Michael Bay’s work on the first five films of the Transformers franchise made his name synonymous with a certain kind of brainless explosion-filled action, so when the franchise reins were handed over to animation honcho Travis Knight for Bumblebee, fans weren’t sure what to expect. They got a story that many critics agreed changed the dynamic of the property, giving a much more evocative character-centric plot to a series about robots that are also sometimes cars/planes/etc. And it seems this transformation will not be the franchise’s last.
According to Collider, which caught up with longtime Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura at SXSW, the studio is taking steps to find a happy medium between the two tones of Bay and Knight. Apparently the response to Bumblebee that the studio is listening to is the response that said “more explosions, please.”
“In this case, the ramification of [making a character-centric story], for the people who didn’t love the movie, was not enough action,” di Bonaventura said. “Because you’re telling a more intimate story, therefore you can’t. So the criticism we got from some fans was like, ‘Hey, come on.’ ”
He also recounted a conversation he once had with a reporter, who supposedly loved the movie but also wished "it had a little more Michael Bay.” This reporter is apparently representative of a big enough demographic that Paramount is going to follow this line of reasoning... by trying to mount a “fusion” of the two approaches.
“Several lessons have come out of this,” di Bonaventura said. “One is that we have the freedom to tell almost any story. The other is that, how strongly the audience identified with the strength of character and emotion. I know the next Transformer, our attempt anyway, is to sort of do a fusion of Bumblebee and the Bay movies... a little more Bayhem. And a little bit more of the character falling in love within the emotional dynamic of the movie.”
This back-and-forth seesaw of Bayhem and Iron Giant-esque relationships seems like a tough mix to make, but if a franchise literally about transformation can’t pull it off, nothing can.
Bumblebee hits Blu-ray and DVD on April 2.