Our own Roth Cornet covered the LA preview of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, in which fifteen minutes of 3D footage from the film was screened for select press. Today that footage made its way across to the Eastern shores of NYC, where I was finally able to get a look at Transformers 3 myself.
The short version of my report: Michael Bay has created the best 3D movie experience since Avatar - and may have even surpassed it.
As with the LA event, the footage screened at the NYC event included the first 5 minutes of Dark of the Moon, followed by a montage of footage and extended sequences from the film, all of them action scenes (little to no plot was revealed). The LA event featured a panel with Michael Bay and James Cameron talking 3D in cinema, and even though the pair of famed directors weren't available for the NYC event, footage of their conversation was included in our screening. You can check out what they had to say by going HERE.
Onto the footage: Roth Cornet broke down everything in detail in her own report (check it out HERE), so I'll just do a quick synopsis:
The beginning of the film ties the Cold War space race directly to a mysterious event that occurred in the war on Cybertron between the Autobots and Decepticons. After that, we saw several short flashes of Transformers new and old in action, a few chase sequences, plenty of battle scenes in downtown Chicago - and of course, the base jumping stunt sequence that Michael Bay filmed with live actors, one of whom wore a 3D camera on his head while jumping.
Needless to say, Transformers 3 is going to have a lot of sick summer action. But is it worth a 3D ticket price?
Short answer: You don't want to see this movie any other way.
If you don't know, James Cameron lobbied Micahel Bay to use 3D in this film, even when Bay himself wasn't convinced. After deciding to go 3D, Bay used Cameron's 3D team from Avatar to film Transformers 3, and that team - which had already created one revolutionary success - pushed the boundaries of 3D filming even further, resulting in new rigs and camera designs to create that one-of-a-kind Michael Bay brand of action.
But technical innovations aside, how does the 3D in Transformers: Dark of the Moon actually look?
In a word: Incredible.
Personally speaking, there's little that I see in film these days that gives me goosebumps. There's a lot that I enjoy (naturally), but there's little that gives me actual goosebumps. Without spoiling a thing, there were 3D sequences in the preview that had me shooting right past goosebumps into 'OMG' territory. Some of what Michael Bay has constructed is just...impressive. His ambitious and often aggressive style for capturing action in motion maybe the perfect marriage for the 3D medium. The results of his innovative work are also proof (as a friend from UGO said on the way out of the screening) that 'If you don't shoot in 3D, you shouldn't even bother.' All these post-converted 3D films coming out this summer (Thor, Captain America) are likely going to look cheap by comparison.
The best part about it all is that the 3D technology Bay is employing brings the Transformers themselves to life in a way that none of his other films did. One of my first reactions after taking off the glasses was to say to myself, "Every one of these films should've looked like this." The most common complaints about the Transformers movies' visual effects (what few there were) included mention of the fact that the individual robots were hard to make out or distinguish, and that the CGI characters sometimes looked too fake when juxtaposed with their human counterparts. 3D, I am happy to report, eradicates most of these problems.
The effects in Dark of the Moon will be even more polished by the time the film hits theaters - but even now I can tell you that the 3D adds those elements of physical presence and weight that were missing from the earlier installments. It actually feels like there are giant robots moving around the screen, and they blend with the real humans and environments better than ever before. The 3D filming style also allows all the minute physical details of the robots - which Bay and the effects gurus at Industrial Light & Magic have pained over for years now - to literally standout and be noticed, helping to distinguish each and every robot (even the generic henchmen) in all their moving parts. They actually feel like real characters, and that is a much-needed improvement.
Now, some may want to say that I only saw a very small unfinished portion of the film, and therefore my praise is premature. Let me be clear: all I am saying is that visually and technically, Michael Bay has made something awesome with Transformers 3 - I cannot imagine any summer moviegoer walking away from this film complaining that they didn't get the blockbuster experience they paid for. Back in 2009, I also attended a 15-minute 3D preview of Avatar and walked away stating that Cameron had created a revolutionary experience that would become a phenomenon. I simply know what I see when I see it.
With this film I see that we've been given one more gem of an example of why 3D can be almost magical when used by proper craftsman - and even a preview of Michael Bay's next career phase, if he chooses to pursue it further.
But will Transformers 3 have a better story, or better acting, or better humor than disappointing previous installment? I can't speak to that, but Bay himself has promised the script will be better, the film more serious - and the cast features some pretty notable actors, both comedic and dramatic. Take all that how you will.
If you're planning to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon then for sure see it in 3D - I would even go so far to say 3D IMAX. It will definitely be worth the ticket price. The movie has been pushed up and will now be in theaters on June 29th.
You can check out the 3D Trailer for the film below: