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Entry updated 2 July 2021. Tagged: Film.

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Film (2007). DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures in association with Hasbro present a Di Bonaventura Pictures production. Directed by Michael Bay. Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman. Cast includes Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox, Tyrese Gibson, Shia LaBoeuf, Rachael Taylor, John Turturro and Jon Voight. 144 minutes. Colour.

A teenager's coming-of-age first car turns out to be part of a secret team of Shapeshifting sentient Robots whose home planet's war has followed them to Earth; his story converges with that of a US military unit who clash with the newly insurgent Decepticon enemy.

Toymakers Hasbro allied with Steven Spielberg to produce this live-action revival of the toy-cartoon symbioform; after other writers had come and gone, Spielberg pitched the story to Orci and Kurtzman, and they in turn to Bay, as a story of "a boy and his car", a peculiarly American rite-of-manhood theme which did not stop the resulting film and its sequels performing strongly at the box office in markets where the idea of teenagers owning cars is itself culturally and economically science-fictional. Dual leads LaBoeuf and Duhamel respectively embody Spielberg's sentimental techno-nostalgia and Bay's rampant militarism; the tension between these produces a film that says more than it intends about constructions of American manhood in a cinematic culture of arrested adolescence. The dialogue was polished by a round table of uncredited Hollywood talent, and while the characterizations line up on a spectrum from toylike to tiresome, the repartee has a wink and sparkle badly missed in the sequels. Expensive, eyepopping, and brashly infantile, the film was a watershed in live-action Mecha, compositing in-camera effects and stunts with very detailed photorealistic digital animation; in the post-9/11 presentation of Military SF on film; and in the involvement of Toy companies in the development and business model of blockbuster franchise-building.

Hasbro continued to exploit these new funding and marketing synergies in the sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), as well as trying to replicate the formula, with mixed success, in the GI Joe films and the Baylike toy/military crossover Battleship (2012). The novelization is Transformers (2007) by Alan Dean Foster. [NL]


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