Ro­bot saga trans­forms

The man be­hind block­buster fran­chise Trans­form­ers is hop­ing it’s third time lucky for the lat­est in­stal­ment, writes Geoff Boucher

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies -

MICHAEL Bay is among the most driven film­mak­ers in Hol­ly­wood and right now his big­gest mo­ti­va­tion is mak­ing peo­ple for­get his last movie, Trans­form­ers: Re­venge of the Fallen.

‘‘ It was kind of a mess, wasn’t it?’’ an un­smil­ing Bay says of the 2009 film, which was far from a flop – it grossed a po­tent $ 836 mil­lion world­wide, fin­ish­ing third for the year be­hind only Avatar and the sixth Harry Pot­ter movie.

‘‘ Look, the movie had some good things in it and it was en­ter­tain­ing and it did very well, but it also failed in some key ways,’’ Bay says.

‘‘ I learnt from it. And now with this third movie we’re go­ing back to ba­sics and I ab­so­lutely be­lieve this is go­ing to be a much bet­ter film than the sec­ond one.’’

Bay is stand­ing on the Playa Vista set of Trans­form­ers: Dark of the Moon, his ninth fea­ture film as di­rec­tor and, to his own sur­prise, his third movie about Bum­ble­bee, Me­ga­tron and the other gi­ant, shape-shift­ing alien ro­bots called Trans­form­ers. It’s due out on June 30.

The 45-year-old di­rec­tor was scep­ti­cal when ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Steven Spiel­berg ap­proached him in July 2005 with the con­cept of mak­ing a Hol­ly­wood fran­chise out of a 1980s toy line.

‘‘ The term I used at the time was ‘ stupid idea’, if I re­mem­ber right,’’ Bay says.

But af­ter vis­it­ing Has­bro and learn­ing about the char­ac­ters and cos­mic mythol­ogy that had been cre­ated around them, the film­maker warmed to the idea.

Now, the fran­chise is the cen­tre­piece of Bay’s 15-year film­mak­ing ca­reer.

Though he has no ex­pec­ta­tion that he will make a fourth Trans­form­ers film – or maybe be­cause of that – he is fiercely fo­cused on leav­ing the fran­chise on a high note.

He also has been reach­ing out to jour­nal­ists to show them footage and per­haps, through his can­dour and en­thu­si­asm, win a re­prieve in the court of pub­lic opin­ion.

The 2009 film was mem­o­rably sav­aged by crit­ics. Rolling Stone mag­a­zine’s Peter Travers groaned that it was ‘‘ galac­ti­cally stupid . . . be­yond bad, it carves out its own cat­e­gory of go­daw­ful­ness’’.

In pri­vate, many of Bay’s in­dus­try peers held the film up as a prime ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when story and char­ac­ter are made sub­or­di­nate to CG spec­ta­cle and one-liner hu­mour.

The sur­prise isn’t that crit­ics didn’t like a Bay movie – they didn’t like Pearl Har­bor, Bad Boys 2 or The Is­land, ei­ther – the sur­prise is that Bay is pub­licly agree­ing with them.

‘‘ I think we have some­thing to prove with this third one,’’ Bay says of the movie that brings back star Shia LaBeouf in the role of Sam Witwicky, the young ev­ery­man who be­friends an Au­to­bot called Bum­ble­bee.

‘‘ We’re back to ba­sics. The sec­ond one was some­thing go­ing on in­side of Sam, the way he’s af­fected and feel­ing and that’s a hard thing to do. It’s more mys­ti­cal, in a way.

‘‘ This one, there’s noth­ing mys­ti­cal about it. It’s a good old-fash­ioned mys­tery and it’s a tougher movie . . . it’s funny but it’s not a wise­crack-funny; it’s fun­nier in the sit­u­a­tion.’’

Some crit­ics have taken Bay to task for mak­ing chrome-plated movies that have hol­low hearts but Spiel­berg says he brought the film­maker in for Trans­form­ers be­cause of the way he works with hu­mans, not ma­chines.

Trans­form­ers: Dark of the Moon brings back John Tur­turro as fed­eral agent Sey­mour Sim­mons and fa­mil­iar faces in Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gib­son.

Join­ing the cast this time are John Malkovich, Frances McDor­mand and Pa­trick Dempsey, but the big news is the promi­nently ab­sent name on the call sheet – Me­gan Fox, the fe­male face of the fran­chise ( un­less you count the ro­bots).

Fox played Mikaela Banes, Sam’s girl­friend. When the topic of Fox comes up, Bay’s ex­pres­sion turns to some­thing be­tween ap­a­thy and sea­sick­ness.

‘‘ I don’t want to talk about it but we ob­vi­ously re­placed our girl and by ev­ery­thing I see we fared well,’’ Bay says, nod­ding over his shoul­der to­ward Rosie Hunt­ing­ton-Whiteley, a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret model from Eng­land who has zero acting ex­pe­ri­ence – which is even less than Fox had when she made her fea­ture-film de­but in Bay’s Bad Boys 2 as an un­cred­ited bikini-clad ac­tress.

‘‘ Look, I will say that I think we have a bet­ter cast with this third movie than we’ve ever had,’’ he adds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.