Optimus Prime's mother is about to get a hearty hello from Mark Wahlberg, as the Oscar-nominated actor has been added to the cast of director Michael Bay's "Transformers 4," stepping into the leading man position held by Shia LaBeouf in the first three "Transformers" movies.
Wahlberg joins "Transformers 4" having just teamed up with Bay on "Pain and Gain," the director's new movie about personal trainers caught up in crime. In announcing Wahlberg's casting, Bay said, "Mark is awesome. We had a blast working on 'Pain and Gain' and I'm so fired up to be back working with him. An actor of his caliber is the perfect guy to re-invigorate the franchise and carry on the Transformers' legacy."
"It's an absolutely brilliant move," MTV Geek editor Valerie Gallaher tells MTV News of Wahlberg's casting. "It'll keep this franchise fresh."
"The guy can act - as anyone who has seen 'Boogie Nights' or 'The Departed' can attest to," agrees Brian Truitt with USA Today. "And he brings sort of an exasperated 'Come on, alien robots, are you kidding me?!' vibe that would make for a great and different dynamic."
Details on Wahlberg's character are currently unknown, but the casting signals that Bay "is ready to get a little more adult and more mature with the material," says NextMovie writer Scott Harris. "Shia LaBeouf was a boy playing a boy. Wahlberg is a man. It instantly changes the tone and dynamic."
But will hiring Wahlberg draw attention away from the heart of the "Transformers" franchise — the Transformers themselves? There's no doubt that the actor is a massive box-office draw all on his own, leaving some to wonder if his involvement trumps even the presence of Optimus Prime.
"It probably does take a little focus away from Bumblebee and Starscream, but that's a good thing," says Harris. "After three movies and dozens of robots in disguise, they have all started to blend together a little bit. Nobody is going to accuse Mark Wahlberg of being interchangeable. It gives the franchise a new focus."
Truitt, on the other hand, doesn't think Wahlberg will get in the Autobots' way at all. "People go see a Transformers film for the same reason people go see Godzilla movies: awesome special effects and a 3-D thrill ride with some humans popping up every so often," he says. "Mark Wahlberg is a great choice for one of those humans, but he's not going to overshadow a 30-foot-tall mountain of awesome like Optimus Prime."
Are you looking forward to the new "Transformers" with Wahlberg? Let us know in the comments below!