"And fate has yielded its reward: a new world to call...home. We live among its people now, hiding in plain sight...but watching over them in secret...waiting...protecting. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there's more to them than meets the eye."
Note: This is about the live-actionTransformersfilms. For the 1986 animated Generation One movie, seeTransformers: The Movie.The first in a series of live-action films, based on the long-runningTransformers toyline and television series. So far each produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Michael Bay. The third film was released in June 2011 and ended up involving almost all the same people except writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who have gone on to other projects, and a few of the actors like Megan Fox.Our protagonist is teenager Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). He wants his first car to impress "evil jock concubine" Mikaela (Megan Fox), who turns out to be rather talented with cars. He ends up getting a beat-up yellow Camaro. But it turns out the car chose him; it's one of many sentient alien robots who can "transform" and disguise themselves as human vehicles. His name's Bumblebee, and he's an advance scout for the Autobots, whose mission is to protect Sam from the Decepticons, who want Sam's family heirloom that holds answers to the location of the AllSpark, a powerful artifact responsible for the Transformers' existence and lost for thousands of years. The two factions battle over it: the Autobots want to return life to their dying world, while the Decepticons seek to exterminate their enemies.Critical and fan reception was mixed, although its success is undisputed (the biggest non-sequel of 2007); the profits from the toyline alone made Transformers the top-selling boys' toy in America, unseating Power Rangers for the first time since that show's inception. It was nominated for Oscars in Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.The film's financial success led to two sequels so far: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. All movies in the franchise have been criticized as being loud and braindead, with a greater focus on action instead of story, but regardless of their flaws they all fulfill the role of popcorn flicks and have revitalized the source material to where the main franchise has taken a lot of cues for its further incarnations.Michael Bay signed on to direct a fourth installment in the film franchise, slated for 2014, entitled Transformers: Age of Extinction. It has been described as somewhat of a reboot, but still follows on from the storyline established by the other films. Peter Cullen has confirmed that he is scheduled to again reprise the role of Optimus Prime.Here is the character sheet.
This series provides examples of:
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Action Survivor: Sam Witwicky, the world's first action hero who spends the entire movie fleeing from his enemies (since he's kind of not trained to deal with things like 30-foot-tall robots trying to squoosh him).
In the third film, he finally takes action into his hands. Unlike the previous movies, he isn't drawn into the story due to some outside force but actively seeks it out.
Crosses into You Look Familiar in the first movie; Sam meets Bobby Bolivia to buy his first car, and Bobby says "that practically makes us family", alluding to both their previous roles in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
John Turturro's previous role in You Don't Mess With The Zohan has him owning a restaurant after leaving his previous job (terrorist leader in Zohan and government agent in ROTF).
Also, counting as foreshadowing as well, Wheelie watches on episode of Star Trek: The Original Series in Sam and Carly's apartment and says; "I've seen this one. This is the one where Spock goes nuts". Hinting at Sentinel Prime's later betrayal.
Sam calls Carly "Angel" as an Affectionate Nickname. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley rose to fame as a Victoria's Secret Angel.
Adaptational Badass: Bumblebee. No longer is he simply the kid friendly tag-along character and the smallest Autobot who would get swatted away by any and all Decepticons. This version of him is a very capable combatant, perhaps second only to Optimus Prime in how much ass he kicks.
Starscream. This guy is actually a deadly and capable warrior, and when Megatron isn't around, not all that bad of a leader. Ironhide's Oh Crap reaction to him showing up in Mission City, seemed very genuine. As the TF wiki put it: "Ironhide is the first person in some twenty years to consider Starscream a serious threat... with good reason for once." Oh and those tattoos he shows up with in ROTF? He etched those into his own hide, using his fingers, to honor Cybertron's history of warriors. Badass Decay occasionally kicks in, but in DOTM he's back on form, destroying the Autobot ship and ripping a load of Ospreys to pieces, to the point that Que has to give Sam some pretty strong grenades to finally kill him.
Sentinel Prime. His G1 counterpart's depiction (in almost all versions of it) amounts to "dies and passes the Matrix along". His Animated counterpart was a mostly ineffectual Jerkass. This version of Sentinel was once Cybertron's greatest hero, and appears to be Optimus's superior in combat; managing to fight not only him at the climax of DOTM, but also the rest of the Autobots, AND the military. It takes intervention from Megatron to take him down.
Aliens Speaking English: One of the only instances in the entire 20+ year history of the franchise that attempts to justify or explain how Cybertronians can speak English. In the film, they were able to download information from the web, including knowledge of every known language on the planet. This allowed them to instantly start speaking English as soon as they showed up. It is also highly implied that many of them even choose specific manners of speaking based on their personal preferences.
In fact, in the novelization of the first movie, the first language they attempted when talking to Sam and Mikela is Chinese, as more people speak it than English.
With Megatron; it's a little more iffy however, given he woke up in present day after being frozen for centuries and started speaking English right away with seemingly no other source... or so it would seem. Word of God states that Megatron was not only still conscious when he was frozen, but that he could also see and hear everything going on around him; meaning he could hear the engineers and scientists examining his body whilst they were talking and so he picked up English from them. This would provide an explanation for why the first thing he did upon awakening was declare his true name to the "insects" that were referring to him as "N. B. E.-01", "Ice-Man" or even (believe it or not) Mega Man.
Bumblebee initially pretends to be one, to the point of "conveniently" breaking down at a local Make-Out Point.
Sam's "replacement Bumblebee" in Dark of the Moon is definitely one of these. It's an ancient Datsun (also yellow with twin black racing stripes) which gets crushed when he tries to get past security at the NEST base.
Sam was right about it, though: it's a 510, which is a classic. This particular one is just in bad shape.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: The vacuum of space means heat radiates off very slowly. Thus flying out in space would not freeze the Autobots in their ship forms, while ice and cold gas, which froze Megatron, is a different matter. So fans complaining about that are applying Convection Schmonvection. And they would have remelted during entry of the atmosphere, that part tends to get very hot.
Any new Transformer-ized machines will be this, possibly because every modern electronic device is based off of Megatron, or because it only happens when the AllSpark is threatened, making it a defense mechanism. In one of the prequel comics, a car in the 30s is transformed by an AllSpark wave, and it also tends to attack humans on sight. In fact, this robot is the one who eventually kills Bonnie and Clyde before going down from a hail of Tommygun bullets (it is only made out of unarmored car parts, after all).
Subverted in Revenge of the Fallen by Jetfire and Wheelie. Jetfire got tired of the Decepticons' goals and methods, and Wheelie was essentially working for the 'cons out of fear; when he learned of Jetfire's side switch, he immediately did the same.
America Saves the Day: Played very straight in Revenge of the Fallen where the Marines wade onto the shores of Egypt to battle the Decepticons. The Jordanian military plays a very small role and there are British forces in NEST as well; otherwise all the human forces fighting the Decepticons across the planet are shown to be American-led and equipped.
Justified as the Autobots are working with the American military (since that's where they landed, and kind of tore up in the process) and thus sharing knowledge with them that makes them more effective than other forces in the world. Most of the world doesn't even know they exist.
Everybody knows about them by the third film, in which they firmly take America's side in any international conflict. Even Autobots gotta pay the bills.
Thought, it could be because the American Military is helping them fight Decepticons, who're currently in hiding. No one to fight, plus America currently involved in several conflicts of its own. It would be just rude to expect them to help in their battles but not help the humans in theirs.
Prime himself can come off as one at times. He's probably the most violent version of Optimus Prime yet, and uses some truly brutal tactics in battle. If that's not enough, he brutally executes Megatron in the end by burying his axe in his face and tearing his spine out, and point-blank executes Sentinel for his betrayal.
(After witnessing the massacre of Chicago in the third film) We will kill them all.
Sideswipe as well, in keeping with his personality from the G1 toyline and comics. First thing he does after killing a Decepticon is comment on how Bad Ass he is, despite the fact he killed a fleeing opponent. Further expanded material portrays him as an even bigger one, not caring if human casualties get in the way if it means stopping Decepticons. He'd calmed down a bit by the start of the second film apparently.
Applied Phlebotinum: Although it is partially grounded in real-world tech, the only way in the first movie for human infantry to harm a decent size Transformer is using high-heat grenades. Nothing else short of tank rounds will do anything except annoy them. This is a major plot point, and the purpose of Lennox and Epps' entire storyline. ROTF shows infantry using regular assault rifles that appear to have been modified to fire a different kind of ammunition than normal. DOTM shows not only this, but the soldiers using specialized tactics to attack Cybertronian weak spots, as well as using snipers to blind the robots. In fact, several Decepticons in DOTM are taken down without Autobot aid with the use of these tactics, and parachutes.
