Love him or hate him, Michael Bay does action like no other director. Yes, some of his movies may be the cinematic equivalent of pots and pans being bashed together for the better part of two hours, but when it comes to the technical aspects and how Bay doesn’t break a sweat under the scale, there’s a lot to admire in his craft and skill. I am on the love end of the spectrum with #MichaelBay. Give me Transformers any day, or 13 Hours, or even Bad Boys II, and I’ll simply sit back and watch in joy as my TV screen becomes engulfed in a mass of sizzling carnage that I've aptly named “Bayhem.”
Despite the shockingly bad reviews for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction, the mixed reviews for the first film and the weak reception of Dark of the Moon, I love every single one of Bay’s live-action Transformers movies. I’ve received every hateful comment under the sun for my view of these films, to which I can only smile as I watch people get riled up. And I’m ready for more. Here is my list of the most spectacularly #Bayhem-filled moments of this robot-smashing franchise.
9. Scorponok: Transformers
Probably the smallest yet most tightly edited, engaging and snappy action sequence in the #Transformers franchise. Forced to retreat to a tiny desert village after being attacked by a Decepticon in the shape of a giant scorpion, Lennox, Epps and a team of rangers fight back against this venomous robot with the aid of village reinforcements.
The slow-motion reveal of Scorponok may well be one of the coolest shots Bay has ever composed, with the sheer size and blast of the robot and the sand juxtaposed with the pure fear and desperation emanating from Epps and co. Before you know it, we’ve got missiles, grenades, bullets, and aerial attacks raining down like a plague upon this tiny settlement. The tighter setting and fluid editing captures every single moment as the soldiers are cornered and running out of options, and Bay knows how to engulf his characters in the hellfire.
8. Alice The Pretender: Revenge Of The Fallen
Bay can do smaller sets yet still keep the action big and bombastic. Isabel Lucas makes a brief but memorable appearance as Alice, a pretender Decepticon in the form of a human, who seduces Sam, right in time for his girlfriend Mikaela (#MeganFox) to walk in on them. Bay doesn’t hold back as he’s soon blowing up college dorm rooms, obliterating entire library shelves and sending thousands of books soaring through the air, all before smashing cars into robots and sending helicopters into busy roads. It’s all in a day's work for the director, and here we get a more human-based action element, all before both robot sides punch it up in a forest.
7. Shanghai Pursuit: Revenge Of The Fallen
I’m trying to make the point here that war and fighting is never quiet, nor is it clean and concise, especially when giant robots with multiple reforming capabilities and futuristic weaponry are involved.
Throwing us right into the action that engaged audiences in the first film, Bay sets off the figurative fireworks in spectacular fashion, despite also throwing in a couple of racist robots, perhaps the real reason people got headaches. An industrial-sized crane transforms and slams its fists into the ground, sending a plume of concrete tubes into the air before smashing back down. Heavy machine guns, rocket launchers and helicopter strikes all join in at once, launching this film into action territory from the get-go.
An entire highway bridge is destroyed — I thought Optimus Prime and his team were meant to prevent his from happening? Either way, Bay may have thought after the success of the first film that it’s time to get things going even quicker and he does that in this Bayhem-injected sequence.
6. Downtown Attack: Transformers
In a flurry of bombastic action, Bay brings his A-game with the slow motion, while throwing in some attractive ladies if only for the sake of having more than just explosions to look at. His angles are trippy at times — do you reckon Bay sees the world in the same way we do? Everything he sees is translated on screen in gorgeous sunlit hues; dazzling lens flares cover all frames and the low angles and panning shots tell the story. The guy never stops moving the camera, even when the chaos is in full power. A perfect example of this during the finale of the first Transformers sees Ironhide dive over a missile, explosions rip up the asphalt in the background as a terrified woman screams below the #Autobot.
At least two-dozen cars are wrecked in a moment that sees our hero Sam Witwicky (#ShiaLaBeouf) flee the car-nage. With most Bay films, especially this one, don’t expect logic and physics. Characters can survive exploding rooftops and even walk away unscathed when Prime holds Sam in one hand while grappling down a collapsing building with Megatron attacking from above. Fair to say, Bay packs all the good action beats for the finale, and once again we get to see big city destruction that Bay does so well.
5. Cemetery Wind: Age Of Extinction
Age of Extinction somehow manages to make every action sequence bigger than the previous one. Bay milks the budget of this film at every opportunity and the results show in spectacular fashion, even if it is a little convoluted and messy at times. About 40 minutes into the fourth film, Optimus protects Cade (#MarkWahlberg), Tessa and Lucas from an attack led by the shady government team Cemetery Wind. Lockdown gets involved and before you know it, we’ve got exploding barns, bodies flying through the air against the backdrop of exploding trucks, and exploding houses.
Michael Bay goes full Michael Bay in only a shot he could come up with, involving a car leaping through the air with its front tire knocking the living daylights out of an operative whose saliva sprays the screen. A quiet Texan town becomes a war zone with zero Transformers in sight as Bay trashes dozens of cars. His eye for carnage is unique to him, even if unrealistic at times. The director knows how to make chaos look strangely beautiful.
Things get to a high point when the film's stars Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor run through a field of explosions that surround them from all directions after a grenade is thrown by Transformer bounty hunter Lockdown. Bay has officially outdone himself with his best explosion yet — the color, the composition, the 3D and visuals as well as the heft of this moment really sizzles as one of the most badass and explosive moments of the franchise.
