Tonka: The Uprising Arsenal
Directed by Len Wiseman
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Written by Miles Millar
Lloyd Fonvielle
Kevin Jarre
William Osborne
Based on Tonka
by Hasbro
Starring Pete L. J. Dickson
Missy Peregrym
Ben Bass
Jason Statham
Mark Harmon
James Maslow
Carlos Pena, Jr.
Michelle Rodiguez
Christina Aguilera
Cory Monteith
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Phil Meheux
Editing by Roger Barton
Stuart Baird
Studio Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Walden Media
Spyglass Entertainment
di Bonaventura Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) August 4, 2009 (Premiere)
August 7, 2009 (US)
Running time 154 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $130 million[1]
Box office $373.5 million[1]

Tonka: The Uprising Arsenal is a 2009 American science fiction action film based on the Tonka toy line by Hasbro and video game series by Sega. It is the seventh film in the Hasbro Cinematic Universe (HCU). The film was directed by Len Wiseman, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura with a screenplay written by Miles Millar, Lloyd Fonvielle, Kevin Jarre, and William Osborne. The film features an ensemble cast, starring Pete L. J. Dickson, Missy Peregrym, Ben Bass, Jason Statham, Mark Harmon, James Maslow, Carlos Pena, Jr., Michelle Rodiguez, Christina Aguilera, and Cory Monteith.

The film centers on the plot of Tonka Joe, his sister Suzy Sparks, their friends, Soda, and Blaze who join Tonka, an elite Military Delta Force callsign Tonka, that is partnered with alien robot trucks who can disguise themselves by transforming into everyday machinery (inspired by Transformers). Tonka employed both regular 70mm film cameras and specially-developed 3-D cameras. Shooting took place from May to November 2008, with locations in Hawaii, Toronto, Texas, New Mexico, and Jordan. The film was rendered specifically for 3-D, and the visual effects involved more complex robots which took longer to render. At the time of it's release, the film had made greater use of computer-generated imagery (CGI); it remains one of the few live-action/animated films to have been shot in anamorphic format.

Tonka: The Uprising Arsenal was heavily promoted the months preceding its release; pre-release screenings for the film premiered in select cities around the world including Austin, Texas; Sydney, Australia; and Calgary, Alberta. It went into general release on August 7, 2009, distributed by Paramount Pictures. Critical reception of the film was mostly mixed, with several critics praising the film's visuals and 3-D action sequences, but criticizing its writing, acting, and length. The film grossed US$373 million worldwide. A sequel, Tonka: Revelation, was released on March 28, 2013.


The film starts in 1961 during a late period of the Cold War. A marine named Thomas Blackstone (Robert Patrick) finds a group of intelligent mechanical vehicles which they dub themselves as Sentinel beings and learns about an on-going war between two forces from a planet called Volantis.

Fifty years later, weapons master Imran Lazaretto (Jason Statham) creates a powerful biological weapon called the FALL, a giant satellite capable of destroying an entire city with nanomites. The nanobots can only be stopped by activating the kill switch. His company M.I.K.E. (Military Industries Kinesis Electronics) sells four satellite warheads to NATO, and NATO troops led by American soldiers Joe (Pete L. J. Dickson), and his friends, Blaze (James Maslow) and Pops (Carlos Pena, Jr.) are tasked with delivering the warheads. Joe's older sister Suzy Sparks (Missy Peregrym) is a police officer of Toronto PD investigating a crime wave by a clan of unknown thieves. After her latest lead; a dock worker, refuses to give her information, she returns to the dock at night only to witness the unknown foes raiding the cargo containers. They are attacked by an unseen vigilante, which Suzy fails to capture on her phone's camera but notices a symbol left behind.

Joe, Blaze, and Pop's convoy is ambushed by the Raven (Christina Aguileria), whom Joe recognizes to be his older Marie. Joe, Blaze and Pops are then rescued by Tonka trucks Axle, Bolt, Dunes, Fins, Roach, and Ghost along with human allies Dirk, Twitch, E-Brakes and Zap and are taken back to Tonka headquarters in South Africa where they meet the rest of team; Captain Nate Codd, General Stone.



  • Pete L. J. Dickson as Tonka Joe / Joseph B. Blackstone
The lead teenager soldier and the main protagonist of the film. He believes a leader's place is with his friends, not behind the battle lines. Joe always puts his friends first before the objective. Dickson was cast as the role after his audition caught the director's attention. Dickson, himself stated that he was a huge fan of the Tonka franchise since he was young and "jumped at the oportunity to star in the first Tonka film". He also stated that he was planning to get a small part.
Joe's 26 year old sister. She is driven by the desire to do the right thing even if it means not following procedure. Peregrym was chosen for the part when the director saw her performance in the 2006 film Stick It. Peregrym said: "When they first approached me with the script, I saw it as a brother and sister unite story. I wasn't a fan of the toy franchise". Peregrym also stated she described the film as a cross between Transformers, G.I. Joe, Mission: Impossible, and The Fast and the Furious.
Joe's handsome best friend and a pilot with a romantic interest in Niko.
Joe and Blaze's weapon specialist best friend. Both Joe and Blaze nicknamed him Soda because of his hyper energetic behavior.
  • Mark Wahlberg as Dirk / Cade Yeager
An ordnance expert and field leader of the team. Dirk is willing to put his life on the line for his team.
  • Mandy Moore as Niko /
  • Justin Timberlake as Wrench / Aaron Webb
  • Beyonce as Starr Light / Bridget Austons
  • Miguel Ferrer as General Stone / Robert F. Brandon
  • Mark Harmon as Nate Codd