Arm Cannon / Hand Blast: Bumblebee, Ratchet (more like arm machinegun), the Arcees and especially Megatron (in the first film, he could combine his arms together to form his weapon; in the second, his right arm is his cannon).
A concept sketch for Jazz showed his left arm becoming a long-barreled cannon; this was carried over to the toy design, although for the toy the gun was called a sword...
Bumblebee had some cosmetic changes in the first and second films to reflect the most recent Camaro model.
Bumblebee and Optimus' character models received a significant change for DOTM, with Optimus gaining more heavily defined "abs" and Bumblebee having broader shoulders.
Ascended Extra: Not an extra per se, but Glenn Morshower, the actor who played the Marine in charge of the base destroyed by Blackout in the first film, returned in Fallen as General Morshower. Also, Brawl, the tank Decepticon from the first film, was given a Leader Class figure in the '07 toy line◊, despite his lack of screen time.
Hasbro has admitted the goof up with the toy line. They said they probably would have done better to make Blackout the third Leader-class toy (replacing the Voyager class he got) and also give Bonecrusher a Voyager class toy (replacing the deluxe he got).
Backed by the Pentagon: Somewhat odd, considering almost every Decepticon from the first film was a military machine, and the Pentagon typically doesn't support scripts that make the military look bad. The fact that the US Armed Forces kick a considerable amount of ass in all three movies, and the movie producers pointing out that the Decepticons picked US military machinery because it kicked the most ass, is what convinced them to sign on.
Both Megatron and Optimus in Revenge of the Fallen...but the latter was a given. Sam also borrows a page from Optimus.
In the Simon Furman-penned fifth issue for Tales of the Fallen, Ravage gets this treatment as well. Who brought him back, however, remains to be seen, and Soundwave was noticeably shocked by it.
Badass: Any given robot has their moment...except Arcee and Jolt. Optimus and Bumblebee get the lion's shares, though.
Arcee gets to display her badassitude in the comics. No joy for Jolt yet, however.
Starscream. You know things are about to suck when a character that's potrayed as a semi-harmless coward in previous incarnations evokes an Oh Shit expression from Ironhide. And then Megatron arrives later and kills Jazz...
Simmons: Ok, I'm going to count to five. Lennox: *cocks gun* Well I'm going to count to three.
Badass Army: Lots of guys with shaved heads trying really hard to look tough and serious around giant multicolored CGI robots. "GO GO GO! KEEP FIRING! HOLD YOUR POSITION! SEMPER FI!"
And when that strategy doesn't work, they simply apply More Gun.AFVs, tanks, and air strikes, including carpet bombing strikes and AC-130 Spectre gunships. The Decepticons may be 30 foot tall unmatched killing machines, but there are millions of human soldiers on Earth to pile on with.
This exchange between the two leaders in the first film;
Optimus: It's you and me now Megatron! Megatron: Noooooo, it's just me, Prime!
And from ROTF;
Megatron: Is the future of our race not worth a single human life? Optimus: You'll never stop at one! (pulls out both swords) I'll take you all on!
And from DOTM;
Megatron: Besides, who would you be without ME Prime? Optimus: (closes his face mask) Time to find out.
The Autobots' shuttle has blown up, Sam clearly thinks they are all dead and mankind is doomed to enslavement. The Decepticons have just taken Chicago, they have VAPORIZED hundreds of people, likely killed thousands. And Sam and the Epps Spec ops team is being WASTED. Then out of nowhere gunfire downs a Decepticon ship. Cue Optimus walking up and announcing (while holding a BFG)
Sentinel Prime in DOTM. Best shown when, at the end of the film, he fights not only Optimus, but the rest of the Autobots, as well as interference from the human soldiers, at the same time, and is still on the winning end of the fight. It takes Megatron shooting him in the back to take him down enough for Optimus to beat him.
Badass Normal: The humans all get their moments of this in all the movies, but it really shows up in DOTM, as it's made fairly clear that NEST soldiers have been training extensively on the most effective methods of fighting 20 foot tall robots. Previous movies had the humans use anti-vehicle strategies against the Decepticons, which were lacking in genuine results without the Autobots around (the 'Cons behave much differently than tanks). By the climatic battle human soldiers put into play strategies that would allow a couple of men on foot to take down full sized 'Cons with surprising efficiency. Through sheer resolve and bravery Sam managed to single-handedly kill Starscream.
In fact, by DOTM, they're not even using heavy weaponry against the Decepticons. Regular old assault rifles with armor-piercing ammo work just fine, if you know where to shoot. Sniper rifles work also well, if you Go for the Eye.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Not too badly applied to the women in the movies, but quite egregious with the cars. The paid Product Placement from GM ensures that all of the Autobots are conspicuously sparkling clean every time they transform into car mode, even if they're battered and dirty in robot form just before they change. Partly justified when you consider the explanation for their transforming is that transformers have a ultra-dense liquid metal core, borrowing a page from the whole "protoform" concept and that they're reabsorbing and shifting plates into different configurations in and out of the core to transform, so all the dirty robot parts are reabsorbed and reformatted into car parts, while the internal body remains relatively unchanged.
Prime gets a gatling gun and a new BFG once Jetfire's parts are attached to him. In DOTM his trailer becomes a weapons platform which features several of these.
Megatron's combined-arm cannon in the first movie, and his tank form Arm Cannon.
Chromia's (one of the Arcee sisters) cannon arm is larger than her torso.
Big Bad: Megatron in the first film, the Fallen in ROTF, and Megatron again in DOTM with Sentinel Prime.
Big Damn Heroes: Several times in ROTF. And most subverted. Best one's gotta be Bumblebee, who has about five between the two movies.
Seemingly invoked in the opening battle of ROTF. Optimus' alternate mode and general size probably makes it difficult for him to deploy as fast as the human vehicles or Ironhide, so they kept him waiting in a giant cargo plane circling Shanghai. When Demolisher goes crazy they drop in Optimus to intercept him.
In DOTM, the Autobots show up to save Sam and Team Epps when everyone thought they were dead.
Also from DOTM, Q's just been executed, Bumblebee's next, Sam's helpless 'cause his last grenade just died on him, all is lost... and then ships that Wheelie and Brains have sabotaged begin falling from the sky around them, giving Bumblebee the distraction to fight back.
Big Damn Villains: Megatron, of all Transformers sorta has one when he indirectly saves Optimus by beating the shit out of Sentinel
Black Dude Dies First: The only Autobot to die in the first movie was Jazz, who most would consider black. Word of God is apparently that they killed him because he was the only movie character who hadn't died at least once before. They also intended it to be a Player Punch of sorts, as they felt he was the most likeable character after Bumblebee and Optimus.
Averted with Epps, who was one of the few remaining soldiers from his group to survive.
Probably unintentionally played with in DOTM where Ironhide is the first to die. He's not black in portrayal like Jazz, but his altmode is.
Blood Brothers: The human warriors of the NEST team loved their Autobot comrades as such:
Epps: We have shed precious blood, sweat and metal together.
Enough so that even when disbanded and living peaceful lives by Dark of the Moon, they immediately reunited to take revenge for the murder of their Autobot brothers at the hands of Dylan Gould.
Jazz: You want a piece of me Megatron?! You want a piece?! Megatron: No, I want two! (tears Jazz in half)
Revenge of The Fallen (after Prime kills The Fallen):
Optimus Prime: I rise, you fall.
Also in ROTF, Sideswipe's first line after killing Sideways: "Damn, I'm good."
In DOTM, Ironhide: "Class dismissed."
A Boy And His Shapeshifting Robot Car: One of the focal story points of the first movie, this was toned down some in ROTF since Sam couldn't take Bumblebee to college with him, and then averted in DOTM since Bumblebee wasn't able to stay with Sam anymore due to his covert ops duties.
Broken Masquerade: A lot of fans wondered if Transformers became common knowledge after the final battle in the first film, but it was brushed aside with a government cover-up, namely that a bunch of prototype robots on a test run went berserk. Considering that in ROTF, The Fallen broadcasted himself and his demands all over the world, and Devastator destroyed one of the Great Pyramids, a cover-up is going to be a lot more difficult to concoct. The third film finally makes the bots are now common knowledge, with regular news media broadcasts (albeit about massive destruction) casually using the faction names after Sentinel Prime broadcasts the 'Cons demands to the UN.
Bullying a Dragon: Seriously, the last two films have shown that more than a fair share of humans seem to have no issues with telling a bunch of 5 story robots each armed like a small military where they can stick it, regardless of them being on our side.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Simmons is certainly off his rocker, but his original job was being behind a Government Conspiracy. So in unraveling new conspiracies (both alien in nature) in the sequels he is the first guy Sam calls on for help.
