The mechanical toy robots known as Transformers first appeared on store shelves in the 1980s. They spawned TV shows, comic books and finally big, loud motion pictures. The third film in the franchise is now at theaters worldwide.Here's a behind the scenes look at Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Shia LaBeouf returns as the resourceful young hero Sam Witwicky, along with his champion, the giant alien robot Optimus Prime. Like all the Transformers, Optimus can fold himself up into a clever disguise as a vehicle - in this case, a powerful truck.
Once again Optimus and his loyal Autobots are battling the evil Decepticons with the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance.
"You may lose your faith in us, but never in yourselves. From here the fight will be your own."
Like the first two films, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the work of writer, director and producer Michael Bay, who talked about the challenge at a news conference in Moscow before the film's world premiere.
"You keep trying to push the boundaries," explained Bay. "[Fellow director] James Cameron called me up and he asked me if making the third one was easier or harder. I knew he was asking that because of Avatar 2. I said 'Jim, it's definitely harder because you keep trying to push yourself farther.'"
Often criticized for the manic energy and rapid-fire editing of his films, Bay says he modified his style to shoot this third Transformers adventure in 3D.
"Steven Spielberg and Jim Cameron kept saying I should shoot this movie in 3D," noted Bay. "I was a skeptic because it is new technology. The [camera] systems are a lot bigger and heavier and it's hard to take it into the real world - to the streets, moving around. So we had to invent a lot of stuff like strapping it on to the skydivers' helmets. I slowed my style down a bit. I made longer wide shots, moving through things in a very cool 3D way. But I think it really works well in this movie."
British lingerie model-turned-actress Rosie Huntington-Whitely joins the Transformers cast as the new love interest for the human hero Sam.
"This being my first film, I feel extremely blessed to have gotten to work alongside, in my opinion, some of the most - if not THE most - talented people in the industry. To get to learn that on my first film and my first chance at ever learning to act, I feel very excited and blessed and thank you everybody," she joked.
Huntington-Whitely got the role when sexpot Megan Fox was fired after co-starring in the first two Transformers. In Moscow, Shia LaBeouf was diplomatic about both co-stars.
"These two people have completely different energies. Rosie is an incredible actress. This is her first one out of the gate and she soared. It takes a lot of strength to be in this. I think they're both very good at the job. I enjoyed Megan, I enjoyed Rosie. I think they are both great actresses," LaBeouf said.
Beautiful, provocative women are trademarks of Michael Bay's films as are the explosion-filled action scenes. The director says he knows what his fans want to see
"When we were doing the scene at the end where they kiss, Rosie asked 'Michael, would you like me to take off my heels; I am so much taller than Shia.' And I said 'no, leave them on," Bay recalled. "They will stay on because you are going to give short men hope around the world.'"
Transformers: Dark of the Moon includes an unexpected mix of serious dramatic actors like John Malkovich and Oscar-winner Francis McDormand. But the real stars of the film are the special effects wizards who created the crashing, thundering Transformer robots and the squadrons of stunt performers who risked injury to provide some of the thrills.