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Information about TransformersTransformers is a 2007 (10 years ago) live-action movie adaptation of the Transformers franchise, directed by Michael Bay and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. It stars Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a teenager involved in a war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, two factions of alien robots who can disguise themselves by transforming into everyday machinery. The Decepticons desire control of the All Spark, the object that created their robotic race, with the intention of using it to build an army by giving life to the machines of Earth. Megan Fox (273 walls), Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson and John Turturro also star, while voice-actors Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving voice Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively.
Producers Don Murphy and Tom DeSanto developed the project in 2003 (14 years ago), with a treatment written by DeSanto. Executive producer Steven Spielberg came on board the following year, and hired Orci, Kurtzman and United States Military and General Motors lent vehicles and aircraft during filming, which saved money for the production and added realism to the battle scenes.
Hasbro organized an enormous promotional campaign for the film, making deals with hundreds of companies. This advertising blitz included a viral marketing campaign, coordinated releases of prequel comic books, toys and books, as well as product placement deals with GM and eBay. The movie was a box office success despite mixed critical reaction to the radical redesigns of the characters, and reviews criticizing the focus on the humans at the expense of the robots. It is the thirty third most successful movie released and the fifth most successful of 2007 (10 years ago), grossing approximately US$708 million worldwide. The movie won four awards from the Visual Effects Society and was nominated for three Academy Awards. The movie became the first in a series, it revitalized media interest in the franchise, and a sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (5 walls) was released on Jun. 24, 2009 (8 years ago).
PlotThe movie opens with Optimus Prime, heroic leader of the benevolent Autobots, describing in a voice-over the destruction of the Transformers' home world, Cybertron. It was destroyed by the malevolent Decepticon leader Megatron in his quest to get hold of the All Spark. The Autobots want to find the All Spark so they can use it to rebuild Cybertron and end the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, while the Decepticons want to use it to obliterate the Autobots and take over the universe. Megatron had managed to locate the All Spark on Earth, but crash-landed in the Arctic Circle and froze in the ice. After stumbling upon his frozen body in 1897 (120 years ago), explorer Captain Archibald Witwicky accidentally activated Megatron's navigational system and his eye glasses were imprinted with the coordinates of the All Spark's location, an incident that left him blind and mentally unstable. Sector 7, a secret government organization founded by President Herbert Hoover, discovered the All Spark in the Colorado River and built the Hoover Dam around it to mask its energy emissions. The still-frozen Megatron was moved into this facility and was used to advance human technology through reverse engineering.
In the present day, the group of Decepticons named Blackout, Scorponok, Frenzy, Barricade, Starscream, Brawl and BonecrUsher (4 walls), have landed on Earth and assumed the disguise of Earth vehicles (except Scorponok and Frenzy, who hide within Blackout and Barricade respectively). Blackout and Scorponok attack the U.S. SOCCENT forward operations base in Qatar and try to hack into the U.S. Military network to find the location of Megatron and the All Spark. Their mission is thwarted when the base staff cuts the network cable connections. While Blackout destroys the rest of the base, Scorponok pursues a small group of survivors, led by Captain William Lennox and Sergeant Robert Epps, who have photographic evidence of the robots. Scorponok is eventually repelled and hides in the sand after the humans damage his tail. During this battle, the military discovers the only effective weapons against the Decepticons' armor are high-heat sabot rounds.
After Blackout's failure, Frenzy infiltrates Air Force One to again hack into the military network, planting a computer virus. He finds the map imprinted on Captain Witwicky's glasses. While the Pentagon interferes with Frenzy's plan, he finds that Witwicky's descendant Sam Witwicky intends to sell the glasses on eBay. Frenzy and Barricade begin tracking Sam's location. Meanwhile, Sam buys the Autobot scout Bumblebee (also on Earth disguised as a 1976 (41 years ago) Chevrolet Camaro (9 walls),) as his first car. After Bumblebee helps Sam woo his crush, Mikaela Banes, he leaves at night to transmit a homing signal to the rest of the Autobots. Sam pursues Bumblebee, thinking someone is stealing his car, but is shocked to find his car is actually a giant robot, which he regards as evil as first. Sam then gets arrested, and in the police station, tries to explain to the police officer what happened, but the apathetic and impassive officer just assumes he's drunk. When Bumblebee (in car mode) returns the following day, Sam flees, believing the car is stalking him. While out, Barricade attacks Sam and ferociously interrogates him about his grandfather's glasses. Bumblebee saves him (as well as Mikaela). In the process, Mikaela severs Frenzy's head but he transforms into her cellphone and hides in her purse. They leave to meet with the rest of the Autobot team Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet who have landed on Earth and taken the forms of Earth vehicles as well. Sam, Mikaela, and the Autobots return to Sam's home and obtain the glasses; however, agents from Sector 7 arrive and take Sam and Mikaela into custody. The Autobots intervene, but Sector 7 captures Bumblebee and sends Sam and Mikaela away.
