An Open Letter to Michael Bay

Dear Mr. Bay,

As a fan and critic of all things film, I’d like to express concern over your stylistic and storytelling techniques in your films. While looking back at your filmography on IMDb, it was a very uninspiring and depressing list of films. Although I am aware that people have enjoyed some of your work, it’s safe to say that your career has been built on mostly lackluster, yet big budget, action films that have been critically panned. Check out the slew of “rotten” scores on Rotten Tomatoes if you need proof.

While this may all sound like criticism of you personally, I assure you that it’s not. In all honesty, I understand and appreciate your passion for filmmaking. Although, I’m not a big fan of your work, I commend you for making a career out of it and for being able to live your dream. Between Transformers and a number of the reboots you and your production company, Platinum Dunes, have been involved with it’s easy to see that bringing characters people love to the big screen is one of your biggest goals. That being said, I feel that you may not be the right guy for the job.

Look no further than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. It seems like you, Brad Fuller, and Andrew Form may have realized what a mistake you made with your initial reboot of the TMNT series. So much so that you listened to the fans and tried to give them what they wanted in the sequel. For the first time ever on film, we were going to get live action versions of Bebop, Rocksteady, and Krang. You even brought back fan-favorite Casey Jones. This should’ve been a momentous occasion for all fans of the turtles and the late 80’s/early 90’s cartoon. Instead, what we got was a bloated mess of Transformers-esque action scenes with ugly CGI, pathetic one liners, and sad acting. The reviews and box office returns following the film’s release should tell you all you need to know about how bad it was. You may not have directed the two turtles films, but your fingerprints all over them. Also, on a sidenote, Megan Fox is not, and never will be, April O’Neil.

Another major gripe that I, as well as many others out there, have is how you have handled your horror movie reboots. With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, you have three of the most popular slasher villains of all time. How could ALL THREE of these franchises be so mismanaged? Personally, I did like the two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films you released but I know that I’m in the minority on that. With the latter two films, it seems like you took a ton of influence from the original series’ and just regurgitated a bastardized version of them, again, filled with ugly effects and bad acting. There were a few things you changed about the characters such as Jason Voorhees being like a psychotic Rambo and Freddy Krueger being a pedophile. However, once you had to flesh out some of these changes within the actual story, it seemed as if you had no idea of how to do so. Straying from the source material was essentially a death sentence as the plots became too convoluted and confusing as opposed to being refreshing as they were intended.

Finally, we come to the Transformers franchise. In all fairness, I actually enjoyed the first Transformers film. Is it a great movie? No, not really but it is what it is. It’s entertaining. The sequels, on the other hand, have just taken things too far. Since the start of the franchise, you’ve lost Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox as the main characters. Many of us thought that that would be the end of Transformers but no. You proceed to cast Mark Wahlberg as the new lead. Wahlberg is another rant for another day but, honestly, no one asked for that. It’s appalling to me that people continue to pay money to see these films. The plots have been seemingly non-existent and the only thing these movies focus on are chaotic robot fights. For the record, I have never paid to see one of your Transformers films. I refuse to be a part of the problem.

In conclusion, I know that my opinion probably doesn’t matter to you as a person. All this open letter is about is passion. You are one of the people responsible for the existence of characters that I absolutely adore. I grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I grew up watching Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Yes, I probably shouldn’t have been watching those movies as a kid but I digress. I want those characters that I love to be preserved faithfully and, most importantly, I want to see them live on. Your films have singlehandedly killed off each of these franchises at least for the time being. I appreciate the fact that others out there want to see these films, as do you, and you are the one that is actually able to give them to us. As a lifelong fan of the source material, please reconsider your approaches to making these films and make one for the fans. No, making a film for the fans doesn’t just mean throwing favorite characters in. It means hard work and effort to figure out what fans love about the original material and adapting it and successfully trying to better it for a modern audience.

I don’t particularly hate your films and I don’t despise you as a filmmaker. I’m just a fan speaking out for all of the other disappointed fans like myself. I insist you take whatever precautions necessary to ensure that the next intellectual property you choose to adapt doesn’t end in failure. Mr. Bay, I hope this finds you and you’re able to think about what I’ve said.

For more on the Michael Bay debate, check out this piece from our media partners at Maverick Film!

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2 Thoughts to “An Open Letter to Michael Bay”

  1. Alex

    “For the record, I have never paid to see one of your Transformers films. I refuse to be a part of the problem.”

    So you watch his films, but don’t pay for them, and yet still feel entitled enough to write this condescending letter to one of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers and tell him how to do his job?

    I’m curious if you do this for any other products you shoplift or steal, or just films?

  2. Jeremie Sabourin

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for taking the time to read the letter!

    As far as labeling me as a thief, know that there are legal ways to watch movies without directly paying for them (i.e. Netflix, cable TV, a friend’s DVD, a DVD of a Michael Bay film you found in the trash, etc.)

    As I stated in the letter, I do think that there is a place for him as a filmmaker but I think he needs some assistance in being successful in his goal to please longtime fans of these franchises.

    If you like his films, more power to you and you’re more than welcome to continue enjoying them. Personally, I do not and I know that I’m not alone. I believe that his heart is in the right place but it’s just the execution that is sloppy.

    Just remember, this is all a matter of opinion and I am not criticizing Michael Bay the man.

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