Cain and Abel: Megatron and Optimus. Original scripts had the two be siblings. This was downplayed in the final films, but some traces can still be seen in the comics, where it is shown that both were brothers-in-arms, under the leadership of Sentinel Prime.
Car Porn: Justified in a film series where the protagonists are disguised as cars.
Cast the Expert: Most of the military extras that shows up are actual military personnel. Most of the time, they don't even have a script beyond director Michael Bay telling them to say and do what they'd do in the situation.
Scorponok, the Decepticon that jumped out of Blackout, attacked the Army guys, and was largely forgotten about for the rest of the first movie, and most of the second finally returns for the final battle in the second movie.
Soundwave isn't seen again in ROTF after he coordinates the Decepticon desert attack. He shows up in DOTM as the Mercedes Gould gives to Carly.
Chekhov's Hobby: They make a big deal in the first movie about Mikaela's criminal record in stealing cars with her dad. Her ability to hotwire a car comes in handy in both films.
Color Wash: Good luck finding anything in the movies which isn't either blue, orange, or an Autobot.
Combat Pragmatist: All of the Transformers' close combat styles can be summarized as "rip chunks off until it stops moving."
The Humans have no moral objections to shooting 50 foot tall robot enemies in the eyes, swatting them with Rail Guns or cruise missiles from the next time zone over, or dropping all pretenses at subtlety and hammering them into the dirt with massed carpet bombing raids and howtizer-armed aerial gunships.
Bumblebee takes his name and "friend to the humans" role from the G1 Bumblebee, but in every other regard he incorporates the visual look of G1 Prowl/Bluestreak (the door "wings") and the reliable soldier nature of G1 Sideswipe. This ends up making him an Adaptational Badass, and one of the most popular characters in the film.
Jetfire takes influence from his original G1 counterpart (living on Earth for the past few millenia), and the Jetfire of Transformers Armada (his ability to combine with Optimus). His ramblings about what war was like in the past also sound similar to G1's Kup.
Sentinel Prime shares the role of being Optimus' predecessor as leader of the Autobots with his G1 counterpart, but his role as being a mentor/father figure to Optimus (and Megatron), as well as his body and facial design, recall that of Alpha Trion. His main weapons, consisting of a sword and shield, are also vaguely similar to another Sentinel Primeand his Face-Heel Turn is like that of G1 Nova Prime.
Cool Car: It's a given, most of the Autobots turn into these.
Bumblebee and the twins changed their vehicle modes to "cooler" vehicles.
Sideswipe's Chevy Corvette Stingray Concept. It won't actually be made into a production model, so the toy is all that car buffs will actually get.
In an unprecedented move, Bay managed to acquire a Ferrari to be Mirage - and this Autobot is called Dino in the movie as an homage to Alfredo "Dino" Ferrari.
Optimus hands every Decepticon he encounters their ass on a platter at the last few minutes of the movie.
Blackout Vs Entire American Army Base
It's not just him, and it's not just then. Every non-Megs, non-Starscream 'con in the second movie seems to be Made of Plasticine, being ripped apart after mere seconds of fighting (or fleeing in terror.) Even the Big Bad the film is named for put up no fight.
When the Twins start bickering over who was tougher and they started wrestling, Bumblebee in his usual silence picked them both up by the scruff of their necks like they were obnoxious kids and tossed them outside.
And then in DOTM Optimus completely owned Megatron in less than a minute. No, seriously, Megatron shoots Sentinel Prime in the back in order to attack Optimus, only to have his head ripped out just a few moments later. And Optimus had just lost an arm. Megatron was still severely weakened from the beating he received from Optimus during the end of the last movie.
However, Optimus himself had been curbstomped by Sentinel Prime twice and would have been killed if it wasn't for Megatron.
Even The Fallen has his ass, or rather, his face handed to him with ridiculous ease once Optimus acquires Jetfire's parts. Though then again, he was terrified of Optimus in the first place, so this might be why.
Cyber Cyclops: Swindle, Dreadwing and Payload in the tie-ins to the first film; Ravage in ROTF; Shockwave in DOTM.
The Danza: Glenn Morshower as General Morshower in ROTF and DOTM.
Dark Reprise: There are only two musical cues from the original film to really appear in the second. The first is Optimus's theme it's not the upbeat piece it was in the first, being shifted into a minor key. Second, the Autobots' theme from the first film appears exactly once: during Optimus's Last Stand. In addition, as mentioned above, the main riff of Linkin Park's "New Divide" is used in several ways. Also in DOTM the theme "Arrival to Earth" returned when the Autobots were being forced to leave the Earth. Except instead of a heroic, driving cello choir it was a melancholy, slowed down solo. The following are all non-musical examples.
One of the more awesome moments from the start of ROTF is Sideswipe cutting a car in half. Guess what happens when the Decepticons capture Sam and Co.?
Also, the epic moment from the first film in which the Autobots arrive from space is replicated in ROTF with the Decepticons...which proceed to slam through aircraft carriers.
Sam with Alice while riding in Bumblebee has sinister echoes of his ride with Mikaela in the first movie: similar situation, twice the awkwardness. Trying to kill him later was the perfect end to a perfect day...
When the Autobots are being forced to leave Earth in Dark of the Moon, a heartbreaking new version of "Arrival to Earth" plays.
Earlier in DOTM, we see Optimus kneeling before Sentinel Prime to offer him the Matrix of Power. Later, Optimus is again kneeling at Sentinel's feet - but this time because he's about to be killed by his former mentor.
Played straight in the third film. Megatron is barely on the screen for 5 minutes, and when he is, he's barely doing much until the very end. Granted, it is justified as he barely survived Prime's attack at the end of the second film, but it's still a bit of a headscratcher to not have one of the most famous bad guys of the franchise doing much more in this film. Even the small Autobots that stuck with Sam in the third film get more screentime/action than Megatron...
The novelization of the film actually works this into the plot.
Maybe Dirge is so cowardly because he's a legacy character known for dying in a kill-happy universe?
Dylan from the third film. He betrays Earth to the Decepticons just so he will be safe.
Doing It for the Art: The movies exist to sell toys, GM vehicles, and many other products, but Michael Bay didn't want to do it at first. Yes, Mr. Flash Cuts & Explosions had to be talked into doing this. Bay explained that the only thing that made him even bother to consider the job is that you don't just ignore an offer from Steven Spielberg. Once he went through "Transformers School" at Hasbro, he had a wave of inspiration that was about showing something no one has ever attempted to do before. Once convinced, he made sure the CGI was some of the most detailed ever made. Industrial Light & Magic actually said they hadn't done work this groundbreaking since Jurassic Park.
Devastator is likely ILM's greatest accomplishment to date. The scenes with him had such a massive level of detail that rendering him took the ILM equipment to its limits. "Took the ILM equipment to its limits" as in smoking and melting one of the motherboards. Also prior series just made a blur of motion between the transformations, sort of "cheating" the process. Here no two transformations are identical (same basic components go to the right place but how it does that changes) and each one is appropriate to the scene, sometimes done in slow motion for dramatic effect.
Bay insists on doing as many shots for real as possible, instead of doing everything in CGI. He rarely uses a blue screen. That really was the Hoover Dam, that was a real bus splitting in half, those are the real pyramids, that was a real sand explosion, there is a real life-size Bumblebee prop, the entire city of Chicago represents itself, etc.
All of this can be evident in the scene in the first film where Sam is searching for his glasses and the robots are in the backyard. The visual effects were not cheap and that entire sequence was comedic in tone (Steven Spielberg even mentioned, while laughing, that he had never seen something like that before). But it also provided some of the most characterization for the robot heroes and helped to make them more than the killer robots everyone were afraid of, so that when they come to Sam's rescue we are rooting for them.
Bay had to be coaxed into making the third one in 3D, because he said it was "gimmicky". Seriously.
The kid in the first movie who asks an autobot if it's the Tooth Fairy sounds like this that it's not even cute.
Enforced Method Acting: Most of the stunts were performed live, with no CGI. While safety measures were put in place, Shia LaBeouf was really holding onto a statue 20 stories up and the actors were fully briefed on what kind of explosives were used to create the Scorponok sand explosion.
Repeatedly in the third film, with Lennox advising snipers to go after the eyes to blind the Decepticons. Several are destroyed because of this and similar tactics from non-snipers, including such big names as Starscream.
Optimus finally kills Shockwave by ripping his already-hanging-by-wires eye completely out of his head, destroying his head in the process.
