Transformers A to Z

Wizard offers up your complete A to Z primer to prepare you for July’s ‘Transformers’ film

By Zach Oat

Whether you last saw an episode of “The Transformers” after elementary school or on DVD last week, there’s probably still a lot of stuff you don’t know about both the big-budget, live-action film hitting July 4 and the Transformers in general. Well, get a pen and some paper, because we’re about to give you a crash course on the ABCs of the Transformers! (Warning: List may appear out of order when translated into Cybertronian.)

Autobots: These alien robots are the good guys, and they’ve come to Earth to stop the evil Decepticons. While there are hundreds of Autobots in the mythology, and they come in all forms, only five—all of them cars—appear in the film.

Bay, Michael: The director of such blockbusters as “Bad Boys” and “The Rock” has brought his megaphone to the table. Expect to see his trademark explosions, as well as unbelievably jaw-dropping special effects and a healthy dose of humor.

Cybertron: For millennia, the home planet of the Transformers has been embroiled in a civil war between its two main factions, the Autobots and Decepticons. While it’s unconfirmed, there is a good chance that we will see Cybertron as part of a flashback in the film.

Decepticons: There are eight of these age-old enemies of the Autobots on Earth, most disguised as military vehicles, including a jet, a tank, a helicopter and a minesweeper vehicle. Two smaller agents take the form of a CD player and a robotic scorpion.

Energon: In the “Transformers” cartoon, this source of power (it usually came in cubes) was often the resource that the two factions clashed over. In the film, the goal is a map to the life-giving Allspark, burned onto a pair of glasses owned by the ancestor of young Sam Witwicky.

Fox, Megan: The 21-year-old Fox may be the only thing that will take your eyes off of the transforming robots. The “Hope & Faith” regular plays Mikaela, the love interest of Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) whose talents under the hood make her an Autobot’s dream come true.

General Motors: No, he’s not the leader of the Autobots—it’s the company that makes all of the cars that the Autobots turn into. Jazz is a Pontiac Solstice, Ratchet is a Hummer H2, Ironhide is a GMC Topkick pickup truck and Bumblebee is a 1974 (later 2008) Chevy Camaro.

Hasbro: The world’s second-largest toy company took transforming toys from various Japanese toy lines in 1984 and enlisted Marvel Comics to help craft the story of alien robots from another planet. Look for Hasbro’s movie figures to hit shelves on June 2.

Ironhide: This Southern-twanged Autobot soldier, despite being a popular cartoon character, never had a good toy. The Japanese toy he was based on had a human pilot in both modes, so his robot mode only had a windshield for a face.

Jazz: Most fans remember this music-loving Autobot for his scratchy voice, compliments of singer/dancer/actor Scatman Crothers (“The Shining”). The visor from his 1980s look has been preserved in the film.

Kurtzman & Orci: The writing team (Alex and Roberto, respectively) behind “Mission: Impossible III” has saved us from an early draft of the movie where the Transformers were mute. Next, they’ll re-team with director J.J. Abrams on “Star Trek XI.”

LaBeouf, Shia: The “Constantine” and “I, Robot” star plays Sam Witwicky, the hapless teen who gets drawn into the Transformers conflict when the used car he buys turns out to be Bumblebee, the Autobots’ agent on Earth.

Megatron: The leader of the Decepticons, Megatron is found frozen in the Arctic in the film’s prologue. In the cartoon, he turned into a gun; here, he’s a Cybertronian jet, although producers have said that he will also assume an Earth form.

Nightbird: How could they possibly make the “Transformers” movie cooler? Three words: Female ninja robots. Nightbird, introduced in the ”Transformers” episode “Enter the Nightbird,” was built by a Japanese scientist for “research purposes.” (Yeah, right.)

Optimus Prime: The leader of the Autobots, Prime stands 28 feet tall and transforms into a Peterbilt semi truck with flames on it. While visually different from the cartoon, he’s auditorily identical—cartoon voice actor Peter Cullen will voice Prime again.

Prowl: While this Autobot police car is a fixture in the Transformers mythos, this film will mark the first time a police-themed Transformer is evil. The Decepticon cop car known as Barricade clashes with Sam and Bumblebee throughout the film.

Qatar: The Middle Eastern country is the scene of the movie’s first Decepticon attack when Blackout, disguised as an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter, infiltrates an Air Force base, transforms and lays waste to everything that moves.

Raptor: Starscream—Megatron’s lieutenant, rival and leader of the Decepticons in his absence—has taken this advanced F-22 stealth fighter as his alternate mode. The Raptor can go faster than Mach 2 and is highly maneuverable. Spielberg, Steven: The “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” director became executive producer on “Transformers” after he and producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura bought the rights to the movie for DreamWorks. Spielberg was introduced to the toys through his children.

Turturro, John: Whether you know him as the titular “Barton Fink” or Jesus from “The Big Lebowski,” you’ll love Turturro’s performance as Agent Simmons, the government agent tasked with investigating Sam’s involvement with the Transformers.

Ultimate Bumblebee: One of the toys Hasbro will release to tie in to the film will be the 14-inch Ultimate Bumblebee, described as “the most realistic Transformer toy ever.” It features lights, sounds, animatronic arms and a recording of Devo’s “Whip It.”

Volkswagen: Although he’s a classic Camaro in the film, Bumblebee originally got his buglike name from his ’80s car mode, a VW Beetle. Bay supposedly changed Bumblebee to a Camaro to avoid comparisons to Herbie the Love Bug.

Who’s Gonna Drive You Home?: You’ll be singing that all night, after you see the scene where Mikaela ditches her jerk-off boyfriend and Bumblebee gives Sam a hint via his radio: the ’80s classic “Drive”—by The Cars, of course.

Xbox 360: One of the five systems (including the PS2, PS3, PSP and Nintendo Wii) that will support Transformers: The Game, a “Grand Theft Auto”-style single-player with cut scenes by the team behind “Marvel:
Ultimate Alliance”!

You’ve Got the Touch: The first line of Stan Bush’s song “The Touch,” made famous in 1986’s animated “Transformers: The Movie.” (It was also in “Boogie Nights.”) Bush is back in the studio working on a new track for the new live-action movie.

Zone: In 1992, “Transformers: Zone” became the last TV series set in the original Transformers universe; it was released direct-to-video…in Japan. However, a new cartoon is in development for the fall featuring the 1980s-era Transformers characters!

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~ by evelynpheng on April 19, 2007.

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