"When I work with writers, it's about what I want to do and what I've never done. I came up with this scene, doing these dumb stomach crunches, I'm like 'this building scene, oh my God, that's what I want to do!' There was a reason why [our characters] had to go into this building and I figured out what I wanted to do to that building after. Anything you can imagine with Transformers makes it fun."
Bay speaks to ComingSoon.net/SuperHeroHype on this gorgeous day on the Paramount lot where he's prepared to show select members of the press an early peek at footage from his massive summer offering, which he is bringing to the screen in 3D. He clarifies that he aims to make amends for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the 2009 sequel that grossed nearly half a billion dollars domestically.
"You don't make that much money on a movie - it doesn't become the number one movie in America that year if people hated it," Bay says honestly. "Yes, it might have gone south on the direction, but we were under the gun. There was a terrible writers strike and it was a sh*t position to be in. We were under a tremendous amount of pressure. We had to write it real quick. A lot of people [on a third film] will check out and get a paycheck. I've been working every day for two years because I want to make up for the second one and I want to leave this franchise the best I can."
This time--with the aid of screenwriter Ehren Kruger--more time was allotted in script development on "Dark of the Moon," a "solid" eight months. Bay admits that it is difficult to tap into the innocence of the first film and the sense of awe it delivered. Audiences by now have grown desensitized to the giant robot spectacle. As Bay puts it, "The genie is out of the bottle."
"This one is a more mature storyline, definitely darker, more emotional in the end. You feel the stakes are higher because it takes place in an American city. You're not disconnected with Egypt and the pyramids. I'm very happy with the movie," he says, touching lightly on the story we can expect to see. "It's a small group and you follow them. There's no cavalry coming. I've said this with Ehren, we were talking about concept, we used the term 'BlackHawkDown
.' We try to make the cavalry unable to come. And it's more fun to watch our heroes in this epic ending with just a small group. It makes it more intimate."
Bay is hesitant to call the film "bigger," but everything we witnessed moments later in the Paramount theater screams "huge" (although we do understand what Bay meant story-wise). Of the nearly 20 minutes of footage shown to us (with an extra five shown in 3D), it's clear Bay is taking the series to new heights in every respect.
Unfortunately, we're not allowed to go into details, but we will say, it's merciless.
The scope will immediately register with you when a new full-length trailer assaults your senses on April 28th� and yes, you'll even get a glimpse of that aforementioned building that Bay creatively destroyed.
Robot-wise, he promises to delve deeper into their personalities. "This is a very involved robot story. I hate letting the cat out of the bag, but you just learn more about the hierarchy, what goes on a Cybertron. Leonard Nimoy plays a great role. I was scared to ask him, but he said, 'Sure, I'd be glad to be back.'" Bay accredits Kruger for pulling Sentinel Prime (Nimoy's role) into the story, but pushed for more details on the other Transformers fans can expect to see, the director clams up. "You notice we're not putting a lot of stuff out there." Don't expect the "twins" from "Revenge of the Fallen," that's for certain. "There are two small characters. They start off a bit goofy, but they have a huge comeback. One of them is a new character."
As for the human element, there are a number of new additions to the cast (John Malkovich and Ken Jeong chewed the scenery in some of the scenes we saw - and let's not forget Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Shia LaBeouf's latest, gorgeous co-star). And--as with the robot action--Bay is pushing the boundaries of what he has done. "We've got these wing suit guys. You see them on 60 Minutes jumping off the cliffs? I'm writing a scene for those guys," Bay laughs. For those wondering what he's talking about, you may have spotted the wing suits in a previously-released teaser trailer. "We have this great scene where they fly between these buildings. We had to block off a mile and a half of Chicago's streets and they jump off of the Sears Tower and fly between the buildings. That's unheard of.
Bay agrees "Dark of the Moon" will bring a sense of closure in regards to his stamp on the series. He believes, however, that there is going to be plenty of room to "reboot" it. "Not with Shia," he grins. "He's turning grumpy in his old age. You put him on a wire and he just turns into this evil monster."
Up next, the director says he would like to do Pain and Gain, a Pulp Fiction-like project, "a true story with these boneheads looking for the American dream. A lot of actors have gravitated to it over the years. It's something to shoot that would be fun and fast."