The fourth film in the Transformers Film Series, directed by Michael Bay and released on June 27th, 2014. The film is intended to be the start of a new trilogy with a new Story Arc to it.Five years after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the Decepticons had left Earth and the Autobots were driven into hiding by anti-Transformer sentiment and paramilitary action. Life has, more or less, returned to the way it was before the Cybertronians battled on their planet. Mark Wahlberg plays an inventor named Cade Yeager who happens upon an old, dilapidated semi-truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime. A new human conspiracy unfolds, and the arrival of a Transformer mercenary named Lockdown indicates something ancient and malevolent is setting its sights on Earth. With the help of their new human allies, Optimus has to gather the Autobots to save humanity even as they are being hunted on multiple fronts.Nicola Peltz plays Cade's daughter Tessa and Jack Reynor plays her boyfriend. Kelsey Grammer plays Harold Attinger, the mastermind behind the human strike team. StanleyTucci plays Joshua Joyce, a scientist who cracked the code to the Cybertronian biology with Sophia Myles as his assistant.The movie became the first of 2014 to open at $100 million (although it's been disputed), and was also the first to reach $1 billion in worldwide box office.The movie has a tie-in game, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, which serves as an Intercontinuity Crossover with the War for Cybertron universe.Check out the Super Bowl spot and the final trailer.
Aesop Amnesia: The trailers make it seem like the US government turned on the Autobots after the Battle of Chicago, yet again. But the actual movie shows that itís just the CIA thatís trying to wipe out the Autobots. The White House and the American public are under the impression that Attinger and his men are hunting Decepticons and that the Autobots have been given sanctuary. However, the film does make a point of showing—through the humans' reaction to seeing Optimus transform to various posters in Chicago—that the general public is afraid of the Cybertronians.
Alien Invasion: Lockdown leads one, and whoever he works for wants the Cybertronians back.
Alphabetical Theme Naming: Just like the original Dinobots, aside from Grimlock, all the known Dinobots so far have names starting with S.
Hound, who's a huge, gun-toting Big Guy this time around when he was a hologram-casting forward scout traditionally.
Swoop the Pterosaur of the Dinobots has always been something of a Fragile Speedster, great for reconnaissance but not too powerful on its own. Here, it is a massive dragon-like flyer that dwarfs Bumblebee.
Lockdown was never a slouch at combat in either of his previousappearances, but here he's established to be on about the same level of combat as Optimus. The same Optimus who can fight three top-tier Decepticons at once and come out ahead.
Adapted Out: Some of the traditional Dinobot forms got replaced with different characters as different species or were given much different names (some of the names haven't been consistent across the adaptations anyway).
Adaptation Name Change: The Dinobot names have generally had at least one or two changes with every new adaptation. Slug the Triceratops was originally Slag (although Snarl has also been another name for him). Strafe is generally considered an Expy of Swoop rather than the same character.note Word of God states that Strafe is an entirely new character, separate from Swoop, because the two-headed design was considered too great a departure from previous Swoop characters. Not that any of the name changes matter, since none of them are given names on-screen.
Adorkable: Bumblebee, but also Hound when Tessa gets them dancing. In the background, Drift can juuuust be made out bobbing his head to the music.
Adult Fear: Cade's primary motivation is to provide for Tessa and keep her protected, between men in black nearly shooting her, and Lockdown coming after Optimus, there is plenty of reason to be afraid for her safety.
Advertised Extra: The Dinobots, in particular Grimlock. Almost every single piece of advertising showcased Grimlock prominently, but the truth is that the Dinobots only appear in the last 20 minutes of the movie. Of course, they do a lot in those 20 minutes.
Always Someone Better: Man-made transformers were created and based on dead or existing Autobots & Decepticons. Stinger was specifically designed (and marketed) to be "Like Bumblebee, but better in every way", and until Strafe came to the rescue, Stinger definitely had the upperhand in their fight.
Hound however kicks all kinds of ass on his opponents.
Anachronism Stew and Misplaced Wildlife: The opening has Psittacosaurus, Iguanodon, and Brachiosaurus at the end of the Cretaceous Period. Minutes later, the cyberformed remains of a Tyrannosaurus (Late Cretaceous North America) and a Spinosaurus (Middle Cretaceous Africa) are shown frozen in the same location.
An Arm and a Leg: Ratchet loses a leg while trying to flee. At that point he offers to surrender because of his injury, only to learn they had no intention of taking him alive.
Apathetic Citizens: In Chicago, Beijing and Hong Kong no one seems to be running or fleeing unless the giant robots are upon them.
Apologetic Attacker: Optimus has to deal with Grimlock's stubbornness, and their entire fight Optimus is saying "Let me lead you!" *punch*
"Who sent you here?", which Optimus asks of Lockdown. The bounty hunter is said to be working for a much more powerful and dangerous villain than we see in the film, and this will be explored as the series continues.
