|Genre||Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi|
|Content Rating||PG-13 (PG-13)|
|Awards||Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 47 nominations.|
|Company||Dreamworks Pictures, Tom DeSanto/Don Murphy Production, Paramount Pictures|
Transformers is a 2007 American science fiction action film based on the Transformers toy line. The film, which combines computer animation with live-action filming, was directed by Michael Bay, with Steven Spielberg serving as executive producer. It was produced by Don Murphy and Tom DeSanto, and is the first installment in the live-action Transformers film series. The film stars Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a teenager who gets caught up in a war between the heroic Autobots and the villainous Decepticons, two factions of alien robots who can disguise themselves by transforming into everyday machinery, primarily vehicles. The Autobots intend to retrieve and use the AllSpark, the powerful artifact that created their robotic race that is on Earth, to rebuild their home planet Cybertron and end the war, while the Decepticons have the intention of using it to build an army by giving life to the machines of Earth. Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson, Megan Fox, Rachael Taylor, John Turturro, and Jon Voight also star, while voice actors Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving voice Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively.
Murphy and DeSanto developed the project in 2003, and DeSanto wrote a treatment. Steven Spielberg came on board the following year, hiring Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman to write the screenplay. The U.S. Armed Forces and General Motors (GM) loaned vehicles and aircraft during filming, which saved money for the production and added realism to the battle scenes. Hasbro's promotional campaign for the film included deals with various companies; advertising included a viral marketing campaign, coordinated releases of prequel comic books, toys, and books, as well as product placement deals with companies such as GM, Burger King, and eBay.
Transformers received mixed reviews from critics and a positive response from audiences. It became the fifth highest-grossing film of 2007, grossing $709 million worldwide, with an estimated 46 million tickets sold in the US. The film won four awards from the Visual Effects Society and was nominated for three Academy Awards, for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. LaBeouf's performance was praised by Empire, and Cullen's reprisal of Optimus Prime from the 1980s television series was well received by fans. The film was followed by four sequels, Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Dark of the Moon (2011), Age of Extinction (2014), and The Last Knight (2017), as well as a spin-off titled Bumblebee in 2018.
Thousands of years ago, the planet Cybertron was consumed by a civil war between the two Transformer factions, the Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons led by Megatron. The Autobots want to find the All Spark, the source of all Cybertronian life, 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 defeat the Autobots and conquer the universe. Megatron found the All Spark on Earth, but crash-landed in the Arctic Circle and was frozen in the ice. Captain Archibald Witwicky and his crew of explorers stumbled upon Megatron's body in 1897. Captain Witwicky accidentally activated Megatron's navigational system and his eye glasses were imprinted with the coordinates of the All Spark's location. Sector 7, a secret United States government organization, 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 reverse engineered to advance human technology.
In the present, the rest of the Decepticons—Blackout, Scorponok, Frenzy, Barricade, Starscream, Devastator and Bonecrusher—have landed on Earth and assumed the disguise of Earth vehicles. Blackout and Scorponok attack the U.S. SOCCENT FWD military 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 severs the network cable connections. While Blackout destroys the rest of the base, Scorponok chases a small group of survivors who have photographic evidence of the robots, but he is eventually repelled. During this battle, the military discovers its only effective weapons against the Transformers' armor are high-heat sabot rounds.
After Blackout's failure, Frenzy infiltrates Air Force One to try again to hack into the military network, and in doing so plants a virus. He finds the map imprinted on Captain Witwicky's glasses, whose descendant, Sam Witwicky, intends to sell on eBay. Frenzy and Barricade begin tracking Sam's location. The Autonomous Robotic Organism (shortened to "Autobot") Bumblebee is also on Earth, disguised as a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro, and is bought by Sam while shopping for his first car. Bumblebee helps him woo his crush, Mikaela Banes. Bumblebee leaves at night to transmit a homing signal to the rest of the Autobots and Sam sees him in robot mode. Barricade confronts Sam and demands Archibald's spectacles, but Bumblebee rescues him and Mikaela. After Bumblebee upgrades his vehicle form by scanning a 2006 Chevrolet Camaro, they leave to rendezvous with the rest of the Autobots: 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. Agents from Sector 7 arrive and capture Sam, Mikaela and Bumblebee.
