What Has Our Society Come To When March Of The Penguins Is The Blockbuster Hit Of The Summer?Commentary • Entertainment • Opinion • culture • trends • animals • movies • ISSUE 41•33 • Aug 17, 2005 By Michael Bay, Director, <I>The Island</I> Michael Bay Director, The IslandI've been a major Hollywood director for a long time, and I thought I'd seen it all. But I can't help wondering what's happening to the entertainment industry—indeed, to our entire society. Where are our standards? Our values? For fuck's sake—our cultural priorities? I simply cannot accept that March Of The Penguins is the big summer hit everybody's talking about. Hello?It used to be that a summer blockbuster had to have brutal violence, sexy women, breathtaking action sequences, adrenaline-pumping high-speed chases—at a bare minimum, some explosions. But sitting through that penguin movie, I couldn't believe my eyes. Where were the big set pieces? Hell, this movie didn't even have sets! Has anyone ever heard of production values? It's one of the most vital aspects of the filmmaking art, and you don't get it by just showing up on an iceberg and filming whatever happens to be in front of you. Frankly, for real icebergs, they looked fake. This film is an insult to the great men and women who spend countless hours in front of computers creating incredibly realistic CGI icebergs. Does no one out there care about these things anymore but me? Am I a lone voice of sanity crying out in a universe gone mad? What kind of a world do we live in when a futuristic techno-thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as escaped clones on levitating jet bikes doesn't outgross the shit out of a glorified Discovery Channel rerun? Don't people realize how much money I spent? How many people it took to bring that vision to the screen? Do people realize how many rewrites and punch-ups we went through? I paid my writers millions of dollars, and they were some of the best in the biz. You know who wrote their script? A bunch of birds.Where was the villain? A story's not going to keep an audience on the edge of their seats without a strong opposition. Where was the second-act turning point? You've gotta have that moment when the hero's at the end of his rope and the bad guy looks like he's going to win it all. And where was the love story? Stars have to have real chemistry that smolders on the screen to make a summer blockbuster one to remember. Okay, the penguin movie had mating cycles, but that's not love. Is it all about sex to these animals? Speaking of which, I think we can all agree that the penguins in this film gave some pretty wooden performances. In many scenes, it was impossible to tell them apart. Maybe if they'd moved the camera once in a while, I could have gotten more emotionally invested in what was going on. For Christ's sake, there was not a single crane shot in the whole movie!I remember a day when the public appreciated fine cinema. In that lost age, it made sense that my important historical drama Pearl Harbor had a fighting chance for at least a special-effects Oscar. Best sound, no question. But now, in this crazy upside-down, topsy-turvy world, I hear that—guess what?—the only summer movie getting any Oscar buzz is a static, near-silent documentary about waddling, flightless birds! These days, I guess old-fashioned values like "megawattage," "high-octane thrill rides," and "explosions" just don't matter anymore. Well, I call that a sad day for American moviemaking. I'm busy in pre-production planning my next big spectacle (which no one will see because they'll be off watching a 10-hour documentary on park squirrels, no doubt). But if you are in the San Diego area, do me this favor: Go to Sea World, walk into the emperor-penguin exhibit, and punch one those fuckers right in the face. Tell 'em Michael Bay sent ya.