At this point, most moviegoers know what to expect from Michael Bay's live-action Transformers movies. They're big, colorful, and loud - with explosions and eye-popping visuals that take precedent over nuanced character drama. Even though the approach has been an affront to many longtime Transformers fans, casual moviegoers continue to line-up for Bay's Robot in Disguise - which have raked in more than $2.6 billion (so far) at the global box office. For that reason, it shouldn't come as a surprise to see that the latest entry, Transformers: Age of Extinction, isn't dramatically altering the core formula - using giant cybernetic dinosaurs (along with a new cast of Decepticon foes) to once again up the ante.
In a summer where filmgoers have been inundated with spoiler-filled marketing, Paramount Pictures has been surprisingly restrained with Transformers 4 footage. The film's Super Bowl teaser offered-up an unforgettable image of Optimus Prime riding dinobot leader Grimlock, while the first full length trailer provided a solid mix of story set-up and robot vs. robot action. Now, the studio has unveiled the second (and presumably final) theatrical trailer for Age of Extinction - revealing new Autobot and Decepticon characters.
Check out the trailer at the top of the page and a new character poster below (click for full size):
Bay has previously indicated that Transformers 4 will set up a fresh direction for the series, as the first entry in an all-new trilogy. In addition to paving the way for new directors to helm future entries, Age of Extinction also resets lingering plot arcs that no longer fit with the evolving scale and tone - mechanical engineer Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) replaces Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) as the main human protagonist, while new robot heroes and villains step onto the battlefield to replace Autobots and Decepticons that never made a strong impression in the first three movies.
After little more than brief glimpses in scattered trailer or TV spot footage, the new trailer finally provides a clear glimpse at several key additions to the robot cast - including Autobot Hound (voiced by John Goodman) along with several clear shots of Grimlock fighting alongside Optimus Prime (and another clip of Dinobot Strafe with Bumblebee).
As we've previously speculated, the video also hints at the larger story set to unfold over the course of (at least) two more installments - a story that, if early plot details are to be believed, could turn the core heroic Autobots vs power-hungry Decepticons plot on its head. As evidenced by the trailer, Lockdown (aka "Gun Face"), who many viewers originally mistook for Galvatron, isn't a typical Decepticon - meaning the character is actually a hint of an even bigger threat on the horizon.
Still, while Transformers movies have struggled to marry impactful human drama with Cybertronian warfare, Age of Extinction has all the necessary components to deliver a film that includes, at the very least, some intriguing exploration of Transformer mythology. The initial premise, Optimus Prime hiding (or unconscious) in G1 truck form, should be an interesting foundation to build from - along with the idea that humanity has begun to develop their own Transformers for personal use after discovering what Cybertronians are "made of."
Hopefully, the choice to take the series back to basics, while also highlighting escalation in the greater fictional world, opens-up new ideas and fresh storylines to explore. As digital effects become easier and less expensive to produce, summer blockbusters must offer more than just slick CGI creations. Certain moviegoers are already desensitized to CGI destruction - meaning that if the Transformers series is to continue pulling in more money with each installment, the filmmakers will need to find a balance between bigger action and better story.
Will Transformers: Age of Extinction be that turning point in the franchise?
Transformers: Age of Extinction will be in theaters on June 27, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on the Transformers series, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.