Transformers (film series)

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Transformers
Logo of Transformers.png
Franchise logo for the first three films
Directed by
Produced by
Based onTransformers
by Hasbro[note 1]
StarringTransformers films cast
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
2007–present
Running time
875 minutes (6 films)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.107 billion
Box office$4.84 billion

Transformers is a series of American science fiction action films based on the Transformers franchise which began in the 1980s.[note 1] Michael Bay has directed the first five films: Transformers (2007), Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Dark of the Moon (2011), Age of Extinction (2014) and The Last Knight (2017).[1][2][3] A spin-off film, Bumblebee, directed by Travis Knight and produced by Bay, was released on December 21, 2018. The series has been distributed by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks. The Transformers series has received negative to mixed reception, except for Bumblebee which received positive reviews. It is the 13th-highest-grossing film series, with a total of $4.3 billion; two films in the series have grossed over $1 billion each.

Films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director Screenwriter(s) Producer(s)
Transformers July 3, 2007 (2007-07-03) Michael Bay John Rogers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy and Ian Bryce
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen June 24, 2009 (2009-06-24) Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
Transformers: Dark of the Moon June 29, 2011 (2011-06-29) Ehren Kruger
Transformers: Age of Extinction June 27, 2014 (2014-06-27)
Transformers: The Last Knight June 21, 2017 (2017-06-21) Akiva Goldsman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan
Bumblebee December 21, 2018 (2018-12-21) Travis Knight Christina Hodson Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy, Michael Bay and Mark Vahradian

Transformers (2007)[edit]

For the first film, producer Don Murphy was planning a G.I. Joe film adaptation, but when the U.S. launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hasbro suggested adapting the Transformers franchise instead.[4] Tom DeSanto joined Murphy because he was a fan of the series.[5] They met with comic book writer Simon Furman, and cited the Generation 1 cartoon and comics as their main influence.[4] They made the Creation Matrix their plot device, though Murphy had it renamed because of the film series The Matrix.[6] DeSanto chose to write the treatment from a human point of view to engage the audience,[7] while Murphy wanted it to have a realistic tone, reminiscent of a disaster film.[6] 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.[8]

Steven Spielberg, a fan of the comics and toys,[5] signed on as executive producer in 2004. John Rogers wrote the first draft, which pitted four Autobots against four Decepticons,[9] and featured the Ark spaceship.[10] Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, fans of the cartoon,[11] were hired to rewrite the script in February 2005.[12] Spielberg suggested that "a boy and his car" should be the focus.[13] This appealed to Orci and Kurtzman because it conveyed themes of adulthood and responsibility, "the things that a car represents in the United States".[14] The characters of Sam and Mikaela were the sole point of view given in Orci and Kurtzman's first draft.[15] 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.[11] The first draft also had a battle scene in the Grand Canyon.[16] Spielberg read each of Orci and Kurtzman's drafts and gave notes for improvement.[13] 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).[17] Furman's The Ultimate Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, remained as a resource to the writers throughout production.[17] Prime Directive was used as a fake working title. This was also the name of Dreamwave Productions' first Transformers comic book.[18]

Michael Bay was asked to direct by Spielberg on July 30, 2005,[19] but he dismissed the film as a "stupid toy movie".[20] Nonetheless, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the mythology upon visiting Hasbro.[19] Bay considered the first draft "too kiddie", so he increased the military's role in the story.[19][21] The writers sought inspiration from G.I. Joe for the soldier characters, being careful not to mix the brands.[22] 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.[23] Bay based Lennox's struggle to get to the Pentagon phone line while struggling with an unhelpful operator from a real account he was given by a soldier when working on another film.[19]

Orci and Kurtzman experimented with numerous robots from the franchise, ultimately selecting the characters most popular among the filmmakers to form the final cast.[5] Bay acknowledged that most of the Decepticons were selected before their names or roles were developed, as Hasbro had to start designing the toys.[24] Some of their names were changed because Bay was upset that they had been leaked.[25] Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee and Starscream were the only characters present in each version of the script.[11] 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.[22] 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.[15]