Frenzy, disguised as a cellphone, secretly accompanies the group to Hoover Dam and releases Megatron from his frozen state. Locating the All Spark, Frenzy sends an alert to the other Decepticons. Sam convinces the Sector 7 agents to release Bumblebee so that he can get the All Spark to Optimus Prime. Frenzy's virus has shut down government communications, but a pair of hackers manage to establish a signal to the Air Force. The Autobot-human convoy goes to nearby Mission City to obtain a radio that will guide the Air Force's defense and secure a rendezvous point as a safe destination for All Spark. The Decepticons attack and Bonecrusher, Frenzy, Jazz, Devastator and Blackout are all killed during the ensuing battle, but Sam manages to ram the All Spark into Megatron's chest, killing Megatron and destroying the All Spark. Optimus takes a fragment of the All Spark from Megatron's corpse, but realizes that with its destruction, their home world Cybertron cannot be restored. Consequently, Optimus sends a signal to other surviving Autobots in the universe, directing them to their new home, Earth. The government orders the closure of Sector 7 and has the four Decepticons killed in Mission City battle dumped into the Laurentian Abyss. Starscream, who fled the battle, escapes into space.
- Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, the young descendant of an Arctic explorer who stumbles upon a big secret that becomes the Earth's last hope.
- Josh Duhamel as Capt. William Lennox, the leader of the Army Rangers team in Qatar and allies himself with Sam.
- Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes, a classmate of Sam who assists him in his mission by using skills she learned as a juvenile car thief from her convict father. She is also Sam's love interest.
- Tyrese Gibson as TSgt. Robert Epps, a U.S. Air Force Combat Controller and technical sergeant of a Special Operations team based at the U.S. SOCCENT base in Qatar and Lennox’s best friend.
- Rachael Taylor as Maggie Madsen, a former NSA data analyst recruited by the U.S. Defense Department.
- Anthony Anderson as Glen Whitmann, Maggie's hacker friend.
- John Turturro as Agt. Seymour Simmons, a member of the Sector 7 Advanced Research Division.
- Jon Voight as John Keller, the U.S. Secretary of Defense.
- Michael O'Neill as Tom Banachek, head of Sector 7.
- Kevin Dunn as Ron Witwicky, Sam's father.
- Julie White as Judy Witwicky, Sam's mother.
- Amaury Nolasco as ACWO Jorge "Fig" Figueroa, a Special Operations soldier who survives the destruction of the SOCCENT base in Qatar and was also a member of Captain Lennox's team.
- Zack Ward as First Sergeant Donnelly, a member of Captain Lennox's team.
- W. Morgan Sheppard as Captain Archibald Witwicky, Sam's great-great-grandfather who accidentally activates Megatron's navigational system.
- Bernie Mac as Bobby Bolivia, a used car salesman.
- John Robinson as Miles Lancaster, Sam's best friend.
- Travis Van Winkle as Trent DeMarco, Mikaela's ex-boyfriend.
- Glenn Morshower as Colonel Sharp (credited as "SOCCENT sergeant")
- Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots who transforms into a blue and red 1994 Peterbilt 379 semi-trailer truck. Cullen had previously voiced Optimus Prime in the original 1980s cartoon and was chosen to reprise his role, which was warmly welcomed by audiences and considered one of the film's best aspects.
- Mark Ryan as Bumblebee, the Autobot scout and Sam's new guardian who transforms into a yellow and black Chevrolet Camaro (first a 1976 model and later in the movie a 2006 model).
- Darius McCrary as Jazz, Optimus's second-in-command who transforms into a silver 2006 Pontiac Solstice.
- Robert Foxworth as Ratchet, the Autobot medic who transforms into a yellow 2004 search and rescue Hummer H2 ambulance.
- Jess Harnell as Ironhide, the Autobot weapons expert who transforms into a black 2005 GMC Topkick C4500. Barricade, the Decepticon scout and interrogator who transforms into a black Saleen S281 police car.
- Ironhide, the Autobot weapons expert who transforms into a black 2005 GMC Topkick C4500.
- Barricade, the Decepticon scout and interrogator who transforms into a black Saleen S281 police car.
- Hugo Weaving as Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons who transforms into a silver Cybertronian jet. Originally Frank Welker was considered to reprise his role but according to DVD commentary, Bay thought his voice didn't fit, so Weaving was chosen instead. Welker would later voice act in the sequels.
- Jim Wood as Bonecrusher, the Decepticon mine sweeper who transforms into a Buffalo H Mine-Protected vehicle.
- Reno Wilson as Frenzy, the Decepticon hacker and Barricade's minion, who transforms into a PGX Boombox, and later a Nokia 8800.
