Since Hasbro introduced them to the world in the 80s as a popular toy line, the Transformers have been among us as one of the great entertainment franchises and one of the most lucrative.
Comics, animated series, video games, and figures, they are everywhere, although the media where they have been most successful is in the movies, mainly the live-action saga that began in the late 2000s, but they also have their animated gems that not many know.
Without more to add, buckle up and get ready to roll with the Autobots and Decepticons…
How Many Transformers Movies Are There?
There are 10 Transformers movies in total. That is if you include all of the animated Transformer movies and the new live-action Transformers films.
What Is The Best Order To Watch The Transformers Movies?
It is best to watch the Transformers Movies In chronological order. If you want to watch them all, start with the animated movies then move on to the seven live-action movies.
While the spin-offs kind of act as a prequel, there is no reason to watch them first. Since the chronological and release date order match up perfectly, just watch the Transformers movies in release order. Even if you are only interested in the live action ones, you owe it to yourself to go back and watch the first movie that started it all from the ’80s. Keep reading to find out why…
The Animated Transformer Movies (in order of release)
The Transformers: The Movie (1986)
Nowadays, these characters are more recognized from the live-action films, but without the iconic animated series of the 80s, they would never have gotten to where they are now.
The second season of Transformers ended in August 1986. Against all odds, both ratings and toy sales were dropping alarmingly and were not even remotely close to what was achieved at the start of the series.
Hasbro needed a change, something that would make kids start buying more action figures, and nothing better than a movie to introduce a whole new legion of characters that would mark a before and after in this universe.
Set in the year 2005, 20 years in the future from where we left the second season, the first Transformers movie (from Amazon) presents a much more serious plot than the series, with a greater focus on violence and death along with an incredible voice cast with Peter Cullen, Leonard Nimoy, and Orson Welles as the main villain.
For this, they needed a threat never seen before, so they welcomed Unicron, the Chaos-Bringer and the total antithesis of Primus, to the saga. But, (Spoiler) not only did they dare to do that, but also Optimus Prime dies early in the story during a battle against Megatron.
Therefore, Optimus cedes the Matrix to Ultra Magnus, while his badly wounded archenemy is reborn as Galvatron, a Decepticon that makes Megatron look like child’s play.
At the time, this film generated quite a bit of controversy due to its dark tone and the number of deaths of iconic characters, especially Autobots, but it has stood the test of time, being considered a masterpiece.
Beast Wars II: Lio Convoy in Imminent Danger! (1998)
This special chapter that can be considered a film is very little known since it belongs to the Japanese exclusive anime “Beast Wars II: Super Life-Form Transformers”, which in turn is a spin-off of the Beast Wars saga.
Therefore, it went unnoticed by many fans, although those who were able to enjoy it did not regret giving it a chance.
Set between chapters 32 and 38 of the anime, this film expands the long conflict between the evil Predacons of Galvatron and the Maximals led by the brave Lio Convoy, a Transformer quite similar to Optimus Prime but with an oriental touch.
The course of their battle changes completely when a strange device falls on the planet Gaia, a future version of Earth. Galvatron takes advantage of this to summon Majin Zarak, a mechanical beast of colossal dimensions and the greatest threat the Maximals have ever faced.
Our heroes are not alone in the battle, though, as the device also saw the arrival of Optimus Primal, the acknowledged protagonist of the original Beast Wars saga and a spiritual successor to Optimus Prime.
The Beast Wars series is known for its 3D animation, but in my opinion, it hasn’t aged entirely well, although it seems to me that it was a valiant attempt for the time.
In contrast, the Beast Wars II anime still looks flawless, and in the film, this looks even more so in the action scenes.
In addition, Lio Convoy strikes me as one of the best reinterpretations of Optimus Prime, with an imposing design that retains elements of his alternate form as a lion.
Although it recycles part of the narrative of the 1986 film, this story is proof that the Transformers also shine in the country where the toys were born.
Transformers Prime Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising (2013)
If there is a series that can stand up to the 1984 original, it is Transformer: Prime from 2010, which with its excellent 3D animation and a much more serious narrative captured the hearts of millions of fans.
In 2013, its third and final season arrived, and what better way to end it than with a movie?
The story begins at a particular moment, as the Autobots are celebrating their successful defense of their home planet Cybertron and Bumblebee is preparing to move up the ranks. However, Megatron’s lifeless body was reanimated by Unicron, who wants to destroy Cybertron at all costs.
The power of this Megatron is so immense that it forces the Autobots, Decepticons, and Predacons to unite to protect their home.
It was not an easy task to bring a series as good as Transformers Prime to a close, but this film more than delivered, and in just one hour it was able to present a complex narrative, animation with great attention to detail, charismatic characters and excellent performances by the voice actors, with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker standing out as always.
