Monday, December 21, 2015

A spoiler-filled reflection on STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Obligatory warning - this post is going to discuss all the major plot points from THE FORCE AWAKENS. This is your spoiler warning right here, so turn back now. If you wish a spoiler-free examination of the film, you can find that here.

Luke Skywalker - It's a testament to how good the film is that Luke doesn't appear until the final minute, and yet it still is one of the best Star Wars films to date. I like the mythic reputation the character has taken on in-universe and it really makes the whole "search for Luke Skywalker drive" really carry weight. Now the ball is in Episode VIII's court. It has to be worthy of all the build-up this film gave our exiled Jedi.

Leia - Carrie Fisher's screen time is briefer than Harrison Ford's, but Leia's encounters with Han are a highlight of the film. Fisher's persona has more recently been brasher and more humorous than Leia's, to the point where I was concerned that it might be hard to see the outspoken actress as a more reserved leader. I need not have worried. this feels like the same woman who took charge of her own rescue and later commanded the evacuation of Hoth.

It's a disappointment that she apparently didn't undergo any Jedi training. In JEDI she was held out as the last hope, but here, she's the same political leader she was before, albeit with a higher rank. How cool would it have been to see Leia light up a purple lightsaber during a ground assault? Or have her use some kind of Force abilities to gain insight into the attack? Or to reach out and try to communicate with Kylo Ren? (Or her own brother for that matter?) I like the Leia we got, but I can't help but feel an opportunity was missed here.

Kylo Ren's backstory - From the first images of Kylo Ren, people were theorizing that he was a Skywalker or Solo child, if not Luke himself. The film wasted no time dropping teases about his parentage, so it's no great shock that he's revealed as Han and Leia's son. I wish we'd gotten a little more of a tease as to exactly how his corruption by Supreme Leader Snoke happened. Even just giving us a vague point on the timeline would help. How old was he when he turned? Did his fall precede Rey being abandoned as a child?

How does a child born to two leaders of the Rebel Alliance, and trained by the man who destroyed the Sith become determined to follow an evil path? It's like an Orthodox Jew deciding to be the next Hitler. He's definitely got a warped view of Darth Vader, but does that mean he doesn't believe the story that Luke surely told? That Vader renounced his evil ways before his death? There's a key scene I'll get to later where he unmasks and he gives off the impression of being a brainwashed cult member. Adam Driver does great work, but I'd have loved just a few more bread crumbs about his turn and his goal beyond "finish[ing] what [Darth Vader] started."

Supreme Leader Snoke - At this point, he's not much more than the Emperor was in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - a mysterious figure communicating via hologram. The "Great and Powerful Oz" routine has me suspicious that we're not seeing his real form there. At a minimum, I don't think he's going to be remotely that big in person. I wonder about his history with Skywalker. Were they close? Was Snoke a Jedi instructor who infiltrated Luke's academy to corrupt Kylo Ren? It might be interesting if he was a Jedi who survived the Order 66 Purge, only to embrace the Dark Side late in life. (Hell, it might even work out that he was an escaped youngling from Anakin's attack on the Jedi Temple.

Coincidence after Coincidence - There's an adage that you're allowed one coincidence per film. I tend to look at that as a loose guideline, but the motivation behind that "rule" is worth keeping in mind. When too many coincidences drive the plot, the audience can sense the film "cheating." You don't want contrivance taking a too big a hand in things.

I can buy into the idea that the Millennium Falcon is just sitting there on Jakku, waiting for Rey and Finn to steal it. And you know what, I'll even spot the film the huge coincidence that Han Solo is able to track and recapture the Falcon almost immediately. What feels too convenient for me is the fact that Maz Kanata just happens to have Luke's old lightsaber. The last time we saw that thing, it was falling down a deep pit in Cloud City. I would have loved at least a hint of an explanation for how it went from A to B, rather than putting us off for a later explanation that will probably never come.

