I want Michael Bay to remake Seven Samurai

Posted: June 25, 2010 in Article
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HANG ON! Just hear me out on this.

It’s getting quite popular to hate Michael Bay these days. There have been people claiming he’s ruining the action movie or just cinema in general for a while now, but lately there are people who should be in his demographic who are hating on him. Now, I’ve never made it a secret that I am no Bay fan, but I’m not sure I’ve really pointed out exactly why I don’t like his stuff.

First off, I don’t think he’s ruining movies. While I may not like his style, I understand that he makes a lot of money, so someone must be plunking down their shekles to see his stuff. If that’s true, then I blame the audience for the death of true cinema… whatever the hell that actually means. I’ve seen enough of these “Cinema is dying” claims spread over a wide enough area to know that it’s just so much hokum. If movies are going downhill, which I don’t actually believe, then it’s because of what the majority decides to go see. I don’t blame Bay, who is reacting to market forces. Argue against the market if you want, but don’t blame the artist.

Some people claim to hate Bay because his movies are badly made. I can’t really agree with that either though. Of the movies of his I’ve seen, Bay tells a complete story and the technical aspects of his filmmaking are very well done. He makes good movies, with very little fat in either the narrative or technical sense. Explosions aplenty perhaps, but he’s never claimed to be attempting to tell a story more complex than “Bad guys over there, good guys must thump them!” I will allow the argument that he makes stupid movies, but bad? Well, I’m not so sure. If pressed, I would claim that The Rock (a movie I loathed) has a much stronger narrative than Blade Runner. Let’s face it, storytelling was never Ridley’s strong point. Unlike Ridley Scott, Bay doesn’t have to leave half the movie on the cutting room floor to prevent each project from being 7 hours long. However, even when he fails, Ridley Scott always makes something pretty awesome. You always end you going “You magnificent bastard!”

No, the reason I don’t like Michael Bay is the reason I do like Roger Corman and several other cheap cinema directors. There are three kinds of movie experience, at least to my mind. On the one end of the spectrum you have “WOW! That was awesome!” in the middle you have “Eh, that was alright I suppose.” and then on the other end you have “What the fu…? I have no idea how to even process that.” You can stretch the spectrum wider by putting things in between the extremes. For example, you can put in “Well that was okay, but I’m not going to build a monument out of masheded patoes or anything.” and “Well, I can see what you were aiming for, pity you missed it.” if you really want to.

Out of these selections, it’s the middle ground that I hate landing in. Bay’s work always lands squarely in the “Meh” territory for me. Those are the movies that actually will get my hate when I think about it. When art has no impact or effect on me, that’s when I get offended by it. Stuff that’s competently made, but elicits no reaction from me is the worst. At least with the head scratchingly bad stuff you can grab your friend and scream “Did you understand one word of that? If so, I demand you explain it to me! If not, let us commiserate the fact that we have no idea what we just saw.” With the good stuff you can jump up and down, pump your fist, or just sit back and whisper “Yeah… right on.” depending on what movie it is. Artists at the top of their game? Awesome. Amateurs doing their best with limited funds? Awesome. Some one who wants to express something, only they’re not sure how to express it? Bring it on.

However, when it’s clear that a bunch of professionals just showed up, clocked in, did a good job, but just didn’t care… that’s when I get annoyed. I get so pissed seeing people given every advantage of money and resources just piss it away by making some soulless piece of garbage. Saying nothing, producing no feelings, just letting a slate of hollow actions run for two hours. If you’re going to just produce something with the consistency and flavor of library paste, why not just go become an insurance broker, a banker, or a Drive Time DJ at a Top 40 station. I would honestly prefer to watch an interesting train wreck of a movie that someone gave a damn about making than watch something where it’s clear everyone on set was just thinking about getting away for the weekend.

This is why you’ll always see me championing some piece of crap, even though it’s badly written, poorly acted, and ineptly directed. If it excites, confounds, or other wises engages me, I’m likely to enjoy most things. Even when it mostly fails, knowing how hard it is to get some of these movies made will at least make me respect them for getting the thing completed. I like knowing that some kind of passion was included, and a lack of passion always shows on the screen. Any time the cast and crew aren’t feeling it, you can sort of tell. Even if you’re not sure what it is exactly, you can see a problem. That’s why I don’t like Michael Bay’s stuff. He never seems to care, never seems to try to leave his comfort zone, just sort of works 8 hours and then goes home and has a beer.

I would rather he pushed, got passionate, and really tried to do something genuinely ambitious. Hence, I would like to see him try and remake Seven Samurai. Think about it a moment, if he has any talent, that would be the place to push it. He clearly understands the brotherhood of men, he gets soldiers, and he can do ensembles pretty well. Doing it as a modern tale, a medieval tale or even as a straight up samurai picture could really stretch him. It would at least be a great opportunity for him to crash in a way few have crashed before. He could get the money tom do that project right, he could get whatever people or writers he needed, I can think of no one besides perhaps Spielberg who could pool the resources that Bay could. It would either be great, or it would be an awesome train wreck.

Either way, it would be interesting and it might inflame some real passions for a change.

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