And AGAIN in DOTM when Sam launches a grappling hook at Starscream, only to have it latch onto his eye. For the rest of the battle, Starscream flails about wildly, screaming "My eye, my eye! I can't see!" Sam finally puts him out of his misery by planting a grenade straight into his OTHER eye.
Believe it or not, Megatron and by extension, the Decepticons could fit this. Their roles before the war started? They were the protectors of their planet.
Sentinel Prime in the third movie.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Bonecrusher and Jazz's deaths in the first film, and The Fallen, Rampage, Ravage, and Grindor in the second. Every death in the third. Decepticons KILLING HUMANS. You see corpses of people who were probably commuting on their way to work in train carriages. Humans being skeletonized by Decepticons. Even the robot deaths were violent.
Mikaela provides this in spades in the first two movies, but is also more of an action hero than Sam.
Alice in ROTF, at least before she shows her true colors.
Carly in DOTM, from her opening scene on.
Fantastic Racism: Megatron and The Fallen despise flesh creatures, while the Autobot/Decepticon division seems to have grown so strong that neither regards the other as an equal being. In DOTM, the racism angle is considerably cranked up; the plot involves plans to turn humans into a slave race.
In ROTF, after the Transformers are asked to leave NEST, and Megatron kills Optimus, he declares they're not going to hold back anymore. Then Sam's face is flashed on every TV screen in the world, with the Fallen demanding the world hand him over. Oh and Decepticons start making appearances across certain major cities (New York and Paris are shown) as well as sinking an aircraft carrier, just to show that they could. Oh yes, and Sam's parents are captured by them.
And in DOTM, beginning from the revelation of Sentinel Prime's betrayal, it's all downhill for most of the movie.
Everyone by the time Fallen rolls around. Take, for example, the Fallen. He thinks — or possibly knows — that he can only be defeated by a Prime, so he absolutely refuses to take one step out of his lair until Optimus Prime is dead. When Prime is revived by the Matrix of Leadership, the Fallen promptly teleports in, rips it out of his chest, and teleports to the machine the Matrix activates, leaving Optimus critically injured.
There's only one Fallen in the multiverse. He's been through the events of this movie so many times in so many parallel universes he's probably been able to figure out the best strategy via trial and error. And error, and error, and error...one almost feels sorry for the guy.
In DOTM, the Decepticons have been sneaking forces onto the moon, so that when Sentinel activates the teleporter, they can just jump into DC, wreak a little havoc, scan vehicle modes, and then run off and hide. All 200 or so of them. Naturally, their threats to the world go much better than they did in Fallen.
This may also explain why Optimus Prime is so ruthless and executes defeated opponents even when they plead for their lives. He's seen Transformers: The Movie.
Given that one of the implications of the Sector Seven ARG was that the original Animated Series and Movie were an in-universe attempt at a sector seven coverup, combined with the consequences of the Leonard Nimoy actor allusion, this actually makes a startling amount of sense.
Sam, as of DOTM - The moment he realises the Decepticons are active again, his immediate reaction is to go and tell Optimus & the Autobots; he sees through NEST's attempt at hiding in plain sight; when he's dismissed purely because he's a civillian, he contacts Simmons & starts investigating why Russia stopped trying to get to the moon; and he's the one to figure out that the Decepticons were going after Sentinel Prime & the remaining pillars they didn't have.
Likely the reason Sentinel initially survived his fight with Optimus was that he, unlike the other villains, used a shield.
The Autobots in general are this in DOTM when they realize Sentinel and the Decepticons won't live up to their end of the bargin and that it's likely all a trap to take them out in one shot. They send the ship they were supposed to be leaving on into space empty, not letting anyone, even Sam, know it. They were right and Starscream obliterates the ship and they're declared dead, allowing them to pull a Big Damn Heroes moment later without anyone seeing it coming.
NEST is an ongoing conspiracy in Fallen, covering up Decepticon attacks as "gas leaks" and such. Deconstructed to some extent, as there are at least two major blogs dedicated to posting contrary evidence, such as cell phone videos. "Don't Suck the 'Sack!"
Dark of the Moon reveals that the transmission interruption during the Apollo Mission was to give the astronauts a cover to explore the wreckage of a crashed Cybertronian ship on the dark side of the Moon.
Hammerspace: Averted, mostly. There are still issues and goofs regarding interpersonal scale (which is nothing new in Transformers), but the robots were designed and their alternate modes were chosen together to be consistent. Weapons also don't just appear out of nowhere, but are generated from their bodies with the approximate mass.
Some of the goofs are visual cheats for the sake of story. For instance, Optimus is able to hold Sam and Mikaela in his hand... yet he's also able to hold Sam's grandfathers' eyeglasses between his fingers visibly.
The Autobots are dutiful allies in dealing with Decepticon problems, but there is still plenty of collateral damage and American officials are wondering if the Autobots are the reason Decepticons are even there.
Ron Witwicky makes mention that they get a government check if Bumblebee damages anything.
Hollywood Tactics: More or less averted. The actors were trained by real Marines, and the human soldiers do use artillery, air support, cover, cover fire, and know what they're doing. The robots, however, fight differently, on account of being giant transforming robots from a mechanical planet. Naturally, they have an extremely heavy emphasis on mobility.
Homage: Apparently the animators were given relatively free reign with the action sequences and as such snuck in some light Transformer references. Jazz jumping onto Brawl and redirecting his tank cannon was directly inspired by the 80's movie where Kup did something similar. Prime pulling out a blade from his arm is in reference to doing something similar in the G1 pilot episodes. Also, Wheelie bears a striking resemblance to the title character of WALL•E
Hope Spot: DOTM keeps pulling the rug out from the audience. Oh, good, they're going to stop the pillar from firing. Except they can't from the ground. Too bad 'Cons are attacking. Good, they made it to the height they need. And then 'Cons knock over the building. Good, they're safe—and then Shockwave decides to send the giant Decepticon digging worm to take down the building. Meanwhile...
Humans Are Ugly: Megatron regards humans in this way. The Fallen apparently shares the notion as do many other Decepticons. It's not unlikely that many Autobots think something similar, but are just nicer about it.
One of the main things the films show is how the humans are able to fight against the Decepticons. Okay, a human alone wouldn't last very much against a Decepticon, but a well organized group (like the survivors of the base in the first film) can fight and survive once they have an idea what they are facing... and then we have the heavy artillery.
Humans Through Alien Eyes: Somewhat related with a couple of above tropes, but there are plenty of different ways in which Cybertronians view our species. At one point in ROTF, Megatron refers to Sam as an "alien specimen" as he is about to be examined by Scalpel (aka The Doctor). He also offers to allow Sam to be his pet.
Idiot Ball: The plot of the entire second second half of ROTF would have been derailed if the humans had been smart enough to check Jetfire for a faction symbol before waking him up. On the other hand, a jet is rather large.
The Decepticons could have just bought Archibald Witwicky's glasses from Sam anonymously on eBay and avoided the whole battle.
Immune to Bullets: Sort of. The Decepticons are immune to regular ammunition, but super-high temperature explosives work fine.
Well, they work better; Transformers still survive hits from weapons that would destroy a tank.
Sam's mum doesn't want him to leave home for college and has to be reasoned with by his dad. At the end of ROTF the roles are reversed and Mrs. Witwicky realises she has to let Sam go save the world over her husband's protective instincts.
In DOTM, Dylan insults Sam, calling him "just a messenger". In the final battle, Sam throws it right back at Dylan before knocking him into the Decepticon pillar, killing him.
Subverted in that he's still looking for a job in DOTM, despite being an Ivy League graduate and having a medal from the President (in one case, this actually backfires, as the recruiter is heavily biased against Democrats).
Killed Off for Real: Jazz in the first movie, at least two of the Arcees in ROTF, and Ironhide, Que, Sentinel Prime, and every important Decepticon by the end of DOTM.
Kill Him Already: Unlike the various series where there are almost no named casualties unless plot relevant, major robots (and some humans) are killed often due to the ruthlessness of both sides. It is exemplified by Optimus vs. Bonecrusher, where Optimus tears his head off the first chance he got. This attitude towards the robot fights is probably the most popular aspect of these films in comparison to other incarnations; there are casualties in this war.
Lampshade Hanging: Several, from ones that take shots to the original G1 mythos, and, as of Dark Of The Moon, one on the Unpleasable Fanbase 's reaction to the entire trilogy: "It was like a cheesy line from a bad science fiction movie..."
Jetfire...one has to wonder if the casting teams had considered BRIAN BLESSED for the role.
John Turturro as Agent Simmons.
"You see this? This is a "Do whatever I want and get away with it" badge!" and "NOT ON MY WATCH!"
