Transformers (film series)
|Directed by||Michael Bay|
|Produced by||Ian Bryce
Lorenzo di Bonaventura
|Screenplay by||John Rogers (1)
Roberto Orci (1–2)
Alex Kurtzman (1–2)
Ehren Kruger (2–4)
|Music by||Steve Jablonsky|
|Cinematography||Mitchell Amundsen (1)
Ben Seresin (2)
Amir Mokri (3-4)
|Editing by||Thomas Muldoon (1–2)
Paul Rubell (1–2)
Glen Scantlebury (1)
Roger Barton (2–3)
Joel Negron (2–3)
William Goldenberg (3)
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures (2007-2009)
|Release date(s)||2007 – present|
Transformers is a series of American science fiction action films directed by Michael Bay, and based on the toys created by Hasbro and Tomy. The first film, Transformers, was released in 2007, the second, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, in 2009, and the third, Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 2011. Despite Bay's original confirmation on Dark of the Moon being his final installment in the franchise, Hasbro's CEO Brian Goldner expressed his hopes for further films to be made with or without Bay; a fourth film has thus been confirmed, with Bay returning to direct, aiming for a 2014 release. To date, the series has been distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, and United International Pictures. The series has received mixed to negative critical reception, with criticism focusing on the thin plots, undeveloped characters, crude humor and the lengths of the films. However, many critics praised the visuals and action sequences, and it is currently the 12th highest-grossing film series and the 4th highest-grossing when averaged to gross per film, behind the The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean film series.
Transformers is the first film in the series. In Transformers, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) discovers that his new car, intended to impress upon Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), is actually Bumblebee (Mark Ryan), an alien robot from the planet Cybertron. He finds out upon meeting the Transforming warriors of Cybertron, the Autobots, led by their leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), that, after the destruction of their planet Cyberton, its life-source, a legendary cube, called the AllSpark, crash-landed on Earth, several million years ago. However, the Decepticons and their evil leader Megatron (Hugo Weaving) plan to use the power of the AllSpark to transform human technology into a new army of Decepticons, and take over the universe. In an agreement, the Autobots decide to destroy the AllSpark, in order to save Earth and Humanity. After the Autobots possess the cube, a battle takes place in Los Angeles between the Autobots and Decepticons. Megatron kills Jazz (Darius McCrary), however the Autobots manage to destroy the Decepticons Bonecrusher, Brawl, and Blackout. Megatron is ultimately defeated by Sam as he releases the AllSpark's power into his chest, at the cost of the AllSpark itself. Knowing that, (with the destruction of its life-source) Cyberton can no longer be brought back, the Autobots accept Earth as their new home, and Sam and Mikaela begin a relationship. In the end credits, Starscream (Charlie Adler) is seen fleeing into space, suggesting the battle is not over. The film was released on July 3, 2007.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the second film in the series. Set two years after the events in Transformers, the now-larger group of Autobots have allied with the U.S. and U.K. military to form a unit known as N.E.S.T which hunts down remaining Decepticons on the planet. Megatron is resurrected by the Constructicons under Soundwave's (Frank Welker) command. Sam intends to go to college and have a normal life, but Megatron attempts to obtain some symbols, implanted by the AllSpark into Sam Witwicky's brain, in favor of his master, The Fallen (Tony Todd). Sam eventually gets badly disturbed with the repeated visuals of the symbols in his head, however things get worse when a huge army of Decepticons arrive on Earth. Later, in a battle to protect Sam, Optimus Prime is killed by Megatron. After his death, Sam, Mikaela, Bumblebee and twins Skids (Tom Kenny) and Mudflap (Reno Wilson) join forces with Seymour Simmons (John Turturro) and Leo Spits (Ramón Rodríguez) to find out what the Decepticons are planning. They meet the early Transformer Jetfire (Mark Ryan), and learn that the symbols consist of that information which was to lead the Decepticons to the Matrix of Leadership, and which, when inserted in an alien machine, hidden in an Egyptian Pyramid for centuries, will give the Decepticons, the power to destroy Earth's Sun. With the help of Jetfire, Sam and the Autobots race to the Matrix of Leadership, and Sam and Mikaela make their way through the battle to the N.E.S.T forces and Sam uses its power to resurrect Optimus. However, The Fallen manages to get his hands on it, and activates that machine. Jetfire sacrifices himself so that Optimus can use his parts. They are used as a jetpack and battle armor, which Optimus uses to kill The Fallen and gravely wound Megatron, who flees with Starscream, suggesting the battle is still not over. In the aftermath, Sam returns to college. The film was released on June 24, 2009.