Rey's parentage - After the film, I immediately rejected the idea that Rey could be Han and Leia's daughter. There were just too many pieces that didn't seem to fit. It also felt like we weren't given enough information to really conclude she could be Luke's offspring, even if the film seems to want us to consider that. I decided that might be a mislead to keep us from considering other parentage. Could she be a descendant of Obi-Wan? Of Supreme Leader Snoke?

Then I read this excellent Film School Rejects speculation piece and it completely turned me around on the Solo child theory. Give it a read.

Another megaweapon? - In-universe I get it. These Death Star-level mega weapons can totally upset the balance of power. It's an important part of any arsenal. But three out of the last four (numerically) episodes have utilized one of these planet killing weapons. It doesn't help that they're always destroyed the same way - a tiny flaw that lets enemy firepower take out a crucial reactor. As much as the whole movie is a riff on A NEW HOPE, here's where I really wanted something more original. The preponderance of planet killing weapons was what quickly turned the Extended Universe novels in to an aspect of the franchise that deserved to die and I really hope we won't see another of these in Episodes XVIII and IX.

It's a fool's game to poke at the science in these films, but I think Starkiller Base is ridiculously implausible. As visualized on-screen, it either happens to be in the exact same system as five other Republic planets it attacks, or it fires a laser capable of traveling at hyperspeed. The former reeks of contrivance and the latter makes the weapon too powerful and scientifically ridiculous. (Which is also a factor if the whole planet is mobile.)

The political situation - After the endless talks of trade disputes and taxation in the prequels, I never expected people to come out of the new film craving "More politics." However, I have to concur that the situation between The First Order and the Resistance could have used some clarifying. We're told the Republic is backing the Resistance, but the implication seems to be that the Republic is considered the more legitimate governing body while The First Order is more of an insurgency (or at best, the equivalent of the Southern States in the Civil War.)

Yet the First Order seems to operate as if they have all the dominance that the Empire did in its prime, while the Resistance is reduced to hiding in remote bases. (And again, why is a military force supported by the dominant power called "the Resistance?" That's not the sort of name you'd give to something like the U.S. Military.)

Finn's skill with the lightsaber - I call massive bullshit on Finn lasting more than 15 seconds in a lightsaber duel with a Force-adept opponent who's been using his weapon for years. It's maybe the falsest moment in the entire film. In contrast...

Rey's Force skills - On one hand, it's a little absurd that Rey's Force abilties already outstrip Luke's in A NEW HOPE despite less training. Compare her pulling the lightsaber to her to all the effort Luke expends in EMPIRE trying to get his weapon while in the ice cave. And then there's the fact she displays the mind control it took Luke until JEDI to use. The topper to all of this is her duel with Kylo Ren, where she not only matches his skill, but decisively defeats him. He's only saved by a conveniently-forming chasm. Rey opening up a can of whoopass on Ren makes for one of the best lightsaber battles ever. It's a fist-pumping moment big enough to make us overlook that she's a complete novice.

But my theory is that this adeptness on her part is neither mistake, nor contrivance. She might be a latently-powerful Force-user, one whose natural ability can outstrip even Luke's. Kylo Ren's no novice, so the movie knows what it's doing in having Ren match him in combat. I hope this will be explored in later chapters.

The Map to Luke Skywalker - As a MacGuffin, this worked for me up until the point we saw it actually executed. I could go with the idea that the map is just a jigsaw puzzle piece-ike fragment. What feels aggressively convenient to me is that R2-D2 just so happens to have every part of that star chart except for that precisely missing fragment - to the point where his charts are displayed with a big gaping hole.

Artoo having shut himself down of his own accord, apparently, and then springing back to life when the plot requires it also rankles. Would it have been so hard to just have Artoo damaged in a battle and undergoing repairs until the moment when the script needs him to analyze the map? It also might have helped if Artoo first studied the map fragment, then made use of that data by triangulating some of the stars in it with stars that he already knew. The end result would still be that data in his memory banks gives the map the context needed to figure out where to go, but these changes would make it slightly less easy on our heroes.

