The Reliability of Bad Directors

The likes of Michael Bay and McG may be critically reviled, but Hollywood loves “painstaking” consistency no matter the quality.

It was that time where the mid-week blues could only be fixed by taking full advantage of Orange Wednesdays. On the list of films out which we were still yet to see was none other than Transformers: Age of Extinction, a film that I was reluctant to fully commit to. This isn’t due to the fact that I dislike Transformers – the cartoon series occupied many hours of my childhood. To put it more bluntly, it was Michael Bay’s Transformers that I had an issue with. This was the third time I had aimed to come out of the cinema hoping that my mind would be swayed but, alas, the same thought came back as the one I had after walking out from Transformers 2 and 3: Why is Michael Bay continually allowed to make movies?

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This isn’t a league that Michael Bay occupies by himself; another couple of gentleman come into mind when wandering why these originality-lacking talents (or lack-of-talents, shall we say) continue to be backed by big movie studios. If you’re unfamiliar with the works of Brett Ratner and McG, I don’t blame you. But, to refresh your memory, Brett Ratner is responsible for sinking the X-Men franchise with his lack of character development in X-Men: The Last Stand (thank God for Bryan Singer returning to the franchise this year). Mr Ratner’s latest, Hercules, failed to live up to the might of its central character, being ultimately a mediocre action flick experience.

Now, Mr McG had some early TV success as producer of the hit teen show The OC, but when it comes to the film industry McG’s done little to bring himself into the movie league of legends. A cringeworthy adaptation of Charlie’s Angels and a failed attempt to resurrect a dying Terminator franchise currently stain his filmic CV. So, once again, that thought punches me right in the face: Why do these bad directors continue to get hired?

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When a studio invests heavily in not only the rights to produce a film, but also in the price of the budget, there’s pressure on them to make a profit. With this pressure and investment comes the desire to ‘play it safe’. Taking a risk, whether it be plot wise or character-wise, seems like a recipe for disaster for the big wigs at these movie studios. After all, Hollywood has a set structure each film has to follow, meaning that audiences are already half aware as to what to expect before even setting foot inside a cinema.

This is heightened when taking on an already existing franchise. It may not be a coincidence that the aforementioned directors have all established their work in reboots of earlier franchises; is a lack of originality really a surprise when these ‘rebooted’ or ‘retold’ stories arrive? The characters have already been established, as has the audience that will pay their hard earned money to see these remakes. The film studio’s reluctance to take risks is heightened with the desire not to piss off fans of the original, those fans who would have already pre-ordered their tickets to see it on the day of its release.

These steady par directors are not going to go anywhere. Directors such as Bay, Ratner and McG continue to find work for being, well, painstakingly consistent. They continue to be employed because they’re a product of everything Hollywood stands for. Think of it as Hollywood’s ABCs of movie production, where thoughtful plot lines and intriguing characters, followed by an “OMG I did not see that happening!” is a rare thing to find. A steady profit and a film that is guaranteed to get a 3-star rating from Total Film seems to be the thought process that prevails in Hollywood.

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