Michael Bay plagiarizes Michael Bay for "Transformers 3"

"Dark of the Moon's" dark secret: Shots from "The Island" appear in summer blockbuster

Published July 5, 2011 6:06PM (EDT)

Look familiar?
Look familiar?

Most famous directors have a signature style that lets you know you are watching one of their films: David Lynch will give you red curtains and flickering matches, Scorsese will have "Gimmie Shelter" slipped somewhere in between the violent acts of mob crime, and Steven Spielberg ... well, Steven Spielberg has a lot of recurring motifs. But at what point does a cinematic thumbprint turn into lazy self-plagiarism?

The answer to this theoretical film query has been answered by none other than Michael Bay, whose auteur work can be boiled down to "big things blowing up or hitting other big things." But even with that not-too-original concept, Bay has gotten sloppy: allegedly taking direct shots from his 2005 flop "The Island" and putting them in "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon."

Last week, a viral-video pirate named Jermain Odreman spent a considerable amount of time watching Bay's movies in slow-motion in order to catch almost identical sequences from both films. The footage is unquestionably similar, down to the type of car that flips over, the angle of the smoke from the explosion, and the damage done by flying shrapnel.

Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars Bay had to play with for his third "Transformers" movie, it's an egregious insult that he'd recycle old footage. Sure, we may pack the theaters of his films because we want to mindlessly watch giant pieces of machinery go up in a massive fireballs, but the very least (seriously, the very least) that Bay could do is show us new machinery and new fireballs. Otherwise, what are we paying him for ... his thought-provoking dialogue or fully developed characters?

By Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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Directors Plagiarism Television Transformers Viral Video