It’s almost hard to believe it’s been over a decade since the Transformers movies started taking the world by storm back in 2007. With director Michael Bay overseeing the first five films as director, the franchise has quite an identity it’s made for itself with those five entries. His tenure seeing him direct Transformers through Transformers: The Last Knight, with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Transformers Age of Extinction filling the middle.
But with last year’s Bumblebee, the Transformers movies have seemed to switch tactics and approach their source material with a more family friendly approach. Which makes ranking the franchise itself all the more exciting, as there’s plenty to talk about when not only comparing the tone between the original franchise run, but also that of those previous Transformers movies and the latest film in the line.
Ranking the in order from the best to worst, we’ll run the table through all six entries currently present in the Transformers canon, and describe what makes them great or not so great. Let’s roll out, and start with the top of the heap.
1. Bumblebee (2018)
There are so many things that Bumblebee gets right about being a Transformers movie. With an '80s setting that allows fans to get a bit of era-appropriate nostalgia mixed in with robot action, the stage is pretty well set for last year’s big Transformers kinda/sorta reboot to take flight.
What's even better is the fact that Bumblebee’s breakout star actually takes his original form of a Volkswagen Beetle. Crafted as a film to warm the hearts of Transformers die-hards, going back to his original look was more than wise. However, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to what makes this particular film work.
At the heart of Bumblebee’s entire effort to do something new is a story of Haliee Steinfeld’s Charlie, and her friendship with Bumblebee himself. Telling the most personal story in the series, while also including a ton of Transformers movie action, is the largest reason of why this film works the best out of the six.
2. Transformers (2007)
Out of all of the Michael Bay directed Transformers movies, the closest his series has ever come to setting the same sort of tone that Bumblebee did was with his first Transformers film. As Shia LaBeouf’s Sam shares a relationship with Bumblebee, similar to the one that particular Autobot shared with Charlie in the ‘80s, the core of human and Transformer co-operation is its strongest in this particular Bay-fueled story.
Though the action is definitely a stand out when comparing 2007’s Transformers to Bumblebee, as there’s tons of frenetic heroism to enjoy in this more modern paced blockbuster. Quite frankly, this film probably works the best because it’s where the entire franchise started, allowing this particular Transformers movie to be a little more experimental in what it wanted to do.
It takes a while to get to the actual gigantic action of Autobots and Decepticons fighting each other in public, which is actually best in hindsight, as it gave Transformers more time to really build its human component But by time things take off, it’s full steam ahead for the rest of the film, as well as the Transformers franchise.
3. Transformers 4: Age of Extinction (2014)
Sometimes, a soft reboot is all you need to boost a series that needs a pick-me-up, and that’s what Transformers: Age of Extinction did in the series’ fourth outing. With a pretty much completely new human cast, led by Mark Wahlberg’s protective father-turned Transformers crusader Cade Yaeger, the possibilities for the series opened pretty wide.
By reintroducing some of the human element that would go missing in the two Sam Witwicky sequels, Transformers: Age of Extinction gave the franchise a new lease on life, as well as room for a new trilogy dealing with an Earth that no longer ignored the presence of Transformers, but in some cases wanted to hunt them down and destroy them for good.
Capped off with the addition of Grimlock and other Dinobots into the fray, Transformers: Age of Extinction was more fun than most sequels get to be in a series that spans over three entries.
4. Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon (2011)
After the writer’s strike of 2007-2008 interfered with the writing process of Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, it felt like the series had lost a good amount of the wind that was once in its sails. Then Transformers: Dark of the Moon happened, which showed that while it had definitely taken a hit, the series wasn’t out of the game just yet.
The third and final film in the Sam Witwicky trilogy, Transformers: Dark of the Moon had a hell of a secret weapon to help tell the story of a race against time between Autobot and Decepticon forces trying to recover an artifact from the moon, in hopes of ending their conflict for good.
This is where the Transformers movies started to depend a bit too much on human historical events and the secret Transformer involvement in such moments. But even when it things started to sag with this third film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon did have a show-stopping battle in Chicago, and an impressive turn by Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime.
5. Transformers 5: The Last Knight (2017)
Considering how much of a breath of fresh air Transformers: Age of Extinction felt like, the Transformers movies would find themselves dipping in quality yet again with the fifth film, Transformers: The Last Knight.
Doubling down on the “secret history” of humans and Transformers, this adventure would see Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager returning on his own, with some new sidekicks in tow. Throw in a heel turn for Optimus Prime, an evil Transformers sorceress trying to resurrect Cybertron and a sassy robot butler that knows the words to “Move, Bitch,” and you basically have the gist of where this one went wrong.
For all of the care that was taken in laying down somewhat of a mythos for the Transformers and their lost home of Cybertron in the previous films, Transformers: The Last Knight was the fifth and final Michael Bay directed Transformers film, and one hell of a slap in the face to fans.
6. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
When pressed to give a reason as to why Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was as unimpressive a sequel as it was, director Michael Bay basically blamed it on the hoops he and the series’ writers had to jump through in order to complete the film before various industry strikes took place.
It certainly feels like it, as the second of the Transformers movies really feels like the worst of the lot. Taking Shia LaBoeuf’s Sam Witwicky for a second ride in the Transformers universe, our hero found himself saddled with cosmic knowledge that could swing the war between Autobots and Decepticons in favor of the villains. But, of course, what Transformers movie would be complete without zany comedy.
With a story that felt as incomplete as it was offensive in some places, the rush to keep the series up and running definitely showed in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’s second bite at the apple. If there was more time and attention paid to the story, this could have been a pretty interesting follow-up, especially with legendary genre actor Tony Todd playing The Fallen, a rogue member of the Prime order.
There you have it. Six Transformers movies, not-so alike in dignity, just waiting for an opportunity to be unified into one whole franchise. While they might not all be amazing, each Transformers film does have its own unique pros and cons in the series. And as always, rankings are personal, so the fans of the series may not agree with our rankings above. So if you have a different opinion on which Transformers movies are good, bad, or indifferent, share your answers with us in the comments below.