"One man, alone, betrayed by the country he loves, now its last hope in its hour of need..."
Hugo Weaving as Megatron.
Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime kinda counts, if only for giving tons of gravitas to each line he says.
John Malkovich as Bruce in DOTM.
Last of His Kind: Optimus is assumed to be the last in the lineage of the Dynasty of Primes by ROTF, and that seemed to have assuredly been the case after Optimus killed The Fallen. DOTM reveals this wasn't entirely true after the discovery of Sentinel Prime still alive is made; but in his case, he was thought to have been killed, but instead had his ship crash on the moon and send him into stasis. Unfortunately, it turns out Sentinel had allied himself with the Decepticons, and Optimus is forced to kill him at the end of DOTM, presumably meaning he really is the last Prime this time.
Lightning Bruiser: Bumblebee is fairly well-armed, and also has one of the fastest altmodes among the Autobots. Sideswipe and Dino/Mirage could qualify for this if they had a little more armament. And Optimus, best fighter of the bunch, isn't exactly slow, either.
In the first film: Grandpa Witwicky's glasses are of little use but to connect the Transformers to Sam. The AllSpark itself has only a slightly larger influence on the plot, as they demonstrate why it can be a dangerous weapon.
ROTF has two MacGuffins: the cube fragments for the first half and the Matrix of Leadership for the second.
Magic A Is Magic A: The original cartoon eventually handwaved mass shifting as being a part of the Transformers' powers in order to explain the differences in sizes between robots and their alternate modes. The film was originally going to embrace that but Michael Bay refused to allow mass shifting of the robots, demanding they fit inside their alternate modes and great pains were taken to keep them about the right size. This only adds to the believability of the visual effects and emphasizes that they are Transformers and not Shape Shifters. As common for the trope, there was an exception to the mass shifting with regards to the AllSpark, seeing as it was a magical item and subject to its own rules.
Magnetic Plot Device: The first film has the AllSpark as just a MacGuffin, but the sequels show that it still leaves a lasting impression on the characters and the story.
Male Gaze: While there has never been a shortage of blatant shots of the female anatomy in this series, the third film's establishing shot after the prologue is a "so blatant it's practically done satirically" shot of Carly's ass, and if you've chosen the 3D option, well...
Toyless Toyline Character: One Autobot, Mirage/Dino has not much merchandise (or info on Hasbro's website) because his alternate mode is a Ferrari - and Mattel owns the rights for toy cars based on that brand.
The Messiah: Optimus, who is almost always this in Transformers media anyway. He has the utmost concern for human collateral damage and that hinders him in a fight, but if there is no need to worry, he goes all out.
In TF: Between the Army rangers and Sector Seven agents.
In ROTF: between NEST soldiers & Autobots and the regular Army troops.
In DOTM: Ironhide and Sideswipe's 2-on-2 battle with two Decepticons results in a classic four person circle with each combatant holding two guns, one trained on each of the two combatants from the other faction. Sideswipe even invokes this trope by name in describing the situation.
Mid-Season Upgrade: Bumblebee trades in his 1977 Camaro alternate mode in favor of a shiny new 2008 model (with minor modifications as he becomes the most recent model for the following movie). Likewise the Twins, who go from being a combining Bad Humor Truck into a pair of Chevrolet compacts. One of the twins even lampshades this trope. (See page quote).
While the fans would never be satisfied, not using a VW for Bumblebee or a Porsche for Jazz (their iconic G1 alternate modes) was described as "raping my childhood." Michael Bay instead made a deal to use primarily GM vehicles. The issue is the problem with licensing; both Volkswagon and Porsche have refused here and in past toylines to be associated with Transformers because of image concerns. Toys can be made to skew around copyright infringement, but in the film it would be impractical. GM just made the highest bid.
Some fans wanted to bean the Strawman Political over the head for discussing all of their secrets over the satelite connection when Soundwave was hacked in. Only one problem there, while the political weenie was indeed a dumbass, they were using what was supposed to be a secure connection. Discussing secret stuff is what those connections are for.
More of a misattribution than misblamed, but Megan Fox was not fired for comparing Michael Bay to Hitler. Ask anyone and that is supposedly common knowledge. The truth was she was actually giving Bay a lot of respect and sincerity in that interview, the thought was "He's friendly yet awkward off the set but on-set he tries to give off a controlling 'Hitler' persona." This can be evident in that Bay's response was laughing it off and saying that it's part of her quirky charm (it may have been a poor choice of words but it wasn't meant in a damning way). There was evidence released later that suggest Fox's departure from the series was actually at the suggestion of Steven Spielberg who disliked her general attitute and Bay also admitted she never really focused on her work. The whole thing wasn't a petty "You said WHAT about me?" ordeal.
Apparently, the only reason Megan Fox didn't quit after the first movie.
Similarly, Hugo Weaving freely admits to phoning in his performance, a comment that Bay evidently took personally.
Monumental Damage: ROTF: an Egyptian pyramid wrecked. DOTM: Lincoln Memorial's statue destroyed by Megatron to take a seat at its place.
Doubles as a Mythology Gag. G1 Megatron did the exact same thing in one of the episodes in the original cartoon.
Mood Whiplash: Zig-zags between slapsticky sitcom and dead-serious Alien Invasion. (Note the "peeing" scene.) One scene in particular whips the viewer through fanservice, surprise, anxiety, relief, anxiety, squigglies, laughter, then relief. That would be the Sam/Alice makeout scene.
Mikaela. Rather unnecessary since the 13-35 male demographic was already there to watch awesome giant robots. But you can bet money they were thankful anyway.
Right from her introduction, Carly makes sure the viewers do not miss Mikaela too much. It was obvious from the casting that she'll have this role: she's played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, a Victoria's Secret model with no previous acting experience.
Decepticons' occupation of Chicago, complete with random slaughters of defenseless civilians, wanton destruction and turning the downtown in a super-sized concentration camp for human slaves seems... rather familiar.
This unfortunately got Megan Fox fired from production when, during a speech for winning an award, she compared Michael Bay to Hitler, and axed her character with her. Amusingly, Bay wasn't offended by the comparison. However, producer Steven Spielbergwas.
The Fallen was that close to destroying our sun with the Harvester... before a Jetfire-enhanced Optimus Prime comes along, destroys the machine and kills The Fallen.
In DOTM, Sentinel Prime almost manages to bring Cybertron to the Earth and kill Optimus.
Obviously Evil: While in the G1 universe most of the characters looked like humanoid robots, the movie Autobots' have heroic or childlike faces and mostly pleasant looking appearance while all of the Decepticons have monstrous fangs and jagged bodies.
Off Model: In quite possibly a rare, non-Asylum case, there's three in Revenge of the Fallen. Most noticeably whenever ILM's CG predator drone is featured looking nothing like the real-life counterpart also used. And when Ironhide's ejected gun can be seen on his arm in a later scene during the desert battle. The page explains these in more detail.
The third movie also has one instance when Ironhide, Sideswipe and the Dreads face off without any weapons. In one shot, the Ironhide CG Model has his recently dropped guns on his back. Said guns disappear in all other shots afterwards.
Several 'bots in DOTM, most notably Soundwave and Megatron.
Oh Crap: The climax of the first film starts with Ironhide yelling; "It's Starscream!" A few moments later, it becomes abundantly clear why the Decepticons copied military hardware.
There's also Lennox in the final battle in the first film, when, right in the middle of a heated battle against Devastator Brawl, Blackout (a.k.a. the helicopter who initially wiped out the Qatar airbase singlehandedly) appears on a rooftop to assist his friend. His response of "We are so dead" seems rather appropriate.
Subverted in Fallen when the Spark-shard starts up Jetfire, and Sam realizes he's a Decepticon seconds too late. The subversion comes in the fact that he doesn't actually try and kill anyone, and is in fact a good-hearted and decent person who, despite being a Decepticon, no longer believes or supports their violent ideology.
Halfway averted in ROTF with heroic Sideswipe and villanous Sideways. Both of these also happen to turn into silver sports cars. This has led to confusion amongst some, although the confusion in the movie is cut short by Sideswipe cutting Sideways in half and killing him within the first fifteen minutes.
Also, Shockwave/Soundwave. Good luck keeping those two straight if you're not a hard-core fan.
The video games based upon the films often have different voice actors for several characters for cost reasons or due to the movie's casting of a character for the movie proper not being revealed until it's close to release or already released.
