Transformers: The Premake from Kevin Lee

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Go behind the scenes with film critic Kevin Lee to see a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”  I love the way he incorporated the amateur videos made by fans as the big-budget studio film was being made in Chicago.  You can read more about his experience of making this documentary on Slate.

Lee writes:

There were three types of filmmaking happening all at once, I then realized: a multimillion-dollar global Hollywood blockbuster, my modest independent documentary, and the dozens of amateur videos all being created in an instant. I started to wonder about the connections between the three, and what they might have in common. Trying to answer those questions in documentary form led me to understand Hollywood movies, their production, and our shifting relationship to them as viewers and consumers, in ways that I hadn’t before….

Frankly, it humbled me as a filmmaker, because it drove home the realization that everyone is a filmmaker now. I also realized that everyone in their own way was making their own version of Transformers, based on the small privileged glimpses they had of this massive production. I started to notice these videos popping up on YouTube, and not just from Chicago, but from Utah, Texas, Detroit, Hong Kong. After a weekend of keyword-spelunking through the caves of YouTube, I emerged with 355 videos that documented the production. In a sense, the documentary of the making ofTransformers had already been made, in 355 pieces. Now it was a matter of figuring out how the pieces fit together.

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Josh Duhamel!

Posted on November 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

I’m a big fan of North Dakota native Josh Duhamel, a gifted actor who always creates a real character even when the script does not give him much to work with.  Celebrate his birthday today with a look at Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, where he plays a superficial movie star who dimly but genuinely comes to appreciate the innocent goodness of his biggest fan.  Or try Ramona and Beezus, where he joins his “Tad Hamilton” co-star Ginnifer Goodwin as the neighbor who re-kindles a romance with the girls’ aunt.  Or the first Transformers, where he plays a dashing military hero.  If you find yourself in Minot, ND, you can visit his restaurant, 10 North Main.  Here’s wishing Josh a wonderful day and year — and “Happy Birthday,” sung by his wife!

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10 Great Movie Robots

Posted on October 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm

In honor of this week’s “Real Steel,” here are 10 movie robots worth watching.  The term “robot,” by the way, was invented by playwright Karl Capek in his 1920 play, “R.U.R.”

1.  Transformers The first in the series was a great summer action film and I admit to tearing up when it looked like Bumblebee had been destroyed.

2.  Robots An underrated gem, this charming film about a world of robots has imaginative visuals based on the work of illustrator William Joyce and a heartwarming story featuring the voices of Ewan McGregor and Halle Berry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57kshAyVrec

3.  Bicentennial Man Think of it as Pinocchio played by C3PO from “Star Wars.” Robin Williams plays “Andrew Martin,” a robot who wants to be human, in this adaptation of a story and book by Isaac Asimov.

4. Forbidden Planet The first big-budget sci-fi film was inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”  Leslie Neilsen stars as a spaceship captain to comes to a planet where a mysterious scientist, his daughter, and Robby the robot are the only survivors of an Earth colony.

5. Robot Jox In the future, wars are conducted by gladiator-style battles between giant robots in this film starring Gary Graham, Anne-Marie Johnson, and Paul Koslo.

6. I, Robot Will Smith stars in this film based on one of Isaac Asimov’s best-known books, the story of an investigation into a possible murder of a human by a robot.

7. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence Steven Spielberg completed the film begun by Stanley Kubrick, an uneven but ambitious and visually stunning story about a robot child.  The scene in the robot junkyard is heart-wrenching.

8. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D Ricky Gervais provided the voice for the robot dog, which writer/director Robert Rodriguez said had so many functions he was like a Swiss army knife.

9. Return to Oz This is a much darker story than “The Wizard of Oz,” so it is not for younger kids, but it is an imaginative adventure and Tik-Tok the mechanical man is a delight.

10. Metropolis This brilliant German expressionist film from Fritz Lang was made in 1927, about a dystopian future with managers in luxurious surroundings and workers condemned to live in dungeons.  A beautiful robot modeled after a kind-hearted woman from the managers group plays a crucial role.

And the one I am most looking forward to is the upcoming film based on Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel, directed by J.J. Abrams.

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