Will the Dinobots Save the ‘Transformers’ Franchise?


Perhaps casually tossing the word “extinction” into the subtitle of a blockbuster franchise that was once presumed dead (victorious in death, but still dead in theory!) is a bad idea. The (presumably) first film in Michael Bay’s recently relaunched Transformers franchise is set to hit theaters this summer, and the series is starting to go great guns on this marketing thing, launching a full-scale trailer attack during yesterday’s dismal Super Bowl. While the game may have disappointed, the first trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction actually looked quite good (well, it does look like a Transformers trailer, but a good one in the context of things), and it featured the arrival of some robotic, transform-y new characters that might just save this whole outing (sorry, Mark Wahlberg).

The Dinobots are here! In the Transformers universe (where, yes, we’re betting Shia LaBeouf actually is still famous), the Dinobots are Autobots whose transformational mode makes them appear to be dinosaurs or similarly prehistoric beasts. Basically, no, they are not turning into planes, trains, or automobiles. Dinobots also get to bot out, thanks to their ability to fight in “robot mode” (much like evil Decepticons). Despite being Autobots by nature and literal design (the original origin story for the Dinobots actually holds that they were built by Wheeljack and Ratchet on Earth), they tend to be independent and interested in their own pursuits and aims. They are wild cards. And they are also dinosaurs that are also robots that are also born from a different universe. They are dinosaur-robot-aliens. They are also exactly what the franchise needs.

Financially speaking, the Transformers film franchise remains a juggernaut. The first three films in the trilogy have made nearly $3 billion at the global box office since the franchise first kicked off in 2007 and, at this point, going back for fourths or fifths or even, God forbid, sixths is sort of all gravy. These films will pull in an audience and lots of cash, and even if the returns start to diminish (both in terms of financial gain and actual cinematic quality), this is still a multi-billion dollar franchise. But there still needs to be something different to intrigue burnt out fans and pull in new audiences.


The Dinobots are not only interesting to newbies, but they are a beloved bit of Transformers lore that big time fans have long wanted to see on the big screen. And, again, they are alien dinosaur robots who were made by a bunch of other alien robots, which is bizarre and weird and the precise sort of the thing a franchise as big and crunchy and loud as the Transformers needs to ratchet things up. Really, after destroying entire American cities, what’s left?

A robot who looks like a T. rex, that’s what.

It also helps that the Dinobots can potentially serve as their own draw, as the new film swaps out Shia “I Am No Longer Famous” LaBeouf for some new stars, effectively removing a bit of familiarity that some film fans might still be beholden to (LaBeouf’s fame level notwithstanding). The new film stars Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz as a father-daughter duo that reportedly “make a discovery that brings down Autobots and Decepticons – and a paranoid government official – on them.” Is it the Dinobots? We bet it’s the Dinobots.

While LaBeouf and company led the original trilogy, new blood is always a solid way to mix things up when it comes to new installments, but the “discovery” of something nutty sure harkens back to the first film, when LaBeouf’s character Sam Witwicky “discovered” Bumblebee on a used car lot operated by Bernie Mac, while a simultaneous alien invasion was occurring on the other side of the world. Thematic continuation!

Here, take a look for yourself, and tell us you don’t want to see alien robot dinosaurs attacking other alien robots on the big screen (come on, guys, it’s popcorn theater!):

Transformers: Age of Extinction will open on June 27th.

Kate is an entertainment and culture writer and editor living in New York City. She is also a contributing writer for VanityFair.com, Cosmopolitan.com, RollingStone.com, Vulture, MTV.com, Details.com, The Dissolve, Screen Crush, New York Daily News, Mental Floss, and amNY. Her previous work can also be found at MSN Movies, Boxoffice Magazine, and Film.com. She lives her life like a French movie, Steve.

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