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Transformers 4 now officially less than meets the eye

Setting a new level of artistic restraint for the fourth edition of his big-robot-go-smash franchise, director Michael Bay paused for a rare moment of loud reflection with the L.A. Times to outline how Transformers 4 will be a different, more modest model from all previous Transformers movies. For one thing, as previously reported, it will feature an all-new cast of men and lingerie models gazing skyward while CGI buildings crumble and giant robots give speeches—though despite both an all-new cast of disposable humans and Bay's recent, ominous declaration that the fourth film would set the franchise up "for the next guy," he took pains to say that it was not a reboot. "We’re taking the story that you’ve seen—the story we’ve told in three movies already—and we’re taking it in a new direction. But we’re leaving those three as the history. It all still counts," Bay said, thus assuaging viewers concerned that the film will not respect the established mythology of the metal guys and the bad metal guys they fight sometimes, like the gray one.

Still, the fourth movie will likely mean a whole new setting, with Bay suggesting Transformers 4 will follow the Leprechaun model by taking place in outer space—though Bay insists it will retain the earthy naturalism that his films are known for, saying, "I still want to keep it grounded. That’s what works in these movies." So in keeping with that commitment to being "grounded" that we're all going to agree to pretend is a characteristic of Michael Bay's Transformers movies, apparently, this time he'll be doing it for less money—specifically for $30 million less than Dark Of The Moon. That would put its budget at around $165 million, a new standard for austere, sensible, big-ass battlin' robot filmmaking that is essentially the launch of Michael Bay's own Dogme 95. ("Bumblebee, why is it we never just talk honestly about our hopes and dreams?"—the opening lines of Trans4mers: My Dinner With Optimus Prime.) 

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