Although you can enjoy it on its own, Predacons Rising (from Amazon) was a delight for fans of its predecessor series, especially for the children who grew up watching it. I would certainly pay to see their reactions to the plot twists present in this movie.
The Live-Action Transformer Movies (in order of release)
When Paramount announced the film, it was a dream come true for fans who grew up with Generation One and longed for the day when they would see their favorite characters in all the splendor of a Hollywood film.
The leap to the silver screen and the reinvention of these heroes, after 25 years of existence, was a small but celebrated milestone for science fiction.
Directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg, the 2007 Transformers film (from Amazon) initially presents us with a very human plot, in which a young misfit named Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) wants to fall in love with the inaccessible girl of his dreams, Mikaela (Megan Fox). But he inadvertently ends up getting involved in a war between Autobots and Decepticons for control of the AllSpark, all because he wants to impress a girl with a second-hand car…
Without much order, but with enough style, the movie mixes action, comedy, and romance to reach an apotheosis climax in its final half hour of fireworks, dramatic slow-motion scenes, and explosions everywhere.
That’s Michael Bay, but even if he has problems at the narrative level, you have to admit that he knew how to adapt the epicness of the Transformers to the big screen, with CGI that still looks amazing and even better than the current overexploited industry.
Of course, the conflict between Optimus Prime and Megatron is one of the main focuses, but the one who won many hearts was Bumblebee, who despite being mute, stole the show with his natural charisma and heroism.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
The first film had a pretty flat reception among specialized critics, mainly because of Michael Bay’s vague narrative, but that didn’t stop it from grossing an incredible $700 million at the worldwide box office. That in Hollywood means only one thing: a sequel must be made.
Revenge of the Fallen can be summed up as more noise, more minutes, and more spectacle. Don’t expect too much character development even though more unexpected things happen to them.
In this story, Sam tries to continue a halfway normal life in college after his first contact with the alien robots.
All seemed to be going well until he is assaulted by visions of strange symbols, something akin to the dementia his ancestor Archibald suffered from. But he soon realizes that this is merely the key to a new conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons, who have a new and unprecedented threat in their ranks: The Fallen, the Prime who betrayed his brothers and wants to turn Earth into a source of Energon, no matter how many lives he eradicates.
Although the premise sounds interesting, the truth is that it’s just another excuse to show more Transformers scenes in bloody metallic battles, although don’t get me wrong, the action sequences really improved in this film.
It’s machinery talking, flying, fighting, crashing, more explosions, more battles, new scenarios like Jordan and Egypt, and new Transformers, all with a few monologues about the courage, bravery, valor, and honor of the Autobots enunciated by their charismatic leader, Optimus Prime, who has the luxury of dying and being reborn in this movie.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
After grossing over $800 million with the last one, it was time for Michael Bay to end his trilogy on a high note, and while this one surpassed the incredible $1 billion mark at the box office, it is the most loathed film in the saga for fans, mostly because of its overly simplistic plot.
In this story, the Autobots continue to help humans prevent conflicts around the world. On one of their missions, they find a piece of the Ark, a spaceship that escaped from Cybertron during the great war but did not reach Earth, as it was stranded on the dark side of the moon.
They meet Optimus’ master and predecessor, Sentinel Prime, who also created the pillars, artifacts that could have ended the war between Autobots and Decepticons at its peak, but will now provoke a new conflict.
Ah, I almost forgot Sam, although honestly, his weight in this film falls a lot, especially because of the exit of Megan Fox, who had a strong disagreement with Michael Bay, so she left the Transformers franchise.
In the end, the theme of the pillars was another excellent justification for action scenes everywhere, and boy, did the whole budget go for that.
It is enjoyable on an audiovisual level, its 3 Oscar nominations for special effects, sound effects and sound support it, although in narrative terms, we are facing the weakest story of the saga, despite adding interesting characters like Sentinel Prime and Shockwave, and important moments like the “definitive” death of Megatron.
Dark of the Moon is perfect to pass the time, but for die-hard Transformers fans, it was a little bit of a disappointment.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Despite those mixed reviews, Transformers was still dominating the worldwide box office. Shia Labeof left the franchise for Transformers 4, so it was time for a new human protagonist more given to action like Mark Wahlberg and another approach for the series, but of course, still with Michael Bay as the director.
Age of Extinction is set five years after the Battle of Chicago, the major event of the third film.
Since then, humans have begun hunting alien machines, whether Autobots or Decepticons, because they found Transformium, a substance that allows them to create their own controllable Transformers.
Cade Yaeger, a mechanic/inventor in debt, finds a damaged Optimus Prime, starting a constant chase against the government and his new ally, Lockdown, a cybertronian bounty hunter more ferocious than Megatron.
But that’s not all, they also included the Dinobots, the Transformers led by Grimlock who can turn into dinosaurs and the first steps of Galvatron, the redesign of Megatron created by humans with Transformium, but we all know that villain always finds a way to come back.
