There are many films based on toys, but arguably none has found fame the way Transformers has. The series, inspired by Hasbro and Tomy action figurines, has resulted in four movies, with one more out this year. While its plots and humour are usually met with a mixed critical reception, the world-class quality of its visual effects, its action sequences and its music is undeniable. So well-loved is the franchise that it’s currently one of the top ten highest-grossing film series of all time – and two of the films have grossed more than $1 billion each.
All five films have been directed by Michael Bay, who’s known for his extensive usage of explosions and rapid, stylistic visuals. Despite generally being held in low esteem by film critics, he has found considerable success at the international box office and has amassed a legion of fans. With the upcoming release, The Last Knight, being his last Transformers film, it is expected that the film will find equal (if not more) success. Can’t wait till June? First, enjoy this epic binge watch, then get on Transformers: The Ride at USS for some more gratification – even if it’s just a teeny bit.
The first instalment naturally drew sky-high expectations before its release, and though it received varied reviews, it was the fifth highest-grossing film of the year. To make the film realistic, yet still under budget, the U.S. Department of Defence got involved with the production process, allowing their aircraft to be filmed and soldiers to be used as extras. In the oft-photographed scene where Scorponok emerges from the sand to pursue the soldiers, so dangerous was the set-up that the actors were told that they might die.
All exciting stuff! While impossibly long-drawn-out, the exhilarating battle between the Transformers and the Deceptions is definitely the highlight – non-stop destructive action in all its thrilling glory. If you need an extra reason to watch the film, know this: Transformers was also the fastest-selling DVD release of 2007.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
We know what happens when someone tries to settle back into a normal life in movies – they find themselves mercilessly dragged out of it and once again placed into the thick of the action, which is how Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) finds himself back in the Transformers’ war. Given that it’s another Bay film, it’s hardly surprising (especially after the hazardous detonation in Transformers) that the local fire department had to be called to one of the scenes after the set caught fire – the scene in question being when Bumblebee blasts Sam’s bedroom.
Also, this film featured a massive 1,000-gallon gasoline bomb that took seven months to be put together, longer than it took to shoot the whole film. Crazy? Yes, and here’s what’s crazier: the bomb made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest bomb ever filmed with actors close by. Now, you’ve got to see it for yourself.
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (2011)
This instalment drew extra hype because Megan Fox (no thanks to Steven Spielberg) got fired from the film. Not that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is any less of an attractive addition – in fact, at that point the sexy model hadn’t had any previous acting experience, but so impressed was Bay that he gave her the role on the spot. Also, although the director swore that Autobot Twins, Skids and Mudflap, would not be making an appearance, even promising US$25,000 to anyone who could spot them, they are actually in one of the scenes. Kudos to you if you can see them! Of course, more cars got destroyed in this film as the Autobots race against the Deceptions to learn the secrets of a Cybertronian spacecraft - all 532 of them. This is the first film of the series to have reached more than $1 billion at the box office, so you know it must be worth getting into.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Bay didn’t originally want to direct the fourth instalment but changed his mind after seeing fans wait three blocks for their turn for the Transformers ride at Universal Studios. He incorporates more crazy action sequences – 70 minutes’ worth, as a matter of fact – and had a gigantic Hong Kong set constructed in downtown Detroit for it.
If you’ve always been curious about what Cybertronian sounds like, this film is where you’ll hear it as Optimus Prime speaks it for the first time. Although this is the first Transformers movie to not receive any Academy Award nominations, it’s also the second of the series to have hit the $1 billion record at the box office – a clear indication that it’s still popular in its own right. Age of Extinction, however, runs for 2 hours 45 minutes, so make sure you get real comfy for this larger-than-life binge watch weekend!