- Charlie Adler as Starscream, Megatron's second-in-command who transforms into a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Adler had previously voiced several characters in the original series, most noticeably Silverbolt.
- Blackout, Megatron's third-in-command who transforms into a MH-53J Pave Low III.
- Brawl (referred to as 'Devastator' in the captions), the Decepticon demolition specialist who transforms into an up-armed M1A1 Abrams.
- Scorponok, a scorpion-like Decepticon and Blackout's minion.
- The Peterbilt 379 used to portray Optimus Prime
- One of the Chevrolet Camaros used to portray Bumblebee
- The Pontiac Solstice used to portray Jazz
- The GMC Topkick used to portray Ironhide
Don Murphy was planning a G.I. Joe film adaptation, but when the United States launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, 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 film series The Matrix, but was later used again in the sequel. 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. 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 February 2005. 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 July 30, 2005, but he dismissed the film as a "stupid toy movie". Nonetheless, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the concept 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. Bay based Lennox's 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.
Producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Ian Bryce, said the film cost only $150 million, and called it "a bargain" compared to the other tentpole films that summer which cost as much as $300 million. According to Kim Masters of NPR, instead of boasting about how much they had spent the studios did not want to admit to their real budget and risk further cost inflation on other projects, and her Hollywood source said that the budget of Transformers had passed $200 million.
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 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 U.S. Armed Forces provided significant support, enhancing the film's realism: the film 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".
To save money for the production, Bay reduced his usual fee by 30%. He planned an 83-day shooting schedule, maintaining the required pace by doing more camera set-ups per day than usual. Bay chose to shoot the film 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 April 19, 2006 and principal photography began three days later at Holloman Air Force Base, which stood in for Qatar. Due to their destruction later in the film by the Decepticon Blackout, the majority of the military structures shown on-screen were not property of Holloman Air Force Base, but were purchased ahead of filming from a private manufacturer of military shelter systems, AKS Military. To film 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 Air battle managers flying aboard the AWACS aircraft, who improvised dialogue as if it were an actual battle.
The company also shot at Hoover Dam and at the Pentagon, the first time since the September 11 attacks that film 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 and would reopen in November 2006. Filming wrapped on October 4, 2006.
The film has been found to re-use footage from Bay's previous film Pearl Harbor (2001).
Spielberg encouraged Bay to restrict computer-generated imagery to the robots and background elements in the action sequences. Stunts such as Bonecrusher 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 April 2005. 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 Allspark, and the Autobots' protoforms. Many of the animators were big Transformers fans and were given free rein to experiment: a scene where Jazz attacks Brawl is a reference to a scene in Race For The Artifact where Brixler jumps on Skylion.
ILM created computer-generated transformations during six months in 2005, 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 films 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 face-plate 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.
Composer Steve Jablonsky, who collaborated with Bay on The Island, scored music for the trailers before work began on the film itself. Recording took place in April 2007, 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 the wisdom and compassion of the Autobot leader, and another played during their arrival on Earth. The Decepticons have a chanted theme which relies on electronics, unlike most of the score. The AllSpark also has its own theme. Hans Zimmer, Jablonsky's mentor, also helped to compose the score.
Transformers had its worldwide premiere at N Seoul Tower on June 10, 2007. The film's June 27 premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival used a live digital satellite feed to project the film on to a screen. A premiere took place at Rhode Island on June 28, which was a freely available event giving attendees the opportunity to buy tickets for $75 to benefit four charities: the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the Autism Project of Rhode Island, Adoption Rhode Island, and Hasbro Children's Hospital. The film was released in IMAX on September 21, 2007, with additional footage that had not been included in the general theatrical release.
Hasbro's toy line for the film was created over two months in late 2005 and early 2006, in heavy collaboration with the filmmakers. Protoform Optimus Prime and Starscream were released in the United States on May 1, 2007, and the first wave of figures was released on June 2. The line featured characters not in the film, including Arcee. A second wave, titled "AllSpark Power", was set for release late 2007, which consisted of repaints and robotic versions of ordinary vehicles in the film. The toys feature "Automorph Technology", where moving parts of the toy allow other parts to shift automatically. Merchandise for the film earned Hasbro $480 million in 2007.