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)[edit]

In September 2007, Paramount announced a late June 2009 release date for the sequel to Transformers.[26] 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.[27][28] 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".[29] The film was given a $200 million budget, which was $50 million more than the 2007 film,[30] 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.[31] 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.[32]

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.[27] The studio also signed on Ehren Kruger, as he impressed Bay and Hasbro president Brian Goldner with his knowledge of the Transformers mythology,[33] and because he was friends with Orci and Kurtzman.[34] The writing trio were paid $8 million.[27] 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,[34] and Bay expanded the outline into a sixty-page scriptment,[35] fleshing out the action, adding more jokes,[34] as well as selecting the majority of new characters.[36] 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.[37]

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.[38] He wanted the focus between the robots and humans "much more evenly balanced",[39] "the stakes [to] be higher", and the science fiction elements more prominent.[40] Lorenzo di Bonaventura said that in total, there are around forty robots in the film,[30] while ILM's Scott Farrar has said there are actually sixty.[41] Orci added that he wanted to "modulate" the humor more,[42] and felt he managed the more "outrageous" jokes by balancing them with a more serious plot approach to the Transformers' mythology.[43] Bay concurred that he wanted to please fans by making the tone darker,[44] and that "moms will think its safe enough to bring the kids back out to the movies" despite his trademark sense of humor.[45]

Before Transformers was released, producer DeSanto had "a very cool idea" to introduce the Dinobots,[46] while Bay was interested in an aircraft carrier, which was dropped from the 2007 film.[47] 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,[38] and were unable to fit in the aircraft carrier.[48] 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,[49] but he became fonder of them during filming because of their popularity with fans.[50] 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."[51] However, Michael Bay said he hated the Dinobots and they had never been in consideration for being featured in the movies.[52] It is the last film in the series to be distributed by DreamWorks.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)[edit]

For the third film, as a preemptive measure before the release of Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Lucchi and Paramount 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 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.[53]

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".[54] 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.[55]

On October 1, 2009, Bay revealed that 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.[56] Due to the revived interest in 3-D technology brought in by the success of Avatar,[57] 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.[58] 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,[59] 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."[60] 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.[61] In addition to using the 3-D Fusion camera rigs developed by Cameron's team,[60][62] Bay and the team spent nine months developing a more portable 3-D camera that could be brought into location.[59] On the day of the film's release, Shia LaBeouf announced that Dark of the Moon will be his last Transformers film.

In a hidden extra for the Blu-ray release 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.[63] 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.[64] 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.[65]

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)[edit]

In February 2012, producer di Bonaventura stated that a fourth film was in the works, aiming for a 2014 release, with Michael Bay to direct and produce.[66] On the same day, Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay announced a June 27, 2014 release date for a fourth film.[67] Ehren Kruger would pen the script and Steve Jablonsky would score the film, as each had for the previous film.[68][69] The film is set five years after the events in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.[70] Shia LaBeouf did not return in any future installments. Mark Wahlberg was instead cast in the lead role as new character, Cade Yeager.[71][72][73] 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 Cade's daughter Tessa Yeager, while Luke Grimes, Landon Liboiron, Brenton Thwaites, Jack Reynor, and Hunter Parrish were all considered to play Tessa's race-car-driving boyfriend, Shane Dyson.[74] Bay announced on his website that Reynor would portray Shane and that the fourth film would start the next installment in the overall series; the film was to be a darker sequel to Dark of the Moon and have a different feeling.[75] Peter Cullen, who voiced Optimus Prime in the films, was to reprise his role.[76] Tyrese Gibson was in talks to reprise his role as Sgt. Robert Epps from the original trilogy.[77] Glenn Morshower stated that he was contracted for two films and he was to reprise his role.[78] It was later announced that he would not be return until the next film.[79] With a budget of $165 million, filming was expected to take place in London between April and November 2013—once Pain & Gain, another film that Bay was directing, had finished editing.[80][81]

