Preview: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The 2007 Michael Bay film Transformers didn’t set the critics on fire, but audiences it did, managing an amazing $709 million plus worldwide box office take.  Its success was in nailing the Transformers themselves and delivering a humorous spectacle worthy of the big screen. It was the perfect Saturday night popcorn flick with a lot of nostalgia for those who grew up with the cartoon.

It was also Michael Bay’s most successful film, almost $200 million more than his previous Armageddon. Perhaps it was the influence of Producer Steve Spielberg who reportedly focussed the script on the concept of “a kid and his car” as the means to tell the story. If you watch the film again thinking that this is a story about a boys first car you’ll notice how much time they devote to that concept.

I think in general critics didn’t give this film the due’s it deserved. It may have been superficial entertainment but the technical artistry and clever film making at work here is a cut well above your average Hollywood Blockbuster. It also managed to bring giant metallic robots to the screen and give them a sense of personality, Margaret from At The Movies said “I tell you, they’ve got more personality than some real characters in some films we’ve seen lately.”

Given the success (even the film score sold well) the sequel was inevitable and in 2009 The Revenge of the Fallen hit the screens. It certainly raked in more money at the box office (a cool $836 million), but it was ravaged by both critics and audiences alike. The film’s primary problem appeared to be that it was filmed during the writer’s strike and basically had no script.

Bay has spoken at length lately about how he got it wrong, pretty much publicly slagging on the film (source) and promising he’s learnt from the film and won’t make the same mistakes with the third. I can almost see you all rolling your eyes, Bay is always one to say whatever he can to sell his current project. He isn’t the only one however with a number of the key players in the second film saying Bay has genuinely looked to correct the issues, like having a script for starters.

The third film is out at the end of the month and it will be the longest of the three at two and a half hours. There’s no word on the size of the budget, but I’d safely say it’s up around $150 million at least looking at the trailers, and by the looks of the marketing campaign they are definitely spending a lot of cash promoting it.

It promises to be more like the first, with a smaller cast of both humans and robots in a more intimate setting. Gone is Megan Fox who is said to have been such a diva on set that an insurrection from the crew forced Bay’s hand in removing her. The official reason is she was too thin and Bay wanted the look of a girl next door, the kind any guy could hope to meet and woo. Why he cast Rosie Huntington-Whiteley then is a bit bizarre, but he’s always had a thing for Victoria’s Secret models and she’s certainly popular at the moment in the mens magazines.

The film also stars John Malkovish and Patrick Dempsey, increasing its star power, although you’d be hard pressed to find either of them in any of the trailers or marketing material. Regardless, its names that often make a Hollywood blockbuster at the box office. For a film like this, people are after the spectacle, all they really want to see is giant robots beating the crap out of each other, and they want to feel like it’s at least half way justified.

Will Dark of the Moon deliver? We’ll find out June 29!

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