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Michael Bay doesn’t actually hate his movie’s CG effects

‘There’s some really good and then there’s a couple shots that I’m like, ‘I wish I had more time,’’

Michael Bay calls out a megaphone on the set of Ambulance Photo: Andrew Cooper/Universal Pictures
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

Michael Bay’s new movie Ambulance, which finds Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II caught in a heist gone wrong, arrives to American theaters later in April. But that hasn’t stopped the action director from courting a bit of controversy: During the movie’s European press tour, Bay seemed to have a few criticisms about Ambulance’s CG effects, and how they weren’t up to snuff.

In a video interview with the director and his cast conducted by European theatre chain Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont, Bay explained that most of the movie was filled with practical effects, while certain visual effects were subpar.

“Some of the CGI is shit in this movie,” Bay says in the edited video clip.” There’s a couple shots that I wasn’t happy with, OK?”

However, in a recent phone interview, Bay himself clarified to Polygon exactly what he meant.

When asked about not liking the effects, Bay said, “That’s a bit of a misnomer. [...] That day, you say something, [then] they take it out.”

Bay further explained a bit about how CGI was used in Ambulance and how it fits into his overall process.

“We did very little CGI for this movie,” Bay said. “There’s some really good and then there’s a couple shots that I’m like, ‘I wish I had more time,’ whatever. There’s some very good work [in this movie.] I’ve always had really good CGI. [...] But yeah, there’s a lot of real explosions, real car crashes, real stuff.”

Without skipping a beat, Bay recalled his early days of blending practical and CG effects in Bad Boys, and the potentially unsung achievement of Pearl Harbor. He noted that the period-piece action movie earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Record thanks to the complexity of one of the film’s explosive sequence (though Spectre later stole the title). According to Bay, a single take in Pearl Harbor involved blowing up seven ships with 350 explosive events in seven seconds, all while 20 planes took to the air. The stunt was “a lot of pressure, let me tell you, and it was an amazing, amazing shot — but that was real,” he says. “Then we add some other elements to it. But those are all real explosions, it took three months of rigging.”

So while Bay says the viral clip of him knocking his visual effects team was taken out of context, he remains a purveyor of practical effects amplified by CG.

“I’m kind of dying breed where I do my own stunts, and we make it real, and I work with the best people in the world. To me that’s fun. I don’t like doing it in computers.”

Ambulance is set to be released in American theaters on April 8.

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