The Transformers movies have become synonymous with increasingly large scale event movies, disastrous attacks and spectacular action scenes filled with special effects and fiery explosions. It seems that with every subsequent instalment in the franchise, the movies get bigger, louder and flashier, the action crisper and the scope grander. Amid all of the rock ’em sock’ em, robot versus robot action, between all the metallic punches and the canons blasting off and the swords clashing, it can be easy to overlook the smaller moments, the moments that remind you what all of this action is for, and of the characters who are taking part in it.
After all, if there is one thing the Transformers movies are filled with besides explosions, its a great number of characters that take part in the story. Some viewers may associate the Transformers films with action, but that action is meaningless without heart. People might overlook the fact that over the course of five movies, the Transformers and their human allies have made us feel. Now that Transformers: The Last Knight is out (to very muted responses, to say the least), join us as we take a look at 15 better times, when the Transformers films dug into our chests and ripped out our rusty, mechanical hearts.
15. EVIL OPTIMUS PRIME BATTLES BUMBLEBEE
While most people haven’t seen Transformers: The Last Knight yet (and the ones that have seemingly regretted it), our first look at the trailers promised scale and destruction like never before, and that’s saying something when it comes to the Transformers franchise. But none of those explosive glimpses were as destructive to our hearts as seeing a now evil Optimus literally taking the fight to beloved and fan-favorite character Bumblebee.
After four movies of seeing these two fight side-by-side as brothers in arms, the mere thought of seeing them at each other’s throats is enough to send us in a downward spiral. What’s worse is that we know how strong Optimus is, and what he’s capable of, and seeing him tear Bumblebee’s “wings” clean off breaks our hearts and makes us wholeheartedly fear for the safety of everyone’s favorite yellow Transformer.
14. LOCKDOWN KILLS RATCHET
After a trilogy of seeing the Autobots fight alongside humans to emerge victorious against the Decepticons, Age of Extinction came and showed us a very different world. Transformers good or bad were now in hiding, hunted by the government. To hammer home that fact, we got to witness a scene where armed human forces found and attacked poor and harmless Autobot Ratchet.
While he hadn’t exactly become anyone’s favorite Transformer, Ratchet was always a dependable presence in the previous three movies, a recognizable figure at Optimus’ side, there more to help his friends as a medic, but always willing to fight when the situation called for it. So when we saw him, defenseless and ready to turn himself in, inexplicably get shot and killed by Lockdown, we were left absolutely devastated.
13. LASERBEAK ASSASSINATES HUMAN ALLIES
Amid the large scale attacks, prolonged battles and spectacular explosions, sometimes the Transformers movies find the time to approach things on a smaller scale, and in a quieter manner. Such was the case in the third installment of the franchise, Dark of the Moon, when evil Decepticon Laserbeak was ordered to eliminate the human allies they had colluded with previously.
The sequence started with Laserbeak shooting a man through his car windshield, but it didn’t stop there. The real frightening sequence began after, when the bird-like Decepticon took on the form of a friendly pink robot to infiltrate one of his target’s home. “Is your daddy home?” he asked to a little girl with his chilling, raspy voice. This is one of the times when the movies veered into very dark territory in a terrifying scene.
12. LUCAS IS KILLED BY LOCKDOWN’S BOMBS
Ever since the very first instalment, the Transformers franchise has always been filled with very colorful and likeable human characters, characters that mostly all lived through the end of their respective movies and sequels. TJ Miller’s Lucas, a friend of Mark Whalberg’s Cade Yeager, was such a character. Peripheral, colorful and hilarious, he is the kind of guy you attach yourself to. The kind you thought would make it through the movie.
But Age of Extinction played things differently, and it showed us that in its first half when Cade, his daughter Tessa and Lucas were all chased by Lockdown. While the others ran for safety, Lucas got stuck behind, and Lockdown’s fierce bomb burned everything in its path, leaving the very likeable and comedic character burnt to a crisp. Not many human characters we care for die in Transformers, so this one came as a quite the shock.