Art Evolution: Every returning character gets some radical new designs, based off mostly new vehicles. Justified because they are being hunted by human groups, forcing them to take on new alternate modes to hide. It's still recognizably the same character, just with new armor design based on their new form. Optimus is shown in a cab-over semi design reminiscent of his classic G1 form, already different to his long nose Peterbilt. He later turns into a snub nose Western Star. Each comes with a new robot mode design, although the cab-over's robot mode is only slightly modified from his design in the first trilogy.
The general look of the robots in this film seem to be slightly less complex and "gritty" and more sleek and stylized, moving closer to the art style of the Aligned continuity (such as Transformers Prime), though it's still recognizably the Movie-verse.
Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: You can't carbon date something and find that it's 65 million years old. The half-life of carbon-14 is 5700 years, which means that after 171 thousand years, less than one part in a billion of the original carbon-14 remains, and carbon-14 is only a trace isotope to begin with.
Back-to-Back Badasses: Hound, Bumblebee and Cade singlehandedly fend off the Vehicons in Hong Kong until the arrival of Optimus and the Dinobots.
Badass Boast: Galvatron makes a pretty good one when Optimus accuses him of having no soul by not only acknowledging he's right but replying with "That is why I have no fear!"
Badass Bookworm: Cade, an absent-minded inventor with a perpetual "Whoa" expression, is also a damn good shot with an alien rifle and can more than hold his own in a fistfight with a professional CIA black book assassin. in the end he even fights Lockdown one-on-one briefly and actually does remarkably well.
Badass Bystander: The guy in the elevator that helps beat the snot out of the goons trying to catch Joyce.
Badass Driver: Shane, and justified by him having a souped up rally car that represented his life savings. Although even he expressed surprise at what he was able to do. He is later the official driver for the group.
Bash Brothers: Hound and Bumblebee, and later Optimus and Grimlock.
Batman Grabs a Gun: Optimus fires on members of the paramilitary in self-defense, but it is debatable if he actually killed them. He later expressed concern that he did NOT want to harm humans, regardless of what they had done. In the climax, he purposefully killed Attinger to protect Cade, even in the midst of fighting for his life against Lockdown.
Berserk Button: Optimus gets really pissed when he finds out Ratchet was brutally slaughtered and being melted down for resources. He's in a sensitive place most of the movie (and has gotten angry before), but this was a complete snap.
Big Bad Ensemble: Attinger and Lockdown count as both this and a Duumvirate, as while they work together they have very different goals and represent separate threats. A straighter example is Galvatron, who plays Attinger and never even interacts with either him or Lockdown.
Big Bad Duumvirate: Lockdown and Harold Attinger, as they remain in partnership throughout the film.
Big Bad Wannabe: Galvatron. He seems to be playing everyone off each other in order to reach his goal, but in the end his minions simply serve as cannon fodder during the final battle with Lockdown and Attinger's men. While this is going on, Galvatron cowardly retreats, vowing that he will return.
Big Damn Heroes: The Autobots do this repeatedly throughout the film, from when Optimus Prime comes out of hiding in order to protect Cade and his family, and later when he arrives with the Dinobots to stop the Decepticons from acquiring the seed so they could create an army from it.
Just to underline what's been mentioned: Autobots. Riding. Dinobots. That's a pretty damn big sight.
Bigger Bad: Whoever Lockdown is working for, which is implied to be the creators of the Transformers.
Big Good: Once Optimus calls the surviving Autobots to regroup, we get this inspired exchange:
Crosshairs:"Ugh, you just want to die for the guy. That's leadership... or brainwashing... or something." Drift:"No, that's Optimus Prime!"
Blood Knight: Crosshairs seems to be one. He certainly enjoys shooting up Decepticons in the trailers.
Bloodless Carnage: Optimus lands a killing shot on puny human Attinger, but instead of incinerating his entire upper torso, it merely leaves a burn mark on his chest.
Both Sides Have a Point: Humans have a pretty damn good reason for building anti-Transformer tech since the battles between them have razed cities and killed God knows how many people. This is made worse by the fact that they are actually innocent bystanders in a war between the Autobots and the Decepticons who just so happen to be warring on Earth. On the other hand, if the Decepticons were left unchecked, mankind would most likely be destroyed/enslaved nor does it justify working with the Aliens who created the Transformers or brutally murdering Autobots.
But Now I Must Go: Optimus takes the Seed and heads into deep space alone, leaving the remaining Autobots on Earth, as he still has to confront his apparent Creators.
Canon Foreigner: Scorn, as there has never been a Dinobot that took on the appearance of a Spinosaur (the species was made famous by Jurassic Park III).
Canon Immigrant: Lockdown makes his debut as a seemingly major antagonist (he already had a movie-styled toy way back in ROTF based on his previous appearance).
Casual Danger Dialog: Several times, such as when they are climbing across the cables to Willis Tower
Celebrity Paradox: One of the voice clips Bumblebee uses is "I am calm" from The Big Lebowski, said by the character Walter Sobchak. Sobchak was played by John Goodman, who voices Autobot Hound in this film.
Cerebus Syndrome: Bay announced that this installment would be less 'silly' than the previous films, to the point where the trailers were almost completely devoid of comic moments. While the final film does still have quite a bit of humour, the Darker and Edgier theme bring this trope into effect.
