RT attended the London press junket for G.I. Joe this afternoon, and while talking to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura about all things Cobra, we also took the opportunity to quiz him on the future of the Transformers franchise. So as well as discussing the future involvement of director Michael Bay and the controversy surrounding a couple of well-publicised characters, we quizzed him on who we might see make an appearance in the third part. So read on for all things Transformers, and look out for our extensive chat about G.I. Joe coming up in a couple of weeks.
So based on the box office returns, are you guys already talking about Transformers 3?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: We’ve started talking about it now. We’re debating the right time for it.
Did the harsh critical reception for Transformers 2 surprise you?
LdB: The first one took a pretty big drubbing too — that’s what people forget. There’s something about [director] Michael [Bay] that the critics just want to have at him. I think in a funny way it worked for the movie. I think people are fed up with critics. I think in a way it’s making people contrarian. I think it was in this case, because a lot of people came up to us and said, “fuck the critics.” I don’t normally get that – you don’t normally get people coming up to you and talking about the reviews – they normally just want to talk about the movie. But that was a point for a lot of those fans. It was fascinating – there’s a major disconnect going on between the fans and the audience.
How do you feel about the criticism levelled against Skids and Mudflap being racist stereotypes?
LdB: Everybody has to put their own lens on these things. The intention was certainly not how some people perceived it… I’ll put it that way. We didn’t think of it that way, and we certainly didn’t set out to offend anybody. I’ve been involved in a lot of movies that people have seen things in them that we didn’t intend. I did a movie called Executive Decision a long time ago, and we were picketed by the Arab Americans and American Muslims saying we portrayed Islam incorrectly. And we were sort of like ‘Well we don’t see a lot of African-Americans or White people or Chinese people taking over airplanes in the sky’, but we got into that conversation, and then you start to see their point. But they have a prism that they are looking at it through.
There’s been talk of Michael Bay not returning for Transformers 3, so would you be prepared to make one of these movies without him?
LdB: As the producer I’d certainly love to see him back. I can’t imagine Transformers without him. I guess the studio will see it sometime as such a big asset that they are forced to do it, but Michael has never intimated anything like that – the timing is the big question for him, not whether he is going to do it or not.
There was a poll on IGN asking the audience which Transformers they’d most like to see in part three, and the big winner was Unicron, so what are the chances of his making it into the next film?
LdB: Unicron worries me because it’s so big that it dwarfs emotion. It’s so hard, because when you’re working to that scale, it sort of becomes outside any kind of human reality you have. It’s obviously a great character, and one that we’re definitely going to talk about, but for me personally – and I’m not the only vote here – that one scares me. Because of its size, it becomes sort of impersonal when it gets to that scale. I remember seeing the second Fantastic Four and Galactcus, and suddenly I was in another world and it took it away from the human characters. One of the tricky parts about Transformers is you’ve got these five-to-six foot things called humans, then you’ve got the 32-foot Transformers, then you come to Devastator and you’ve got 125-feet. You become increasingly small on a physical level, and I think that’s true on a story level. I think if you go to Unicron, you’re going to end up sacrificing your human characters. And for me that worries me because I like the human characters.
Is he not the kind of character IMAX was designed for?
LdB: Well Devastator covered it from foot to top so I don’t know what the hell else you’d do to tell you the truth. Don’t get me wrong – Unicron is an obvious and great character, I just worry about it from the experience of the movie.
Are there any Transformers you’d like to see that?
LdB: I love the Mini-Cons actually — I think they’re very cool. I love the lore — every time we approach one of these movies, we go back and read everything we can about it — that’s how we came across the Fallen. I thought that was such an interesting idea — that there’s sort of a Judas within the mythology. For me, I like the surprise of that. Each time I sit down to give my vote, I like to re-read it and discover what I think. But I think the Mini-Cons are really cool.