The Death of Han Solo - From the moment Han stepped out on to that walkway, it was evident he was a dead man. The parallels to Obi-Wan's death in A NEW HOPE were just too strong, particularly when Finn and Rey arrive to bear witness from a distance. Being certain of the outcome didn't lessen the tension one bit for me. If anything, it heightened it. My heart has not been pounding like that in a film for a very long time.

Han Solo reaches out to his son, a confused young man consumed by evil but clearly struggling with a good that threatens to awaken in him. Speaking like a programmed cult member, Ren tries to shut his father's words out and sees only one path that will ensure he can never return to the light again - he impales his father.

It is possibly the single most visceral act of evil depicted on screen in any of the STAR WARS films. Sure, we've seen planets blow up, but never with people we know on them. The deaths of billions is almost too abstract a concept to empathize with - but the painful death of one of the most beloved film characters of all time? That's epic in its emotional investment. The fact his given name is "Ben," presumably after Jedi Kenobi, only twists the knife further.

Chewie's reaction was equally heartbreaking. He doesn't hesitate for a second to fire at Ren. This is significant because the lore tells us that Chewie was bound to Han by a life debt. Han saved his life years ago and Wookie culture demanded Chewie remain indebted to Han. Some books have extrapolated that this would extend to Han's children. If that was at all true in this continuity, Chewie's attempt to avenge Han shows that he doesn't consider Ren to be Han's son any longer.

I may have regarded Darth Vader as pure evil, but I never wanted him dead the way I want Kylo Ren dead now.  DEAD. PAINFULLY. I want Luke, Leia and Chewie each to get a shot in, perhaps each taking off a limb. We surely will get the usual talk of redemption, of saving this wayward soul from the darkness... but I don't care. There's nothing there to save, nothing worth saving. He made his choice. I've never felt that Anakin really deserved to die as a hero after all he did and Ren deserves even less consideration.

STAR WARS exists in a universe where morality is absolute. Black and white. Good and Evil. Ren's patricide is an act without redemption. He made his choice, and I doubt there are few viewers who don't want to see him burn for it.

It's a powerful way to draw the film to a close, and one that makes us hungry to see the fallout among the older characters, and especially how they treat Kylo Ren at their next encounter.

We have less than two years until the next episode and already it feels like forever. J.J. Abrams gave us a new chapter that was a dose of the familiar mixed with some bold and powerful moves for the franchise. J.J. threw down the gauntlet. Now it'll be Rian Johnson's turn to deliver.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A spoiler-free review of THE FORCE AWAKENS

A note about this review - I have endeavored to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I'll have another post next week dealing with more specific discussion of major elements that I don't think it would be fair to blow for unsuspecting viewers. If you've watched the trailers and maybe seen a bit of the press tour, I won't be revealing much here that you don't know. For another post where I drill into the specifics of the big twists, what worked and what didn't, come back next week.

THE FORCE AWAKENS is the STAR WARS movie I've been waiting for since I first watched RETURN OF THE JEDI on VHS. It's not a perfect film, but it feels like more of a piece with the STAR WARS universe than much of the prequels, and I'm hardly a prequel hater. It doesn't feel slavishly devoted to the filmmaking style of the original trilogy, but still plays like an evolution forward from that theory. This is a tactile universe in a way that the prequel universe isn't. I'm able to appreciate the aesthetic design of the prequels on their own merits. That whole venture is different enough I don't feel the need to tear it down for NOT trying to look exactly like the originals.

But man, does THE FORCE AWAKENS feel like coming home. Things have changed, some things are very different, but you recognize the feel of this world - the way things move through it, the way the people inhabit it. It's kinetic. It's REAL. All of it.