Chekhov's Skill: At the beginning, Cade throws a football at Lucas, who gets hit on the head, and comments on how Lucas didn't make the varsity football team. Later on, when he and Savoy winds up crashing into a Hong Kong apartment, Cade uses the tenant's football to hit Savoy on the head, allowing Cade to then shove Savoy out the window.
CIA Evil, FBI Good: Whereas heroic (if weird) Agent Simmons was a member of Sector Seven, a subdivision of the FBI, Harold Attinger is a CIA agent.
Cold Sniper: Lockdown's signature weapon is a nasty looking, laser sighted sniper rifle that transforms from his face. His preferred method of attack is to strike from afar while they are distracted, with rounds powerful enough to down even Optimus.
Collector of the Strange: Lockdown is said to have numerous strange artifacts, relics and Easter eggs aboard his vessel. He also has live specimens, one of which harasses Hound at one point. Another grabs Tessa with its Overly-Long Tongue.
Continuity Nod: Posters are seen reminding people about the Decepticon occupation of Chicago from DOTM.
Galvatron exclaims "I am Galvatron" exactly like Megatron exclaims "I am Megatron" from the original film.
Attinger has a set of playing cards showing various Autobot and Decepticon characters. A prominent one shows Ironhide with a red X over him, as he was killed in the last movie.
Composite Character: Hound has the name of a classic G1 character, but was a military jeep that made him among the smaller Autobots. The larger assault vehicle, heavier build, and apparently jolly attitude he has in this film makes him more like Bulkhead from Transformers Animated and Transformers Prime. He also has a few traits of another G1 Autobot Kup, a veteran with a cy-gar in his mouth.
Stinger's color scheme and resemblance to Bumblebee call to mind Cliffjumper from the original series, while his status as 'Bee's rival is closer to Wasp/Waspinator from Transformers Animated.
A somewhat downplayed example: Joyce initially wanted Galvatron to resemble Optimus, but with a black/gray color scheme. Because of Megatron's consciousness surviving in the armor, it ended up looking like the latter. This arguably makes Galvatron a composite of both him and Nemesis Prime.
The first was when the Cemetery Wind men were about to shoot her to get Cade to tell them were Optimus is. Optimus gives himself away to save her.
The second time is when she's caught in the net Lockdown used to bring Optimus to his ship. Though she ends up taking care of herself pretty well (even better than her boyfriend).
Darker and Edgier: Note Cerebus Syndrome, while there is still some humor among both humans and Autobots, it is far more subdued and no one could be considered there as just the Plucky Comic Relief (once Lucas bites it, anyway). The plot takes a very dark, IDW-Comics-ish turn on the series, with the good robots being mercilessly attacked by humans all the while begging for their life and professing to be Autobots on their side.
Dating What Daddy Hates: Cade is averse to Tessa having a boyfriend, especially one who's a lot older than her while she's underaged, for much of the film.
Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much every Autobot but Optimus, who is just very angst ridden at this point.
Defeat Means Friendship: The Dinobots are initially hostile to Optimus Prime. However, after he defeats Grimlock, they join up and turn their rage on the decepticons instead.
Defiant to the End: When Lockdown offers Ratchet a Hope Spot of letting him live on the condition that he reveal Optimus Prime's potential hiding spot, he just answers "Never!"
Demoted to Extra: Not a huge amount, but Bumblebee has reduced screentime because Sam isn't in this film. He's still a major character, and seems to bond a little with Shane, but has no more of a role than the other Autobots sans Optimus.
Did You Actually Believe?: Lockdown asks Attinger if he thinks Earth is the center of the universe. He also asks if Optimus actually thinks he was born, telling him that he — and, by extension, all Cybertronians — were built, and that their creators want them back.
Digging Yourself Deeper: Lucas says that Tessa is hot right in front of her father. When Cade is predictably not amused, he tries to backpedal by saying she's hot for a teenager; instead Cade is of the opinion that Lucas has just made it worse.
Dragon Rider: Well firebreathing robotic t-rex rider, but Optimus riding Grimlock is otherwise this.
Due to the Dead: Hound sadly salutes his fallen friend Leadfoot upon learning of his death.
Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Defied by Lockdown, who rants that no matter what world he lands on, the native inhabitants always assume this trope regarding their planet. Of course, Attinger arrogantly doesn't see it that way.
Attinger: A new era has begun. The age of the Transformers is over.
Enemy Mine: Attinger mentions the quote "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" to Lockdown on why they have a partnership in the first place, to which Lockdown responds with a quote of this own: "I don't care."
Expy: Hound rather obviously takes the place of Ironhide as The Big Guy of the Autobots. As noted in Composite Character, he looks like another Bulkhead, and similar to Kup.
Strafe is a two-headed pterosaur Dinobot, substituting for Swoop (who was going to be in the movie, but the two-headed design made Hasbro create a new character).
Galvatron includes some aspects of Nemesis Prime; Joyce even wanted him to resemble Optimus, but Megatron had other ideas...
