For centuries, two races of robotic aliens – the Autobots® and the Decepticons® – have waged a war, with the fate of the universe at stake. When the battle comes to Earth, all that stands between the evil Decepticons® and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). An average teenager, Sam is consumed with everyday worries about school, friends, cars and girls. Unaware that he alone is mankind’s last chance for survival, Sam and his friend Mikaela (Megan Fox) find themselves in a tug of war between the Autobots® and Decepticons. With the world hanging in the balance, Sam comes to realize the true meaning behind the Witwicky family motto – “No sacrifice, no victory!”
DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures Present, in Association with Hasbro, a di Bonaventura Pictures Production, a Tom DeSanto/Don Murphy Production of a Michael Bay Film, “TRANSFORMERS” starring Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson, Megan Fox, Rachael Taylor with John Turturro and Jon Voight. Directed by Michael Bay from a story by John Rogers and Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman and a screenplay by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, the film is based on Hasbro’s Transformers Action Figures. The producers are Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Ian Bryce and the executive producers are Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay, Brian Goldner and Mark Vahradian. The director of photography is Mitchell Amundsen. The production designer is Jeff Mann. The film is edited by Paul Rubell, A.C.E. and Glen Scantlebury. The costume designer is Deborah L. Scott. The music is by Steve Jablonsky. The music supervisor is Dave Jordan. The special visual effects are by Industrial Light & Magic.
In many ways Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) is like every teenage boy. He’s interested in girls and cars, and bored with school. But that’s where the similarities end. Smart and witty, Sam is destined for bigger things than his peers. When his father agrees to match funds toward his first car, Sam’s excitement quickly turns to disappointment with the purchase of a beater 1976 Chevy Camaro® that appears to have a mind of its own. But when the hottest girl in school, Mikaela (Megan Fox), needs a ride home, Sam can’t resist, and before long the Camaro® steers the two of them together.
The next morning Sam awakens to a distinctive roar and screeching tires. Someone has stolen his car. In a valiant effort to pursue the thief, he chases the Camaro® only to find himself overpowered by a police cruiser that shockingly transforms into a menacing 20-foot robot.
Looming over him, the robot attempts to interrogate Sam, but before he can comprehend his terrifying circumstances, Mikaela appears. As the two run from their mysterious attacker, Sam’s Camaro® flies in to the rescue. Before the dust can settle, sections of the Camaro® peel back like a banana, grinding, rising before their very eyes and suddenly changing into another giant robot.
Saved by the yellow behemoth, Sam and Mikaela attempt to communicate with their new friend who cannot seem to speak without the aid of songs playing from his radio. Soon other vehicles join them, transforming one by one into enormous mechanical beings who explain that they are Autobots® from the planet Cybertron on a mission to recover the “Allspark,” their life source, before their enemies, the evil Decepticons®, can find it.
Before Sam and Mikaela can implement their plan to help the Autobots®, they are arrested by a strange and officious government lackey (John Turturro) and taken to a clandestine command post.
Half a world away an Army Captain (Josh Duhamel), who is in charge of a small brigade of Special Forces Rangers, and the assigned Air Force combat controller, Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson), find themselves the sole survivors of a bizarre attack on their base in Qatar. The soldiers soon discover they are the first present-day humans to come up against a powerful alien being that can shape-shift into a giant metallic scorpion but is really a powerful bullet and bomb-resistant robot.
When Lennox’s squad is surreptitiously transferred back to the U.S., they know they have seen and experienced something earth shattering. They are part of a select group that includes the U.S. Secretary of Defense (Jon Voight), members of a top secret military unit called Sector 7 (Turturro and Michael O’Neill), along with a beautiful computer analyst (Rachael Taylor) and her associate, a smart but uptight hacker (Anthony Anderson), plus the most unlikely pair, a couple of high school kids who have befriended some of the robots, (LaBeouf and Fox) – all of whom know about the aliens that have come to Earth in a desperate search for the “Allspark.”
Together the group strategizes a plan of attack to save the world from the battling Transformers™, but when Sam and Mikaela realize the government plans to destroy their new friends the Autobots®, along with the evil Decepticons®, they devise a plan of their own to save mankind.
When Spielberg first described the story to Bay, it was simple: It’s about a boy and his car that just happens to be an alien robot. A great hook, to be sure, but generating an entertaining, engaging story necessitates more than the kernel of an idea; its success rests in the hands of talented, ingenious writers.
John Rogers, who has written comic books himself, took a first crack at the story. In hopes of calming the nerves of fervent Transformers™ fans, he went online to reassure them that the filmmakers understood the devotion that kept the franchise alive long enough to be worth making into a movie. With that sense of respect and dignity, he approached the story, following DreamWorks’ edict to write a human tale.
“I had to start with human characters that could be expanded into larger roles,” Rogers explains, “and at the same time show the global scale of the story in the three or four different plot lines that eventually intersect. The idea was a worldwide conspiracy in the form of an action movie where all these people’s lives come together in the middle of the movie. So I started with Sam Witwicky and his love/hate relationship with his beater car; a group of soldiers who find some weird technology; and some scientists who are investigating that technology. That was the basic spine of it.”
Next up were writing partners Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, both of whom are the perfect age to remember playing with the toys as kids, watching the television series, which ran from 1984 to 1987, and seeing the animated 1986 movie, “The Transformers: The Movie” written by Ron Friedman and directed by Nelson Shin.
Orci likens playing with the toys as “the ultimate peek-a-boo” game for eight-year-olds. “What is it, a truck?” he says, “No, it’s not a truck. Oh my God, it talks! It’s a robot. It’s the ultimate jack-in-the-box with a constant surprise. And from a more sophisticated approach, you’d imagine all your toys coming to life. You imagine befriending all the technology around you. That was a cool concept in 1984, and it still is now.”
Kurtzman agrees. “The idea behind the toy is that everything around us, our cars, and all technology, are sentient,” he explains. “Every thing has emotions and feelings but we don’t know it because they are in disguise. This seemed like a good jumping off point for a movie.”
“Alex and Roberto are very skilled at drawing strong characters,” says di Bonventura. “Once they came aboard, the project quickly found its feet.”
“The Transformers may be robots on the outside but they all have very human souls,” says DeSanto. “It’s important not to lose that in the translation. As always it comes down to the classic good (the Autobots) versus evil (the Decepticons) with the future of humanity at stake.”
“The writers really helped narrow the choice of robots,” says Bay. “At the beginning I had some very elaborate plans for these newer robots called ‘Combiners,’ but ultimately it became too cost prohibitive to create them just in terms of manpower, let alone the technology to make them look real.”
“Steven wanted to make it an even five against five,” Bay continues, “so that’s where it took off.”
The filmmakers spent time watching the 1980s “The Transformers” television show as well as the animated movie until they were very familiar with the first generations of robots.
“It became obvious that we couldn’t make a movie without Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Megatron,” says di Bonaventura. “After that we took a poll amongst ourselves, found out who were our favorites and then asked fans who their favorites were. From there we put a list together that encompasses most peoples’ favorite Transformers™. We know that people are going to feel, ‘Oh I wish they’d have put in that one or that other one,’ but there were only so many robots we could deal with in one movie.”