Notes from Transformers #1

I’ve been re-watching the Transformers trilogy parts 1 and 2, so that I’ll be at the top of my game when I go-in to see Dark of the Moon in theaters.

I noticed a couple interesting things after re-watching Transformers 1:

First – Obviously General Motors paid a lot of money to do a massive product placement in the movie. For those that are unaware, Bumblebee – the yellow-Chevy Camaro – was historically always a Volkswagen Beetle, but I’m sure they wanted something sexier for the remake – and using the movie as a vehicle to introduce GM’s newly redesigned Camaro must have been a match made in hollywood-heaven. You’ll notice that Bumblebee has a Yellow Beetle ornament hanging from his rearview mirror.

However, the thing that really struck me is not the shameless-promotion of General Motors, was the shameless-BMW-bashing. There are two scenes where director Michael Bay goes out-of-his-way to focus a transformer crushing a BMW. First when Bumblebee and the Police-Car Decepticon are fighting at the beginning, and then near the climax in the city, when the decepticon-tank rolls-down the street. Another tid-bit that leads-me-to-believe this may not have been a coincidence: The Camaro’s archrival has always been for the Ford Mustang. And the Decepticon Police Car – essentially the “Bad guy” to bumblebee’s “Good guy,” is played by a Saleen Mustang – an aftermarket version of the Ford muscle car.

The articles I read suggest that Michael Bay has been a longstanding Camaro-fan, and has even directed GM commercials in the past, so this isn’t a “selling-to-the-highest-bidder” sort of product-placement. But clearly it’s a “you know what would be a great movie and have tons of merchandising and advertising tie-ins?” sort of product-placement. In fact, if we really want to dig-into the fundamentals – Transformers began NOT as a cartoon, as you may believe, but actually as an action-figure toy-line, and then the cartoon was built around them. Transformers is, in many respects, the original “entertainment franchise.”

SPOILER ALERT: Does anyone else notice that every alien movie relies on the Morse Code strategy in re-taking the earth after the aliens compromise our communications and computer network? Seriously, if any evil genius aliens are reading this, they should just memorize Morse Code (or kidnap a boy-scout to be your interpreter). Then the humans will have to resort to smoke signals to communicate, or perhaps a rare native-american tribal dialect, a la Windtalkers.

Third – I’ve been watching this movie at the Gym. And the cool thing about watching a movie at the gym is that Ihave absolutely no-patience for poor plot or poor writing: every second that the dialogue is inane is a second that my mind can wander from the movie to the agony of being on this elliptical for an hour. And this movie is chock-full-of inane dialogue. I’m almost-afraid of finishing Transformers 1 and moving on to the Sequel: Revenge of the Fallen – because from what I remember, the sequel is essentially pornography for technofiles: you’re there for the imagely, plot and dialogue are mostly an after-thought.

More to report once I make it to the theaters to watch Dark of the Moon.


One thought on “Notes from Transformers #1

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