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: At one point, Cade says he has a family. Savoy replies everyone does. Earlier, Savoy says he lost people during Chicago.
Even Evil Has Standards: When Galvatron is first deployed, Joyce angrily points out to his Cemetery Wind handlers that their project fired on civilians and dispatches paramedics to the general area.
Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Dinobots make their first appearance; Optimus even rides Grimlock as a mount. All of them have traits of various species or simply fabricated to look cool. In addition to the complex movie-verse look of the robots, most of them have a vicious demonic look.
Everything's Better with Samurai: Whereas Drift in the comics was simply a sword-wielding Autobot with a bit of a samurai motif, Age of Extinction Drift's robot mode is heavily modeled after a typical samurai.
Evil Counterpart: Stinger to Bumblebee. He's also an Evil Knockoff, because he was specifically designed to be like Bumblebee, except "better in every way", by KSI. At the end, the two get to fight across the Hong Kong on Strafe's back, ending with Bumblebee decapitating Stinger, and feeding his head to Strafe.
Bumblebee: I hate cheap knockoffs
Cemetery Wind is basically an Anti-NEST: a human team that targets Autobots.
Evil Is Not a Toy: Trying to reverse-engineer Decepticons to make your own transformers? No, there's no way that can possibly backfire.
Eye Scream: A non-gory one by the good guys Yeager gives Savoy a left thumb to the eye to get the upper edge in their brawl. Savoy is okay if a bit sore and recovers quickly enough to pull out a fighting knife.
Ratchet gets his leg blown off and then has his spark pulled out of his chest by Lockdown.
Lucas is mangled, exposed, and solidified by Lockdown's grenades.
Lockdown dies by getting bisected by Optimus from the middle of his chest all the way up to his head.
Fantastic Racism: Everything involving the work of Harold Attinger and Joshua Joyce treat the Cybertronians as a science project. Joyce explicitly calls Optimus "simply metal," which is enough encouragement that Optimus is ready to leave Earth to their own fate afterwards.
Attinger: "There are no good aliens or bad aliens! There is just us and them."
Fanservice: Par for the course, with Tessa providing the most eye-candy. But it is more subdued than in previous installments, limited to mostly women wearing tank tops and/or short shorts since she's underaged. But somewhat lampshaded by Cade, asking his daughter why her shorts were disappearing (complete with almost a parody of a Between My Legs shot).
Cade: Cold water and air-dry, please! ...So they don't shrink further.
Foreshadowing: It's noted aloud that while Galvatron is designed to look like Optimus, "He keeps coming out looking like Megatron!" Also, when Galvatron is deployed and given the command to transform he does so by switching lanes and smashing right through civilian vehicles causing casualties. When Joyce asks if they programmed him to do that, an operator responds "Yes. (beat) Mostly..." Soon after, he fires several missiles at Optimus unprompted. This sets up the reveal that Galvatron is a reborn Megatron who was only pretending to be under control.
For Science!: Many of Joyce's researchers appear to be this regarding their research into Transformium. They did seem to genuinely have noble goals for it, but unfortunately they're working from Decepticon remains, specifically Megatron's. A bit of Fore Shadowing takes place as well when Joyce asks his researchers why the prototype Galvatron keeps looking like Megatron instead of Optimus Prime as was the original intention after several attempts at the design.
Generic Doomsday Villain: Galvatron. Compared to Lockdown, he doesn't have as much characterization and just wants to use the Seed to kill all of humanity.
The Ghost: We don't really know what the Creators look like. The only hint we get of their appearance is in the prologue; there's a brief glimpse of a a pink, organic hand operating the controls of a spaceship.
Government Conspiracy: Harold Attinger of the CIA has a secret black ops team called Cemetery Wind that kills all Transformers, including Autobots, without the public knowing and is secretly in league with Lockdown, a Transformer bounty hunter, so that he can replace Autobots with drones made from Transformium that can protect America from another invasion.
Green-Eyed Monster: Bumblebee gets quite agitated when watching the KSI promo video for Stinger, and they repeatedly state that it's an "improved" version of the former. He eventually knocks the display down, then turns back into his car mode, causing Shane to get blamed for knocking it down when some KSI employees show up.
The Heart: When Optimus went into hiding, the rest of the Autobots scattered. Even when they regrouped, it's noted that the Autobots are much more pushy with each other than normal because they didn't have Optimus to keep them in line.
Heel-Face Turn: Drift pulled one prior to the events of the film, defecting to the Autobots.
Heel Realization: Joyce realizes his pursuit of progress may have gone a bit too far once Galvatron reveals his true colors. He spends the rest of the movie keeping the Seed away from Attinger and Galvatron, and ends up joining up with the Autobots.
He Knows Too Much: Attinger aggressively pursues Cade because he contradicts the official story, and only gains more knowledge he shouldn't have as the film progresses.
Hijacked by Ganon: Joyce and Attinger think they have Galvatron under their control; Galvatron is in fact Megatron and is actually manipulating both of them into bringing him the Seed and building him a new Decepticon army.