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the third film in the series. When the war on Cybertron between the Autobots and Decepticons appears lost to the Autobots, their leader, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), attempts to launch the Ark from their planet, containing the technology that could have saved his race. However, it crash lands on Earth's Moon in 1961. President John F. Kennedy makes his famous promise to the nation to put a man on the Moon. The 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing was actually an investigation of the spacecraft. As Sam Witwicky goes into adulthood with a new girlfriend named Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), the Autobots learn of the Ark and of Sentinel Prime. Thus, Sentinel Prime is brought back to Earth, and revived using the Matrix of Leadership. Optimus Prime convinces America's leadership that they must protect Sentinel Prime, and his "pillars", which can help transport matter through time and space, but Sentinel betrays the Autobots, as he allies with the Decepticons, killing Ironhide (Jess Harnell) in the process, and reveals to have made a deal with the Decepticons to bring back Cybertron. America's leaders decide to send the Autobots to another planet, wanting to avoid war. But as the Autobots leave, the Decepticons shoot their ship down, believing that they had killed all of the Autobots onboard it. With the Autobots gone, Sentinel Prime activates the pillars, and Chicago is seized by the Decepticons and their vicious/evil human ally, Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey). Thus begins the reproduction of Cybertron, at the cost of Earth, its resources and humanity. But, it is later revealed that the Autobots had faked their deaths, and a battle ensues between the Autobots and Decepticons in Chicago, for one final stand. The film was released on June 29, 2011 in 3D and IMAX 3D.
Transformers 4 (2014)
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura stated that a fourth film is in the works aiming for a 2014 release with Michael Bay to direct and produce the film. On the same day, Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay announced a June 27, 2014 release date for a fourth film. Ehren Kruger will pen the script and Steve Jablonsky will score the film. The film will take place four years after the events in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Shia LaBeouf will not return in any future installments. Mark Wahlberg has instead been cast in the lead role. In November 2012, casting began to search for two more leads. Isabelle Cornish, Nicola Peltz, Gabriella Wilde and Margaret Qualley were all considered to play the daughter of Mark Wahlberg's character while Luke Grimes, Landon Liboiron, Brenton Thwaites, Jack Reynor and Hunter Parrish were all considered to play the race car driving boyfriend. It is also reported that the three leads are contracted for three films. Bay announced on his website that Reynor is the race car driving boyfriend and that the fourth film will start the next installment in the overall series. The film will be a darker sequel to Dark of the Moon and that Transformers 4 will have a different feeling. Peter Cullen, who voiced Optimus Prime in the films, will reprise his role. Tyrese Gibson is in talks to reprise his role. Glenn Morshower stated that he was contracted for two films and he will reprise his role, but was later confirmed that Morshower would not be returning. Filming is expected to take place between April and November 2013 in London with a budget of $165 million once Pain & Gain, a film that Bay is also directing, is finished editing.
On January 8, 2013, it was announced that Reynor would be joining Wahlberg in the lead. On the Michaelbay.com forums, Nelson, the administrator of the website, confirmed that filming will take place in Chicago. On March 20, 2013, The film's plot reads: As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his crosshairs. The epic adventure and battle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement ensues. But it was later to be inaccurate.
On March 26, 2013 Nicola Peltz was cast as the female lead. Bay confirmed that the movie will be in 3D. Bay revealed to Collider that actor Stanley Tucci has joined the cast, and that the film will be the first feature film to be shot using smaller digital IMAX 3D cameras. On May 1, 2013, actor Kelsey Grammer is cast as the lead human villain named "Harold Attinger". On May 6, 2013, actress Sophia Myles is cast in a major supporting role. That same month, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and comedian T. J. Miller joined the cast. Some reports revealed that Dinobots, including fan favorite Grimlock (and possibly Swoop), Lockdown, Galvatron (a reborn Megatron), Drift as a former Decepticon Samurai who joins the Autobots, and Hound will be featured in the fourth film.
Actor T. J. Miller has been confirmed to have joined the cast, playing Mark Wahlberg's character's best friend who is a mechanic. Also revealed are two unknown Autobots who will have the following alternate modes - a black and blue 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse - using production name "Drift", and a green 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray concept - using production name "Slingshot". Also revealed is a truck from Western Star Trucks will be Optimus Prime's new alternate mode for the new movie. Bumblebee's new alt mode has been revealed to be a modified vintage 1967 Chevy Camaro SS. A green military vehicle (later confirmed to be Hound) and a white Emergency Response Vehicle have also been revealed.
