“It was kind of a mess, wasn’t it?” says director Michael Bay in an LA Times profile about "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon,", one of the expected blockbusters of next summer's blockbuster season. He's referring to the second film in the series, subtitled "Revenge Of The Fallen." It made $836 million worldwide. You probably saw it. It was popular. We don't need to say it was a raging piece of shit but, oh, well, it seemed to slip out.
Bay doesn't need to tell you either, but he's being charitable enough to share, in a small way doing penance for making such a terrible 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," he continues. "I learned 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.”
You have to wonder what a phrase like "back to basics" means to a guy like Bay, who seems to only make movies where shirtless tough guy protagonists drop un-ironic one-liners before blowing up entire city blocks to foil the bad guy's scheme. One could be cruel and say he has yet to make a good movie, and that even his semi-respectable work wears out its welcome at the 80 minute mark. And yet, somehow, we were stunned to find out Bay uses actual scripts.
"Look," he continues, "we got burned on the last movie. The big thing was the writers' strike, it hurt the film and it made it hard on everybody. We had three weeks to get our story and, really, we were going into the movie without a script. It’s tough to do that. It was too big of a movie. There were too many endings or too many things that felt like endings. There was so much animation [in the visual effects post-production work], too, and we ran out of time. We used the schedule of the first movie for the second movie but on the second one way more labor was needed for the animation. And then it felt like we were writing the script in the edit room, trying to put together a story.”
We appreciate Bay's candor, as he's always been one of the few plainspoken A-List directors out there, unafraid of biting the hand that feeds him. But the promotional tour for the third "Transformers" has continued to perpetuate the falsehood that the first film in the series even approached watchability. Bay's films are their own beasts, surely, but both movies in this robot saga have been loud, noisy, sexist, impenetrable madhouses of violence and mayhem bereft of meaning or purpose, aside from the commercial aim of recirculating thirty year old toys for nostalgic man-boys. Bay has come out and said, “I think we have something to prove with this third one," but he's really had something to prove for a long time now.
If you're into that sort of thing, the LA Times profile gives a rundown on how Bay feels about working with 3D, adding a new lead actress (nothing juicy there, sorry) and his first reaction to the "Transformers" directing offer (“The term I used at the time was ‘stupid idea,’ if I remember right”)."Transformers: Dark of The Moon" commits hate crime July 1st.