Hold the Line: Done a few times throughout the film, particularly in the last third of the film when the Autobots attempt to prevent the Decepticons from acquiring the seed.
Hostile Terraforming: The Seed converts a specific area into transformium, from which Transformers can be built. Attinger barters with Lockdown for one since they can only harvest so much transformium from the Transformers on Earth, and a great many were used on Earth to provide raw materials for the Creators, killing off the dinosaurs as collateral damage. Galvatron plans to hijack the Seed and detonate it in a major city, from which he can build an army.
Humans Are Special: A side plot involves Cade trying to convince Optimus that humans, while capable of bastardry (see below), are just as capable of becoming better than what they are.
Hurting Hero: Optimus has always had a "dignified sadness" to his character, a noble and powerful warrior who really doesn't want to fight. But here, his first appearance after emerging from stasis is a delirious "I'll kill you!" and you know something has broken inside. While the movie franchise version of Optimus has always been more aggressive and ruthless than normal, almost every scene of Optimus you almost expect Manly Tears.
When infiltrating Lockdown's ship, Drift insists that violence should be their last resort. Within seconds he slaughters a random thing that comes out of the wall.
Combined a bit with Hypocrisy Nod, Joyce acknowledges that he's basically kickstarted the apocalypse, then criticizes Cade for bringing his family along.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Optimus gets this a couple times from Lockdown; once when he gets captured, Lockdown uses his Hook Hand to drag Optimus to a cell by his leg, then in the final battles he uses Optimus' own sword to stab him through the chest. And then at the end, Optimus impales Lockdown with the same sword and bisects his upper torso and head by pulling it out.
The Infiltration: Cade and Shane do this about halfway into the film, infiltrating KSI in order to see what that company is up to regarding the Autobots. Optimus Prime goes berserk when he finds out one of his Autobots being melted down there, and proceeds to trash the place as a result.
Just a Machine: How many of those working at KSI view Cybertronians, which is why they have no problem melting down their dead bodies for resources. Joyce's assistant Darcy even confides in Cade (whilst the latter is disguised) that she only saw them as metal, only for him to state that they're not, but instead living beings. Of course there are others who seem perfectly aware Cybertronians aren't simply machines, but just don't care.
Just Think of the Potential: When Cade discovers the beat-up truck he bought is a seemingly-dead Transformer, he wants to study it in the hopes of adapting its technology, a venture he feels would be far more profitable than simply reporting it for a $25,000 check. Later on, when he gets his hands on the alien sword-gun and marvels at its power, he immediately adds that he intends to patent it.
Kaiju: Grimlock has always been big but he's border-lining this, according to his specifications. According to Bay, Grimlock will be "150 feet long from tail to nostrils, 63.5 feet tall from the ground to the top of his horns, and weigh 850 tons". That's 1,560,000 lbs.
All of the Dinobots are pretty big. Scorn (the Spinosaurus) is the biggest of them all, being bigger than Grimlock.
Karma Houdini: Thanks to his late movie Heel-Face Turn, Joyce gets off virtually unscathed despite his collusion with the CIA to murder Autobots, harvesting their bodies for spare parts, and creating Galvatron.
Karmic Death: Attinger gets blown up by Optimus, just as he promised he would do for hunting and killing the Autobots and forcing Cade, Tessa, and Shane to lose everything and go on the run.
Lucas. He phoned the hotline for reporting Transformers (Against Cade's wishes), and ended up getting killed in the ensuing melee.
Kick the Dog: Savoy specializes in this, but his taunting of Ratchet while killing him is just abominable.
Killed Off for Real: Ratchet, Leadfoot, Lucas, Savoy, Attinger, and Lockdown. All Autobots who don't return for this movie are presumed dead.
Optimus's new design is very knightly as well. The toyline even gives Optimus a variationcalled "Silver Knight".
Knight in Sour Armor: Optimus starts out very bitter and angry over humans trying to kill him and his fellow autobots. The film includes an arc about Optimus regaining his faith in doing good.
Knight of Cerebus: Lockdown, his first scene involves him tearing Ratchet's spark from his torso and throughout the movie is shown to be a truly frightening and dangerous threat to the Autobots.
Attinger. He doesn't have a single humorous scene or line in the whole film.
The Last Dance: Hound essentially does this at the end while attempting to protect the seed from the decepticons. He literally fires everything he has at them, then resorts to chucking grenades and vehicles, and finally tries to go into Knife Nut mode. He eventually runs out of fumes and Cade's attempt to get him back up doesn't work. Fortunately Optimus Prime arrives to perform a Big Damn Heroes moment with the dinobots in tow.
Lightning Bruiser: Technically applies to most of the Transformers, given their size and speed. But Grimlock is an absolutely massive Dinobot big enough for Optimus to ride, and is exceptionally quick despite his size.
The Medic: Ratchet, technically. But without him around to repair Optimus, Cade offers to help. His knowledge of machines and robotics is useful, but the most he can really do is some welding and patch work. He seems to do a good enough job that Optimus' natural repair systems are able to take over from there.