11. OPTIMUS PRIME RETURNS FROM HIDING
The first half of Age of Extinction was difficult to watch. First, you had to get accustomed to this new world that hated the Transformers. You learned that the Autobots were scattered, separated; you saw Ratchet get murdered in cold blood (oil? and Optimus Prime not exactly in his, well, prime, in hiding, rusty and defeated. Then, you watched your new favorite human character get killed.
Things were all bleak and dire… that is, until push came to shove, and Optimus decided it was time to start fighting once more. In an inspiring, chill-inducing sequence, Optimus returned to his modern truck look as he rejoined the remaining Autobots who had united once again out in the desert. Hound cheering “He’s back!” combined with the uplifting score and the weight of the scene were all enough to get us cheering as well.
10. MEGATRON RIPS JAZZ IN HALF
Before all the crazy sequels, the original Transformers movie was a story about five Autobots battling an army of Decepticons to save the Earth. It was a spectacular affair and the relatively small number of Autobots meant that you were easily attached to any of them. The Autobots were the good guys, and you had the added treat of seeing them trying to adapt to our world, which made them all the more endearing.
While the movie was largely lighthearted, a real blow was dealt to us when we saw the much smaller Jazz take the fight to Megatron. He wasn’t the Transformer with the most screen-time, but he was still well-liked, as all Autobots were. When Megatron ripped him in half as nothing more than a nuisance, we were crushed to witness this first casualty in this war, and we had to realize that some of these heroes were, sadly, expendable.
9. BUMBLEBEE IS TAKEN PRISONER BY SECTOR 7
Of all the Autobots introduced in the first Transformers film, none connected with the audience as much as Bumblebee. Introduced to us as Sam’s car, the two quickly developed a bond that everyone was fond of. Who wouldn’t want a car/robot as a best friend and protector? Optimus was the leader everyone cheered on, but Bumblebee was the heart of the first film.
So, when Agent Simmons and Sector 7 came knocking, we saw the full extent of the Agency’s powers as they proceeded to incapacitate and imprison Bumblebee. What’s worse is that this came as a consequence of Bumblebee saving Sam from falling off of Optimus when the group was hiding from Sector 7. Bumblebee sacrificed it all for his human best friend, and he paid dearly for it. His cries and pleas for help as he gets frozen break our hearts, every time.
8. ALL AUTOBOTS ARE PRESUMED DEAD
Before Dark Of The Moon moved into its final explosive act, things quieted down when all hope was lost. The Autobots decided to give in to the Decepticons and humans’ demands to leave the Earth and never return. So, with a heavy heart, the Autobots boarded their shuttle and told their goodbyes to Sam. The emotion was already palpable in this scene, and it would only grow worse.
After the shuttle blasted off into the sky, we saw the Decepticons back out of their deal and pulverize the shuttle. Sam looked on from a far distance, heartbroken and in despair, just as much as we were. Granted, it seemed rather impossible that all of the Autobots would perish at the two thirds mark of the movie, but the beautifully shot scene still left us in shock at what had just transpired.
7. OPTIMUS FREES THE DINOBOTS
After three movies of Autobots fighting Decepticons, there was a lot of excitement for a whole new faction of Transformers to join the movie universe: the Dinobots, and their leader, Grimlock. We had to wait quite a bit before we would see them in action, but when the time came, the Dinobots were just as promised: awesome, rough around the edges and powerful allies.
Ancient beings kept prisoner aboard Lockdown’s ship for a very long time, Optimus freed them from captivity so that he might recruit them to his cause. It took a bit of convincing, but when they finally fought alongside the Autobots, it was a cinematic dream come true. The final heartfelt moment came at the end, when Optimus told them they were free. From start to finish, the Dinobots’ inclusion was all about heart.
6. QUE IS EXECUTED
Dark of the Moon was a movie that introduced quite a few new Transformers to the Autobots team. Among those characters were the Wreckers, Brains and Que. Endearing and harmless, Que appeared as a lovable aging robot, one far more in his element inventing new weapons for his fellow Autobots and humans than taking part in the actual fighting himself. Little did we know that Que’s addition was merely to play with our emotions.
