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ILM Reanimates Badass Transformers for 'Age of Extinction'

Photo of Bill Desowitz 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.
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Transformers: Age of Extinction

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."

This article is related to: VFX, Immersed In Movies, Transformers, Michael Bay


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.