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'Transformers' Franchise Takes Action, Emotion to a New Level in 'Age of Extinction'

24 Sep, 2014 By: Stephanie Prange

It’s no secret that director Michael Bay likes action, and he takes it to a new level in the latest installment of the “Transformers” franchise, Age of Extinction, both emotionally and physically.

The disc streets Sept. 30 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime since the 1980s “Transformers” cartoon series, was able to explore the robot-car character’s emotional depths, as Optimus finds himself abandoned and hunted by his former human hosts.

“I think the emotions are stemming from betrayal,” Cullen said. “I think there’s a significant disappointment and significant anger in some way. We’re dealing with loyalty after all, and it’s one of the most important things in his value system, his sense of honor and dignity.”

The voice of Optimus is based on Cullen’s brother.

“I based it on my brother Larry, a former marine, who saw service in Vietnam, and we were sharing an apartment at the time, and he was the last person that I talked to before the audition and he gave me advice before my audition,” Cullen said. “He said, ‘He’s a hero truck. Well, Peter, be a real hero. Don’t be a phony hero. Be strong enough to be gentle.’ His persona just stayed with me all through the drive there. It’s Larry. It’s my brother, and so his voice just oozed out.”

The stunts, too, took it to another level in Hong Kong. Producers could not block off streets in the sprawling city. Those difficulties are detailed in the extras on the disc.

“We set up a rolling road block,” noted stunt driver Sli Lewis. “We set the pace for the traffic.”

Stunt drivers controlled the action by blocking traffic, on the move, behind and in front of the action.

“Everything that is happening is live,” Lewis said. “We pulled it off — safely.”

What makes a great stunt driver?

“You have to kind of want to be that person,” Lewis said. “You want to be in that car. You want to be able to control the chaos. What most people are afraid of, generally I attack it. Anything that’s death defying, I don’t want to be scared of that. I want to tackle that and be able to do that with my eyes closed.”


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