn’t hurt there). Bay is pretty much Big Giant Things doing Big Giant Things and that’s that (and, mind you, with Shia LeBeof). Might be OK if you’re a stupid 12 year old. But then, I try to have better faith in 12 year olds.

You be silly

One of two reason why I adore this flick. That semi flip was NOT GGI and I gather (and fucking hopefully) done in one take. Also, I understand that Micheal Caine actually had a line to say when the Joker first burst in, but he was so stunned with Heath Ledger’s entrance that he was speachless.

Also, you really shouldn’t say, “Yngwie Malmsteen is a much worse guitarist than Jimi Hendrix”. Worse is simply wrong. Jimi was the key that unlocked things. And a few had picked that lock before.

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