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Bay, Michael

Entry updated 2 July 2021. Tagged: Film, People.

(1965-    ) US filmmaker with a trademark in lavish, bombastic action spectacle characterized by massive hardware, explosions, and US military heroics. A graduate of the same film programme at Wesleyan University as Joss Whedon (his senior by a year), Bay's early work was in commercials and music video before he was talent-spotted by producing partners Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to direct Bad Boys (1993) and The Rock (1996). His relationship with Bruckheimer continued after Simpson's death, moving into sf with the Asteroid blockbuster Armageddon (1998), whose mix of popcorn romance with epic military spectacle was replicated in the preposterous Pearl Harbor (2001). Following Bad Boys II (2003) he returned to sf in the Cloning thriller The Island (2005), which would prove his one conspicuous flop, and the thunderous Transformers Toy franchise comprising Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), after time off from the franchise to make the action caper Pain & Gain (2013). Since 2003 his production company Platinum Dunes has produced a series of notable Horror remakes, as well as the Purge series (2013-current) and the 2014 film reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; he also had production credits on DreamWorks' I Am Number Four (2011) and Rise of the Guardians (2012), and on Starz's Television series Black Sails (2014-current), a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Routinely ridiculed for his wanton elevation of adolescent spectacle and military fetishism to the status of art, Bay is unnervingly adept in the hormonal grammar of the popcorn blockbuster, and the Transformers films have become the benchmark for a form of present-set Military SF which uses alien Invasion as a geopolitically hygienic mode of contemporary War cinema for the global mass market and the age of terror. A persistent rumour is that he is the natural son of John Frankenheimer; Frankenheimer denied this, but Bay has not. [NL]

Michael Benjamin Bay

born Los Angeles, 17 February 1965


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