  • Cory Monteith as WAR Colonel / Max Andrews
  • Christina Aguileria as Raven / Marie Blackstone
  • Jason Statham as Destructor / Imran Lazarev

Trucks Edit

Tonka Edit

  • William Peterson as Axle
  • Bolt
  • Rally
  • Fins


Other charactersEdit

  • Jon Voight as John Keller



Paramount started developing the film in 2003 when Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Hasbro President and CEO Brian Goldner first lunched at a Mexican restaurant in Burbank, California. Don Murphy was originally offered a chance to part take in producing a film adaption, but turned down the offer as he was planning a G.I. Joe film adaptation, but when the United States launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hasbro suggested adapting the Transformers franchise instead.[2]

In February 2006, Miles Millar, and Lloyd Fonvielle were hired to write the script. Millar's original version of the story featured Tonka Joe as he and his team go on the run after being framed for a crime he didn't commit. Paramount CEO Brad Grey and Fonvielle didn't like the story as it sounded to similar to Mission: Impossible (1996). Kevin Jarre, and William Osborne came onto the project and helped re-write the script; the new version had Tonka Joe and his sister Suzy Sparks as they come into conflict with their older sister, Marie. Grey voiced his approval the re-written story.

In August 2007, Paramount Pictures announced that Len Wiseman would direct the film. Wiseman saw the concept as a cross between Transformers, Fast & Furious, and Mission: Impossible.


The filmmakers created the size of each space vehicle with the size of their vehicle mode in mind, supporting the Transformer's rationale for their choice of disguise on Earth.


Tonka's production cost was reported to cost $131 million, with the cost of the 3-D filming accounting at $10 million of the budget. Preparation for filming began on October 13, 2007 in Northwest Indiana. Principal photography commenced on May 2, 2008 in Honolulu, Hawaii.



A surprise public screening was held on July 31, 2009, at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Texas, hosted by writers Miles Millar, Lloyd Fonvielle, Kevin Jarre. Following the surprise screening in Texas, the first of many premieres across the world was held at the Telus Science Center in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on August 4, 2009; a wider release followed on August 7 at 4,007 theaters in the US,[3] along with 35 overseas markets.[4]

Cirtical receptionEdit

The film received generally mixed reviews from critics. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Tonka a score of 57% based on 242 reviews.[5] Metacritic, another review aggregator, gave the film a Metascore of 68/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews" from 107 critics.[6]

Box officeEdit

Tonka: The Uprising Arsenal grossed $17.3 million on it's opening day (August 7), and peaked at #1 at the US box office with $57.3 million on it's first weekend release.[3] It earned an additional $44 million internationally during the same weekend.[4] While it was lower than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraTemplate:'s opening weekends, Paramount CEO Roger Moore stated that the studio was very pleased with the film's successful launch.

In the following week, the film opened in 14 more territories and continued opening at #1 at the international box office with $60 million.[7]

Tonka ended its United States theatrical run on October 1, 2009, with a box office total of $150,442,105.[1] The film grossed $223,104,220 in international markets,[8] for a total worldwide gross of $373,546,325,[9] making it Paramount's second successful film of 2009 with a worldwide gross of $300 million alongside Star Trek.


Home MediaEdit

Tonka: The Uprising Arsenal was released on DVD and Blu-ray November 5, 2009. Both the DVD and Blu-ray disc gave the viewer the option of viewing the film either in its original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio or a modified 1.33:1 ratio (utilizing pan and scan).

A Walmart exclusive edition of Tonka also was released on November 11, 2009. The PAL DVD and Blu-ray Discs of Tonka was released on November 28, 2009.

In North America, it sold 605,901 DVD units (equivalent of $10,710,186) in its first week, topping the weekly DVD chart. As of February 26, 2010 (2012-02-26), it has sold 1,084,175 DVD units (equivalent of $44,058,979). It also topped the Blu-ray charts on the same week and it has sold 1,981,996 Blu-ray units (earning $48,809,899) by November 13, 2009.


Main article: Tonka: Revelation

A sequel titled Tonka: Revelation, was released on March 28, 2013


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tonka: The Uprising Arsenal (2009). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  2. Kellvin Chavez (2007-02-21). "On Set Interview: Producer Don Murphy On Transformers". Latino Review.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gray, Brandon (August 10, 2009). Weekend Report: G.I. Joe Doesn't Roll Snake Eyes. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2009 September 28.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kay, Jeremy (August 10, 2009). World surrenders to G.I. Joe's $100m box office breach. ScreenDaily. Retrieved on 2009 September 28.
  5. ": Tonka (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 2011-06-28. Retrieved 2012-10-21
  6. "Tonka Metacritic". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  7. Kay, Jeremy (August 17, 2009). G.I. Joe stays ahead of the pack overseas, approaches $100m. ScreenDaily. Retrieved on 2009 September 28.
  8. UIP International Box Office Gross. United International Pictures (2009-10-01). Archived from the original on October 5, 2009. Retrieved on 2009 October 25.
  9. 2009 WORLDWIDE GROSSES. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2009 October 29.

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