On January 8, 2013, it was announced that Reynor was joining Wahlberg in the lead.[82] On March 26, 2013, Nicola Peltz was cast as the female lead.[83] Bay confirmed that the movie was to be in 3D.[84] Bay revealed to Collider that actor Stanley Tucci had joined the cast, and that the film would be the first feature film to be shot using smaller digital IMAX 3D cameras.[85] On May 1, 2013, actor Kelsey Grammer was cast as the lead human villain named "Harold Attinger".[86] On May 6, 2013, actress Sophia Myles was cast in a major supporting role.[87] That same month, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and comedian T. J. Miller joined the cast.[88][89]

Actor T.J. Miller would be playing the best friend of Wahlberg's character who is a mechanic.[90] Also revealed were two Autobots who would have the following alternate modes—a black-and-blue 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse  named "Drift", and a green 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray concept named Crosshairs. A truck from Western Star Trucks would be Optimus Prime's new alternate mode for the movie.[91] Bumblebee's new alternate mode was revealed to be a modified vintage 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, which later transforms into a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro concept.[92] A green military vehicle (later confirmed to be Hound) and a white emergency response vehicle were also revealed.[93]

Filming began in June 2013, in Detroit,[94] Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)[edit]

In March 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that Paramount Pictures was in talks with Akiva Goldsman to pitch new ideas for the Transformers franchise's future installments. The studio intends to do what James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have been doing in planning three Avatar sequels, and what Disney has done to revive Star Wars, with sequels and spin-offs. Paramount wants to have their own cinematic universe for Transformers, similar to Marvel's/Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe (which had been one of Paramount's previous film series), and DC Comics/Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe. Goldsman is the head of the future projects, and worked with franchise director Michael Bay, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura to organize a "writers' room" that incubates ideas for potential Transformers sequels, prequels and spin-offs. The writers' room members include: Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari (Ant-Man), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, Zak Penn (Pacific Rim Uprising), Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Ken Nolan, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet.[95] Kirkman left the room after just one day to undergo throat surgery.[96] In July 2015, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner were announced as the fifth Transformers film's screenwriters.[97] However, on November 20, due to Goldsman's commitments creating a writers' room for G.I. Joe and Micronauts properties, Paramount began to negotiate with Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man), as well as Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down), to write the film. Lindsey Beer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet were also brought aboard for writing duties.[98]

After Transformers: Age of Extinction, Bay had decided not to direct any future Transformers films. But in early January 2016, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he stated that he would return to direct the fifth film, and that it will be his last Transformers film.[99] Paramount Pictures spent $80 million on production in Michigan, in return for $21 million in state incentives, under agreements entered into before the state legislature eliminated the film office incentive program in July 2015.[100] In April 2016, Paramount hired cinematographer Jonathan Sela.[101] On May 17, Bay revealed the official title of the film to be The Last Knight on his Instagram account, where he also posted a production video showing a close-up of Optimus Prime's face with purple eyes instead of blue, and his face mostly discolored.[102] The official Twitter account showed a 19-second short video in morse code that translates to "I'm coming for you May 31".[103] On May 31, it was revealed that Megatron would return in the sequel.[104]

Bumblebee (2018)[edit]

Bumblebee is a 2018 American science fiction film centered on the Transformers character of the same name. It was developed as a spin-off film, intended to be a prequel to the film series, and later declared to be a reboot of the franchise.[105] Following the film's critical success, Hasbro intends to continue and evolve the franchise similar to Bumblebee.[106]

The film was directed by Travis Knight and written by Christina Hodson, and stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, and Pamela Adlon, with Dylan O'Brien as the voice of Bumblebee. The design and style of the film included both elements from the existing franchise as well as influences from Transformers: Generation 1 franchise of toys.[105]

Principal photography on the film began in July 2017, in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. It was released on December 21, 2018.

