Michael Bay has regrets. During a press interview for his upcoming film Ambulance, the director revealed that the significantly better director Steven Spielberg once advised him to stop making Transformers films, advice I desperately wish Bay had taken. What’s surprising to me is that Spielberg only told him this after making the third movie in the franchise, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and not, say, five minutes after the first movie came out.
During an interview with Unilad UK, Bay said, “I made too many of them. Steven Spielberg said, ‘Just stop at three’. And I said I’d stop. The studio begged me to do a fourth, and then that made a billion too. And then I said I’m gonna stop here. And they begged me again. I should have stopped. [But] they were fun to do.”
It is historical fact that Bay swore each of the last few Transformers films would be his last, only to come back and make another. I’d say these were to diminished returns, except the second film in the franchise, Revenge of the Fallen, was by far the worst instalment and the worst film Bay has ever made, thanks to its robotic racist caricatures, incomprehensible plot and action, and the scene where the Autobot Bumblebee pisses on John Turturro’s head. Comparatively, Dark of the Moon was serviceable, but unfortunately, its sequel Age of Extinction included a protagonist who carried around a laminated copy of Texas’ statutory rape laws so he could prove to people he wasn’t illegally having sex with a 17-year-old.
It would have been nice if Bay had listened to Spielberg’s advice and at least spared us Extinction and the joyless, half-assed slog that was The Last Knight, but it’s worth remembering that Bay supposedly did listen to one thing Spielberg told him: to fire Megan Fox after she went on a press tour for Jennifer’s Body and compared Bay to Hitler when he was directing on set, and endearingly “awkward” off it. Unsurprisingly, Spielberg has denied this, although it’s by no means implausible that the director of Schindler’s List and founder of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation might get upset to hear someone casually compare someone else to Hitler. Whatever the truth, Fox was dropped from Dark of the Moon, the movie that would have completed Bay’s trilogy had he stopped making them, and if the three films had even an iota of an overarching story or continuity between them.