Ask the stars, ask the critics, ask your friends: It looks like the universal consensus is that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is the very best of the bunch. But it also might be the very last of the bunch, at least for director Michael Bay and leading man Shia LaBeouf, who have both announced their intentions to depart the series following this latest battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.
"If they're going to do it again, they have to attempt it with somebody else," LaBeouf told MTV News at the New York City premiere of "Dark of the Moon" on Tuesday night, reaffirming his plans to leave Sam Witwicky right where he is. "We took it to the limit. We tried as hard as we could. I don't think we can turn in a movie that's better than this, really."
The question has been raised before: Can "Transformers" continue without Bay and Shia? From producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura's perspective, it would certainly be tricky. "You can't replace them. You'd have to go about doing it another way, that's what you'd do," he said.
"Another way" is exactly the idea Shia had in mind for how to continue moving the multimedia franchise forward without him and Bay at the helm. "If you want to keep making more 'Transformers' movies, you need another anchor," he explained. "It's different than, like, 'Indiana Jones.' Harrison Ford has an age. He's human. Optimus Prime is going to be Optimus Prime forever. He's never going to grow older. So you just need another human anchor. I think you just need to find it. There's tons of great actors."
But Shia says he won't be that anchor anymore.
"I think I've taken Sam as far as I can, creatively," he said. "We set out to make a certain thing. We wanted to make the best movie we could, and we had three shots at it. On the third one, we did it. I don't think that either one of us wants to return to it and attempt it when it was this good."
That's LaBeouf's perspective, at least, but what does Bay think? When we caught up with him on the red carpet, the Master of Bayhem reflected on not just what the series has meant to him, but what it's meant for fans across the globe.
"I gotta tell ya. It's been a touching moment for me. It's bittersweet for me, having done this franchise for six years," said Bay. "Today we got an urgent call from Make-a-Wish. They said, 'There's a little boy in Texas. He's got two days. He wants to see 'Transformers 3.' So we made a special print. We're flying [the copy] to his hospital room right now in Texas so he can see it. That's the power of these movies. That touches your core, you know?"
Still, for the moment, Bay is busy enough "birthing this one now. The movie's coming out tonight. Let's just enjoy this one!"
It certainly seems as though the fans are following those orders, as are the film's castmembers. In fact, it's one actor in particular who feels the most confident that Bay and LaBeouf aren't done with "Transformers."
"Let me tell you, I'm going to see what I can do. Leave it with me," grinned Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. "The boys listen to me. I've got it under control, people — don't worry. Who knows [if there'll be a fourth film], but you can never say never."
Check out everything we've got on "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
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