Future[edit]

In March 2013, during the release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, producer di Bonaventura announced the studio's plans to develop a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover.[107] On July 26, 2013, G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu stated that he is also interested in directing a Transformers/G.I. Joe crossover film.[104] Despite di Bonaventura stating that a crossover was not in the immediate plans for the franchises,[108] he acknowledged that it is something they intend to do.[109]

In March 2015, Akiva Goldsman was tasked with creating a plan for a "Transformers Cinematic Universe", including development of multiple films in a "writer’s room" style brain trust.[110] In May of the same year, it was announced that Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, Jeff Pinkner, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Ken Nolan, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Steven DeKnight were hired as writers for future installments. Some of the projects in development include Beast Wars, a film focusing on the origins of Cybertron, and sequels for the franchise.[111][112][113][114][115] In September of the same year, it was announced that Barrer and Ferrari were hired to write a film that will explore the origins of Cybertron, with a working title of Transformers One.[116] From the writer's room collaboration, it was reported in June 2015 that at least twelve films were pitched to Paramount Studios for the Transformers Cinematic Universe.[117] In February 2016, Hasbro announced the next three Transformers films, the first being Transformers: The Last Knight, serving as the series fifth main instalment, followed by a spin-off film starring Bumblebee, and an untitled sixth film that would serve as a sequel to The Last Knight.

On June 21, 2017, Transformers: The Last Knight was released. The film was universally panned by film critics and underperformed at the box-office with less revenue earned than previous films in the series. On May 23 the following year, the planned sequel was removed from Paramount's release schedule. By December 2018, di Bonaventura stated that there would still be further films in the series, while also acknowledging that the franchise will make some changes in tone and style due to the success of Bumblebee.[118]

By March 2019, di Bonaventura stated that the studio was developing sequels to Bumblebee and The Last Knight,[119][120][121] but the following month, he stated that a direct sequel to Transformers: The Last Knight was not in development. Other projects include a spin-off film based on Optimus Prime, an animated film set on Cybertron, a Bumblebee sequel, a live-action Beast Wars film, a Transformers/G.I. Joe crossover film, and an untitled Transformers film.[122]

Cast and characters[edit]

Additional crew and film details[edit]

Film Crew/Detail
Composer Cinematographer Editor(s) Production
Companies
Distributing
Companies
Running time
Transformers Steve Jablonsky Mitchell Amundsen Paul Rubell, Glen Scantlebury and Thomas A. Muldoon Hasbro and Di Bonaventura Pictures DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures 143 minutes
Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen
Ben Seresin Roger Barton, Paul Rubell, Joel Negron and Thomas A. Muldoon 150 minutes
Transformers:
Dark of the Moon
Amir Mokri Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, and Joel Negron Paramount Pictures 154 minutes
Transformers:
Age of Extinction
Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, and Paul Rubell 165 minutes
Transformers:
The Last Knight
Jonathan Sela Mark Sanger, John Refoua, Debra Neil-Fisher, Roger Barton, Adam Gerstel, and Calvin Wimmer 149 minutes
Bumblebee Dario Marianelli Enrique Chediak Paul Rubell Hasbro, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Allspark Pictures and Tencent Pictures 114 minutes

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Ref.
North America Other
territories
Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Worldwide
Transformers July 3, 2007 $319.2M $390.5M $709.7M #36
#114(A)
#95 $150M [123]
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen June 24, 2009 $402.1M $434.2M $836.3M #18
#81(A)
#60 $200M [124]
Transformers: Dark of the Moon June 29, 2011 $352.4M $771.4M $1.12bn #27
#129(A)
#15 $195M [125]
Transformers: Age of Extinction June 27, 2014 $245.4M $858.6M $1.10bn #91 #18 $210M [126]
Transformers: The Last Knight June 21, 2017 $130.2M $475.3M $605.4M #460 #146 $217M [127]
Bumblebee December 21, 2018 $127.2M $340.7M $468.1M #483 #229 $135M [128]
Total[129] $1.58bn $3.26bn $4.84bn $1.107bn
List indicator(s)
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).

