By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood June 25, 2014 at 4:00PM
Keeping up with Marvel isn't easy, but Michael Bay and Industrial Light & Magic have brought new life to the badass Hasbro bots in "Transformers: Age of Extinction," introducing a sleek new sci-fi design and a new army of fire-breathing Dinobots. At the same time, Bay has smartly ventured into China and has replaced Shia LaBeouf with Mark Wahlberg as a single dad and failed inventor, which also kicks the franchise into higher gear.
Taking a cue from grizzled warrior Optimus Prime, who warns, "The rules have changed -- we are all targets now," ILM's Scott Farrar was ready to unleash a new trilogy with Mohen Leo of the ILM Singapore Studio. "There's a coolness factor applied to old friends," Farrar suggests. "There are different dimensions on their physique. We made both Optimus and Bumblebee a little more majestic and a little more powerful."
There are new Decepticons as well, such as Lockdown, a bounty hunter whose head transforms into a canon but otherwise hides behind a gray 2013 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Coupe. However, the Dinobots are the latest addition. They include leader Grimlock, who transforms into a horned, mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex; Strafe, an assault infantry specialist who transforms into a two-headed and two-tailed Pteranodon; Slug, a savage destroyer who becomes a spiked and bestial Triceratops; Scorn, the demolition expert who transforms into a three-sailed Spinosaurus; and Slash, the stealthy fighter who transforms into a Velociraptor.
A new wrinkle, though, is that the Dinobots transform from humanoids, not vehicles. "The transformation happens fast but is not as complicated," adds Farrar, who also served as second unit director in charge of a prehistoric sequence shot in Iceland. "But it's still a bit of a puzzle and takes several tries to look right for the particular camera angle that they're setting. And they're still metallic. The Dinobots are bony with pivots and joints and hinges and shock absorbers and other identifiable objects."