Minovsky Physics: Transformium seems to qualify as this, giving some very clearly defined rules to the Transformers.
Missing Mom: Tessa's mother died sometime before the events of the film.
Mysterious Employer: Lockdown is just a bounty hunter. He was hired to come to Earth by beings who "created" the Cybertronians, and who really, really want their creations back.
Mythology Gag: Optimus starts out in the film with a form that whilst very similar to his previous design in the trilogy, is essentially a Movie-fied version of his G1 appearance.
There have been several humans in past incarnations who have worked to make their own Cybertronians. EU material for the first film had Sector Seven managing to do so with limited success. Transformers Prime had the human paramilitary group MECH do the same thing in a manner very similar to Attinger's group.
Optimus Prime's new look, especially with the sword he gets later, smacks of the Generation 2 "Laser Optimus Prime" figure, down to having a similarly shaped if differently colored appearance and alt-mode.
The Transformers Are Dangerous viral marketing site has a newspaper clipping mentioning that San Francisco is taking measures to prevent any Cybertronian attacks. In various continuities, San Francisco is one of the cities constantly caught in the midst of an Autobot-Decepticon battle.
Just the mention of the creators of the Transformers, referencing the Quintessons from G1 lore.
Similarly, the mention of "knights" appears to be a reference to the Knights of Cybertron, a fairly new concept introduced in the comics.
Megatron's rebirth as Galvatron is a continuation of a long standing tradition in Transformers lore.
Him being revived by manipulating a human who found his severed head is also similar to how it happened in Transformers Animated.
While Bumblebee still uses sound bites from his radio, he can also now "speak" with his broken voice in a manner similar to his portrayal in Transformers Prime. The alliance between Lockdown and Attinger is also similar to the one formed by Airachnid and Silas from that series as well.
As established by Transformers Animated, Ratchet and Lockdown have a history together which Lockdown violently brings to an end, and Lockdown came to Earth because he has been hired for the purposes of capturing Optimus Prime.
Also, Lockdown transforms into a Lamborghini, yet his robot mode is big. As tall as Optimus himself, in spite of the movie continuity's greater emphasis on keeping the robot mode sizes more approximate to the mass of what they transform into. Generally, Lockdown's previous incarnations have always been far taller than their vehicle modes would suggest. This was even emphasised by their toy releases where the two past Deluxe (the standard size class) figures of Lockdown ended up being taller than quite a few Voyagers (a larger size class).
This movie isn't the first time that the idea of dead Transformers being melted down for raw materials is used. The idea actually came up back in the original cartoon, with Optimus himself being the dead one. The episode in question is called "The Return of Optimus Prime" for those wondering.
KSI's drones have been referred to as Vehicons. Vehicons first appeared in Beast Machines, where they were spark-less Transformers made from melted down Cybertronians and under the command of Megatron. Not only are the film's Vehicons also made from melted down Cybertronians, but Galvatron later reprograms them into his new Decepticon army.
Lockdown's ship sucking all the metal is similar to the opening scene in Transformers: The Movie where Unicron was devouring the planet Lithone.
Also from the source mentioned right above: a group of autobots detach an independent, self-propelling part of Lockdown's ship without their enemy noticing it, in the same way that Ultra-Magnus and Springer did with an autobot spaceship to fool Galvatron in the 1986 animated movie.
It is shown that the Battle of Chicago convinced humanity that all Cybertronians were dangerous. Only a few years ago, IDW used a similar plot point in Transformers: All Hail Megatron, where the destruction of New York ended with humanity coming to the same conclusion.
When Optimus scanned another truck and finally regained his colors, the original cartoon sound effect of the transformers transforming can be heard when the Autobot symbol shows up.
Joyce's chief scientist has the G1 cartoon's scene-transition tune as his ringtone.
When fighting in China, Grimlock is seen in T-Rex mode, impaling a 'Con on his tail before biting him in two. This is a similar killing move he used in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: The interstellar jet-boots Optimus uses to fly away and search for the Quintessons in the end would have come in handy earlier.
Some fans have noticed that the sword Optimus picks up during the film caused a brief change in the color of his arm. Perhaps it installed a few things...
During the final battle, you could briefly see Optimus using the jet boosters when leaping off Grimlock◊ so it is likely that this was the case.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lucas upon discovering that the truck Cade had in his barn/research lab was in fact a Transformer, and tells him the government is paying big money for any sightings of them. While Cade has him go buy supplies, he also makes a phone call to the CIA, who then rush to Cade's farmhouse and nearly shoot Tessa in the process. He later swears he didn't think any of that was going to happen.
No Endor Holocaust: What damage was done to Chicago in the previous films (although very few buildings were outright leveled) was apparently rebuilt in the five years since then.
Not So Different: Optimus bemoans to Cade the betrayal of humanity and the death of his Autobot friends. Cade himself is worried about keeping his family safe even as apocalyptic events are unfolding.
Cade also bemoans dealing with Tessa's rebelliousness.
Optimus: I went through the same thing with Bumblebee.