A particularly savvy move on the part of JJ Abrams and co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt is to build this film around the quest for a living legend - Luke Skywalker has been gone for some time now. Exactly how long is unclear. Evidence in the film seems to hint with as long as 15 years or as little as a few. In the time since JEDI, the fall of the Empire has given birth to two warring factions - the Republic, which backs The Resistance, the current designation for the Rebellion; and The First Order. All you need to know about The First Order is that they're the Imperials, and that the Nazi parallels get even less subtle.

In the 30-plus years since the Empire's defeat, the name "Luke Skywalker" has passed into legend. Even a young woman raised on the backwater desert world of Jakku and a man trained from childhood to be a Stormtrooper know who he is. The former is Rey, a beautiful scavenger who also happens to be an excellent pilot and a great combat fighter. She's thrust into a larger world after encountering the droid BB-8, carrying some secret data that the Empire wants - a map to Luke Skywalker. She soon crosses paths with Finn, a deserter Stormtrooper now being hunted after helping BB-8's master escape The First Order. Before long, the two make their escape in a craft that Rey initially dismisses as "garbage" - the Millennium Falcon.

Abrams talent for casting continues with Rey and Finn. The unknown Daisy Ridley is instantly likable and engaging as Rey. She not only stands with the best of Abrams's heroines, but with the STAR WARS gold standard of Princess Leia herself. She's got the spitfire and the pure likability that too often was missing from the prequels' Padme. The childhood crushes that my generation had on Princess Leia are probably nothing compared to what today's lads will have for Rey. By the end of the film, she's essentially been positioned as the successor to Han, Luke and Leia in terms of the character traits she's inherited. She's a child of the original trilogy, in a figurative, if not literal sense.

John Boyega's Finn makes a compelling sidekick for Rey, and his introduction is done so well that you're almost tricked into thinking it's his journey that we're on. After six films that depicted Stormtroopers as either clones or faceless cannon fodder, it's immediately fresh to go behind the helmet of these drones and find a scared young man who just wants to run. When he saves ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, it's not out of any heroic motivations - he just needs a pilot to get him off the... are we still calling them Star Destroyers? He gets a journey similar to Han's in the first film, going from being in it for himself to committing to something greater.

One of the sheer delights of this film is that I wasn't sitting there restless, waiting for the reappearance of the "legacy characters." I got so caught up in the plight of Rey, Finn and BB-8 that I felt like they were the people I came to see. They could have carried a film that had nothing to do with the original characters. If they are indeed to be the centerpiece of this new trilogy, then this series is in good hands.

Before long, they encounter Han Solo and Chewbacca. In one of the film's best gags, Finn knows of Han's rep as a general for the Rebellion, while Rey excitedly identifies him as "the pilot who made the Kessel Run in 14 parsecs!" Harrison Ford slides back into Han's boots in a way that I honestly wasn't sure was possible. His last several roles have seen him play alternating variations on "gruff" and "angry." Even his return to Indiana Jones couldn't escape that, with Indy frequently feeling like a far cry from the rogue archeologist we all know and love.

From Ford's first entry into frame, it's clear - this is Han Solo. He's older, and more grizzled, but his heart's intact. His interaction with Chewie feels as sharp as ever, just as his moments with Leia are as moving as some of their best stuff. Ford and Carrie Fisher bring the weight of 40 years of history into their interactions, even if her role is more limited than his. It's probably fair to say that Han has one of the more emotional arcs of the film, perhaps even more than the character has been called to carry in earlier entries.

And yet, the film doesn't feel like it lazily trades on our nostalgia. The movie earns most of its emotional payoffs, though they are clearly enriched by the shared history we have in this universe. It's even more remarkable that it's able to do that while essentially retreading a lot of the beats of A NEW HOPE. (Or STAR WARS to the purists.) I thought it was a lazy and inaccurate criticism when people called Abrams's STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS "a remake of THE WRATH OF KHAN." Those two films have little in common aside from a villain, an aspect of the climax, and an important line. The plot, themes and character arcs are completely different between the two films.

