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Set Visit: Transformers

05.15.2007

It seems like eons ago when I was invited to visit the set of TRANSFORMERS in downtown L.A. , and yet it was only last August. Things seemed so much simpler then, that day when I gathered alongside several other online journalists, each one of us brimming with giddy optimism over the prospect of catching a glimpse of the movie many of us had been waiting for since the mid 1980s, when Hasbro first blessed us with their groundbreaking line of toys.

The excitement in the air that day was palpable; never before had I seen so many self-important, cynical adults reduced to gawking, wide-eyed children. Looking back, it's almost laughable how naïve we were. This was a Hollywood movie after all -- directed by Michael Bay, no less -- and rarely have people in Tinseltown ever shown much reverence for those traditions that us regular folks hold so dear.

Indeed, that was before we found out there would be no Soundwave. Before we found out Optimus Prime would have lips. Before we found out Bumblebee was going to be a Camaro (something akin to having Robert DeNiro play Harry Potter).

And yet I still have hope, just like I did when Optimus Prime handed his Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, his eyes going dark forever. Our Transformers have vanquished foes far more powerful than Michael Bay , and perhaps they will triumph once again when the movie arrives in theaters in July. Perhaps TRANSFORMERS might just be everything we imagined it could be. Light our darkest hour!

Alas, what we witnessed on the TRANSFORMERS set that warm August day proved mighty impressive. The massive production blocked off a huge stretch of downtown’s busy Broadway Avenue and lined it with tons of extras, military vehicles, soldiers (including several Special Forces-types referred to as “Sector 7”) and several Autobots (Bumblebee, Rachet, Jazz and Ironhide) in vehicle form. Behind them lay a few giant piles of rubble and other debris. Along the street were traffic jams, smashed-up cars, panicked citizens and guys with guns roaming the area. Up front was a giant “Furby” (another fine Hasbro product) semi truck trailer, which was lifted and shaken by a hydraulic device.

The scene being shot takes place near the end of the film, in which a Megatron and pals descend from the sky to lay siege to the area below. Suddenly the street is covered in green smoke, the army dudes scatter and the civilians flee in panic. Given the fact that it’s a CGI-heavy scene, it was hard to tell exactly what was happening, but one could safely assume that the shit was hitting the fan.

At the center of all the chaos was Michael Bay , shouting from his megaphone and looking pretty jovial for a guy battling a pretty nasty case of the flu. Clad in a t-shirt that read “Giant F*cking Robots are Coming,” Bay moved from vehicle to vehicle, giving instructions to the soldiers (actual members of the U.S. Armed Forces) and setting up the scene.

Bay was definitely in his element. Say what you will about his directing skills, but the guy knows action. And he definitely knows how to blow a ton of shit up and make it look cool. As long as the movie doesn't feature anything too ridiculous, like an inexplicable dance sequence (one of the more regrettable moments from the 1986 animated film), I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it.

While on the TRANSFORMERS set, we got a chance to talk to Michael Bay, as well as stars Josh Duhamel and Shia LaBeouf.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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