Sam and Mikaela are taken to Hoover Dam, as are Lennox and Epps, under Defense Secretary John Keller's orders. Frenzy sends an alert to the other Decepticons and sneaks into the technology system, freeing Megatron from his frozen state. Sam convinces the Sector 7 agents to release Bumblebee so that he can deliver the All Spark to Optimus Prime. Frenzy's hacking has shut down government communications, but Keller and two hackers, Maggie and Glen, manage to establish a signal to the Air Force in order to support the Autobot-human convoy that has gone to nearby Mission City to hide the All Spark. The Decepticons attack; BonecrUsher (4 walls), Frenzy, Jazz, Barricade and Blackout are all killed during the ensuing battle. Sam, who was instructed to put the All Spark into Optimus Prime's chest (subsequently destroying it and Optimus Prime if the battle went in favor of Megatron), instead chooses to ram the All Spark cube into Megatron's chest. The All Spark disintegrates, and its power obliterates Megatron. Optimus takes a fragment of the All Spark from Megatron's corpse, but admits that with its destruction, their home world Cybertron cannot be restored. The government orders the closure of Sector 7 and has the destroyed Decepticons dumped into the Laurentian Abyss. Lennox and Epps are reunited with their families, and Sam and Mikaela form a relationship. Optimus transmits a message to all surviving Autobots in space, telling them that they have a new home on Earth.
During the credits, Starscream, the only Decepticon to survive the battle, escapes into space.
Development"In all the years of movie-making, I don't think the image (wallpaper) of a truck transforming into a twenty-foot tall robot has ever been captured on screen. I also want to make a movie that's a homage to 1980 (37 years ago) movies and gets back to the sense of wonder that Hollywood has lost over the years. It will have those Spielberg-ian moments where you have the push-in on the wide-eyed kid and you feel like you're ten years old even if you're thirty-five."
Tom DeSanto on why he produced the movie
Producer Don Murphy was planning a G.I. Joe movie adaptation, but when the United States launched the invasion of Iraq in Mar. 2003 (14 years ago), Hasbro suggested adapting the Transformers franchise instead. Tom DeSanto joined Murphy because he was a fan of the series. They met with comic book writer Simon Furman, and cited the Generation 1 cartoon and comics as their main influence. They made the Creation Matrix their plot device, though Murphy had it renamed because of the The Matrix movie series. DeSanto chose to write the treatment from a human point-of-view to engage the audience, while Murphy wanted it to have a realistic tone, reminiscent of a disaster film. The treatment featured the Autobots Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, Arcee, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Bumblebee, and the Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave.
Steven Spielberg, a fan of the comics and toys, signed on as executive producer in 2004 (13 years ago). John Rogers wrote the first draft, which pitted four Autobots against four Decepticons, and featured the Ark spaceship. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, fans of the cartoon, were hired to rewrite the script in Feb. 2005 (12 years ago). Spielberg suggested that "a boy and his car" should be the focus. This appealed to Orci and Kurtzman because it conveyed themes of adulthood and responsibility, "the things that a car represents in [the United States]". The characters of Sam and Mikaela were the sole point-of-view given in Orci and Kurtzman's first draft. The Transformers had no dialogue, as the producers feared talking robots would look ridiculous. The writers felt that even if it would look silly, not having the robots speak would betray the fanbase. The first draft also had a battle scene in the Grand Canyon. Spielberg read each of Orci and Kurtzman's drafts and gave notes for improvement. The writers remained involved throughout production, adding additional dialogue for the robots during the sound mixing (although none of this was kept in the final film, which ran fifteen minutes shorter than the initial edit). Furman's The Ultimate Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, remained as a resource to the writers throughout production. Prime Directive was used as a fake working title. This was also the name of Dreamwave Productions first Transformers comic book.