Critical and public response[edit]

With the exception of Bumblebee, the common elements of the original film series that received wide negative reception[130] include the often-repeated formulaic plots, the acting, dialogue, filming, Transformer redesigns, sophomoric/toilet humor, objectification of female characters,[131][132] the Transformers being reduced to secondary characters, clichéd and controversial characterizations, aimless story arcs, lack of character development, dark tone, incoherent action, questionable marketing, poor writing, racial and cultural stereotypes,[133] overuse of MacGuffins, product placement[134], CGI, long running times and excessive retconning.[135][136][137] However, the visual effects, action sequences, music and performances of some cast members received praise. The franchise was nominated for several Academy Awards in Sound Design and Visual Effects.

The first Transformers film received mixed reviews, with praise being directed towards the groundbreaking visual effects, musical score, action sequences, and Peter Cullen's return as Optimus Prime.[138][139]

The second film, Revenge of the Fallen, received mostly negative reviews.[140][141] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film one star, calling it "a horrible experience of unbearable length, punctuated by three or four amusing moments."[142] The characterization of the Autobot twins, Skids and Mudflap, was heavily criticized. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine labelled them: "two of the most offensive bots in screen history...who do black stereotypes in ways that would shame Jar Jar Binks", and concluded the film "has a shot at the title Worst Movie of the Decade."[143] Others described them as "something out of an old minstrel show"[144] with "conspicuously cartoonish, so-called black voices that indicate that minstrelsy remains as much in fashion in Hollywood as when, well, Jar Jar Binks was set loose by George Lucas."[145] Reviews also criticized the tedious running time, inappropriate humor, the rehashing of the MacGuffin-focused plot, nonsensical dialogue, heavy focus on the humans, and indistinguishable robots crashing into each other but some positive aspects noted by critics include Peter Cullen's voicework, the visual effects, music, and action.

The third film, Dark of the Moon, received mixed reviews but was considered an improvement over the second film. Praise was directed on the visuals, editing, music, and the voicework of Peter Cullen and Leonard Nimoy, while the acting and story were criticized.[146][147] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film a mixed review, saying "It is as if Bay, perhaps influenced by some stinging critiques, has made an aesthetic policy decision. Because this film is not quite as stupid as the others...But let's face it, these touches are atypical. After half an hour it turns into the same headbanging, eardrum-brutalising action-fest as the other two films" but notes the impressive effects used in the Battle of Chicago at the climax and that it was inspired by the September 11 attacks.[148] A. O. Scott of The New York Times called Dark of the Moon among Michael Bay's best films but said "I can’t decide if this movie is so spectacularly, breathtakingly dumb as to induce stupidity in anyone who watches, or so brutally brilliant that it disarms all reason. What’s the difference?" Scott also criticized the film for continuing the series pattern of "tongue-in-cheek revisionist history" by using the Space Race as the catalyst for the film's events.[149] Chris Hewitt of Empire Online gave the film 2 out of 5 stars saying that Dark of the Moon is better than Revenge of the Fallen but not by much, praising the last 45 minutes and the best use of 3D since Avatar but panning the choppy editing, lazy writing, the slow first hour, the level of violence in the robot fights, and the use of the Chernobyl disaster as a plot device being in bad taste. Also criticized were Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson for being reduced to needless supporting characters, Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky being turned into an unlikable character, and actors John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk, and Ken Jeong for being used as "cheap-seats comedy relief".[150] Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Carly was criticized for being an undeveloped female lead with no purpose in the plot except to be a sex object and damsel with Tom Charity of CNN Entertainment claiming that she "makes Megan Fox look like Meryl Streep."[151] Roger Ebert rated the film 1 out of 5 stars,[152] and Rolling Stones's Peter Travers called it "a movie bereft of wit, wonder, imagination, and any genuine reason for being."[153] Christopher Orr of The Atlantic said Dark of the Moon is an improvement over the previous film in almost every way apart from its length, praising the special effects, 3D usage, and intense action. He criticized the retrograde depiction of the female characters, the September 11th undertones of the Chicago climax, and the uncomfortable level of violence from the Transformers.[154]

