Film Journal International: Michael, prior to the release of Dark of the Moon, you indicated it would likely be your final Transformers movie. What tempted you to return for the fourth time around?
Michael Bay: Well, the way I look at it is that this isn't the fourth time around: It's the first time with a new franchise. Age of Extinction feels very different, while still keeping the history of the franchise intact. I wanted this one to be more cinematic and have a slower pace at the beginning to try and get into the human characters before it gets into this chase from hell and grows bigger and bigger. I also felt like it would be such a massive undertaking for a new director to come in and reinvent everything in terms of the design process, as well as the sheer volume of creating new characters and an idea for where the series was eventually going to go. It would have taken someone [new] three years instead of two. And then I was inspired when I saw these three-hour-long lines in Orlando and Singapore for the Transformers theme-park ride. I thought, "You know what? I think I gotta do this one more time."
FJI: The Chicago battle from Dark of the Moon was probably the most complicated and demanding action set-piece in the franchise so far. How did you plan to top it in this installment?
Bay: I showed the film to Steven [Spielberg] this weekend and he said, "It's such different action than you've ever done!" We try not to be repetitive, and the unique thing about Transformers is that it can be anything. With Bad Boys, the characters are cops, so what can you do action-wise? You've got the water and you've got police cars, but it's always only stuff that cops can do. Whereas with Transformers you can have an alien ship, you can have something transform into something else. Their world is really vast. Like in this movie, we have Dinobots!
FJI: Along with The Lego Movie, the Transformers series stands as a key example of the commercial viability of toy-based films. Is there a secret to your approach that other attempts have perhaps failed to crack?
Bay: I don't look at this as a toy movie. To me, it's a mythology; that's what the creator originally conceived of and then it became a toy. So I think cracking the code in this case is not approaching it as a toy movie, but rather as a mythology and a tale of good versus evil involving aliens who have an interesting story. And that's kind of where we take this movie. It opens the door to explore where the Transformers came from.
FJI: With that in mind, looking ahead to the franchise's future, do you foresee a day when someone could make an all-robot installment or does the series always require a human element?
Bay: You can do one entirely with the robots, but I can tell you that it would be very expensive. These shots are not easy, because the robot computer models are so complex and that's what makes the films so time-consuming. We have 80 animators on Age of Extinction—that's a lot of animators. Before, our use of the robots was always money-conscious, like, "We only have three shots, so we can only show this much." And when we made the first film, we were working with technology that hadn't been done entirely successfully until that movie. It was a huge advancement in visual effects that was completely underappreciated at the Oscars that year. So I think that eventually you could go pure robot, but someone's gotta foot the bill for that.
FJI: Finally, the million-dollar question—if there is a fifth film in the series, will you both return?
Bay: These things are killing me. [laughs] I'm telling you, they're really hard! I've been doing it for a long time and work with one of the best teams in the world, but this was a bear of a movie. We're trying to push limits in every aspect; like in this case, we've devised a whole bunch of scenes for the new Dolby Atmos technology. It’s only in about 500 theatres, but it's really amazing and I'd encourage people to see the film in an Atmos theatre. So right now, I'm just trying to get to the finish line on this film. Even Steven was like, "I don't know how you guys are going to finish the movie!" But we'll get there—we always do.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Bay Talks Transformers Universe and Why No All Robot Film
In an interview with Film Journal International, director Michael Bay and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura spoke about Transformers: Age of Extinction. Bay mentions how he sees Transformers as a huge universe and not a toy line and also answered the question on why the movies are not all robots. Below are highlights, full interview is here. Thanks to Mackie U. for the link.