General Motors Goes Hollywood

New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis points out that the good guys in Transformers are mostly fashioned after GM trucks and SUVs. In her review, Dargis calls the film "part car commercial and part military recruitment ad." She also notes that while the Transformers originated as a toy in Japan, curiously none of these robots turns into a Toyota:

Trans3190.jpgThe movie waves the flag equally for Detroit and the military, if to no coherent end. Last year the director of General Motors brand-marketing and advertising clarified how the company’s cars were integral to the movie: "It’s a story of good versus evil. Our cars are the good guys." And sure enough, most of the Autobots take the shape of GM vehicles, including Ratchet (a Hummer H2) and Ironhide (a TopKick pickup truck). The only Autobot that doesn’t wear that troubled automaker’s logo is the leader, Optimus Prime (a generic 18-wheeler tractor). Maybe that’s because the company didn’t want to be represented by a character that promises to blow itself up for the greater good, as Optimus does, especially one based on a child’s toy.

  • Astute Blancoponte

    Shame on Steven Spielberg, our chief storyteller, for stooping so low and shilling for the auto-oil-military industrial complex. i wonder how much DreamWorks will reap on product placement alone. maybe StreetFilms can make its own Transformer movie where the good robots morph into bicycles, trams and buses.

  • Steve

    Love that idea. That shouldn’t be too hard, should it, Clarence?

  • yeah, Clarence, that shouldn’t be hard. Just be sure to buy some carbon offsets for all those terabytes of energy you’ll use:

    http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/magazine/15-07/trans_movie

    “Bumblebee’s transformation from 1974 Chevrolet Camaro to towering Autobot was just one part of a 14-month-long f/x process that required more than 60,000 virtual parts and 34,000 texture maps. The project pushed Industrial Light & Magic’s 5,500 rendering processors and 280 terabytes of disk storage to max capacity.”
    — Erik Malinowski

  • Super G

    In the original Transformers TV show, the Transformers’ ongoing wars had depleted their home planet’s main energy resource and they came to Earth in search of more energy. (This link provides a plot summary and endless nostalgia.)

    The movie could have made a powerful statement about energy depletion and resource wars, but instead we have a glorification of the car culture. Quite a missed opportunity!

  • Cesar

    ok… I guess we are forgetting something… 80% of the movies made by Hollywood are some kind of pro-American-propaganda. It has been like that for ever!!! so don’t be so hard on this one. Plus IT IS JUST A MOVIE! I am actually quite happy about the vehicles chosen for this film. Great cars, great machines! what would like to see instead of the Camaro? a poor boring Camry? instead of a Hummer a nice little Pilot? and OK… I am not even going to talk about that awesome Solstice (too bad that the hardtop is not in the market). The cars are incredible!! and about the military… WHO ELSE CAN FIGHT A MENACE LIKE THAT? SPIDERMAN? ok… just buy a clean air pass, buy the vehicle you want and enjoy, and don’t hate the military, and the most important thing… enjoy the movie!

  • Eric

    Is it any wonder that GM is dying a slow, painful and public death?

    And Cesar, “just a movie?” Like Leni Reifenstahl’s films were just movies? We know movies don’t affect behavior, right?

  • Omega Supreme

    If Bubble Bee couldn’t be a VW Bug, he should have been a Prius.

  • lee

    when bumblebee first appears he slams his door into a VW bug that was being considered for purchase instead.

  • Boogiedown

    Check out the new advertising campaign out now for GM, a tie-in to the movie: “Transform your ride!” You can find it as a banner ad at many sites.

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