Age of Extinction[155][156] and The Last Knight[157][158] both received mostly negative reviews and are the lowest-rated films in the series. For Age of Extinction, some praised elements include the visual effects, musical score, serious tone, action sequences, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, and Peter Cullen. Critics panned it for excessive product placement, its nearly three-hour running time, poor writing and editing, the introduction of the "Transformium" element, the idea of man-made Transformers, and racist stereotypes with David Edelstein of Vulture using actress Li Bingbing as an example of the stereotype of "all Chinese people being adept in the martial arts".[159] Sam Adams of IndieWire labeled Age of Extinction "a new, terrible kind of cinema" that could have been written by "a high school sophomore with a permanent hard-on".[160] Angela Wattercutter of Wired magazine criticized Age of Extinction's heavy-handed use of the War on Terror and the aftermath of September 11 as inspiration with the Transformers treated as "enemy combatants" and "alien terrorists" and hunted by Kelsey Grammer's xenophobic government agent, even noting that the film has a captive Autobot making an offhanded joke about waterboarding.[161] The designs of the Autobots such as Hound, Drift, and Crosshairs drew criticism, with Drift being called a Japanese stereotype and an example of yellowface. The dark depiction of Optimus Prime was also criticized for being off-putting and unfaithful to the character. Critics also panned the film for portraying the Dinobots as mindless robots devoid of their personalities and reducing them to a deus ex machina appearing late in the film despite being a focal point in the film's marketing. Critics noted Nicola Peltz's character as a sexualized underage girl and damsel-in-distress with no sense of agency whose sole purpose in the story is to have the male leads fight over her. Her character's relationship with Jack Reynor's also drew backlash as critics accused the film of treating statutory rape as a joke and attempting to defend it with the Romeo and Juliet law.[162][163]

For The Last Knight, Yohana Desta of Vanity Fair called the film "an apocalyptic identity crisis come to life" and "an unruly Frankenstein's monster with shoddy stitchwork". However she noted that despite the film's nonsensical/non-existent plot, the visual effects remain impressive.[164] Christopher Orr criticized it for connecting the Transformers to Stonehenge and World War II, Isabela Moner's expendable role, its convoluted climax, calling it the worst retelling of Arthurian legend of the year after Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.[165] Rebecca Farley of Refinery29 and Dana Schwartz of Marie Claire were critical of the film's female characters played by Isabella Moner and Laura Haddock. Farley noted the misleading marketing falsely making Isabella Moner appear to have a prominent role in the film when she doesn't and is barely in the film, accusing production of trying to insert last-minute "tween girl empowerment" after the success of Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things, and labels Haddock's character the film's "textbook Strong Woman" cliche as she portrays a highly educated and athletic woman harassed by female family members for being single and the male protagonist for "wearing a stripper dress". Schwartz cites Wahlberg's character for referring to Moner's as "Little J. Lo" because of her Latin heritage, and Haddock being portrayed as the "British Megan Fox" for their similar appearances.[166][167] Ian Freer of Empire Online rated the film 2 out of 5 stars and stated "As in Revenge of The Fallen, Dark of The Moon and Age of Extinction, The Last Knight is bogged down in backstory, lacks a real feel for its characters and still can’t find a way to make its robot-on-robot action exhilarating... It is amazing how a series with so much nostalgic goodwill, technical finesse and behind the scenes talent have led so often to experiences that are so joyless."[168]

