I think a very special quality about the 2007 TFilm was the use of secrecy and stealth by the Transformers. This quality was both used for comic effect (the Autobots at Sam’s house) and for epic “47 Ronin” proportions (warriors in disguise who await the moment to strike – Blackout’s attack on the SOCCENT base, the Decepticons/Autobots mobilizing). This quality IMO forms part of the essence and mystique of a Transformer: a robot in disguise, a warrior in hiding, who transforms when the time is right and disappears back into his disguise till another time. It is a shame that this quality got somewhat neglected in the sequels with a full-scale Deception invasion in each film. The Decepticons in the TFilms don’t seem to care a lot about secrecy, and would rather discard it and attack in full force with an army rather than mobilize at crucial moments; with the first film at least there was the element of returning to disguise for the next time, as Blackout, Barricade and Starscream showed. In ROTF Megatron says “The time has come to reveal ourselves. No more disguises!” That was a point of no return that spoilt things somewhat. It was, admittedly, a necessary move: since the Decepticons had no way to look for Sam, they decided to reveal themselves to Earth, making a full-scale invasion smash into an aircraft carrier (literally) and Paris (to bag Sam’s parents), accompanied by a proclamation to the humans to hand Sam over. But IMO it had an unfortunate consequence: the world knows that Transformers exist, and no matter what disguise they take it won’t work for too long, they’ll be located and ousted eventually. Beyond this, there were concepts that worked well in showing off the fact that secrecy and hiding were a necessary factor for Transformers. There was NEST, a classified human-Autobot taskforce that searched for Decepticons in hiding. There was also Project Black Knife, a Sector Seven file on Transformers hiding out on Earth throughout its history. And finally there was the hidden Decepticons: Soundwave hovering above the Earth, and the Constructicons covert on a freighter. These concepts I felt fit well with what Transformers was all about. In DOTM things were similarly mixed. NEST is now public: the Autobots are now revealed to the world, with energon detectors installed in worldwide towns to keep watch of any Decepticons. They also serve as peacekeepers, heading around to take care of stuff the CIA or UN can’t handle (I guess they had to find some other job to earn their keep on Earth between Decepticon assignments). In spite of all the public awareness, there was another Decepticon invasion: they made a strike at DC and headed over in full force to Chicago, with a number of motherships. The Decepticons were admittedly stealthier in this film with the hiding, but like ROTF this was mostly plot-driven rather than inherent: they planned to move only when Sentinel Prime appeared (the Dreads’ battle, the DC attack), the Autobots were unable to detect Soundwave at Carly’s apartment, and later on with their foes blown sky high the Decepticons had no reason to stay hidden any more. Some didn’t even bother with acquiring disguises, as seen in Chicago there were an innumerable number of protoforms. The thing we split on, first and last, is that while Transformers can be covert, they can’t stay so for too long (especially in this age). There is no feasible manner to cover up a giant robot battle. Even the first TFilm’s Mission City battle was covered up rather awkwardly: according to MBay it was a natural thing (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418279/trivia - spoilers). Really? I know humans have a capacity to move on past what happened and even put it out of their minds, but a giant droid death match is not something you can just dismiss as an urban legend, especially with their urban fights. And besides throughout the franchise’s history Autobots and Decepticons have been revealing themselves to humans, and humanity’s response has been rather welcoming; in G1 both sides got thrown a freaking parade, and only around the IDW comics with ALL HAIL MEGATRON did the bleep get real and humans starting dealing with Transformers in both SERIOUS positive and negative ways. I just feel that if there were more robots bearing alternate modes, slipping in and out, it might have made for a more “Transformers” feel. I hope this post makes sense.