May 20, 2010

Michael Bay's "Revenge?"

Yesterday it was revealed that Michael Bay would not be picking up Megan Fox's contract option for Transformers 3, essentially firing the actress from the franchise.   Fox appeared in the first two films opposite series star Shia LeBeouf, but Variety has reported that a new love interest will be introduced for the upcoming third installment.  Fox being axed from the film has been widely reported as director Michael Bay's "revenge" for the negative remarks she made about him in the press shortly after the second movie came out.  (Fox's reps have of course said she quit the film, a story not being nearly as widely reported despite a slew of previous comments that would indicate she wasn't too interested in doing another Transformers movie.) Some sites, like IGN for example, have idiotically claimed that Fox getting dropped from the movie is tantamount to Bay ending her career.    I couldn't disagree more.  It says here that Transformers 3 will miss Megan Fox a helluva a lot more then Fox will miss it.

This feud began when Fox - who, rather refreshingly, says exactly what she thinks and doesn't seem to have the filter that most actors have when speaking with the press - made several unflattering remarks about the uber-hack director. "He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is.  So he's a nightmare to work for." She said of Bay, then she openly acknowledged in the press that what she was asked to do in the Transformers films wasn't really acting at all.  "Working with Michael Bay is not about an acting experience.  People are well aware that this is not a movie about acting."  Bay's response was embarrassing.  He dismissed her comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal citing her youth as a reason to disregard her opinion, then claimed that "Nic Cage wasn't a big actor before I cast him, nor was Ben Affleck,"  in an attempt to lay claim to the success of their acting careers.  Cage had twenty-five feature films to his credit before he teamed with Bay to make The Rock in 1996.  The film Cage completed just before making The Rock was Leaving Las Vegas.  Cage, of course, won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his efforts in that movie before Bay made him a "big actor."  Affleck was already in possession of an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting (albeit for scripting) and was a very well known and sought-after young actor who had appeared in several movies before Bay "discovered" him.  In order to make such an outlandish and clearly erroneous claim, you must deduce that Michael Bay possesses a rare mix of arrogance and ignorance.   Kind of like Hitler.

Fox, who despite her long romantic entanglement with Brian Austin Green seems to have a pretty good douchebag detector, went on to say that off the set, she actually enjoyed Bay's company because "he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward.  He has no social skills at all."  I suspect a massive ego maniac like Michael Bay didn't enjoy having a beautiful woman talk in the press about how socially retarded he is.  The reason their sniping in the press garnered so much attention is because one of the most interesting parts of her comments was the fact that they were clearly accurate.  Like the 'Emperor's New Clothes', when people talk about the Transformers films, they often mention the amount of money they've earned in lieu of discussing the quality of the movies themselves.  Megan Fox's frank assessment of her experience making the flicks, and her thoughts on the fluffy pointless nature of the movies themselves was a reminder that there's a difference in the way Hollywood executives perceive a good movie and how the customers do.   Transformers and it's sequel were both wildly successful films earning over a half billion so far and the series is Paramount's biggest franchise, but make no mistake: these are shitty movies.    She clearly didn't enjoy making them and worse then that, didn't like the movies themselves - on Transformers 2 she sarcastically said "this is a movie for geniuses" after claiming that anyone that understood the convoluted and lazily told story of the second film had to be a genius - so remind me again why it's a bad thing that she doesn't have to appear in another one of these lousy movies or work with a man she clearly isn't a big fan of?  This is supposed to be a punishment for her?   After co-starring in two of these popcorn flicks and seeing her stock as a sex symbol skyrocket I really doubt not doing another shitty sequel is going to torpedo her career.  I fully believe that Michael Bay believes it will, but this is the same man that thinks he made Nicolas Cage a "big actor" a year after he won an Oscar.   This man is deluded. The real question is this: When has not doing a Part 3 been considered a bad thing? I don't doubt that there are some producers and directors put off by an actress publically trashing her director or the quality of the movies she appeared in, but I also suspect there are many people in the industry that privately pulled her aside and let her know how much they loved her remarks about Bay.   The guy is a notorious douchebag and a hack filmmaker that churns out empty-headed special effects heavy commercial fare with budgets (and boxoffice hauls) only dwarfed by his oversized ego.   For all the people that criticized her comments, I suspect at least twice as many applauded them. Fox co-stars in next month's Jonah Hex with Josh Brolin and she's just completed Passion Play, the directorial debut of Scrooged screenwriter Mitch Glazer that will see her co-star with Mickey Rourke and Bill Murray.  Sounds like the girl is getting work to me.  The notion that somehow her not screaming and being chased by robots - again - will somehow damage her career doesn't hold much water.  If either of Hex or Passion Play perform well, she has no issue.  If those film's flop, but she's good in them, she has no issue.   If those films flop and she's lousy in them, she'll still be fine.  Colin Farrel keeps starring in movies despite the fact they never perform well at the box office.   Turns out being good looking in Hollywood can sub in for talent without anyone really noticing, and this whole bicker war began when Fox pointed out she was just window dressing in these films.

At the end of the day, after hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on CGI special effects for the series, what is the most iconic image from the Transformers films?   It's the shot of Megan Fox, in her crop-top leaning over the engine of that car, with no robots in sight at the top of this post.  Bay and his bank of super computers simply can't compete with that.