The summer blockbuster "Transformers"
opens today, and let me tell you, it's going to take over theatres with
a crash and a bang and a boom -- and whole lot of applause.
Don't be fooled into thinking this is just some action adventure that can only be enjoyed by little boys. Yeah, they'll like it, but it's also important to note that two of the film's five headliners are women... powerfully smart women who know more about cars and technology than the strong macho men fighting beside them.
Producer/Director Michael Bay is known for loud action adventure films like Armageddon, The Rock, and Pearl Harbor. Yes, it is loud. And yes, it also features plenty of action, adventure, and car chases. Which brings us to the movie's 'other' stars: the cars.
General Motors contributed more than a million dollars' worth of product that included a hundred Chevrolets, Pontiacs, Hummers, and Cadillacs. In fact, it seems the only vehicle not wearing a GM badge is the villainous Saleen S281 Mustang police car which gets its rear-end kicked by Bumblebee, a 1974 Chevrolet Camaro. Expect a fair amount of cheers and applause when Bumblebee makes another surprise transformation - this time not into a benevolent robot, but into the modern-day Camaro Concept that some of us have seen along this year's autoshow circuit (and also recently driven by Ask Patty President Jody Devere).
It's already been proclaimed this summer's version of "Star Wars" by a
number of entertainment outlets, thanks in part to high-powered special
effects that required more than 60,000 virtual parts and 34,000 texture
Erik Malinowski reported that the "project pushed Industrial Light
& Magic's 5,500 rendering processors and 280 terabytes of disc
storage to max capacity." In scenes with multiple robots, it could take
up to 38 hours to render a single frame of film.
The GM products featured in Transformers are bold partners to their Autobot characters. The central character is the Camaro "Bumblebee." Along with him are "Autobot Jazz" a hardtop Pontiac Solstice, "Autobot Ratchet" a Hummer H2 rescue vehicle, and "Ironhide" a GMC Topkick truck. The Autobot team is led by Optimus Prime, a hognosed 18-wheeler who wears a flame job sure to make any lowrider jealous.
GM's California Advanced Studio assisted the film's production by providing surface development data that enabled Paramount to build the film's digital doubles. Additionally, the GM Design Center's PPO Design Plaster and Plastic Department created all the fiberglass and plastic parts used for the Camaro stunt doubles used in the film. Parts were then assembled onto a running chassis by an outside supplier.
Human stars of Transformers include Shia Lebeouf as Sam "Spike" Witwicky, a misfit teenager whose purchase of a used Camaro has surprising results; Megan Fox as Mikaela Barnes, a high school hottie who can also hotwire a car; Josh Duhamel as Sergeant Lennox, our military hero; Rachael Taylor as Maggie Madsen, the computer hacker who helps break the robot code; and Jon Voight as Defense Secretary John Keller. Lebeouf is a rising star, with a number of titles already in his filmography --Disturbia, Surf's Up, Constantine -- not the least of which is the next installment of the Indiana Jones adventures scheduled for release in 2008.
Expect no shortage of movie tie-ins. Hasbro has an entire line of Transformers toys and General Motors is running a promotional "Transform your Ride" sales special which offers qualified buyers 0 percent APR for 36 months - plus $1,000 cash - on select Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, and GMC vehicles. The "Transform Your Ride Sale" runs June 26 through July 9, 2007. Burger King will be throwing some of these toys in their kid's meals; I already want to play with them. Even eBay is hopping on the bandwagon with a "Transform your world" site that includes movie props and more.
Competition is thick right now with an enjoyable assortment of feature films in theaters: Don't underestimate this action adventure -- you won't be disappointed.
By Brandy Schaffels
Movie stills courtesy Dreamworks LLC/Paramount