Mid-Week Poll: Worse Director – Michael Bay or Stephen Sommers?

This week’s poll was inspired by a comment that reader Dail made in response to our last Roundtable. When it comes down to it, who is the worse director: Michael Bay or Stephen Sommers?

This is a tough one for me. Between them, these two titans of cinematic crap are responsible for a whole slew of terrible movies. Further, each has gone out of the way to destroy a franchise that I consider beloved from my youth: Bay with ‘Transformers‘ and Sommers with ‘G. I. Joe‘.

I kind of have the feeling that Bay could make a decent movie if he wanted to, but he prefers to make garbage. Whereas Sommers is just totally incompetent in all respects.

I think I have to go with Michael Bay on this one. Both directors have besmirched the reputations of ’80s toy lines, but Bay also pissed all over a genuine historical tragedy with his stupid ‘Pearl Harbor‘ movie, which is a much greater crime. Also, as a producer, Bay has been responsible for all those crappy remakes of old horror movies that clutter the multiplexes every year. He needs to be stopped.

Which director do you think is worse?

Who Is the Worse Director: Michael Bay or Stephen Sommers?

View Results

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  1. Alex

    I know, I’m probably the worst Michael Bay apologist on these forums, but Bay has at least a couple of quality action flicks under his belt. I maintain that “The Rock” is the absolute apex of genre. No other action movie is as brawny, ballsy, hilarious, intense, and downright fun as that one.

    That being said, Michael Bay does need someone keeping an eye on him. For a long time, it was Jerry Bruckheimer who kept him in check. For the first Transformers (which is awesome, Josh, sorry!) it was Steven Spielburg. I feel like when Bay is given free reign without answering to a producer (Pearl Harbor, Transformers 2), he goes off the rails.

    Steven Sommers directed The Mummy and we thank him for that, but he’s never directed a friggin’ Meatloaf video. Michael Bay, FTW!!

  2. David

    Which is worst? The guy with talent that CHOOSES not to use it (Bay)? Or the guy that is just a below-average director and does the best he can (Sommers)?

  3. Alex

    I’m man enough to admit that I sob like a little girl every time at the end of “Armageddon.” I know it’s schmaltzy, cheesy, and goofy, but it really does get me all choked up.

    • Luke Hickman

      You’re not alone, my friend. “Harry, I love you!” Gets me every time.

      Thanks for giving me another chance to point out my love for J.J. Abrams! Most don’t realize ‘Armageddon’ is J.J. screenplay!

  4. this is a hard one for me but Sommers is the worst cause he wrote the scripts he directed. bay did make me laugh with the comedy that is pearl harbor.

  5. Jane Morgan

    Michael Bay has made 8 movies.
    His average metacritic is 47.
    His total box office is 3.5 Billion.

    Stephen Sommers has made 8 movies.
    His average metacritic is 39.
    His total box office is 1.5 Billion.

    I own 3 MB movies and 0 SS movies.

    I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive Stephen Sommers. ‘Van Helsing’ killed a whole bunch of more promising Dracula reboots.

  6. I picked Sommers, because I love how Michael Bay uses that cheesy sweeping low-slung camera movement to look up at any of his movie’s heroes at the time of their triumph.

  7. vihdeeohfieuhl

    But Josh! How can you go with Bay when you referred to my main point in your article?!

    Michael Bay actually has skill. If he truly cared about making a genuinely good movie, or even an Oscar bait movie, he could probably do it. Stephen Sommers, on the other hand, has no skill whatsoever, and couldn’t even direct a mediocre film if he gave 100% effort.

    • Josh Zyber

      That’s the crux of the debate, isn’t it? Which is the greater crime: Having no talent at all, or having some talent and deliberately throwing it away?

      • vihdeeohfieuhl

        Ahh I see, so you’re going with Bay essentially because he disappoints you by throwing away any skill he has, while you’ve never had any expectations for Sommers.

        That’s an interesting stance to take. I’m actually wishing that I would have taken Bay based on that logic. I guess I just feel like Bay has at least made maybe two tolerable films, while Sommers entire resume should be flushed down the toilet.

  8. Eric

    I actually think Sommers best work is Deep Rising, because there was no Brendan Frasier hamming it up. That movie knew it was a silly monster flick and rolled around giddily in it’s craziness. I’m starting to think Bay has no governor in his head of when enough is enough. I think any successes he’s had are because of Bruckheimer/ Spielberg and when he gets more autonomy (Transformers 2), things tend to run off the rails quickly. In either case, there are far worse directors out there than either one of those two, so I won’t vote on a list that doesn’t include Uwe Boll or M Night Schammalammadingdong.

