Nearly 10 years ago, Entertainment Weekly ran a story titled "Is Michael Bay the Devil?" That headline and the article was not as facetious as you may think. Indeed, the director of Bad Boys, Armageddon, and The Rock drew ire from cultural critics because he allegedly represented everything—and I mean everything—that was wrong about Hollywood. Namely, his movies were loud, expensive, indulgent, and puerile, aiming for the lowest common denominator and pushing escapism to its dumb extreme.
At his best, his movies were solid action films that were overwrought (witness the countless, seemingly important slo-mo shots in Bad Boys); at his worst, his movies were so relentless in piling on the testosterone that they imploded on themselves and ended up being more boring than films that were actually paced slowly (witness that head-scratching paradox in The Rock).
Man, I really liked Transformers, despite the fact that it does end up being as overwrought and ultimately exhausting as one would expect. And, sure, the painfully and ridiculously complex alien robot mythology was as stomach-turning coming out of the mouths of CG alien robots as I'm sure it was on the page, but, man, oh, man, those CG alien robots are fucking cool—especially when they're going through complicated, eye-puzzling transformations that turn them into cars or tanks or planes or helicopters or when they're smashing things up or when they're trying to bond with Shia LaBeouf, who, after bringing ironic edge to the excellent teen horror flick, Disturbia, is fast-becoming one of my favorite actors. Here's a guy with the acting chops of indie mavericks such as Parker Posey or Eric Stolz, but shamelessly channels it into mainstream entertainment with wild abandon. Perhaps that's why we'll be seeing him alongside Harrison Ford in the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series, and perhaps that is why I spend my mornings cutting out magazine photos of him and using them as wallpaper.