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Transformers 3: Franchise Finale On The Moon

On July 1, Paramount Pictures will be releasing "Transformers 3: Dark Side Of The Moon" -- the third and final chapter of the "Transformers" franchise. Michael Bay previewed the film, shot in Digital 3D, to members of the press earlier this week.

After the 2009 release of "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" reporters had little good to say. Although the film made over $800 million worldwide, Roger Ebert famously claimed "Transformers 2" was "a horrible experience of unbearable length," adding, "the plot is incomprehensible."

Michael Bay seems to have gained perspective on the past four years working with the franchise.

"You're never going to match the innocence of the first movie," he explained. "["Transformers 3"] is the more mature story line, definitely darker. ... It is more emotional in the end, you feel the stakes are higher because it takes place in an American city, you're not disconnected in Egypt with pyramids."

That disconnect was caused by attempting to "jerry-rig a story" for "Transformers 2" during the writers strike. Bay claimed it was "a tremendous amount of pressure." He said the yet-to-be-released franchise finale was given much more attention to detail.

Ehren Kruger and Bay spent eight months brainstorming ideas for "Transformers 3." Bay found inspiration in the collaboration with the writing team and Hasbro (whom Bay calls "The Historians") to add in previously-forgotten characters.

"There's a more involved robot story," Bay elaborated. "You learn a lot more about the hierarchy, more about the history and what they've had on Cybertron."

Bay pushed the limits of filmmaking to accomplish this complexity of narrative. He said he apprehensively moved into Digital 3D when James Cameron (one of Bay's idols) called him and said, "Come on Mike -- it's a new toy!"

"We tested this camera beyond anything it was meant to do," said Bay, who used the same crew that Cameron did on "Avatar." To get the shot, Bay sent base jumpers off Chicago's Trump Tower followed by a falling cameraman wearing a 3D helmet. And he had men in wing-suits fly from the top of the Sears Tower over a mile of Chicago's buildings and streets.

"Oprah and I are the only two people who have shut down Michigan Avenue," Bay said with pride. "[Los Angeles] keeps kicking us out, but Chicago gave us anything we wanted."

The release of "Transformers 3: Dark Side of the Moon" has been surrounded with mystery and anticipation.

Bay said, "I've been working every day for two years, every single day, because I want to make up for the second [film], and I want to leave this franchise as best I can."

The final installment of the "Transformers" franchise will be released July 1.