Realism is defined as treating a concept (no matter how fantastic) as if it exists and is tangible in the real world. The key, however, is the degree of realism employed. I present Batman as an example: - Tim Burton adapted the character as a combo of film-noir and surreal Goth: an eccentric millionaire who lives by himself in a big house, and at night dresses up in a freakish bat outfit and ventures into Gotham to eradicate criminals through intimidation and of course violence. Other revisions include the Joker as a psychotic clown who was responsible for Batman’s creation (and whom Batman created in turn) and the Penguin as a deformed monstrosity with social desires. Burton clearly set Batman/Gotham in their own shady skewed world. - Then came Christopher Nolan’s take on the character. He took a realistic approach, to portray just how Batman/Gotham would be in the real world. He portrayed Gotham as a crime-ridden corrupt town, and Batman as a masked vigilante, who received specialized training, who presented himself as an icon to do what few others could. Other revisions were Batman specifically targeting organized crime and corrupt cops as a means to clean up Gotham, the Joker as a psychotic anarchist/terrorist and perhaps most significantly Ra’s Al Ghul as the leader of a secret society of terrorists dedicated to “healing the world” (with his immortality revised into an alternate identity and later an ambiguous delusion). Nolan’s approach was a big hit; although Richard Donner and Bryan Singer had pioneered the idea of live-action heroes (Singer in particular had the X-Men lose their blue/gold suits and reinforced the genetic sciences and the social themes of “mutants as outcasts”) Nolan had in a way perfected the idea. It made a lot of film adaptations adopt this approach, the TFilms included; they place core focus on the impact the Transformers war has on Earth and humanity, and on the actual battles that occur (as well as the attacks on the humans). The thing is, the realism trend has generally been taken too far. Sometimes what is needed is NOT to make things realistic, but rather retain the fantasy element. That’s the route MARVEL took with much of its films, by setting them in their own world; in particular Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN and THE AVENGERS. And even before Marvel, Richard Donner, who directed SUPERMAN 1978, understood that it’s not 100% realism that sells the film but rather grounding PART of it in reality while allowing the rest of the fantasy to play out to its fullest extent - he had Superman fly, be invulnerable, etc but grounded the film in Superman/Clark Kent’s story and relationship (all his scenes with Lois Lane are fantastic). George Lucas did a similar approach with his 1980s STAR WARS films: it was set in a faraway galaxy long ago, but much of the appeal is in Luke Skywalker and his journey/interactions etc (especially his encounters with Obi-Wan and Darth Vader). That’s the route that should have been taken with films like THE SMURFS (they had to come to New York) and DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION (how dare they put Goku in a school and give him bullies!)... and perhaps with the TFilms too. The first two TFilms were able to maintain this fragile mix of realism and fantasy: shape-shifting otherworldly robot warriors hiding on Earth who suddenly appear and clash, but in a REALISTIC manner (the multi-component designs and the scanning). And some were discovered and documented (Beagle 2, Project Black Knife) and even experimented upon (Project Iceman). And of course there was the very existence of the robots: whenever they were on the screen they were a visual wonder and treat. However, I believe that things got sort of OVER-realistic, especially in DOTM. Instead of staying in disguise there were full-scale alien invasions; instead of flying Decepticons we had them in gunships; instead of alien tech like null-rays/sound-light shows/photon rifles/glass gas we had the ordinary weapons of firearms/blades/explosives/grapples. The exoticness was toned down and replaced with standard warfare, so to speak. And ironically the concepts that WERE fantastic were actually otherwise: the solar harvester didn’t get enough time to show its ecliptic/apocalyptic effect, and the physics-defying pillars should have skewed with Earth’s gravity; things like that would have made the threat and danger better. A stronger emphasis on fantasy might have improved things for the better, instead of the whole Nolan treatment. Of course, a significant element to make fantasy work is in the cast (The Fellowship of LOTR, the Z-Fighters of DRAGON BALL, the AVENGERS); when anything can happen in the story, the characters need to be grounded and likeable. A definite criticism is that these films give little time to the Transformer characters but cover them with the human characters and a lot of unnecessary/overlong scenes. There’s that to take note of: more time given to the robots (most people on the forum have said this, I’m in agreement, I’m just connecting it to the realism/fantasy topic). With the fourth film to reportedly have a space setting, there may be more character given to the Transformers and the fantasy element might be improved upon, which in its turn might lead to a better TFilm.