Bay released images of the new and upgraded vehicles to be the stars in "Transformers 4" May 28, 2013, alongside the announcement that they had begun filming in Monument Valley, Utah.
In addition to the films, the film series has a promotional expanded series that is set both before and after the events of the films. This includes comic books, video games, and novels.
Cast and characters
For the first film, Producer Don Murphy was planning a G.I. Joe film adaptation, but when the United States launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hasbro suggested adapting the Transformers franchise instead. Tom DeSanto joined Murphy because he was a fan of the series. They met with comic book writer Simon Furman, and cited the Generation 1 cartoon and comics as their main influence. They made the Creation Matrix their plot device, though Murphy had it renamed because of the film series The Matrix. DeSanto chose to write the treatment from a human point-of-view to engage the audience, while Murphy wanted it to have a realistic tone, reminiscent of a disaster film. The treatment featured the Autobots Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, Arcee, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Bumblebee, and the Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave.
Steven Spielberg, a fan of the comics and toys, signed on as executive producer in 2004. John Rogers wrote the first draft, which pitted four Autobots against four Decepticons, and featured the Ark spaceship. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, fans of the cartoon, were hired to rewrite the script in February 2005. Spielberg suggested that "a boy and his car" should be the focus. This appealed to Orci and Kurtzman because it conveyed themes of adulthood and responsibility, "the things that a car represents in the United States". The characters of Sam and Mikaela were the sole point-of-view given in Orci and Kurtzman's first draft. The Transformers had no dialogue, as the producers feared talking robots would look ridiculous. The writers felt that even if it would look silly, not having the robots speak would betray the fanbase. The first draft also had a battle scene in the Grand Canyon. Spielberg read each of Orci and Kurtzman's drafts and gave notes for improvement. The writers remained involved throughout production, adding additional dialogue for the robots during the sound mixing (although none of this was kept in the final film, which ran fifteen minutes shorter than the initial edit). Furman's The Ultimate Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, remained as a resource to the writers throughout production. Prime Directive was used as a fake working title. This was also the name of Dreamwave Productions' first Transformers comic book.
Michael Bay was asked to direct by Spielberg on July 30, 2005, but he dismissed the film as a "stupid toy movie". Nonetheless, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the mythology upon visiting Hasbro. Bay considered the first draft "too kiddie", so he increased the military's role in the story. The writers sought inspiration from G.I. Joe for the soldier characters, being careful not to mix the brands. Because Orci and Kurtzman were concerned the film could feel like a military recruitment commercial, they chose to make the military believe nations like Iran were behind the Decepticon attack as well as making the Decepticons primarily military vehicles. Bay based Lennox' struggle to get to the Pentagon phoneline while struggling with an unhelpful operator from a real account he was given by a soldier when working on another film.
Orci and Kurtzman experimented with numerous robots from the franchise, ultimately selecting the characters most popular among the filmmakers to form the final cast. Bay acknowledged that most of the Decepticons were selected before their names or roles were developed, as Hasbro had to start designing the toys. Some of their names were changed because Bay was upset that they had been leaked. Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee and Starscream were the only characters present in each version of the script. Arcee was a female Transformer introduced by Orci and Kurtzman, but she was cut because they found it difficult to explain robotic gender; Bay also disliked her motorcycle form, which he found too small. An early idea to have the Decepticons simultaneously strike multiple places around the world was also dropped, being used later in the film's sequels.
For the Second film Revenge of the Fallen, In September 2007, Paramount announced a late June 2009 release date for the sequel to Transformers. A major hurdle that was overcome during the film's production was the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, as well as possible strikes by the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. Bay began creating animatics of action sequences featuring characters rejected for the 2007 film. This would allow animators to complete sequences if the Directors Guild of America went on strike in July 2008, which ultimately did not happen. The director considered making a small project in between Transformers and its sequel, but knew "you have your baby and you don't want someone else to take it". The film was given a $200 million budget, which was $50 million more than the 2007 film, and some of the action scenes rejected for the original were written into the sequel, such as the way Optimus is reintroduced in this film. Lorenzo di Bonaventura said the studio proposed filming two sequels simultaneously, but he and Bay concurred that was not the right direction for the series.
Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman originally passed on the sequel because of a busy schedule. The studio began courting other writers in May 2007, but as they were unimpressed with their pitches, they convinced Orci and Kurtzman to return. The studio also signed on Ehren Kruger, as he impressed Bay and Hasbro president Brian Goldner with his knowledge of the Transformers mythology, and because he was friends with Orci and Kurtzman. The writing trio were paid $8 million. Screenwriting was interrupted by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, but to avoid production delays the writers spent two weeks writing a treatment, which they handed in the night before the strike began, and Bay expanded the outline into a sixty-page scriptment, fleshing out the action, adding more jokes, as well as selecting the majority of new characters. The three writers spent four months finishing the screenplay while "locked" in two hotel rooms by Bay: Kruger wrote in his own room and the trio would check on each other's work twice a day.
Orci described the film's theme as "being away from home", with the Autobots contemplating living on Earth as they cannot restore Cybertron, while Sam goes to college. He wanted the focus between the robots and humans "much more evenly balanced", "the stakes [to] be higher", and more focused on the science fiction elements. Lorenzo di Bonaventura said that in total, there are around forty robots in the film, while ILM's Scott Farrar has said there are actually sixty. Orci added he wanted to "modulate" the humor more, and felt he managed the more "outrageous" jokes by balancing it with a more serious plot approach to the Transformers' mythology. Bay concurred that he wanted to please fans by making the tone darker, and that "moms will think its safe enough to bring the kids back out to the movies" despite his trademark sense of humor.
Before Transformers was released, producer Tom DeSanto had "a very cool idea" to introduce the Dinobots, while Bay was interested in an aircraft carrier, which was dropped from the 2007 film. Orci claimed they did not incorporate these characters into Revenge of the Fallen because they could not think of a way to justify the Dinobots' choice of form, and were unable to fit in the aircraft carrier. Orci also admitted he was also dismissive of the Dinobots because he does not like dinosaurs. "I recognize I am weird in that department", he said, but he became fonder of them during filming because of their popularity with fans. He added "I couldn't see why a Transformer would feel the need to disguise himself in front of a bunch of lizards. Movie-wise, I mean. Once the general audience is fully on board with the whole thing, maybe Dinobots in the future." However, upon being asked on the subject, Michael Bay said he hated the Dinobots and they had never been in consideration for being featured in the movies.
As a preemptive measure before the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Lucchi and Paramount Pictures announced on March 16, 2009, that a third film would be released in IMAX 3D on July 1, 2011, which earned a surprised response from director Michael Bay:
I said I was taking off a year from Transformers. Paramount made a mistake in dating Transformers 3—they asked me on the phone—I said yes to July 1—but for 2012—whoops! Not 2011! That would mean I would have to start prep in September. No way. My brain needs a break from fighting robots.—
Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who had worked on the two previous Transformers films, declined to return for the third film, with Kurtzman declaring that "the franchise is so wonderful that it deserves to be fresh, all the time. We just felt like we’d given it a lot and didn’t have an insight for where to go with it next". Revenge of the Fallen's co-writer Ehren Kruger became the sole screenwriter for Dark of the Moon. Kruger had frequent meetings with Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) visual effects producers, who suggested plot points such as the scenes in Chernobyl.
On October 1, 2009, Bay revealed that Transformers: Dark of the Moon had already gone into pre-production, and its planned release was back to its originally intended date of July 1, 2011, rather than 2012. Due to the revived interest in 3-D technology brought in by the success of Avatar, talks between Paramount, ILM, and Bay had considered the possibility of the next Transformers film being filmed in 3-D, and testing was performed to bring the technology into Bay's work. Bay originally was not much interested in the format as he felt it did not fit his "aggressive style" of filmmaking, but he was convinced after talks with Avatar director James Cameron, who even offered the technical crew from that film. Cameron reportedly told Bay about 3-D, "You gotta look at it as a toy, it's another fun tool to help get emotion and character and create an experience." Bay was reluctant to film with 3-D cameras since in test he found them to be too cumbersome for his filming style, but he did not want to implement the technology in post production either since he was not pleased with the results. In addition to using the 3-D Fusion camera rigs developed by Cameron's team, Bay and the team spent nine months developing a more portable 3-D camera that could be brought into location.