The 2018 spin-off film, Bumblebee, received generally positive reviews with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%, making it the highest-rated film in the series. Critics praised it for its lighter tone, story, visuals, acting, direction, and faithfulness to the 1980s Transformers show.[169][170] Glenn Kenny of The New York Times praised the plot, Christina Hodson's script, and Hailee Steinfeld's performance, calling her possibly the only appealing main human character in the franchise so far.[171] James Dyer of Empire magazine gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, praising aspects such as Travis Knight's directing, the screenplay, Steinfield and John Cena's acting, and the film's '80s nostalgia; he praised the film for acting as a love letter to Steven Spielberg's Amblin films.[172] In a review for The Hollywood Reporter, Justin Lowe praised the improved digital effects including the "sharp visual details, realistic color shading and seamless transitions between robot and vehicular forms." Lowe also noted the film's focus on a PG tone despite its PG-13 rating, its character-driven story, and its improved humor compared to its predecessors.[173] Rolling Stone's David Fear noted the film for borrowing elements from E.T., The Iron Giant, and John Hughes films, and commented "the usual Americana-on-steroids vibe of the Bay movies are M.I.A., replaced with a less bombastic combination of bot-outta-water shenanigans... and sensitive, not-at-all sappy Y.A. drama."[174]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Transformers 58% (226 reviews)[138] 61 (35 reviews)[139] A[175]
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 20% (250 reviews)[140] 35 (32 reviews)[141] B+[175]
Transformers: Dark of the Moon 35% (260 reviews)[146] 42 (37 reviews)[147] A[175]
Transformers: Age of Extinction 18% (206 reviews)[155] 32 (38 reviews)[156] A−[175]
Transformers: The Last Knight 15% (244 reviews)[157] 27 (47 reviews)[158] B+[175]
Bumblebee 92% (235 reviews)[169] 66 (39 reviews)[170] A−[175]

Accolades[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

Academy Awards Film
Transformers
(2007)
Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen

(2009)
Transformers:
Dark of the Moon

(2011)
Transformers:
Age of Extinction

(2014)
Transformers:
The Last Knight

(2017)
Bumblebee
(2018)
Sound Editing Nominated Nominated
Sound Mixing Nominated Nominated Nominated
Visual Effects Nominated Nominated

Golden Raspberry Awards[edit]

Golden Raspberry Awards Film
Transformers
(2007)
Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen

(2009)
Transformers:
Dark of the Moon

(2011)
Transformers:
Age of Extinction

(2014)
Transformers:
The Last Knight

(2017)
Bumblebee
(2018)
Worst Picture Won Nominated Nominated Nominated[note 2]
Worst Director Won Nominated Won Nominated[note 2]
Worst Actor Nominated
(Mark Wahlberg)[note 2]
Worst Actress Nominated
(Megan Fox)
Worst Supporting Actor Nominated
(Jon Voight)
Nominated
(Patrick Dempsey)
Won
(Kelsey Grammer)
Nominated
(Josh Duhamel)
(Anthony Hopkins)[note 2]
Worst Supporting Actress Nominated
(Julie White)
Nominated
(Rosie Huntington-Whiteley)
Nominated
(Nicola Peltz)
Nominated
(Laura Haddock)[note 2]
Worst Screen Couple Nominated
(Shia LaBeouf and either Megan Fox or any Transformer)
Nominated
(Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley)
Worst Screen Ensemble Nominated
(The entire cast)
Worst Screen Combo Nominated
(Any two robots, actors or robotic actors)
Nominated
(Any combination of two humans, two robots or two explosions)[note 2]
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel Nominated Nominated Nominated[note 2]
Worst Screenplay Won Nominated Nominated Nominated[note 2]
The Razzie Nominee So Rotten You Loved It Nominated[note 2]
The Razzie Redeemer Award Nominated

Other media[edit]

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. While the novels are partially based on the films themselves, and the video games aren't in the same continuity as the films, the comic books and graphic novels are in the same continuity and fill in several parts of the stories from the films.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b The original Transformers toy line itself was developed out of two then-existing Japanese mecha toy lines — Diaclone and Microman — by Takara.[176] In 2006, Takara merged with Tomy to form a single company, Takara Tomy.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Referred to as Transformers XVII: The Last Knight on the official nomination list.

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