Palette Swap: While the Autobots are all unique creations, to get the sense of a real war going on many Decepticons are the same character models, and some don't even have a Earth based form, just a generic Cybertronian body. Reused body molds are nothing new in Transformers, both In-Universe and in the toy line. This was especially prevalent with Grindor, who was essentially Blackout with a different paint job.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The alternate vehicles (especially for the Autobots) were chosen to help convey the proper size of the appropriate characters. Without the magic of mass-shifting, Optimus' original robot mode would not be much larger then the other Autobots. Though G1 fans howled, Bay's edict of "no size-changing" probably helped with the necessary Suspension of Disbelief. Similarly they (and every adaptation after G1) knew that Megatron turning into a handgun just wouldn't fly dramatically. Co-writer Roberto Orci's said it would be "like Darth Vader turning into his own lightsaber and having someone else swing him around."
This is also why movie Starscream is so wide, to make up for his alt mode being so large.
Optimus also became a Peterbilt because it's the largest trailer-less truck (though in the third he carries a trailer, which also transforms!).
The comet protoforms were created due to a DiscussedFridge Logic moment the producers had concerning the Transformers...why would robots who can turn into vehicles need a space ship?
The sequel and the expanded fiction actually do feature space-ships, The Ark and two versions of The Nemesis (which is seen in the sequel); they Hand Wave this by explaining that the comet forms are used for short-distance travel and planet entry. For traveling across entire galaxies, they use ships. Megatron is apparently one of the only Cybertronians capable of traversing entire star systems on their own steam.
Most other Transformers productions feature the robots as the only characters of importance, because A) that's what the people want to see and B) robots are just as easy to animate as humans in an Animated Adaptation. In a Live-Action Adaptation humans have to carry an important role, because A) non-fans need to be eased into accepting transforming robots as characters, B) rendering realistic robots for two hours' worth of film would be prohibitively expensive, and C) why not just make the entire film CGI instead of Live Action ...wait.
Precision F-Strike: The first movie has a barely audible yelled "Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!!!" during the final battle (you essentially have to turn the subtitles on to hear it]], the second one has Mikaela yelling "Fucking do something!!!!" near the end when they rush over to Sam's presumably lifeless body, and the third one has Sam happily whisper-yelling "What the fuck!" when he receives his medal near the beginning.
Curse Cut Short: Near the end of DOTM, when two of the Autobots enter the ship, and say "Quite a clusterf-" *cut to next scene*.
In the third movie, Sam's boss refers to Bumblebee as "fuckin' awesome".
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Optimus has three, one in ROTF ("GIVE ME YOUR FACE!") and three consecutive ones on DOTM:
Optimus: You die! (punches Shockwave to death)
Megatron: Who would you be without me, Prime? Optimus: Time to find out.
General Motors, General Motors, General Motors. Also eBay, Mountain Dew, Panasonic and Xbox 360.
Most college students would use Logitech webcams, not Cisco.
Cisco got another very prominent name shot when panning across the military's War Room in DOTM.
Green Day, anyone? The fact that "21 Guns" was the BGM for four separate scenes in ROTF is just shameless...
Army! Navy! Air Force! Marines! These movies are serious product placement for the US Military. Even the Coast Guard has a Jayhawk helicopter appearing towards the end of the final battle in ROTF.
Megatron and Starscream landing atop the Met Life building in ROTF, which is a bit ironic considering the association of a life insurance company with a plot to destroy all life on Earth.
The conspicuous shots of the Constructicons' hood ornaments could be seen as a nod to Mack trucks.
The third film no longer has a monopoly of GM cars, due to the company's bankruptcy issues. While the already established characters are still GM brands, this allows a great deal more variety. In addition, the other product placement is relatively subtle, compared to the first two films. It mostly consists of not obscuring brand names.
The reason these movies were made: to promote the Transformers franchise and have Hasbro say "Buy our toys, make us richer" (See also the Merchandise Driven Entry above).
Real Song Theme Tune: Played straight with the first and DOTM (with "What I've Done" and "Iridescent" respectively) and subverted with "New Divide", which was specifically recorded for ROTF.
The Red Stapler: There has been an increase in the popularity of twin black racing stripes for custom paint jobs, whether or not they are yellow, Camaro's or even sports cars.
Remember the New Guy: Happens often in regards to both sides, with characters introduced as if they had been there the whole time. Although they probably have thanks to offscreen events.
Ridiculously Human Robots: Played with. Optimus Prime explained that they learned Earth's languages and cultures through the internet. Certain Autobots took on speech characteristics that they felt appropriate to their character and is the reason Jazz is considered black, besides the homage to G1 Jazz and G1 voice actor Scatman Crothers.
In ROTF, they went even further to try and emphasize how these robots are living creatures and not hand-built machines. The robots replicate things like crying and how they react to getting old or injured.
Alice makes this trope literal.
Robo Family: Optimus Prime and Megatron are apparently brothers in this continuity.
Possibly retconned by Word of God, that says it was more a brotherhood kind of usage.
Jetfire mentions both a mother and a father.
He's also senile and out of his gourd, so we can't be too sure on this.
The Arcee bikes are apparently sisters.
Or they're one consciousness in three bodies...the associated materials don't really agree on this.
The Dynasty Of Primes were all referred to as brothers. Optimus (and by possible extension; Megatron) is a great descendant of one of them.
As is Sentinel Prime, but Optimus treats him more as a mentor than a relative.
Rollerblade Good: Bonecrusher in the first movie; Sideswipe, the Arcee triplets, Wheelie, Demolishor in ROTF.
ROTF's robot designs have a lot of fun with unusual methods of robot propulsion. Apart from the aforementioned, there's also a Pogo-Stick (Rampage) variation. The toy version of Rampage goes yet a step further, turning him into a "crab centaur" of sorts. Some of the unused Constructicon concepts are even weirder.
Sacrificial Lion: Due to the difficulty in showing the robots on screen only the REAL major characters get significant screen time, but it's clear that Jazz in the first film and Ironhide in the third are meant to be this. Ironhide in particular is shot in the back by Sentinel Prime, in his first act admitting to his betrayal.
Optimus Prime arrives in the city and confronts Megatron (who had just killed Jazz). They haven't seen each other in over 10,000 years. Their first words to each other?
Optimus Prime: MEGATRON! Megatron: PRIIIIIME!
Optimus seemed rather angry to see Megatron alive and well (well, the fact he was holding the corpse of one of his friends didn't help), whereas Megatron seemed almost happy to see the former.
Ironhide: IT'S STARSCREAM!
The first thing Megatron says once freed from his ice prison was his name, since the humans had been getting it wrong for decades.
Interestingly, in the comics, they have been getting it almost right, with many calling him "Mega Man" instead of NBE-1, after hearing him say it to Jetfire decades before but mishearing it. This includes Simmons' (great-)grandfather, one of the founders of Sector Seven.
Shockwave in DOTM has been sealed under Chernobyl for years. When he gets out in Dark of the Moon, he's ticked off.
Secondary Character Title: Judging from the amount of screentime and backstory the Transformers themselves received, it's safe to say they are the secondary characters in these adaptations. The reason why this is complained about so much is probably due to their being the main characters in other Transformers universes, while in this film they serve the same role as the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, but with the ability to speak.
Sequel Escalation: The filmmakers openly admitted that the first film had the robots kept in the background solely because of cost and as an experiment if the SFX would work. As a result it was mostly a small skirmish between 5 Autobots and 8 Decepticons. With the FX worked out, ROTF had at least 30 named robots (some only in supplemental materials) and another 10-15 generic unnamed robots. Dark of the Moon goes to the logical breaking point, an all out Alien Invasion and Robot War.
Sequel Hook: Optimus' closing narration and the shot of Starscream flying into space. The sequel has both Megatron and Starscream slinking away after they've lost, with Megatron vowing "this isn't over". That, and nobody ever knew about Soundwave who remains in orbit. Makes sense since they're the three quintessential Decepticons.
All it's supposedly the last film DOTM still doesn't have a direct ending, finishing just as the first two, with Optimus musing over their new home and how they'll protect it, although all the Decepticons, Megatron and Starscream included, are killed this time.
Serkis Folk: This would be the only way to do decent live action Tranformers. Apparently, Bumblebee's movements were inspired by Michael J. Fox's performance in Back to the Future and Optimus Prime's movements were inspired by Liam Neeson in everything he does.
Shape Shifter Weapon: In an homage to the G1 cartoon where Optimus Prime and Megatron were shown to have energy weapons they could generate in place of their right hands (an axe and a flail, respectively), the first two films have all the Transformers' weapons be generated from their own bodies. Others had weapons adapted from the human weapons built onto their copied vehicle form, such as Blackout's Vulcan miniguns and tail rotor blades.
Shipper on Deck: Bumblebee to Sam and Mikaela in the first two movies, trying to set them up and keep Sam from cheating. Then he outdoes himself with the rings in the third.