But THE FORCE AWAKENS is very deliberately using the structure of the original film in a way that brings it much closer to that entry than the relationship between KHAN/DARKNESS. A great deal is gained by sending wildly different characters through that same structural path, but it doesn't change the fact that every major new element of this film has a direct analog to the original characters. This isn't necessarily a criticism - CREED (and ROCKY BALBOA before it) used this to excellent effect in drawing off of the original ROCKY. And sometimes the contrast lets us notice interesting departures.

This might be most relevant with regard to the film's major villains, Kylo Ren. I'll save some of my deeper thoughts on this for a future spoiler-filled article, but though he wears the black cloak and helmet, he's not Darth Vader. Vader was a very controlled, almost cold villain. When Obi-Wan assessed "He's more machine now than man" it was true in more ways than one. Yet, that seems to fly in the face of the prequel assertion that the Sith "are ruled by their passion."

There's a moment where Ren gets a report from a First Order officer who has failed him. The beat plays like we're about to get the standard "bad guy strangles lackey for his incompetence" moment. That's not what we get. Instead, Ren gives in to pure rage. In a way it makes him more terrifying than Vader because he's so unpredictable. It's hard to discuss too much about Ren without getting into plot details. I think it'll suffice to say that by the end of this film, I never wanted Vader dead as badly as I want Ren to meet an ugly end. Adam Driver has created an infinitely hatable badguy in all the right ways.

It's not perfect. There's at least one major parallel to A NEW HOPE that I think the film would have been better served without. There's also an incredible reliance on coincidence throughout the story. I could grant the first big one, accepted the second, but by the time it comes for a major buy-in about halfway through, I wouldn't blame the audience for balking at that convenience. I wish a couple major plot discoveries didn't feel too easy for our heroes. The film moves fast enough that we can roll with it, but when you reflect on the movie later, the contrivance stings a bit.

I attended with my wife, who said she liked it but felt she'd been overhyped to the point that many things, even the crowd reaction, felt like a letdown. She's not a STAR WARS fan, has only seen each film once, and one of her most immediate responses was "I felt like I knew where every twist was going before it happened." I can't argue with a lot of that. For me, there were a lot of points where knowing worked for me, as the anticipation built suspense. There was one scene where it was blatantly obvious where we were going, but my heart was pounding like it did in no other film this year, just the same.

It all comes down to the characters. After two hours, I not only cared about the old friends we revisited along the way, but was invested in many new faces. THE FORCE AWAKENS brought humanity back to STAR WARS, and I can't wait to see where the saga goes forward from here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Spare Us Your 90-Minute Video Takedown of THE FORCE AWAKENS

I couldn't let the occasion of a new STAR WARS film go by without at least one more thinkpiece, this time over at Film School Rejects:

As the release of a new Star Wars film drew near, I began mulling over how I could contribute to the conversation. With many choice topics already spoken for, I settled on the idea of revisiting a divisive chapter of Star Wars history. It had been long enough since its release and I conceded that a rewatch might bring out hidden virtues.

I wasn’t deep into my viewing before I deeply regretted this assignment. It was almost agonizing to subject myself to the witless dialogue on screen, the far-too-for-its-own-good editing, and a general sense of arrogance that permeated every frame. How anyone could watch this and defend it is beyond me.

In short, I hate Red Letter Media and its avatar “Harry S. Plinkett” with every bone in my body.

You can find the whole post here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Too PC or Not Too PC? That should not be the question.

Internet comments should generally be avoided. That's just a simple truth of the internet in the 21st Century. It's a fact that's been in evidence almost since there were comment sections at the end of articles, but in my early days of web surfing, I managed to read enough forums where things were civil and interesting, which makes it hard for me to break the habit of reading reactions. That said, even I know that Deadline comments tend to be a total cesspool of angry aspirings, bitter malcontents, and nutjob far right-winger types following the latest Drudge Report link.