Deals were made with 200 companies to promote the film in 70 countries. Michael Bay directed tie-in commercials for General Motors, Panasonic, Burger King and PepsiCo, while props – including the Camaro used for Bumblebee and the AllSpark – were put up for charity sale on eBay. A viral marketing alternate reality game was employed through the Sector 7 website, which presented the film and all previous Transformers toys and media as part of a cover-up operation called "Hungry Dragon", perpetrated by a "real life" Sector 7 to hide the existence of genuine Transformers. The site featured several videos presenting "evidence" of Transformers on Earth, including a cameo from the original Bumblebee.
Transformers was released on DVD and a discontinued HD DVD format on October 16, 2007 in North America. The Wal-Mart edition of the DVD included a shortened animated version of the prequel comic book, titled Transformers Beginnings and featuring the voices of Ryan, Cullen, and Dunn, as well as Welker as Megatron. The Target copy was packaged with a transforming Optimus Prime DVD case and a prequel comic book about the Decepticons. The DVD sold 8.3 million copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling DVD of 2007, in North America, and it sold 190,000 copies on HD DVD, which was the biggest debut on the format. The DVDs sold 13.74 million copies, making the film the most popular DVD title of 2007.
It was released on Blu-ray on September 2, 2008. In the first week, the two-disc edition of the Blu-ray was number one in sales compared to other films on the format. The Blu-ray version accounted for two-thirds of the film's DVD sales that first week, selling the third most in overall DVD sales. On June 16, 2009, Paramount included a sticker on all new Transformers DVDs that contained a code to view exclusive content online from the first film and get a sneak peek at Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The content includes three exclusive clips from Revenge of the Fallen, behind-the-scenes footage from both films, and never-before-seen deleted scenes from the first film. As of July 2012, in North America, the DVD of the film has sold 16.23 million copies, earning $292,144,274.
Transformers was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on December 5, 2017.
Transformers had the highest per-screen and per-theater gross in 2007 in North America. It was released on July 3, 2007 with 8 p.m. preview screenings on July 2. The United States previews earned $8.8 million and in its first day of general release, it grossed $27.8 million, a record for Tuesday box-office gross until it was broken by The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. It did, however, break Spider-Man 2's record for the biggest July 4 gross, making $29 million. Transformers opened in over 4,050 theaters in North America and grossed $70.5 million in its first weekend, debuting at #1 and amounting to a $155.4 million opening week, giving it the record for the biggest opening week for a non-sequel. The opening's gross in the United States was 50% more than what Paramount Pictures had expected. One executive attributed it to word of mouth that explained to parents that "it OK to take the kids". Transformers ended its theatrical run in the United States and Canada with a gross of $319.2 million, making it the third highest-grossing film of 2007 in these regions behind Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third. The film sold an estimated 46,402,100 tickets in North America.
The film was released in 10 international markets on June 28, 2007, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the Philippines. Transformers made $29.5 million in its first weekend, topping the box office in 10 countries. It grossed $5.2 million in Malaysia, becoming the most successful film in the country's history. Transformers opened in China on July 11 and became the second highest-grossing foreign film in the country (behind Titanic), making $37.3 million. Its opening there set a record for a foreign language film, making $3 million. The film was officially released in the United Kingdom on July 27, making £8.7 million, and helped contribute to the biggest attendance record ever for that weekend. It was second at the UK box office, behind The Simpsons Movie. In South Korea, Transformers recorded the largest audience for a foreign film in 2007 and the highest foreign revenue of the film.
Worldwide, Transformers was the highest-grossing non-sequel film in 2007 with over $709.7 million, making it Bay's fourth highest-grossing film to date, with three of its sequels surpassing it. It was also the fifth highest-grossing film of 2007 worldwide, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 58% based on 227 reviews, with an average rating of 5.82/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "While believable characters are hard to come by in Transformers, the effects are staggering and the action is exhilarating." On Metacritic, the film has an weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
IGN's Todd Gilchrist called it Bay's best film, and "one of the few instances where it's OK to enjoy something for being smart and dumb at the same time, mostly because it's undeniably also a whole lot of fun". The Advertiser's Sean Fewster found the visual effects so seamless that "you may come to believe the studio somehow engineered artificial intelligence". The Denver Post's Lisa Kennedy praised the depiction of the robots as having "a believably rendered scale and intimacy", and ABC presenter Margaret Pomeranz was surprised "that a complete newcomer to the Transformers phenomenon like myself became involved in the fate of these mega-machines". Ain't It Cool News's Drew McWeeny felt most of the cast grounded the story, and that "it has a real sense of wonder, one of the things that's missing from so much of the big CGI light shows released these days". Author Peter David found it ludicrous fun, and said that " manages to hold on to his audience's suspension of disbelief long enough for us to segue into some truly spectacular battle scenes". Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review, giving it 3 stars out of a possible 4, writing: "It's goofy fun with a lot of stuff that blows up real good, and it has the grace not only to realize how preposterous it is, but to make that into an asset."