In this film, you notice an emotional maturity in both the plot and the characters, as now the Autobots are forced to confront the humans, giving rise to a more sinister side of our favorite heroes.
But again, that meant a convoluted and complicated narrative to follow, but nothing that Michael Bay can’t make up for with great action scenes in which the Dinobots, Lockdown, and of course, the heroic Optimus Prime shine.
Overall, it was a correct redefinition of the series if you ask me, with a new formula that doesn’t stop being excuses for robot fights although it’s interesting enough to start a new trilogy… or not?
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
With the huge success of Age of Extinction at the box office, audiences made it pretty clear that they weren’t tired of so how many Transformers movies there are, so Paramount went all out with The Last Knight, a film that wanted to cover too much but ended up, in almost nothing.
With Wahlberg reprising his role and the return of iconic actors of the saga like Josh Duhamel and John Turturro, this story continues the hunt for both Autobots and Decepticons on the part of humans.
Optimus takes off from Earth to find his creators, and succeeds, but crosses paths with a pretty bad one: Quintessa, an alien creator of the Cybertronians who claims that the only way for Cybertron to rise from the ashes, is to wipe out the hidden form of Unicron, aka, the Earth.
While the premise is already quite extensive, as usual, many subplots are developing, involving the Transformers’ past on Earth and their link to King Arthur himself and the Knights of the Round Table. Oh, and Megatron also returns with a new body.
We have a medieval plot, a present-day plot, romance, action, an alien invasion, a children’s drama, baby Dinobots, and Shia LaBeouf in a cameo. And much more, of course, and of all that little is resolved.
However, there are some redeemable things, like the action scenes, the impeccable CGI, and of course, the confrontation between Bumblebee and Nemesis Prime. If there is something more dangerous than Optimus, it is an evil Optimus.
Beyond that, the film is a roller coaster ride in which almost nothing makes sense, but if you let yourself go, maybe you can enjoy it. Just maybe…
The Live-Action Transformer Spin-Offs
With the last film, a phenomenon of fatigue regarding the Transformers emerged, but instead of waiting, Paramount decided to risk creating a new set of prequels with a style more attached to Generation One, and the one chosen to start it was Bumblebee, the most popular Autobot after Optimus Prime.
The movie is set in the great Cybertron war that the Autobots are about to lose, so Optimus sends his best scout, Bumblebee, to establish a base on Earth.
The Autobot lands in 1987 California, being discovered by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenage girl who has a hard time fitting into society. Together, they develop a beautiful friendship, but the real danger appears when the Decepticons detect the signal of our favorite yellow hero.
Less is more, that phrase is undoubtedly the best to summarize this great film directed by Travis Knight, who leaves a little aside the oversaturated action to give us a much more human and emotional story, with a certain resemblance to “The Iron Giant”.
Of course, the conflict between Autobots and Decepticons is still an important theme, but it is surrounded by an eighties nostalgia, with great songs from that decade and much more enjoyable humor.
For all their faults, Bay’s films always manage to entertain me, but I have to admit that Travis Knight knew how to adapt these characters with much more personality and heart than we saw in the previous 5 films. And come on, those Generation One inspired designs look great on the big screen.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)
As we well know, this universe doesn’t have room for too many simple stories, as the next big threat is always just around the corner. Rise of the Beasts is the most recent film in the saga and one that not only welcomes the Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons but also hints at a crossover with the other Hasbro characters.
7 years after the events of Bumblebee, the story presents a great conflict between the Autobots against the Unicron army, commanded by the lethal Scourge, whose mission is to steal a key in possession of the few Maximals of Optimus Primal.
Unwittingly, an ex-military man (Anthony Ramos) and a researcher (Dominique Fishback) become involved in this battle that threatens to devastate the Earth.
Wait, wasn’t Unicron our planet according to The Last Knight? Well, rather than prequels, these latest movies completely alter the canon, to the point of ignoring what happened in Michael Bay’s 5 movies. Whether that’s right or wrong is a matter of personal taste.
Beyond that, Rise of the Beasts takes everything that worked in Bumblebee, such as a concise narrative development and better human characters, to create a story that is far from perfect but does not fail to satisfy fans of the saga with excellent visual effects and the more “beastly” side of in the latest Transformers. Not to mention that it sets a very, very ambitious precedent for the future of this universe.
Will More Transformer Movies Be Coming Out?
They will certainly release more Transformer movies in the years to come. With 10 movies already released, Transformers is one of the most extensive and successful movie franchises in Hollywood.
From the nostalgia of Generation One to the explosive style of Michael Bay, the Transformers have been adapted in different ways and it doesn’t look like they are going to stop, since apart from the live-action universe, a big-budget animated film called “Transformers One” is being prepared.
This is definitely a great time to be a fan of these Hasbro characters, and the future looks even more promising, let’s just hope they don’t lose their essence again and keep their course. Autobots, Roll Out!