But one recent comment actually provoked a few thoughts and before I knew it, I had a whole post. Last week Deadline ran a story about an Urban Cowboy relaunch at Fox that was no longer going forward. The wrinkle was that this project was intended to be a "Latin music-flavored" relaunch. To put it another way, they were going to cast it with Hispanic characters and actors. The first comment, probably from a mouth-breather sent there by Drudge or Breitbart, read "Good. Making it a Latino version of a great movie was just a stupid idea. Can we just stop being PC about programming. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Hahaha, you get’s what you get. LOL."

"Stop being PC about programming." What kind of a white supremacist paradise do you live in where the idea of a 1980 movie remade with people who have darker skin is some kind of threat to you? This is one show. One. Show. How many channels and digital networks do we have generating original content now? Gotta be in the hundreds, right? And yet somehow, one hour of TV featuring brown faces is immediately suspect and "PC."

Why would it be "PC" to be cast ANY show with an all-Latino cast? Why is that not just seen as serving an audience that doesn't see themselves represented on TV? How is it that no one considers the possibility that with so few diverse shows on the air, this kind of premise opens a lot of doors for writers to explore stories that haven't been retold again and again, completely beaten into the ground.

I remember when MODERN FAMILY premiered and I head the same suspicious accusations, "They only cast it that way to be PC. You've got the gay guys, the immigrants. Doesn't it seem like some liberal focus group put this together?" Here's the thing, idiots. Gays watch TV. Hispanics watch TV. Why is there paranoia when they get to participate in the reindeer games? And if you carry this argument out to its logical conclusion, it feels like the person is pushing for yet another family sitcom centered on a typical nuclear family. Isn't there, like, some fifty years of territory already covered with that? MODERN FAMILY's success is less about it covering demographic territory and more about the fact it was covering territory that hadn't been strip-mined to death.

Writers are always trying to find new stories that haven't been told. It's pretty safe to say that you won't find many network sitcoms about a gay couple, and certainly not many at the time where they were treated as characters first and not some sort of avatar of ALL gay couples. The same could be said of the Jay and Gloria thread. I can't think of many depictions of an aging patriarch marrying a much younger Hispanic woman that wasn't treated as some kind of trophy wife joke.

It's the 21st Century - we need to stop viewing every non-white, non-hetero depiction as some kind of insidious offering to the evil PC Gods. Some of the best-regarded TV shows of all time were unique from anything that came before. SEINFELD was drastically different from most sitcoms, eventually becoming incredibly ambitious in terms of how its stories were structured and how the characters were depicted. Conventional plots were cast aside for an often minutae-based approach. You wouldn't get that by sticking to the same story-telling tropes that drove LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, for instance.

It's not like you have to go far to find white characters represented on TV. Hell, I'm half-Jewish and it would annoy the hell out of me if someone said, "Why does THE GOLDBERGS *have* to be about Jews? They only did that to be PC."

Something that didn't really strike me until I really thought about it is that we DON'T often see Jewish families depicted on TV. THE GOLDBERGS's recent Hanukkah episode was a revelation because I couldn't even think of the last time a TV show did a Hanukkah episode. I guess there was at least one episode of FRIENDS with a Hanukkah subplot, but compared to the yearly onslaught of Christmas eps, the ratio isn't even close. (Being only of half-Jewish descent, I can TOTALLY relate to THE OC's Christmakkah episodes... except for the gift Rachel Bilson dressed up as Wonder Woman. Even with eight nights of gifts, I never was lucky enough to get that. But I digress...)

When people complain about TV and movies "trying to be PC" what they're really reacting to is that something was put out there that might not be made for them. This mere fact should not be cause for fear from anyone. We live in an era where there's more TV - more GOOD TV - than anyone could reasonably try to keep up with. Every last program doesn't NEED to be made for you. FRESH OFF THE BOAT and BLACKISH aren't shows that were funded by some insidious Politically Correct agenda - they're stories that sprang from voices that haven't been a huge part of the choir.

So in the new year, perhaps we can resolve to make knee-jerk reactions like this a thing of the past. If something doesn't appeal to you, it's so easy to ignore it. I've ignored SLEEPY HOLLOW so aggressively, I'm not even sure if it's on the air anymore. Keep changing the channel, and eventually you'll find something you like.

