Paramount finally confirmed the inevitable this week, as the studio announced that both director Michael Bay and an official release date have been locked down for Transformers 4. The movie is already being trumped up as part reboot, in the sense that it will exist within the continuity established in Bay's previous Transformers flicks, but is also going to "clean house" and remove certain characters (primarily, human players) who played prominent roles in the original TF trilogy.
New insider reports on the fourth Transformers movie also claim the film will be a "direct" sequel to the third installment (subtitled Dark of the Moon) - and that certain thematic elements from the previous movies will also be left out of the loop, this next time around.
A source for Badass Digest is claiming that Transformers 4 is going to be "a straight up sequel" to TF3 where the plot is simply no longer told from Sam Witwicky's (Shia LaBeouf) perspective - unlike the previous three movies. Whether or not any of the additional human characters from prior installments - like John Turturro as Agent Simmons or Tyrese Gibson as Sergeant Epps - will likewise not be returning, is another matter.
UPDATE: In a recent interview with E! Online, Josh Duhamel - who played Major Lennox in the first three Transformers movies - indicated that he didn't anticipate there to be any returning human cast members from the previous films in TF4. To quote the actor directly:
"I don't think anybody's doing it. I know Shia [LaBoeuf]'s not doing it. I don't think Tyrese [Gibson] or Rosie [Huntington-Whiteley] or anybody else is doing it... I haven't heard anything about it. They haven't called me."
Turturro's being brought back in particular seems all the less probable, given that the BD insider is also saying that TF4 will mark a drastic cutting-down, in terms of the over-the-top (some might say Looney Tunes-style) comedy and juvenile humor present throughout all three prior Transformers movies.
To quote the source directly:
"Michael [Bay] realized ['Transformers 4'] needs to be more like the last hour [of 'Dark of the Moon']."
Obviously, that doesn't mean the entire film will be constructed like Dark of the Moon's climactic third act (ie. feature nonstop carnage and real estate destruction) but that TF4 will be aiming for more of an overall serious and "adult" tone. So don't expect, say, a hyperactive Ken Jeong to tackle anybody while they're in the bathroom - or jokes involving peeing robots and Transformer "cannonballs" - in this new installment.
That said, just because Transformers 4 is being fashioned as more of a serious blockbuster about giant alien robots engaging in intergalactic warfare, don't expect it to abandon all sense of being light-weight cheesy entertainment and aim to be a purely darker and grittier variation on the Transformers mythos.
Peter Berg's Battleship, for example, is also being propped up as a more serious take on a Hasbro property, but not one that forgets its duties as a piece of popcorn fluff. Even other impending franchise-revamping sequels that maintain a narrative continuity with their predecessors (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) aren't going to be so straight-faced as to not include any hammy one-liners or similarly silly elements in the mix. Expect Transformers 4 to follow their example.
We will continue to keep you up-to-date on the status of Transformers 4, which is slated to reach theaters on June 29th, 2014.
Source: Badass Digest, E! Online