Since its live-action debut in 2007, the Transformers film series has racked up $2.8 billion at the global box office - and there's no doubt that Paramount Pictures hopes that Transformers: Age of Extinction will be another hit for the franchise. Yet, marketing for the film has come surprisingly late in the pre-release process and with only four months until June 27th, the studio has only revealed a brief Super Bowl tease and one full length trailer.
Much like the 30 second TV spot, the new trailer raises a lot of questions - and, much like the 30 second TV spot, we've gone through the new trailer frame by frame in order to help provide answers (wherever possible). Obviously, we can't be certain of the twists and turns that director Michael Bay might have in store but the new footage offers some intriguing story insights, character details, and even a viral marketing campaign.
Since we're taking a closer look at what's been shown, alluded to, foreshadowed, or hinted at in the trailer, potential spoilers for all readers from here on out (if our analysis is correct). You have been warned.
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For months we've heard that Age of Extinction will be a "soft reboot" of the series - meaning that the ongoing story continues but Bay made significant changes to the cast (both human and robot) as well as tweaked principle Transformer designs. To that end, the Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) arc is being discontinued in favor of introducing a new leading man, Mark Wahlberg, playing mechanic-turned Autobot ally Cade Yeager - who is joined by daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and her boyfriend/gearhead Shane (Jack Reynor).
So, how does Cade become involved with the Transformers? According to the new trailer, he purchases a broken down cab-over-engine truck only to discover that the semi is actually an injured Transformer - specifically Optimus Prime. It's safe to assume that Cade is instrumental in helping to rehabilitate Optimus, though it's still unclear why the Autobot leader ultimately takes Cade along to help fight Decepticons.
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That said, unlike Witwicky (who really was just a "messenger" most of the time), Cade appears to have skills that could also be useful on the battlefield - not just his garage. We can't be sure (at this point) how Cade acquires the Cybertronian gun in the image above but it's highly likely that his talents as a mechanic allow him to harness Transformer tech for human use. Over time, the character could even fill a similar role as human allies Sparkplug and Spike in the G1 cartoons - fixing injured Autobots and assisting in the maintenance of their ship.
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Age of Extinction takes place four full years after the events of Dark of the Moon - and it does not appear that life on Earth has been easy on Optimus Prime. As mentioned, Optimus is sold to Cade for salvage - until the mechanic realizes that his new purchase is actually a Transformer. At this point, it's unknown whether Optimus is essentially "dead," in life-saving hibernation, or simply hiding from his pursuers as a beat-up Marmon cab-over-engine truck (a close nod to his original Transformers vehicle mode).
Regardless, the Autobot leader has taken significant damage, as evidenced by the enormous bullet holes in his armor, as well as artillery casings that spill out of his cab. Nevertheless, when Yeager charges Optimus up, a frazzled version of the hero's voice is heard: "Calling all Autobots..."
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Given that later scenes in the trailer show a cleaned-up version of the character, sporting a new Eastern-inspired anime-esque redesign, with a fresh Western Star 4900 Phantom Custom semi-trailer truck vehicle mode, it's safe to say that Yeager gets the hero up and running again. That said, we'll have to wait for a full explanation as to why Optimus abandoned (or lost) his dual energon blades and jetpack - as well as the story behind his newly acquired broadsword.
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When Titus Welliver's man in black character, Savoy, arrives at Cade's Texas farmhouse, viewers might at first mistake him for a new and improved Sector 7 agent. However, Savoy is actually the muscle behind a malevolent government agency that has been tasked with eradicating the remaining Transformers left on Earth. The brains behind the operation is government official, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), who considers Autobots and Decepticons a threat to humanity - blaming both factions for the devastation of Chicago (in Dark of the Moon).
Under Attinger's orders, the unknown agency ruthlessly manhandles Tessa, while searching for Optimus Prime - and is later shown outright murdering Autobot Ratchet who was seeking refuge on a docked ocean liner. Some viewers have mistaken the green-colored Ratchet for new bot Crosshairs (also detailed in green); however, a close look at the Cybertronian face in the assassination scene is a clear match for the former Autobot medic - who is ruthlessly gunned down by Attinger's agents.
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We'll have to wait for more details to find out whether the anti-Transformers operation is part of a larger Decepticon threat (similar to Patrick Dempsey's Dylan Gould in Dark of the Moon) or simply another example of shortsighted (and robo-phobic) human thinking. Either way, Attinger's team will be instrumental in helping Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures get rid of expendable franchise characters in order to make room for new heroes (and sell more toys).
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As mentioned, a number of familiar Autobot characters are either absent or (likely) killed-off early-on in Age of Extinction. Ratchet will certainly be a controversial casualty and, at this point, we do not know the fates of other Autobot allies, including Sideswipe and Dino, not to mention the Wreckers (Roadbuster, Topspin, and Leadfoot).
Still, we do know the names and identities of the Autobots that will step into the spotlight. In addition to redesigned versions of franchise staples Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, Age of Extinction will introduce Hound (an Ironhide-sized scout that transforms into an Oshkosh Defense Medium Tactical Vehicle), Crosshairs (a crack shot weapons specialist who transforms into a green 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray), as well as Drift (a Samurai-like Autobot that transforms into a black and blue 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse).
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In an effort to appeal to the lucrative Chinese box office, Transformers (new and old) both take design cues from Eastern anime - as evidenced by Bumblebee's new battle mode along with Optimus Prime's medieval-like armor and broadsword. In addition, the visual effects team has, reportedly, simplified vehicle to robot (and vice versa) transformations this time - striking a balance between the straightforward conversions seen in the G1 cartoon series and the over-complicated CGI metal explosions that were previously featured in the live-action series.