Shout-Out: Michael Bay likes to put self-references to his previous movies in the newer ones. In the first Transformers, at the site where one of the Autobots crashed, we see a nerdy guy screaming "This is a hundred times cooler than Armageddon!". In Dark of the Moon, a couple of shots from the highway chase in The Island are recycled, although one gets a robot added in. Comparison here.
Dutch's fight in the Russian bar may be a Shout-Out to a fight from Serenity, complete with someone using code words to "deactivate" him.
Also, the words used to deactivate River in Serenity were in Russian.
Quite an amusing one to The Hangover in DOTM: The conspiracy theorist Wang, played by the Chinese guy from the Hangover, yells at Laserbeak" YOU MESS WITH THE WRONG WANG!"
The scene where Captain Lennox and his team are pinned down, need to call the Pentagon over a phone and need a credit card to pay for the call is almost identical to a scene in the film Heartbreak Ridge.
In particular, the Fallen is from a relatively recent and obscure comic book and they chose him as a character because he was both "primeval" and not immediately known to anyone who's even heard of Transformers.
There is also a level of great accuracy shown in the scenes when the military is involved, which isn't terribly surprising given that the movies are more or less Backed by the Pentagon. For example, the scene where Lennox's team calls for an air strike in the first film not only uses accurate dialogue used by U.S Air Force personnel in initiating an air strike, but has actual U.S military personnel speaking this dialogue and acting out their real-life roles.
Silent Bob: Bumblebee's voice synthesizer is broken. He uses audio clips to convey his thoughts.
The sequel kinda lampshades this by showing it can be hard for 'Bee to explain things to Sam like this, such as the hot blond girl being actually a Decepticon.
It's also insinuated that Bumblebee is intentionally doing it to be cute, as Sam mentions that he's "playing it up."
Speaks in Shout-Outs: Due to a damaged voice box, Bumblebee "speaks" entirely by replaying radio transmissions he's heard.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: A major complaint against the film series is that the humans, particularly Shia Labeof, get way too much screen time and more attention should be paid to the robots.
The Starscream: Although Starscream doesn't really do his usual thing...in either film... although a popular theory is that Starscream hid himself among the F-22's firing on Megatron.
In fact, Megatron punishes him mercilessly for fleeing at the end of the first movie's climactic battle and assuming leadership over the Decepticons since then.
He does, however, act like his usual self in the prequel novel for the first movie. He attempts to take control of the 'Cons in Megatron's absence, but they're not having it (only the fact that he's stronger than they are keeps them from getting rid of him.)
Megatron is the biggest Starscream of them all in the third movie, to Sentinel Prime.
Symbolic Blood: If the Transformers were organic, it would be very, very messy - like the deaths of some Decepticons weren't in Nightmare Fuel territory already. I mean not only when Optimus Prime WANTS YOUR FACE, look also at Bumblebee tearing Ravage apart, spinal cord with some green goo attached. Ouch!
Not only those, but when Optimus tears Grindor's head in two with his hooks.
And Megatron's face getting cleaved in two, and getting his spine ripped out.
In a more literal vein, when some Transformers receive enough damage you can see them "bleeding" this thick blue liquid, which is theorized to be energon. You can see it more often in the first film, such as the battle damage received by Blackout.◊
DOTM takes this Up to Eleven with the deaths of several Decepticon Mooks.
Throw It In: Michael Bay is a fan of playing around with the script. Shia was hired based on how well he could improv. Also, the reason Sam's friend Miles starts climbing a tree at the lake party is because the actor started doing it in between takes and Bay thought it was a goofy thing the character would do.
DOTM is introducing a "third" form for the Transformers, a battle-ready vehicle mode reminiscent of M.A.S.K.. The reason seems to be because Michael Bay saw the sub-line of the previous movie toy-line called "Stealth Force" that presented a very similar mode and liked the look. The Wreckers' NASCAR altmodes appear to have this form as their only vehicle mode (specifically, armored versions of the #42 of Juan Pablo Montoya, the #48 of Jimmie Johnson, and the #88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.).
Time Abyss: The Fallen betrayed the Dynasty of Primes nearly 20,000 years ago, and Optimus and Megatron were born after that. This makes them considerably younger than most incarnations.
Keeping your headphones on whilst a giant insectoid is crawling underneath the sand is a sure way to get impaled through the chest. Sgt. Donnelly learned this the hard way.
At first, The Fallen seems fairly smart and Genre Savvy. He absolutely does NOT come to Earth until Optimus Prime (apparently, the only one who could kill him), is dead. After Optimus is brought back to life, The Fallen makes his appearance by scattering the Autobots and soldiers, stealing the Matrix (the only thing capable of bringing Optimus to life), pinning Optimus to the ground whilst sneering down at him... and then teleporting away to turn the Harvester on. Sure, at the time Optimus was too weak to do anything and no-one could predict Jetfire giving him his parts, armor and weaponry, but if The Fallen had killed him then (y'know, just to be sure), he could have avoided giving Optimus his face. In his defense, he was more concerned with activating the machine than disposing of his enemies.
Sam in the third. Oh wow, Sam in the third. He kills Starscream! He also helps bee take out Laserbeak and lives up to his threat of killing Dylan.
Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers for ROTF blatantly show the resurrection of Megatron. Also Devastator. Also, Sam gets the Matrix. The Matrix is unrecognizable as such until one actually sees the film.
The first one is a subversion though, in that it puts the audience on the wrong foot. Since people know that Megatron comes back, they assume that he is the Fallen from the title, and therefore they will not look for more obscure possibilities, like Megatron only beingsecond in command).
Subverted by the trailers for DOTM. You may think Shockwave is the Big Bad. And his spectacular entry in the movie itself may still lead the viewer into believing that.
Trilogy Creep: Hasbro has recently announced there will be a fourth film. Michael Bay stated that third film would be his last, but the sheer profitability of the movies has plenty of people pushing for another. Bay later said he might return but he wants to do a smaller movie in between, as the two sequels were filmed on a breakneck schedule with only two years in between installments.
Uncle Tomfoolery: Michael Bay may have induced moderate fan anger by killing the only "black" transformer in the first film, but it is the portrayal of Skids and Mudflap as violent jive-talking hood rats in Revenge of the Fallen that has attracted outright hatred over the internet. Click here for an example. Most this hatred is questionable of robots that learn to speak through the internet, but oh well.
When Sam is chased by Barricade, but these movies are defined by this trope.
A human assisted one: Mikaela running over Alice.
Villain Ball: Given that the Decepticons could hack the Pentagon's mainframe, they could have easily used the same skills to get themselves a post office box and a paypal account, and bought the glasses off of Sam, since he was openly trying to sell them. Instead they tried to shake him down for the glasses, which brought Sam into contact with the Autobots.
To build a Solar Harvester the Primes demanded to use solar systems that did not support life, Earth was originally believed to be uninhabited and the Solar Harvester was already complete when humanity was discovered. The Fallen refused to look for another planet and tried to activate the Havester without their consent, just because he didn't like having to start over.
The comics published by IDW would go on to explain that the Fallen had been displeased with this rule for some time, and had been preparing to betray the other Primes over it. This was simply when he chose to do so.
The very first transformer on transformer fight in the film series alludes to the history of their alternate modes, with bumblebee being a Chevrolet Camaro and Barricade a Ford Mustang. In the 60s The Chevrolet Camaro was introduced by GM in 1964 to compete with the Ford Mustang from two years earlier. Unlike the movie, the Camaro lost.
In the first film, Barricade shows up in the group of Decepticons chasing the Autobots before Bonecrusher's rampage, but disappears for the rest of the film. The comic and novelization of the first movie have him killed by Optimus right after Bonecrusher, but apparently this was changed at the last minute. Roberto Orci said that his disappearance was intended as a possible thread for Revenge, but things just got lost somewhere along the way, possibly due to the 2007 Writers Strike. He does show up in DOTM, but nothing is made of his absence.
Scorponok vanishes after getting shot up in the desert, then shows up during the climactic battle in ROTF.
Wheelie vanishes before the combat begins at the climax of ROTF, but he shows up as being in Sam's custody in DOTM where he has a full presence up to and including an apparent Heroic Sacrifice.
Scalpel (the Decepticon doctor) disappears immediately after Optimus and Bumblebee become Big Damn Heroes. The novelization states that Optimus blew him up right after. In DOTM, we see two non-speaking robots that look just like him, though - one or the other may be the doc-bot, or not.
