Michael Bay has taken a lot of flak for the Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Some of it is unjustified hatred by those who dislike his films – much of it stems from a flurry of quotes attempting to disprove Bay’s use of 3D.
The explosive director has been relatively reserved about it all, apart from two shout outs to Internet journalists where he called them “morons.” Finally, Bay invited the press to see what he is cooking under Paramount’s roof.
A handful of select journalists got an inside look at the three-week-old post-production of Transformers 3. It included an in-depth discussion with the director regarding every aspect of the upcoming film – essentially an informal press conference. For the first time in recent memory, Bay truly opened up and answered just about everything thrown at him.
Steve Weintraub of Collider shared every ounce of his visit with the world, including a helpful 20-minute video recap with Mr. Beaks of AICN. But be warned, there are over nine pages (as Weintraub puts it) of words. So we will break it down and share the best nuggets for discussion.
One of the most important aspects of creating the third installment of Transformers is the story. The plot in Transformers 2 was a disaster and everyone knows it – even Bay, who mostly blames the writer’s strike for a rushed development process. The humor was childish and took away any ounce of interesting story from Revenge of the Fallen.
While this franchise is known for its fantastic action sequences and eye-popping visuals, the third movie needs the extra kick of a good story. Luckily, Bay used his short turnaround time between films to reflect on what worked and didn’t work on each. He shared his thoughts with the press.
“We tried to learn from the second movie. On the second movie we got burned. We had a writers strike, we had to agree on a story in three weeks, and then we knew they were going on strike. It was a fucked scenario all the way around, it wasn’t fair to the writer, it wasn’t fair to me, it wasn’t fair to anybody. It was still an entertaining movie, but I think we failed on certain aspects. What we did with this movie is I think we have a much better script, and we got back to basics. I think there’s some really cool action on this movie, there’s some very cool conspiracy, there’s great robot stuff in this that people were missing in the second one, you’ve got great robot conflict. So I’m excited about this movie. It’s more serious. I got rid of the dorky comedy, I mean we’ve got two little characters, that’s it, but the dorkiness is not there. Dork-free Transformers. It’s much more serious. It’s still entertaining, it’s big looking.”
We’ve known the plot of Dark of the Moon for a while now and it remains intriguing. There is obviously a darker tone for this third film and it will likely benefit from the adjustment. It would have been nice to see this kind of alternative history in the first film and progressively reach present day throughout the trilogy…but I digress.
Bay discussed the plot in further detail throughout the visit, but specifically cited the work of writer Ehren Kruger for giving Transformers 3 its own identity.
“Ehren Kruger, who I really liked working with, very smart writer, he cracked the story and he was very open on where we would go and you know I work on images and stuff that I wanna see, action stuff, how we’re gonna make this different. Cause I gotta think, “How are we gonna change this up? How are you gonna take it to the next level? What have we not done in this franchise? How do you make it more personal?” So you talk about everything you don’t like, “I don’t wanna see sand, we’re not gonna see sand in this movie.” And so we just started making a list. And he had a great hook that I loved. And I think that hook came from the studio, cause I think Goodman said, “Bay is fascinated with space.”
The most efficient way to prevent a repeat of Transformers 2 is to distinguish the third one as much as possible without totally alienating it from the entries in the franchise. In a way, it will already be a bit removed as the only Transformers in 3D (same goes for Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader). But a focused story and proper utilization of space could make for an extremely fun movie.
During the visit, Bay frequently acknowledged the “morons” who questioned his use of 3D. Finally, we get the numbers straight from the director’s mouth. While every frame wasn’t shot in 3D, it would appear the entire movie was at least accounted for being in 3D. Hopefully, this will end the debate over the 3D format of Transformers 3 and we can turn our focus onto the quality of the film as a whole.
“I figured the rate of converting stuff is about 30-35% when I average all my native shots to conversion shots. So we think we’ve found a happy medium where we’re able to keep it looking really sharp and make it promising 3D.”
“We shot most of my close-ups with faces with anamorphic film, cause that stuff’s easier to convert and it’s just more beautiful than the digital.”
So, they did push the boundaries of 3D as Bay has exclaimed in his comments over the past few months, but it seems those boundaries were not exclusively in 3D. Bay pushed it to the limit and gave in to allow some 2D shots for post-conversion. Most, if not all, 3D releases have done this and it tends to be a necessary evil to get the desired shots.
The extensive edit bay visit has every piece of information possible right now and should help you determine your level of interest in the film. Carve out a block of time and really read it all, because it is interesting. More importantly, we may never get this much out of Michael Bay ever again.
To read the entire transcript, head over to Collider.
We should start to see plenty of footage from Dark of the Moon over the next few months and in the interview Bay references multiple teasers apart from the one that just came out. But the post-production process is still in its infant stage, and may be ongoing until the release date next summer. Still, we anxiously await the first full trailer with fully rendered footage of robots doing battle.
As critical as we have all been of the Transformers franchise, it delivers huge box office numbers and plenty of action. We should remember there are plenty of worse movies out there than Transformers 2 and it served as a great learning experience for Bay to build upon for Dark of the Moon. The third, and most likely last installment for Michael Bay, comes with high expectations from fans across the world. Today’s revelations serve as a reminder that it might yet be the best of the trilogy. Might.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon hits theaters July 1st, 2011.
Click to watch the first Transformers 3 trailer.