Cade and Joyce also share the similarity of being inventors who wonder at the advances Transformer technology could bring. Joyce, however, is somewhat more amoral in his pursuit of that, though Cade eventually causes a Heel-Face Turn by appealing to their similar natures to convince him that he's in over his head..
Obfuscating Stupidity: Galvatron pretends to be remote-controlled by humans before revealing his true nature.
Old Hero, New Pals: Optimus Prime not only has the Yeagers aiding him in place of the Witwicky family, but is leading a brand new team of Autobots as well, with only Bumblebee, Ratchet, Leadfoot and Brains returning. And Ratchet dies early in the movie, alongside Leadfoot who dies in recorded footage
The Dinobots (Grimlock, at least) join forces with the Autobots for the finale as well.
Ominous Floating Spaceship: The Creators had a whole fleet, as shown in the prologue. In the present day, Lockdown has only one, but it can still do massive damage.
Order Versus Chaos: Lockdown's employers are concerned that the intermingling of species and worlds is upsetting the balance of the universe.
Our Souls Are Different: There is some slight discussion about Transformer sparks, their soul analogues. Joyce insists that they cracked the code to Transformer physiology, but they are without sparks and thus actually more unpredictable and easily controlled by Galvatron once he reveals his true colors. Galvatron is explicitly Megatron reincarnated, acting on his own will but does not have a spark. What this exactly entails is not elaborated upon, but may be touched on in future movies as Optimus goes to confront the Cybertronian Creators.
Outrun the Fireball: Three humans outrun the bomb that turns living matter into transformium. One isn't so lucky.
Precursors: Lockdown reveals that his mysterious employers apparently created the Cybertronion race. Given that they've sent a vicious bounty hunter to reclaim one of their creations, they're definitely Abusive Precursors. We only get one fleeting glimpse of them, at the very beginning of the movie, a pinkish tentacle operating a panel.
Special mention goes to the prominent shot of Bud Light truck being destroyed with Bud Light bottles all over the place, one which is drank from by Cade.
There's a Victoria's Secret bus in Hong Kong getting smashed in slow motion and in perfect focus, since Bay directed a commercial of theirs back in the day (complete with explosions).
One of the products Joyce uses Transformium to make is the Beats Pill portable speaker and he refers to it as such.
The ATM that Cade uses (via drone) is a Chinese Construction Bank ATM. And the ATM is a rest stop in Texas (or the Western United States)!
The protein powder that Shane and Tessa shoplift is also shown to be a Chinese brand.
A brief shot of a Transformer whose alt mode is apparently an Oreo vending machine.
A lingering shot of the brand of bottled water Bingbing Li is drinking.
While hiding on a rooftop in Hong Kong, Joyce snags some sort of boxed drink from a nearby fridge, and it's shown with a fair amount of detail as he enjoys it. Doubles as a Continuity Nod; Jerry Wang from the previous film enjoyed the same brand.
Some FLIR equipment is shown near the beginning of the film.
The Purge: The Autobots were driven into hiding by human forces after the Chicago occupation in DOTM, after the dissolution of their military alliance (NEST) allowed Attinger to target the Autobots under the guise of still tracking down Decepticons. It is especially harsh because the Autobots spent the last three movies training human military how to defend against the 'Cons using themselves as "sparring" partners (an almost sacred trust) and with it being turnedagainst them.
Punch Clock Villain: While every bit as vicious as every other Cybertronian antagonist we've seen, non-aligned bounty hunter Lockdown has been said to be only on Earth for his target, before he intends to just leave and collect his payment from his employer.
Put on a Bus: The entire previous human cast is nowhere to be seen as well as the Decepticons, only a few Autobots like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Leadfoot, Ratchet and Brains return. with the only returning Decepticon being Megatron.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Autobots that are left don't get along very well, and in some cases are one bad word away from trying to kill each other.
Retool: Given the Grand Finale tone of Dark of the Moon, the only way to continue in the same continuity would be to do something of fresh start. This involves introducing new human characters and new Decepticon villains, as well as an aesthetic revamp.
Reality Retcon: The dinosaurs weren't wiped out by a meteor strike, it was an alien species that also created the Transformers.
Remember the New Guy: Drift, Hound, and Crosshairs are new to the films, but Optimus and Bumblebee already know them. It's implied that they arrived on Earth sometime after the last film.
Revisiting The Roots: Being a soft reboot lets them introduce new characters and, because of The Purge, the sheer number of Autobot characters are reduced. In addition to a reduced Decepticon roster, this brings us back towards the smaller, more intimate cast with more distinctive personalities like they had in the first movie, with the focus on building relationships instead of just action scenes.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Optimus leads a truly terrifying one when he learns that Ratchet was killed and is being melted down for parts.
Optimus: "They slaughtered Ratchet! I'LL TEAR THEM APART!"
Sacrificial Lamb: Cade's friend and employee Lucas is killed/roasted by a firebomb thrown by Lockdown that the others just barely managed to escape. It is karmic, as he was the one who alerted the authorities to their place, but he meant well and was trying to help.