Michael Bay was asked to direct by Spielberg on Jul. 30, 2005 (12 years ago), but he dismissed the movie as a "stupid toy movie". Nonetheless, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the mythology upon visiting Hasbro. Bay considered the first draft "too kiddie", so he increased the military's role in the story. The writers sought inspiration from G.I. Joe for the soldier characters, being careful not to mix the brands. Because Orci and Kurtzman were concerned the movie could feel like a military recruitment commercial, they chose to make the military believe nations like Iran were behind the Decepticon attack as well as making the Decepticons primarily military vehicles. Bay based Lennox' struggle to get to the Pentagon phoneline while struggling with an unhelpful operator from a real account he was given by a soldier when working on another film.
Orci and Kurtzman experimented with numerous robots from the franchise, ultimately selecting the characters most popular among the filmmakers to form the final cast. Bay acknowledged that most of the Decepticons were selected before their names or roles were developed, as Hasbro had to start designing the toys. Some of their names were changed because Bay was upset that they had been leaked. Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee and Starscream were the only characters present in each version of the script. Arcee was a female Transformer introduced by Orci and Kurtzman, but she was cut because they found it difficult to explain robotic gender; Bay also disliked her motorcycle form, which he found too small. An early idea to have the Decepticons simultaneously strike multiple places around the world was also dropped.
DesignThe filmmakers incorporated valid physics into their designs, establishing the necessity for a robot's size to correspond to that of its disguise. The layout of Optimus Prime's robotic body within his truck mode is seen here.The filmmakers created the size of each robot with the size of their vehicle mode in mind, supporting the Transformer's rationale for their choice of disguise on Earth. The concept of traveling protoforms was developed by Roberto Orci when he wondered why "aliens who moonlight as vehicles need other vehicles to travel". This reflected a desire to move to a more alien look, away from the "blocky" Generation 1 Transformers. Another major influence in the designs was samurai armor, returning full-circle to the Japanese origins of the toy line. The robots also had to look alien, or else they would have resembled other cinematic robots made in the image (wallpaper) of man.
A product placement deal with General Motors supplied alternate forms for most of the Autobots, which saved $3 million for the production. GM also provided nearly two hundred cars, destined for destruction in the climactic battle scene. The military of the United States provided significant support, enhancing the film's realism: the movie features F-22s, F-117s, and V-22 Ospreys, the first time these aircraft were used for a film; soldiers served as extras, and authentic uniforms were provided for the actors. A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and Lockheed AC-130s also appear. Captain Christian Hodge joked that he had to explain to his superiors that the filmmakers wanted to portray most of their aircraft as evil Decepticons: however, he remarked "people love bad guys".
FilmingDirector Michael Bay filming at Holloman Air Force BaseTo save money for the production, director Michael Bay reduced his usual fee by 30%. He planned an eighty-three day shooting schedule, maintaining the required pace by doing more camera set-ups per day than usual. Bay chose to shoot the movie in the United States instead of Australia or Canada, allowing him to work with a crew he was familiar with, and who understood his work ethic. A pre-shoot took place on Apr. 19, 2006 (11 years ago), and principal photography began on Apr. 22 at Holloman Air Force Base, which stood in for Qatar. To movie the Scorponok sequence at White Sands Missile Range, a sweep was performed to remove unexploded ordnance before building of a village set could begin; ironically, the village would be blown up. The scene was broken down for the pilots flying the AWACS aircraft, who improvised dialogue as if it were an actual battle.
The company also shot at the Hoover Dam and the Pentagon, the first time since the sep. 11, 2001 (16 years ago), attacks that movie crews had been allowed at these locations. The external Hoover Dam scenes were shot before tourists arrived daily at 10:00 a.m., with shooting moving inside for the remainder of the day. Production in California was based at Hughes Aircraft at Playa Vista, where the hangar in which Megatron is imprisoned was built. Six weekends were spent in Los Angeles, California shooting the climactic battle, with some elements being shot on the Universal Studios backlot and at Detroit's Michigan Central Station. The crew was allowed to shoot at Griffith Observatory, which was still closed for renovations begun in 2002 (15 years ago). Filming wrapped on Oct. 4, 2006 (11 years ago).
Michael Bay returned to movie at the same place he had previously shot for Armageddon for the romantic scenes between Sam and Mikaela. Bumblebee breaks down when Sam takes Mikaela back home at the same exact place where AJ and Grace spend the last day on earth before AJ goes to the Asteroid. In Transformers we see this place once again at the ending of the movie where Optimus Prime sends the message to other Transformers out in the Universe.
