Critics hated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Stars Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox were publicly critical of it. And director Michael Bay recently called it "crap." Now the writers have explained (or should that be "confessed"?) why they were partly to blame for the problems with the Transformers sequel.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with two of RotF's three screenwriters, Ehren Kruger and Roberts Orci, who described the time pressure they were under:
Orci: Two weeks before the [2007-08 writers'] strike, we handed [Bay] a 30-page treatment, then he went off, he turned it into 70 pages. He started prepping the movie, and because of the time constraints he got totally locked in. We were locked in a hotel room for three months because the strike had just ended, and it was five blocks from Michael's office ... so he could drop by at noon, see what we had, take pages, and then go prep the movie because it's gotta go shoot!
Kruger: Many of those things, under a normal process, would have been considered a first draft outline. And then suddenly you're locked into some of those things. And at that point it becomes very difficult -- and very expensive -- to try to rework macro ideas.
According to Orci, Bay could have pushed back the release date of the movie, "but he uses all the same people over and over. He considers himself kind of a jobs program. And for him the idea of pushing the movie means all these people that rely on him go down and they're in between jobs, etc."
In other words, Bay chose to keep his film crew employed over creating a good movie. If you're a member of his crew, it's laudable. But if you're a paying member of the public, not so much.
We sympathize with deadline pressure, we really do. But then the interview continues, and our sympathy evaporates.
The writers also admitted that they wrote their screenplay as more of a response to the critics of the first movie (who said that Transformers needed to have more action and more robots), rather than its own movie.
Kruger said, "I think that that second movie was a bit of an example of assembling spectacles and trying to make the narrative work in a sort of connect-the-dots way, which is not the ideal way to make one of these movies."
In other words, they wrote the movie around the fight scenes.
Obviously, their strategy worked on some level: RotF earned more than $800 million, $100 million more than the better-regarded Transformers.
But it doesn't make us eager to line up for Transformers 3: Dark Side of the Moon.