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News Archives - July 2007

: Gotta Catch 'Em All

Warning:
The following Pants update may contain spoilers, of either the sports car or the film reviewing variety. If you do not wish to have details of a film ruined and/or you'd prefer your car to be less maneuverable at high speeds, please avoid this article...
July 15 2007

Warning:
Contains eBay.
And Michael Bay.

(Yeah, long time between updates... Shut up, stupid. :)

I don't go to the cinemas that often. My reasons are many and varied but it's mainly due to my unnatural fear of sticky carpet & the fact that there's not a lot of movies that I feel compelled to pay $15-$18 to see on the big screen.

In 2005 I saw exactly one film at the cinema and that experience was so predictably bad that it became entertaining in the end... Being a big Bond fan, my one cinema outing last year was the excellent Casino Royale. And now here we are, half-way through 2007 and I've already used up my cinema quota for the year by watching Transformers last week.

How I conned myself into watching this, I'll never fully understand... I have no real familiarity with the original 20-years-old Transformers animated series, and the film has the name Michael Bay attached as both director and producer. Bay's resume has a few decent films in there (Bad Boys, The Rock) but has some absolute stinkers in there too, what with the likes of Armageddon and Pearl Harbor.

Despite this, I had heard glowing reviews from quite a few unexpected places (even among some of the more cynical people I associate with), so me & the regular goons went to a late-night session to see what all the fuss was about. I walked out of the cinema afterwards with mixed feelings — on a technical level, this is an incredibly impressive film to watch but on a directorial/screenplay level it is absolutely horrible and completely brain-dead.

Being a film about giant robots I expected at least a little suspension of belief would be required when watching (ie. "Switch your brain off at the door"-type stuff), but the film is so hopelessly generic and clichéd that it reeks of Bay. Overall, the editing was the biggest frustration for me though. The film jumps from scene to scene with very little tieing it all together, and the edits are so quick and frequent that it just seems like a mess. The whole US Army Hero™ and Aussie hacker subplots were unnecessary and the robot action sequences, while cool-looking, were shot & edited so erratically that it's hard to tell who was fighting who half the time...

Just like my review of Casino Royale last year, I think it is quite appropriate to summarise a list of product/brand placements that showed up in the Transformers film. Unlike Bond, which was quite subtle and often clever with its placements, Transformers doesn't even pretend to bother with formalities like that — the entire plot hinges on the premise that high-tech robots have travelled halfway across the universe to last-minute snipe someone's eBay auction. Yep.

After seeing the film once (and with a little follow-up work by the Pants research team), here is a list of product placements seen in the new Transformers film:

All things considered this is a fairly impressive cast of product and brand placements for a 2-hour film, and it's good to see that nepotism is still alive and well today with a healthy number of sub-brands represented from General Motors (Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer & Pontiac) and Hasbro (Furby, My Little Pony and naturally, the Transformers themselves...).

Although I didn't list it above, the whole film also gives off the specific vibe of a giant 2-hour US Army/US Air Force recruitment video, but that might just be me being cynical. There's even a scene where someone misidentifies the country of origin of a product, but I'm not too sure if that was tongue-in-cheek or not. I'm slightly disappointed that there were no immediately noticeable cameos by Richard Branson but I doubt Michael Bay knows how to spell subtlety let alone demonstrate it in his film projects.

Overall I wasn't terribly disappointed because I was expecting a typical Bay movie and that's what I got — bright, shiny, loud and incredibly stupid. They've clearly set themselves up for sequels (literally in the closing seconds of the film), and I'll probably watch the sequels because I love explosions and there's a chance Branson may show up somewhere. :)

There's more where that came from...: Return to the News Archives index.