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Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen – Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

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Optimus Prime © Paramount Pictures
Optimus Prime ©2009 Paramount Pictures
Optimus Prime ©2009 Paramount Pictures

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, long-time collaborators, penned the hugely successful Transformers in 2007, which grossed over $700 million worldwide.

This summer they scored with audiences and critics alike with their re-imagining of Star TrekWill the pair have two mega-successes this summer?

Their sequel to the first movie, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen opens this week, once again pitting humanity and their friendly robots, the Autobots, against the destructive Decepticons.

I noticed something about the script

Orci What script? [he laughs]

There was a lot harsher language in this film – the dialogue was a little more adult.

Orci [Steven] Spielberg when we were talking about this movie said that the first one was in a way thematically about losing your virginity and the second one is about stepping into adulthood. So part of that gradient difference is a reflection of that move. … and Michael Bay has a filthy mouth.

Kurtzman Goonies actually was a movie that really struck us when we were about 12 years old, because they were swearing for the first time. And it was allowed, and all of a sudden it was cool and frankly that’s how kids’ talk, and there was something that legitimized the whole experience of it.

Because this one falls very much in the spirit of the Amblin movies that we grew up on, I think there must have been some borrowing of that as well.

Doing the screenplay for this second movie, were you asked for more specific rewrites?

Orci Well, one benefit is that now you’ve seen it and now we’ve been inspired by what ILM has done and everyone knows it works, and now it’s not a question of should they talk or not, and are people going to believe it or not, so you can really just jump right into it.

The first movie was very much a mystery, that by the time the Transformers arrive you want them, you’re hungry for them. We don’t get that benefit in the second movie. Everyone knows who they are, now they want to see them from the beginning, so that helps.

On the other hand, now everyone knows what Transformers is so everyone is caught up with all of us, as the filmmakers, so therefore everyone does have stronger opinions about Transformers. But there’s no such thing as a bad idea. You should be able to hear any idea from anybody and evaluate it. You can never hear too many ideas.

With Optimus Prime being the most important character for the fans, why choose to focus more on the Human characters and less on the Autobots?

Orci Because the audience is the Human characters. So the idea is you want to see it through their point-of-view. I remember a lot of fans questioned whether or not there should be humans in the first movie at all.

We always felt if they were robots in disguise, they have to be hiding from somebody. So the idea itself prescribes a Human element.

Kurtzman I think also you have to use Optimus in a very targeted way.

The most important thing for us is to make sure that the integrity of the voice of the character as was created by the cartoons a long time ago is very much in place and we spent a lot of time talking to Hasbro about how everyone perceives him very much as an Arthurian knight, so I think making sure that his voice was clear, that his story in relation to Sam’s story was very parallel, was important, and ultimately Optimus relates very much to what happens to Sam in the movie, and Sam has to essentially rectify a mistake that he made.

So Optimus plays a presence in a big part of movie even when he’s not in the scenes with Sam.

How often did the studio intervene saying there was too many action scenes?

Kurtzman Michael never had that note for us. Here’s the thing, we never start the script from a place of action, we never sit down and go, ‘Alright, here’s our action scenes.’ We say, ‘What’s the character story here?’

Then once you start talking about the character’s story the action scenes evolve out of it. And I think we always feel, as audiences, that the action scenes are only as good as the audience’s investment in the character, so if you’re not invested in the character then the action is just a lot of noise.

Our goal is always to try and make sure that that scene serves some plot point. Michael obviously likes his action scenes, and he has very strong instincts about what he wants to do, so a lot of our job collectively is to figure out how to keep the story alive in that.