During the massive, final battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons in Chicago, Que, along with Bumblebee, was taken prisoner by Shockwave, who ordered the execution of their prisoners. First in line was Que, who pleaded for his life and tried in vain to find the Decepticons’ inherent good, only to be shot and killed. Finally, Bumblebee’s somber “Goodbye my old friend…” was enough to send us over the edge.
5. THE AUTOBOTS ARRIVE
Before Revenge of the Fallen, before Dark of the Moon and before the Age of Extinction, there was only the Earth, a boy and his car. In the very first Transformers film, before all the explosions and the fighting, we hadn’t seen much of this world and universe yet; only Bumblebee, and his enemy Barricade. So when, finally, Bumblebee signalled the arrival of the rest of the Autobots, the sequence was appropriately legendary.
Optimus, Jazz, Ratchet and Ironhide all fell from the sky in a stunning sequence that featured a beautiful score that would become synonymous with the Transformers. The scene was glorious, as we saw these robots try to hide themselves from the world one by one, taking on their classic-inspired yet modern car forms. Finally, the Autobots united, and we saw them all transform for the very first time.
4. JETFIRE SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR OPTIMUS
As the first sequel in the franchise, Revenge of the Fallen looked to up the ante in any way it could. The first step was to give longtime fans of the Transformers more appearances of fan-favorite characters. Among those new additions was the beloved Jetfire, here introduced to us as an extremely old robot who had defected from the Decepticons to join the side of the Autobots.
Jetfire was as funny as he was grumpy, and absolutely crucial when it came to the main quest of the film. His lifelong dream of seeing a Prime in action was both heartbreaking and telling of the legend of the Primes. Injured, Jetfire sacrificed his life, ripping his own heart out, offering Optimus all of his parts to arm himself for his battle against the Fallen. The sequence appropriately and effectively ripped our own hearts out as well.
3. SENTINEL PRIME BETRAYS THE AUTOBOTS
The central premise of Dark of the Moon saw a ship know as The Arc that had crash-landed on the Moon become the focal point of attention. Aboard that ship was not only a weapon of great importance, but Optimus Prime’s superior and longtime friend, Sentinel Prime. Taking on the classic form of a firetruck, Sentinel was an older, wiser addition to the Autobots that gave us new insight into Optimus Prime.
But the real kicker came when Sentinel Prime revealed that he had struck a deal with Megatron, something he announced just as he turned around and traitorously killed fan-favorite weapons specialist Ironhide. Just like that, we had lost a mainstay character from the very first film, a lovable Transformer who had become dependable and effective against the Decepticons. Two movies later, and Ironhide is still missed.
2. BUMBLEBEE LOSES HIS LEGS
The first Transformers movie built the tension quite nicely, until the race for control of the AllSpark reached a boiling point and all-out war between the Autobots and the Decepticons erupted in the city. The first casualty in this battle wouldn’t take the life of a character we thought would remain unscathed, but it was still devastating to watch: in an explosion, everyone’s beloved Bumblebee lost both of his legs.
This was surprising, not only because we thought Bumblebee was safe, but because it made us realize how much we cared for him, and his relationship with Sam, who cried out for help and chose to stay at his side in his time of need. It is a favor Bumblebee would later repay after the battle, when he would choose to stay with Sam instead of joining his fellow Autobots, leaving us all choking up thanks to their special bond.
1. MEGATRON KILLS OPTIMUS
Optimus Prime is not only the leading man (robot) of the Transformers franchise, he is the franchise in some ways. After making his long-awaited appearance near the half of the first movie, Revenge of the Fallen opened with its focus squarely on him and his efforts to rid the planet of the Decepticons. He was positioned as the main hero of the movie, and the main focus.
And yet, this great warrior and main star of the franchise faced an overwhelming battle in the first half of the sequel; a battle that saw him take on both Megatron and Starscream, not to mention a few others, all while trying to protect Sam. He was valiant and determined, even while we feared for his safety. Finally, when Megatron fatefully stabbed him, our fears had been realized, and we were left heartbroken, hoping for a miracle that could bring him back to life. Thankfully, there was one.
What was your favorite moment from the Transformers franchise? Let us know in the comments!
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