Fig, the soldier talking about how juicy alligator meat is from the first film, the one wounded in the fight with Scorponok and carried out on a stretcher. Presumably, he doesn't show up for the rest of the movie because he's recovering from his injuries, but the only reason he's absent in ROTF is the actor having a scheduling conflict and being unable to film it. Then again, his role was just minor enough that we might not think of him were it not for Bay mentioning this to begin with.
So if we want the story with the plotlines filled, we should forget the movie and just read the comic/novel.
The twins attempt to fight Devastator but fall off. They then disappear for the last half-hour of the movie. However, we do see Simmons and Leo again, so...
John Malkovich's character disappears completely after the first half of DOTM, although since his importance to the story was gone at that point he's not really missed.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Soldiers, federal agents and Decepticon troops drop like flies in the intense battle scenes.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The protagonists seem to be a bit too eager to torture, mutilate, and murder Decepticons when given any opportunity. Mikaela takes a blowtorch to Wheelie's eye, Sideswipe boasts how awesome he is at vivisecting a fleeing Decepticon, Ironhide executes the critically-wounded Demolisher, and Optimus seems terrifyingly eager to mutilate Decepticon faces.
There's a scene in DOTM where the Wreckers are ordered to pull out a Decepticon pilot from its downed ship and kill him, and they do it by tearing him piece by piece, not giving him a swift death. Okay, he had gratuitously killed several humans just before, but some may find it disturbing still.
In every movie, the robots' deaths are gratuitously violent. To those arguing the opposite, watch the moving, but imagine the robots were human. Be horrified. Alternately, put yourself in the shoes of a robot.
Word of God: Various information such as Barricade's disappearance from the movie and how much Sam's parents knew at the end credits were explained by the screenwriters and tie-in comics.
You Can't Go Home Again: A recurring motif in the series. Cybertron was damaged beyond repair by the war, and the AllSpark's destruction ensures that it may never be brought back to its pre-war state again. The third film also possibly implies that the Space Bridge's destruction caused Cybertron to collapse on itself, leaving the Autobots with only Earth as their home.
You Look Familiar: Glenn Morshower played the Colonel in charge of the Qatar based in the first film, who was implied to have been killed (Lennox and team were the only survivors). Morshower was recast as General Morshower who directly oversaw the NEST team in the sequels.
A rather different case than usual — most of the Autobots turn into cars, who apparently know Kung Fu. For the first movie, in fact, Michael Bay instructed the animators to watch Kung Fu movies to get a feel for how they should move. According to the DVD extras, he even had martial artists on wire rigs filmed to visualize the combat movements of the Transformers in hand-to-hand combat.
A more traditional case was Bumblebee's slide/drift in vehicle mode to knock down Barricade while rescuing Sam and Mikaela.
Car Skiing: Bumblebee does this to scan and transform into the 2009 version of the Camaro.
Chekhov's Gun: Optimus outlines a plan that the only way to destroy the AllSpark is by merging it with his own spark in his chest. The idea was that eliminating the AllSpark and Optimus along with it is preferable over Megatron getting it. Sam managing to execute that plan on Megatron was definitely seen as a Million-to-One Chance.
Chest Blaster: Blackout's chest cannon, Frenzy's CD blade launcher.
Dawson Casting: Shia LaBeouf was 19-20 while filming and Megan Fox was 19, both playing high school juniors. Bay mentioned that he was initially not interested in LaBeouf because in his movies immediately prior he had grown a goatee, making him look too old to play a teenager. Seeing him clean shaven convinced him otherwise.
E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: The Decepticons' ability to infiltrate Earth technology is Hand Waved by stating that all modern tech was reverse-engineered from the captured Megatron, which would also explain why the AllSpark could be used to transform Earth's tech.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Parodied when Sam asked the Autobots to back off from the house while he searched for the glasses. The Autobots transform into their vehicle modes... and sit right there in the back yard. Sam screams at them that it's not a truck-stop, and they have to hide in robot-mode. Optimus later invokes the trope in his message before the credits.
Hollywood Hacking: The entirety of the slightly-less-than-awesome "signal processing" subplot.
Humans Are Bastards: The capture of Bumblebee by Sector 7, which, coupled with them repeatedly blasting him with freezing chemical during and after the capture, has a definite feeling of torture. When Bumblebee almost shoots the engineers after they release him, it's hard to blame him.
Some of this is even intercut with the rest of the Autobots questioning Optimus over why they should save us from the Decepticons, given how primitive and violent we are as a race. Optimus Prime reminds them that at one time, Cybertronians were Not So Different from us.
Ratchet is one of the physically strongest Autobots. He's also one of the slowest.
Ironhide even more so.
Mistaken for Masturbating: Sam Witwicky's parents notice that he's hiding something from them. Sam's mother outright asks if he's masturbating, and his parents proceed to try to give him space.
Moment Killer: Invoked by Mikaela. Sam's parents were questioning Sam's nervous and twitchy behavior (due to the Autobots hanging out in the backyard) after coming into his room, with her trying to hide. To end the conversation Mikaela presents herself, making it seem that Sam was acting that way because they interrupted an intimate moment. Rather than being upset, Mom and Dad Witwicky are thrilled for Sam.
Judy Witwicky: Oh my gosh you're gorgeous! I'm sorry you had to hear our little "family discussion."
Ratchet's introductory comment: "The boy's pheromone levels suggest that he wants to mate with the female."
Earlier, when Bumblebee pretends to cut out at a local make-out point, his radio starts playing Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing".
No Conservation Of Mass: Mostly averted, since care was taken so that the Transformers had the same amount of mass in vehicle and robot form. However, the Cube can apparently go from house-sized to basketball-sized with no release of energy. That said, the Cube is a magical MacGuffin responsible for the creation of a not just a race of transforming giant sentient machines but their entire world as well so it gets a little leeway.
"Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Michael Bay mentioned in the DVD Commentary that the sequence where Lennox had to deal with an obnoxious telephone operator to get a call transferred to the Pentagon while under fire was taken from a Real Life incident he heard about while talking with some military personnel.
Standard Police Motto: Parodied. Barricade's alt-mode is a police car mode with the phrase "To punish and enslave."
Staring Kid: Several, one notable one is the girl who has a transformer land in her pool.
Under The Truck: Captain Lennox grabs an abandoned motorcycle in the first film, drives it straight at the Decepticon walking away, and puts it in a slide right through his legs, while firing his assault rifle and Grenade Launcher straight into said Decepticon, killing it.
You All Share My Story: The three separate subplots involving Lennox's team, the NSA hackers, and Sam and Mikaela converge when all three are assembled at the Hoover Dam for the final battle.
Tropes for works connected to the films
All There in the Manual: Along with the prequel novels, there are several comic books dedicated to detailing the story between the flashbacks in ROTF and what lead to the Autobot / Decepticon split, and circumstances of the AllSpark leaving Cybertron.
Alternate Reality Game: The Sector Seven ARG for the first movie, which reveals that the Transformers franchise is a Masquerade created to cover up the truth: that Sector Seven and transforming alien robots are real...
Transformers Animated was produced in anticipation of the movie's popularity, but the story is a whole other Alternate Continuity line. As such, there are several direct nods to these films: Megatron's Cybertronian form looks like a simplified version of his movie incarnation, Bumblebee having a racing stripe and Blackout shows up in season three. The Japanese translation was initially announced to turn this series into a direct adaptation, but so far the only real difference is that Bulkhead's name was changed to Ironhide. The canceled fourth season was supposed to come even closer, with Ironhide and Jazz replacing Bulkhead and Prowl on the Earth team and the remaining Autobots using new color schemes more reminiscent of the movie - yes, including flame decals on Optimus.
The Wal-Mart DVD has Transformers: Beginnings, which is a Limited Animation adaptation of the IDW prequel comics. About its only positive draw was that it had Frank Welker as Megatron, and that turned out to be not so great because he used an age-affected version of his G1 Megatron voice (Welker's performances as Movieverse Megatron, which are even less deep and growly than Megatron's voice in G1, have caused quite a few fans to dread Welker reprising his role again). Peter Cullen as narrator was advertised, but that turned out to be inaccurate—it was narrated by Mark Ryan, who did Cute Mute Bumblebee's one spoken line ever.
Transformers Prime is even closer to an adaptation in spirit, even including the writers as Executive Producers. Most of the series takes cues from the films as Optimus, Megatron and Bumblebee have nearly identical designs. Compare movie Bumblebee◊ to Prime Bumblebee◊.
Continuity Snarl: There is very little that is consistent between different comic adaptations, novelizations and the movies. This includes backstory chronology, character biographies and other specific details (a big one being Arcee's combined or not combined nature). According to the Transformers "Multi-Verse" theory that Hasbro insists upon, all of these versions exists in some form.