Since the new film Pain & Gain just came out, I have decided to talk about my top five Michael Bay directed films thus far. This list is completely my opinion and I’m sure that many people will have their own favorites that aren’t included on this list. To read the full review of Pain & Gain written by Jim Lincoln, click here.
5. Pearl Harbor (2001)
Even though some may tout this as Michael Bay’s worst film to date, due to my love for World War II, it has to be on the list. The story is very drawn out and Ben Affleck’s performance can be goofy in serious moments. However, when it comes down to it, the reason to watch the film is for the action. From the awe-inspiring shots of Japanese airplanes flying through Hawaiian fields to the actual attack on the destroyers within film, it’s hard to argue that what is presented on-screen isn’t a visual masterpiece. Even though the film ended up with a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, the actual slaying of numerous service men and women is treated with sheer grit and realism. Bay was able to translate what a lot of us have only read about in text books into a visual aide that helps people engage with what defenders of our country had to endure on that fateful day.
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4. Armageddon (1998)
The film about oil drillers tasked to blow up a meteor that is hurdling towards Earth makes Armageddon the next film on my list. Coming out the same year as the much more realistic asteroid disaster film Deep Impact, Armageddon is the zanier film of the bunch. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and adds a lot of humor to an otherwise depressing event. Bay tries to weave a love story with Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler’s characters into the plot but it comes out very artificial and overplayed. The real reason to see the film is for the sheer scale and spectacle appeal that Bay is able to show to the audience. It may not be a rational film, but it one that will give your home theater system a true workout.
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3. The Island (2005)
A fantastic look on cloning and the impact that celebrities have on our society give The Island a leg up on Bay’s other films. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson both play clones and their celebrity counterparts and do it in a very convincing and appreciated way. Steve Buscemi also gives a standout performance as the comic relief throughout the film that you can’t help but laugh at. Overall, The Island begins as a retrospective on the science of cloning and then half way through turns into a complete chase film. It could have been better if he had focused much more on everything he sets up in the first half instead of going into a totally separate direction, but it is a small criticism on such a great film.
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2. Transformers (2007)
The blend of CGI robots with live action gives me hope that Bay won’t ruin the upcoming Ninja Turtles reboot (even though I wish he didn’t touch the franchise all). Transformers is truly a kids movie made for adults and gives me the same enjoyment that I received as a child from watching the cartoons. It’s loud, obnoxious, and stunning to look at. It is a film that solidifies my love for action films and lets me sit back and turn off my brain for a couple of hours. It is a film that knows what it is trying to be and hits the mark every step of the way.
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1. The Rock (1996)
In my opinion The Rock has to be one of Nicolas Cage’s best performances next to Raising Arizona and Lord of War. The film is essentially a buddy team-up with a very serious tone. At times, Bay is able inject humor into certain scenes but it all comes out in the end with a level of authenticity that none of his other films have. Sean Connery plays the coach of the film and does so with a high level of validity. He is essentially an older James Bond that is teaching Nicolas Cage’s character the ropes as they try to infiltrate the famous Alcatraz prison. Ed Harris plays the charismatic villain of the film that you want to hate but that you ultimately sympathize with due to his actions being completely reasonable. The Rock is just one of those films that even though I own the Blu-ray, I still get caught watching it when it shows up on TV every so often.
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