4. Lockdown's Ship: Age Of Extinction
Chicago takes another beating in this franchise, when Lockdown’s ship sinks its massive anchors into a skyscraper, allowing walkways to form as a safe means of escape for Cade, Tessa and Shane. In the most gravity-defying, vertigo-inducing sequences, #Bumblebee leaps into frame to save the three humans as they plummet to their deaths. He grabs them in one sweet swoop before violently smashing into the building next to him. Bay clearly loves his debris. So much mess and brick falls in every single frame in this epic sequence, as Cade and company, along with Crosshairs and Bee, take an alien ship on a ride through Chicago pursued by Decepticon ships.
Famous Chicago landmarks and structures are obliterated, with the most obvious product placement also blown to bits as alien ships collide with Bud Light vans, which also explode for some reason. Everything explodes in Bay’s universe and you shouldn’t be questioning it by this fourth film — just let it be. Oh, and only Michael Bay could come up with such a freakin' awesome moment in which Bumblebee launches his grappling hook to lift a boat midair so their enemy pursuers will fly right into it.
3. Battle Of Jordan: Revenge Of The Fallen
It seems Bay gets his want for an excess of Bayhem for each and every Transformers finale. I can get behind it, because at the end of the day, we want to see giant robots punching each other and causing property damage, and we certainly get a butt load at the ending of Revenge of the Fallen.
During this sequel there was a Hollywood writer’s strike — and it shows, with the latter half of the film solely action with very little story. What there is of plot is jumbled and messy. If Bay’s idea here was to blow stuff up as a way to gloss over the lack of story, then he’s certainly succeeded, as this lengthy and deafening battle certainly takes up most of the screen time.
Thing is, war isn’t meant to be quiet or clean, and viewers complaining that they can’t tell who is who and who is fighting what is ridiculous, cause it’s clear as to who is an Autobot and who is a Deception. In this particular battle, Bay indulges in many gorgeous slow-motion shots, allowing us to take in every single moment of destruction and warfare. Helicopters slam into broken structures before crash-landing onto the ground. The Scorponok makes a short but epic return appearance as it launches out of the ground and dives into Jetfire.
And let's not rush past the bits in between, like watching Sam and Mikaela leap over an exploding rooftop and the glorious Devastator — the giant vacuum-like Transformer — who wipes out an entire quarry in spectacular style, like a hurricane only more mechanical.
If Michael Bay ever decided to Michael Bay so hard that even Michael Bay would wonder where to go next, he certainly outdoes himself with the most Michael Bay-like explosion in which he effortlessly orchestrates a vineyard of enormous kabooms to go off in a row as a jet drops several bombs from miles above in the sky, and in a montage of slow-mo shots we get to see the mass of fire engulf the valley, sending Decepticons to fiery graves and Sam off his feet into the air. If you want a megaton of bang for your buck, then here is where you’ll get it.
2. The Hong Kong Battle: Age Of Extinction
What is it with big-budget films destroying entire cities in their finales? That’s not me complaining, that’s me wondering what have these cities ever done to directors to make them want to destroy them so much? Whatever the reason, they do it well and Bay is no exception, as Hong Kong is the playground for the mammoth-sized battle in this fourth film.
Arguably messier and noisier than most climactic fights even in this series, Bay leaves no stone unturned. Literally everything explodes or is tossed through the air; Bay is a hurricane and nothing is left without a mark on it. The legendary Dinobots get a mighty introduction. Watching them assemble and “roll out," trampling all manner of objects underfoot, they save the day but I’m sure there’s some hefty collateral damage.
Cade, Tessa, Shane, Darcy and Joshua dodge Deception attacks from every angle, as an enveloping sound design and mad panning shots capture the chaos from collapsing structures, rolling cars and fallings tugboats. Even bigger, the fallout from Lockdown’s ship sucks up anything metal and drops it below. In one threatening and wildly explosive shot, Optimus and Bumblebee avoid falling boats and exploding billboards as they crash into the ground below.
At the point in the film's climax Bay knows no boundary. He continues to make things even noisier and more beautifully chaotic as the Dinobots fall from the sky and destroy skyscrapers below them upon impact, all before a dust-filled showdown between Prime, Lockdown, Cade, Harold, Tessa and Shane. The gang is covered in filth and muck as explosions come with swift, unyielding abandon. Don’t ever change, Bay — keep the fireballs coming.
1. Battle of Chicago: Dark Of The Moon
Nearly one whole hour of pure action? One hour? Yeah! The climactic Chicago-based battle is easily the most Bayhem-induced sequence of the entire live-action series. Maybe some people were so tired by the apparently dull first act that they zoned out during this carnage-heavy finale. Not me, and after repeated viewings, this is easily the biggest and most spectacle-driven moment. Bay clearly had no limitations. Rarely does the battle let up for dialogue and calm, aside from some tense character confrontations, namely for Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and Megatron. But even then there are explosions and structures collapsing in every frame.
Industrial Light & Magic reaches levels of CGI wizardry never before seen on screen, with every piece of falling masonry, every shard of glass and exploding alien ship looking realistic and perfectly constructed. It’s a wonder Bay didn’t shoot all of this for real, with the guy literally destroying Chicago. An entire skyscraper is eaten when the intricately designed Driller chews up the structure, leaving Sam, Carly and the N.E.S.T team dangling and sliding in and around its glassy exterior.
Bay ups the ante as an entire roadway is engulfed in flame as Optimus wipes out Decepticons in one epic swoop. Aliens ships collide into office blocks and in an action shot highlight, we see the stunning Carly, untouched by the chaos, walk in slow-motion awe as explosions and vehicles lift into the air.
All this relentless and incredibly created action madness feels even bigger in 3D, a technology that Bay has mastered. So many explosions, so many soldiers and Transformers in every frame, no one can handle this sheer magnitude of action filmmaking scope as impressively as Bay, and it's proven in what is definitely the biggest set piece of the series.
Transformers: The Last Knight releases to cinemas on June 21. Check out hte trailer below and tell us if you agree with these Bayhem-filled choices.