It was late in 2014 when I found myself scoping out an interactive virtual reality console in the lobby of a Loews movie theater in Manhattan. Apparently, you could step into the worlds that Christopher Nolan envisioned in the dazzling and very dumb Interstellar, and the line was sizable by the time I exited my press screening for, you guessed it, Interstellar in the very same theater.
Nolan is clearly the kind of visually obsessive director that would benefit from being seen in such an immersive medium as virtual reality, which is quickly gaining momentum as the next place for serious gamers and ambitious, explorative visual artists. It’s not surprising, then, that Michael Bay is now similarly planning virtual reality endeavors. The Transformers director announced that he is partnering with The Rogue Initiative on a series of projects meant to be viewed and utilized in virtual reality. Bay’s work with the Rogue Initiative will continue in the vein of the stylish, empty action-adventure films that the director has been known for, from The Rock to 13 Hours.
Of course, one might imagine that Bay’s VR output will be more in line with the likes of Transformers, The Island, and Armageddon, with a bigger focus on science fiction conceits and advanced technologies. Regardless of just where the politics of these new properties will land, Bay is the ideal filmmaker to craft big, imaginative landscapes and realms for people to explore in virtual reality. Though the narrative trajectories of Bay’s films have always been what I would mildly refer to as a problem, the sense of tremendous scale in the often CGI-rendered cities, industrial planets, and towering aliens has always been what draws audiences back into the theaters, along with all the explosions, gunfire, and general noisiness. Where something like 13 Hours feels like a half-measured and sentimental work of political ideology, a virtual reality production might return Bay to the more bombastic, less righteous spectacles of his early days. We shall see!