[UPDATE: It turns out this synopsis is not accurate. More below.]

Michael Bay is directing the fourth Transformers live-action installment, but with a redesigned narrative focus, a complete overhaul of the human cast and new robot characters (gotta keep Hasbro’s toy sales up), this is otherwise as close to a franchise reboot as they come.

Bay has revealed that Transformers 4 screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) is picking things up four years after the third movie, but won’t ignore the story developments in previous installments. As the director puts it, the plan is to moved forward with “the same lineage but [then go] in a full, new, different direction.” We now have a better idea of what, exactly, that new approach looks to entail.

Transformers 4 is going to be the third installment to partially shoot in the state of Michigan (after the first Transformers and Dark of the Moon), according to a new report from the Michigan Film Office. The blockbuster production secured a $20 million incentive to film there, based on the expectation that it should employ over 350 Michigan workers and accumulate $81 million worth of in-state expenditures.

UPDATE: We’ve been informed the synopsis is not accurate and have removed it at the request of Paramount Pictures. It has also been removed from the source Michigan Film Office website.

This is the first plot information we’ve received that covers something other than Mark Wahlberg – who is serving as the human protagonist – and a subplot which involves his teen daughter in the movie having a car racer boyfriend (played by Jack Raynor). In fact, prior to now, that daddy-daughter storyline sounded like it was going to be the central focus of TF4, to many a fan’s chagrin.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s first Transformers script took a similar approach, where the Autobots and Decepticons serve as both literal and figurative devises for the young human leads (then played by Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox) coming of age. That angle was reused in Revenge of the Fallen (which was also written by Kurtzman and Orci), but was pushed aside in part due to the WGA strike of 2008 messing up script development. Kruger thereafter attempted to re-focus on the human story in Dark of the Moon, but by then it was a lost cause.

Point being, it’s encouraging to hear that Bay and Kruger are taking the franchise deeper into science-fiction territory – with TF4 (finally) addressing the idea that humanity might want to examine the incredible technological implications of the Transformers – and not just using giant robots smashing the heck out of each other, as a backdrop for watching young people mature and grow up (though, as mentioned before, there’s still going to be some of that).

Could Transformers 4 prove to be a more serious installment, with a greater emphasis on sci-fi themes – resulting in a blockbuster closer to, say, a more pure reboot like Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Obviously, this is still a Michael Bay movie, so that comparison may be grasping at straws. But, hey, by now if you are still onboard the Transformers wagon, then any sign of progress is welcome.

What do YOU think about how Transformers 4 is shaping up? Let us known in the comments section.

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Transformers 4 (not the official title) opens on June 27th, 2014.

Source: Michigan Film Office