And would it kill TV to get just a FEW more Hanukkah episodes in come next holiday season?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A great stocking stuffer: my book MICHAEL F-ING BAY: The Unheralded Genius in Michael Bay's Films

With about two weeks to go until Christmas, I wanted to remind everyone that my book MICHAEL F-ING BAY: The Unheralded Genius in Michael Bay's Films is still available on Amazon! The ebook will run you a mere $4.99 and if you're one of those who prefers paperback books, that'll cost you $10.99.

I'm very proud of the book and to be perfectly frank, it would be nice to have a few extra dollars in the coffers this holiday season. I don't make any money from this blog otherwise, unless you could the very infrequent Adsense checks. (NO ONE makes money on internet ads, trust me.) So if you're looking for a way to support me, or just want to say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, do it the capitalist way by buying my book.

His movies have cumulatively earned $2.4 billion in the domestic box office, making him the second most-successful director of all time, right behind Steven Spielberg. If one gathered the top six directors in that category, that same man would be only one of the half-dozen to not also be in possession of an Academy Award: Michael Bay.

Commercial success and meaningful art don’t always go hand-in-hand, but is it possible for a filmmaker to consistently hit his mark with the audience without truly doing something right artistically? Professional critics have long taken aim at Bay’s music-video-honed visual style, full of fast cuts, moving camera shots, hot women. The internet is full of negativity and scorn for the director too, but has anyone truly given Bay’s oeuvre the benefit of the doubt?

Michael F-ing Bay: The Unheralded Genius in Michael Bay’s Films is the first-ever attempt to approach the Bay catalog from an intellectual standpoint. Come ready to find the deep subtexts and profound meanings in Michael Bay’s filmography.

EXPERIENCE – the controversial discussion about man’s relationship with God buried within Armageddon!

DISCOVER – how Pearl Harbor demonstrates that emotional truth is far more vital than strict adherence to actual historical events!

LEARN – how The Island is a pointed allegory attacking the proliferation of remakes and reboots that Hollywood produces!

UNDERSTAND – the vulnerable confession that Michael Bay offers under the cloak of a true-life Miami crime story in Pain & Gain! And much more!

With the holiday season coming up, it's the perfect stocking stuffer for your friends and family. You can even gift the Kindle versions if you only want to spend an Abe Lincoln.  If you love Michael Bay, you will find something to enjoy in this book and if you hate Michael Bay you'll probably still find plenty to love here. Every movie Michael Bay has directed is covered here, in all-new in-depth examinations.

This is not a greatest-hits compilation of posts, nor is it a how-to screenwriting book. The only segment that's seen the light of day before is my analysis of Transformers: Age of Extinction. It became one of my all-time most-popular posts, so you've probably read it already. If you haven't, give it a read for a taste of what you're in for with MICHAEL F-ING BAY.

And here's what a few satisfied customers had to say on Twitter:

Still on the fence? Why not check out the appearances from my "media tour" last year?

My interview with Scott Myers on Go Into The Story:
Part 1 - Michael Bay's JUNO.
Part 2 - "Michael Bay is the Tyler Perry of China."

My interview with Amanda Pendolino.

My interview on the Broken Projector podcast:
You can find the episode embedded at Film School Rejects here.
Download the episode directly here.

My interview on the Draft Zero Podcast
Go to the episode's page here.
Download the episode in mp3 form here.

But what if you don't have a Kindle or a tablet with a Kindle app? Good news, you can still read MICHAEL F-ING BAY! Go here and download the Kindle reading app for your computer.

Here are the instructions for the Kindle for PC program.
Here's where you go for Kindle for Windows 8.
Here's the site for you Kindle for Mac people.

Link roundup:
Amazon Author Page here.
$4.99 Kindle version of the book here.
$10.99 Paperback edition here.

Thanks for indulging me, everyone.