EffectsSpielberg encouraged Bay to restrict computer-generated imagery to the robots and background elements in the action sequences. Stunts such as BonecrUsher (4 walls) smashing through a bus were done practically, while cameras were placed into the midst of car crashes and explosions to make it look more exciting. Work on the animatics began in Apr. 2005 (12 years ago). Bay indicated that three quarters of the film's effects were made by Industrial Light & Magic, while Digital Domain made the rest, including the Arctic discovery of Megatron; Frenzy's severed head; a vending machine mutated by the All Spark, and the Autobots' protoforms. Many of the animators were big Transformers fans and were given free rein to experiment: a scene where Jazz attacks Devastator is a reference to a scene in The Transformers: The Movie where Kup jumps on Blitzwing.
"I just didn't want to make the boxy characters. It's boring and it would look fake. By adding more doo-dads and stuff on the robots, more car parts, you can just make it more real."
Michael Bay on the level of detail he wanted for the robots
ILM created computer-generated transformations during six months in 2005 (12 years ago), looking at every inch of the car models. Initially the transformations were made to follow the laws of physics, but it did not look exciting enough and was changed to be more fluid. Bay rejected a liquid metal surface for the characters' faces, instead going for a "Rubik's Cube" style of modeling. He wanted numerous mechanical pieces visible so the robots would look more interesting, realistic, dynamic and quick, rather than like lumbering beasts. One such decision was to have the wheels stay on the ground for as long as possible, allowing the robots to cruise around as they changed. Bay instructed the animators to observe footage of two martial artists and numerous martial arts movies to make the fights look graceful.
Due to the intricate designs of the Transformers, even the simplest motion of turning a wrist needs 17 visible parts; each of Ironhide's guns are made of ten thousand parts. Bumblebee uses a piece below his faceplate as an eyebrow, pieces in his cheeks swivel to resemble a smile, and all the characters' eyes are designed to dilate and brighten. According to Bay, "The visual effects were so complex it took a staggering 38 hours for ILM to render just one frame of movement;" that meant ILM had to increase their processing facilities. Each rendered piece had to look like real metal, shiny or dull. This was difficult to model because the aged and scarred robots had to transform from clean cars. Close-up shots of the robots were sped up to look "cool", but in wide shots the animation was slowed down to convincingly illustrate a sense of weight. Photographs were taken of each set. These were used as a reference for the lighting environment, which was reproduced within a computer, so the robots would look like they were convincingly moving there. Bay, who has directed numerous car commercials, understood ray tracing was the key to making the robots look real; the CG models would look realistic based on how much of the environment was reflecting on their bodies. Numerous simulations were programmed into the robots, so the animators could focus on animating the particular areas needed for a convincing performance.
MusicComposer Steve Jablonsky, who collaborated with Bay on The Island, scored music for the trailers before work began on the movie itself. Recording took place in Apr. 2007 (10 years ago) at the Sony Scoring Stage in Culver City, California. The score, including the teaser music, uses six major themes across ninety minutes of music. The Autobots have three themes, one named "Optimus" to represent their friendship with Sam, and another played during their arrival on Earth. The Decepticons have a chanted theme which relies on electronics, unlike most of the score. The All Spark also has its own theme. Hans Zimmer, Jablonsky's mentor, also helped to compose the score.
ReceptionTransformers fans were initially divided over the movie due to the radical redesigns of many characters, although the casting of Peter Cullen was warmly received. Transformers comic book writer Simon Furman and Beast Wars script consultant Benson Yee both warmly received it as spectacular fun, but Furman argued there were too many human storylines. Yee felt that being the first in a series, the movie had to establish much of the fictional universe and therefore did not have time to focus on the Decepticons.
The movie created a greater awareness of the franchise and drew in many new fans. Transformers' box office success led to the active development of movies based on Voltron and Robotech, as well as a Knight Rider remake. When filming the sequel, Bay was told by soldiers the movie helped their children understand what their work was like, and that many had christened their Buffalos the vehicle used for BonecrUsher (4 walls) after various Transformer characters.
After the film's 2009 (8 years ago) sequel was titled Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (5 walls), Roberto Orci was asked if this movie would be retitled, just as Star Wars was titled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope when rereleased. He doubted the possibility, but said if it was retitled, he would call it Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye.
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