In a hidden extra for the Blu-ray version of Revenge of the Fallen, Bay expressed his intention to make Transformers 3 not necessarily larger than Revenge of the Fallen, but instead deeper into the mythology, to give it more character development, and to make it darker and more emotional. Unicron is briefly shown in a secret Transformers 3 preview feature in the Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray disc. Ultimately, the producers decided to forgo a plot involving the planet-eating transformer, and no further comments were ever made on the subject. Having been called Transformers 3 up to that point, the film's final title was revealed to be Dark of the Moon in October 2010. After Revenge of the Fallen was almost universally panned by critics, Bay acknowledged the general flaws of the script, having blamed the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike prior to the film for many problems. Bay promised to not have the "dorky comedy" from the last film. On March 19, 2010, the script was said to be finished.
The first film, Transformers, received generally mixed to positive reviews. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 57% of critics gave the film positive write-ups, based on 219 reviews. At the website Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 61, based on 35 reviews. IGN's Todd Gilchrist called it Michael Bay's best film, and "one of the few instances where it's OK to enjoy something for being smart and dumb at the same time, mostly because it's undeniably also a whole lot of fun". The Advertiser's Sean Fewster found the visual effects so seamless that "you may come to believe the studio somehow engineered artificial intelligence". The Denver Post's Lisa Kennedy praised the depiction of the robots as having "a believably rendered scale and intimacy", and ABC presenter Margaret Pomeranz was surprised "that a complete newcomer to the Transformers phenomenon like myself became involved in the fate of these mega-machines". Ain't It Cool News' Drew McWeeny felt most of the cast grounded the story, and that "it has a real sense of wonder, one of the things that’s missing from so much of the big CGI lightshows released these days". Author Peter David found it ludicrous fun, and said that "[Bay] manages to hold on to his audience's suspension of disbelief long enough for us to segue into some truly spectacular battle scenes".
The sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, received almost entirely negative reviews. Based on 240 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an average 20% overall approval rating. Despite mostly negative reviews from critics, most audiences responded better. However, CinemaScore polls reported that on a scale of A+ to F, the average grade users gave the film was "B+". According to the Washington Post, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is Bay's worst-reviewed film, faring even lower than Pearl Harbor. Roger Ebert, who had given the 2007 film three stars, gave the sequel only one, calling it "...a horrible experience of unbearable length." Later in his review, Ebert discouraged movie-goers from seeing the film by saying "If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination." Ray Bennett of the Hollywood Reporter commented in his review that "for the uninitiated, it's loud, tedious, and at 147 minutes, way too long." The film was also nominated for seven Razzie awards, winning the awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay.
Though the third film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, was better-received by critics than its predecessor, it still received generally mixed to negative reviews, with many critics praising its visual effects and 3-D action sequences, but criticizing the below-average acting and script. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 36% based on 242 reviews and a rating average of 4.9/10, with the general consensus stating that "its special effects -- and 3-D shots -- are undeniably impressive, but they aren't enough to fill up its loud, bloated running time, or mask its thin, indifferent script". As with the second film, Roger Ebert gave the film one out of four stars, calling it "a visually ugly film with an incoherent plot, wooden characters and inane dialog. It provided me with one of the more unpleasant experiences I've had at the movies." Richard Roeper likewise panned the film, giving it a D and saying that "rarely has a movie had less of a soul and less interesting characters." The film was nominated for even more Razzie awards than the second film (a total of eight, including Worst Picture and Worst Director for Bay), but all lost to Jack and Jill.
|Transformers||Revenge of the Fallen||Dark of the Moon|
Box office performance
|Film||Release date||Box office revenue||Box office ranking||Budget||Reference|
|United States||Foreign||Worldwide||All time domestic||All time worldwide|
|Transformers||July 3, 2007||$319,246,193||$390,463,587||$709,709,780||#29||#52||$150,000,000|||
|Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||June 24, 2009||$402,111,870||$434,191,823||$836,303,693||#15||#31||$200,000,000|||
|Transformers: Dark of the Moon||June 29, 2011||$352,390,543||$771,356,453||$1,123,746,996||#23||#5||$195,000,000|||
|Transformers 4||June 27, 2014|
|Film||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||Yahoo! Movies|
|Transformers||57% (219 reviews)||61 (35 reviews)||B- (13 reviews)|
|Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||20% (240 reviews)||35 (32 reviews)||C- (14 reviews)|
|Transformers: Dark of the Moon||36% (242 reviews)||42 (37 reviews)||C+ (14 reviews)|
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