Sequel Hook: Galvatron is unfettered by losing this time, as he just goes off to make further plans. Optimus leaves earth with the seed to search for the creators, but asks the other Autobots to stay and defend humanity, while the Dinobots run off free into the wilds of China. In addition, Lockdown was extracting Autobot sparks, not outright killing them...
Joyce's chief scientist at KSI creates a Rainbow Dash doll out of "Transformium".
Galvatron's chest features a glowing reactor that resembles Gipsy Danger's
When Optimus Prime flies away at the end of the movie it bears a strong resemblance to The Iron Giant.
Shown Their Work: While in the wrong time period, the Psittacosaurus from the opening was depicted with quill-like feathers on its tail.
SoCalization: A notable aversion of the age of consent version.
Sound Effect Bleep: Bumblebee is not happen to see Stinger and the marketing campaign "Like Bumblebee, only better." Being Bumblebee, among his ranting is a literal "What the [bleep]?"
Spit Take: Joyce does one when the Autobots first attempt to retrieve the seed in China via their hijacked spaceship. He was just expecting a helicopter at the time.
Spotting the Thread: When trying to deny any knowledge of Optimus to Cemetery Wind, Cade refers to Optimus as "he". Attinger, listening through the drones, realizes that Cade must have spoken to Optimus if he's using gendered pronouns to refer to him.
Starfish Aliens: There's one in a cage on Lockdown's ship. Hound and Crosshairs come across it. There's also the mysterious aliens in the beginning of the film.
Start My Own: The human villains are making their own drones out of "Transformium", and view the Autobots as unnecessary.
Straw Hypocrite: Attinger shows Fantastic Racism towards all Transformers and claims that humanity will be protected by eliminating them yet he works with Lockdown and doesn't care if he totals an entire city.
Suddenly Voiced: In-Universe: Joyce and his assistants are disturbed when their allegedly remote-controlled Galvatron speaks. It's later revealed that Megatron's mind has persisted in the new mech.
Summon Bigger Fish: Optimus's solution to Galvatron making the drones his new allies and Lockdown coming back to finish what he started? Let the Dinobots loose.
Take That, Us: When Cade and Lucas are going through an old movie theater for stuff they can buy for salvage, the owner bemoans modern cinema with all its sequels and remakes.
Tempting Fate: In the background of a scene featuring Stinger, there's a sign proclaiming him "safe and secure". Three guesses how that turns out.
That Came Out Wrong: Cade forbids Tessa from dating until after she graduates high school, pointing out that both him and Tessa's mom spent the day of their graduation in the hospital because the latter was giving birth. He doesn't want Tessa making the same mistake; unfortunately, Tessa was the baby in that scenario, which results in her thinking her dad is telling her that she's a mistake.
Trailers Always Lie: One of the TV spots showed Tessa dancing with Hound and Bumblebee, but this was cut from the film.
Trailers Always Spoil: Brief shots of Ratchet being attacked and killed is shown in nearly every trailer.
Tranquil Fury: Bumblebee insists he's perfectly calm as he tips over Stinger's statue.
Trilogy Creep: Dark of the Moon was intended to be the last of the live-action films under Bay, with a lot of wrapping up character arcs and a rather conclusive victory. But the movies made so much money and everyone involved had so much fun making them they almost immediately started production of a new trilogy. Bay surprised himself by returning, saying that it felt like letting a child go.
The Unfettered: Attinger simply smiles when Cade brings up how he ordered his henchmen to kill Tessa.
Ungrateful Bastard: Humanity to the Autobots; after having risked their sparks and servos in protecting the human race for three movies, the humans decide to pay this back by hunting down the remaining Autobots. After what's happened in the end, it may change.
Unobtanium: "Transformium", the metal transformers are composed of and a big reason why Attinger is hunting them down. Joyce wants it so they can make an army of KSI built Transformers, using the raw matter from their bodies. The MacGuffin is a device called "The Seed," which would terraform an area on a small scale by converting local matter into Transformium, which would give Joyce more than enough material for their projects.
Unpredictable Results: Despite making major advances in creating transformer based technology, there are still some major hiccups. Joyce is quite upset that their Galvatron project is supposed to be a replica of Optimus Prime, but no matter how they tinker with the settings Galvatron looks like a modified Megatron...
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Harold Attinger does genuinely believe he's protecting humanity, but he's plenty corrupt and lacking a moral compass.
Wham Line: From Lockdown: "You think you were born? You were built. And they want you back."
When Galvatron speaks for the first time, revealing to Optimus he isn't some man-made drone, but in fact Megatron reborn.
Optimus: You have no soul!
Galvatron: That is why I have no fear!
What Happened to the Mouse?: Sam and all the other human characters from the previous 3 movies are not only not present, they aren't even mentioned.
Brains disappears without explanation after his expository speech midway through the film, though his last line says he's had enough of the war and is getting out of here.
Wife-Basher Basher: The Chinese elevator rider, who was largely minding his own business at first. But after he witnesses Su getting knocked down by one of the CIA thugs while she was attempting to protect Joyce, he immediately drops his bags, and unleashes Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs into the guy, saving her and Joyce.