Despite the praise for the visual effects, there was division over the human storylines. The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt liked "how a teen plotline gets tied in to the end of the world", while Empire's Ian Nathan praised Shia LaBeouf as "a smart, natural comedian, levels the bluntness of this toy story with an ironic bluster". Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles felt Bay's style conflicted with Spielberg's, arguing the military story only served as a distraction from Sam. James Berardinelli hated the film as he did not connect with the characters in-between the action, which he found tedious. Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan found the humans "oddly lifeless, doing little besides marking time until those big toys fill the screen", while ComingSoon.net's Joshua Starnes felt the Transformers were "completely believable, right up to the moment they open their mouths to talk, when they revert to bad cartoon characters". Daily Herald's Matt Arado was annoyed that "the Transformers little more than supporting players", and felt the middle act was sluggish. CNN's Tom Charity questioned the idea of a film based on a toy, and felt it would "buzz its youthful demographic but leave the rest of us wondering if Hollywood could possibly aim lower".
Transformers fans were initially divided over the film 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 considered the film to be spectacular fun, although Furman also argued that there were too many human storylines. Yee felt that being the first in a series, the film had to establish much of the fictional universe and therefore did not have time to focus on the Decepticons. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale. With audiences under 18 the score rises to "A+", and the film was most popular with children and parents, including older women, and attracted many African American and Latino viewers.
The film created a greater awareness of the franchise and drew in many new fans. Transformers' box office success led to the active development of films based on Voltron and Robotech, as well as a Knight Rider remake. When filming the sequel, Bay was told by soldiers the film helped their children understand what their work was like, and that many had christened their Buffalos – the vehicle used for Bonecrusher – after various Transformer characters.
After the film's 2009 sequel was titled Revenge of the Fallen, screenwriter Orci was asked if this film would be retitled, just as Star Wars was titled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope when re-released. He doubted the possibility, but said if it was retitled, he would call it Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye.
|80th Academy Awards||Best Visual Effects||Scott Benza, Russell Earl, Scott Farrar and John Frazier||Nominated|
|Best Sound Editing||Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins||Nominated|
|Best Sound Mixing||Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin||Nominated|
|2007 MTV Movie Awards||Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet||Won|
|2008 MTV Movie Awards||Best Movie||Won|
|2008 Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie||Nominated|
|2007 Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival||Best Special Effects (Jury Merit Award)||Won|
|Hollywood Film Festival||Visual Effects Supervisor of the Year||Scott Farrar||Won|
|6th Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a|
Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
|Scott Farrar, Shari Hanson, Russell Earl, Scott Benza||Won|
|Best Single Visual Effect of the Year||Desert Highway Sequence – Scott Farrar, Shari Hanson,|
Shawn Kelly, Michael Jamieson
|Outstanding Performance by an Animated|
Character in a Live Action Motion Picture
|Optimus Prime – Rick O'Connor, Doug Sutton,|
Keiji Yamaguchi, Jeff White
|Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a|
Feature Motion Picture
|Dave Fogler, Ron Woodall, Alex Jaeger, Brain Gernand||Won|
|BMI Awards||BMI Film Music Award||Steve Jablonsky||Won|
|28th Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Supporting Actor||Jon Voight (also for Bratz: The Movie, September Dawn|
and National Treasure: Book of Secrets)
|34th Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Film||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Won|
Entertainment Weekly named Bumblebee as their seventh favorite computer generated character, while The Times listed Optimus Prime's depiction as the thirtieth best film robot, citing his coolness and dangerousness.
The second film, Revenge of the Fallen was released June 24, 2009. The third film, Dark of the Moon was released June 29, 2011. The fourth film, Age of Extinction was released June 27, 2014, and the fifth film titled The Last Knight was released on June 21, 2017. Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction were financial successes, while The Last Knight failed at the box office. The sequels have received mostly negative reviews.
A spin-off and prequel titled Bumblebee was released on December 21, 2018 to positive reviews. It is the highest-rated film in the Transformers series.