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After initial speculation led certain viewers to believe that the "Gun Face" Transformer featured in the Super Bowl trailer was Megatron, resurrected as Galvatron, a closer look at the character confirmed that he is actually Lockdown (who transforms into a black 2013 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4). In certain versions of Transformers mythology, Lockdown is a malevolent bounty hunter that steals modifications from his fallen enemies and adds them to his own arsenal but it is currently unknown whether or not Bay will incorporate that aspect of the character into Age of Extinction.
Still, fans shouldn't count Galvatron out either - since Toy Fair 2014 images confirmed that the robot seen cutting a red car in half (in the Super Bowl teaser) is actually the Decepticon leader. Galvatron, who transforms into that mysterious 2014 Freightliner Argosy cab over trailer truck, looks to appear briefly in the full length trailer - on the ground with Optimus Prime hovering over (before the Autobot takes an explosive shot to the chest). It's hard to see (given that the focus is on Optimus Prime) but the enemy bot features the same layered silver armor and piping as the Galvatron toy.
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The trailer also features an armada of Decepticon ships (most likely led by Lockdown) that are shown vacuuming up the streets of Hong Kong. The evil bots could simply be using a reverse gravity weapon but, given that a key aspect of the Age of Extinction plot reportedly revolves around building new Transformers, it's also possible that the ships are stealing parts that could be used to help construct an invading army. Whatever their plan, Galvatron and Lockdown will also be joined by Stinger (a red and black 2013 Pagani Huayra) as well as other Decepticons that have yet to be revealed on screen.
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Joshua, played by Stanley Tucci, is expected to mostly serve as comic relief in Age of Extinction but the character is also instrumental in establishing a core element of the story. He's an inventor who has learned how to create his own Transformers - and even attempts to improve upon existing Cybertronians. To that end, Joshua models his latest sentient robot, Stinger (the aforementioned red and black 2013 Pagani Huayra), after Bumblebee.
In the trailer, the Bumblebee comes face to face with the "new and improved" Transformer product - while Joshua chastises the Cybertronian hero, stating that humanity doesn't "need" Autobots anymore. Meanwhile specs of the two robots can be seen in the back, asserting that Stinger is bleeding-edge tech with maximum efficiency, and supercharged power, that is both lethal yet safe, while sporting a dynamic design. Bumblebee's stats are harder to read in the trailer but, according Joshua's advertising, the classic Autobot is first generation tech, slow moving, inferior, with limited functionality, and (worst of all) an unsightly design.
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Of course, Joshua will learn his lesson when Stinger eventually turns on his creator and sides with the Decepticons. Still, with only the Super Bowl spot and new trailer to go by, we don't know how many other Transformers Joshua might have created while playing Dr. Frankenstein. Some fans even speculate (though unconfirmed) that he could be the man responsible for producing the Dinobots in this version of their origin story.
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The reveal of Optimus Prime riding Grimlock in the Super Bowl trailer resulted in significantly more questions than answers - especially considering the Dinobot leader is much larger than the Autobot hero this round. Yet, the teaser made one thing clear: Grimlock will be a force of nature in beast mode - seen recklessly plowing through a Chinese archway.
While viewers might have been hoping for a live-action reveal of the fan-favorite bot's humanoid mode (or at the very least hear him utter "Me Grimlock"), the new trailer focuses on a rough start to Autobot/Dinobot relations - with Optimus Prime outright punching a charging Grimlock through the air. Paired with the shot of two-headed Dinobot Strafe (once again confirmed by Toy Fair 2014) attacking (or possibly rescuing) Bumblebee, hostilities between the two factions might be confusing to moviegoers who simply assumed Dinobots are just Dinosaur-shaped Autobots.
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However, anyone familiar with various Transformers cartoons and comic series knows that in many versions, the Dinobots often find themselves slightly at odds with Optimus and his methods - especially since Grimlock is, more often than not, an arrogant (albeit extremely capable) leader. In addition, we've yet to get official confirmation of the Dinobots' origin: they could be one of Joshua's (more imaginative) creations, ancient Cybertronians that have been trapped on Earth since the age of the dinosaurs, or new inhabitants that arrive along with Lockdown.
Still, regardless of their origin, in Age of Extinction, the Dinobots will have to unite with the Autobots to stop a larger Decepticon threat - but we'll have to wait for further trailer reveals to find out if the brawl between Optimus and Grimlock depicts the Autobot taming a wild and thoughtless Dinobot beast or beating an arrogant and self-serving Dinobot leader into compliance.
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Some watchers might have dismissed this Texas billboard as nothing more than set dressing but it is actually the beginning point of a larger viral marketing campaign - one that cleverly builds on the movie's "Transformers are Dangerous" story.
Dialing the (855) 363-8392 number leads fans to an Easter Egg voicemail line that reminds callers of the devastation caused in Chicago when the warring Cybertronians battled throughout the city and, as a result, instructs them to share alien sightings (as well as other valuable information).
At this point, we don't know what else (if anything) will come of the viral marketing stunt but fans can check out the number's accompanying website TransformersAreDangerous.com to stay up to date - and download a cool wanted poster emblazoned with Optimus Prime's face.
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Those are the brief clips and questions from the newest trailer that most stood out to us but only time will tell how accurate our speculation turns out to be.
If you've still got questions, make sure to check out our analysis of the Transformers: Age of Extinction Super Bowl teaser which includes other details (and robot photos) that were not shown in the latest trailer.
Do you think our theories are right on target, or are you hoping they're off the mark? Be sure to share your own insights or theories in the comments.
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.