  9. Really? These directors didn’t write their movies. That’s the problem. Their movies are exciting! Try director Uwe Boll, or hell I forgot who did Batman and Robin! Those were horrible!

    • Josh Zyber

      Sommers does write his own movies, actually.

      And even if Bay doesn’t put words to paper, he shapes the direction of every scene by telling the writers what to write. “I want a little robot humping Megan Fox’s leg. Put it in the script!”

      In fact, see this:


      Bay saw an episode of 60 Minutes about guys who jump off mountains in wingsuits. Suddenly, Transformers 3 has a scene with wingsuits.

      You may not technically call that “writing,” but everything in the movie is clearly Michael Bay’s responsibility and his doing.

      • Jane Morgan

        Technically, that’s called “producing.”

        The wingsuit dive might be one of the most thrilling sequences in T3.

        And keep in mind, on movies like these, the toy company has script approval.

  10. EM

    I have no horse in this race, having seen only one of Sommersโ€™ movies and none of Bayโ€™s. Somehow that makes me feel like a winner. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alex

      Go rent “The Rock”. Honestly. If you grab the Criterion Collection edition, it even has an essay about it written by Roger Ebert. So far, I’ve seen plenty of complaints about Pearl Harbor, Transformers, Armageddon, and Bad Boys 2, but I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t enjoy “The Rock”.

  11. You know, that’s a good suggestion even if it wasn’t meant to be. I think Schumacher needs to be added to this list. The two guys above know that they direct bombastic blockbusters, but Schumacher literally thinks he’s making an Oscar-worthy movie every time. He thinks his movies are so smart and resonant, but they just come out terribly. Just go and watch ‘Twelve’ and you’ll understand what I’m saying.

    What’s worse, two guys who know they’re directing mass-produced popcorn movies and don’t care, or a guy who directs utter trash and insists that it’s cinematic treasure?

  12. Bay has made the least amount quality with the most amount of money with the Transformers “saga”. He then has tried his damnedest to drain the soul out of the most legendary horror franchises.

    And then there’s his mouth. Everytime he speaks, he makes the world more stupid. He used up the good will he bought with The Rock a long, long time ago.

    • Jon D

      That’s my issue with Bay. Where Sommers seems like a genuine (if less than skilled), grounded guy, Bay has an ego the size of the moon and comes off as an arrogant jackass virtually every time he talks.

  13. Sommers is by far the worst, while I love the Mummy and especially Deep Rising (classic underrated monster flick) his Van Helsing, Mummy Returns and most of GI Joe are horrid, Van Helsing is one of my most hated movies, the insanity thats displayed there with awful CG, terrible acting and a werewolf that can magically change back to a human when the moon goes behind a fucking cloud, slaps him to the top of bad in this vote.

    I’m a big Bay fan, I enjoyed the sappy Armageddon, and pretty much anything else he’s done, Transformers 2 was pretty bad and I really havent watched it much like I have the first Transformers (loved this one), Pearl Harbor is one of the worst movies ever too, god awful drama around one of the most historical events in US history and its completely ruined by one of the worst written dramatic stories in cinema, the action scenes and battles were great though (and thats the Bay I’m the biggest fan of) but the rest was some of the most awful drivel I’ve watched, but its still not as bad as Van Helsing ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. The best Michael Bay movie is The Rock, closely followed by the fun but badly flawed The Island, in my view.

    On the other hand, Stephen Sommers has The Mummy, which fluke or not, is still better than even The Rock. It’s great classic adventure fun (And has Rachel Weisz at her drool-inducing finest, which doesn’t hurt lol!). G.I. Joe is pretty bad, but somehow I had enormous fun watching it, and The Mummy Returns is on a par. Stephen Sommers almost has an infectious sense of fun, I think, that Bay lacks. For all Sommers’ flaws, you can almost forgive him a lot of them because you can feel how much fun he has making the movies.

    I’m quite torn… I actually own 4 Michael Bay movies (The Rock/The Island/Transformers 1&2, though T2 was a present) and 4 Stephen Sommers (The Mummy 1&2, G.I. Joe, and forgive me, Van Helsing. It was going for a pound or two on HD DVD, and it does have Kate Beckinsale in a corset. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    As actual directors, they’re fairly even I suppose, but I’m gonna go with Bay as worst, because he seems like such an arrogant arse in bonus material, that it stops being fun to watch the stuff (And I LOVE making-ofs). Sommers on the other hand, at least enjoys making his films. Oh, and as stated before, Sommers’ best is better than Bay’s best.

    Actually, come to think of it, another factor Bay is famous for is the women in his movies, but I reckon Weisz and Velasquez in the Mummy, Miller in G.I. Joe, even Beckinsale in Van Helsing, beat Bay’s female leads. So Bay loses even there! ๐Ÿ˜‰