Nov. 08, 2012 | 6:45 p.m.

‘Transformers’: Michael Bay recruits Mark Wahlberg to save humanity

"Transformers" director Michael Bay, left, and actor Mark Wahlberg. (DreamWorks; Los Angeles Times)
Mark Walhberg, the Oscar-nominated actor recently feted for performances in “The Fighter” and “The Departed,” is getting back in the action movie game: Filmmaker Michael Bay announced Thursday that the actor will star in his upcoming fourth installment in the blockbuster “Transformers” franchise. It’s an interesting pivot for the actor, coming off a busy year that most recently saw him star opposite a foul-mouthed teddy bear in Seth MacFarlane’s raunchy R-rated comedy, “Ted.” Instead of a debauched stuffed animal, he’ll be facing off against some out-of-this-world metal mammoths. Writing on his blog, Bay said that he’d had such a great time working with Wahlberg on the film “Pain & Gain,” about a pair of bodybuilders who run afoul of the law, that he was excited to reunite with the Massachusetts native. “Mark is awesome,” Bay wrote. “An actor of his […]
Oct. 25, 2012 | 3:00 p.m.

‘Transformers: Prime’ producer talks Beasts, mythology, Michael Bay

'Transformers Prime' (featured image)
Fans of “Transformers: Prime” can get an early look at Friday’s penultimate episode, titled “Regeneration,” with the above clip from the multiple Daytime Emmy Award-winning animated series — there’s dissension in the Decepticon ranks as Dreadwing apparently has had enough of Starscream and is about to shut his engines down forever. With the Season 2 finale bringing the culmination of the Omega Lock story line, series executive producer Jeff Kline has turned his sights to Season 3, which he says will continue the series’ tradition of darker tales in which the Autobots are the long-suffering underdogs. Kline recently spoke by phone to Hero Complex contributor Patrick Day about his specific plans for the future of “Transformers: Prime,” which airs on the Hub and is produced by Hasbro Studios. HC: The idea of having long story arcs is a bit unusual […]
June 21, 2012 | 3:07 p.m.

‘Transformers 4’: Michael Bay purges stars, may go into space

Transformers  ride Michael Bay feature
There was still an hour before the gates would open at Universal Studios Hollywood, so Michael Bay pretty much had the Autobot universe to himself on Tuesday morning.  First he took two spins through Transformers: The Ride — 3D, the theme park’s just-opened, $100-million digital marvel. Then the 47-year-old filmmaker wandered through Transformers Supply Vault (a store designed to look like the world’s most cheerful military bunker) where even he seemed surprised by its inventory of merchandise that included T-shirts, masks, magnets, patches, coffee cups, books and (of course) plastic toys. It was all a bit much, but then Bay was presented with a frosty mango-colored energy drink from a Transformers-themed concession stand. “It’s called Energon,” one of the Universal employees chirped, “and it’s the preferred fuel of the Transformers.” Nearby, a Universal dancer wearing an elaborate Bumblebee costume began to […]
June 06, 2012 | 11:41 a.m.

Review: Universal’s ‘Transformers’ ride sophisticated, satisfying

Transformers ride (featured image)
How’s the new ride at Universal? Los Angeles Times television editor Martin Miller is our guest reviewer.  There is only one measure of a marquee amusement park ride if you have children, and that is whether the parents hear “Can we go again?” before you hit the ride’s gift shop. Moments after stepping off Transformers: The Ride – 3D, which opened Memorial Day weekend at Universal Studios Hollywood, both of my sons – ages 12 and 10 – fired off the question. No hesitation, no cold feet, no concern for their safety (or their parents’) as I remember a couple summers ago from my older son after tangling with Knotts Berry Farm’s GhostRider. The Transformers reaction was immediate, utterly certain and completely enthusiastic. After declaring their interest in at least a repeat, if not three-peat, of the experience,  other family […]
June 06, 2012 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Transformers’ taking new shape with Universal ride and fourth film

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details. Film critics who put down Michael Bay’s “Transformers” movies by calling them theme-park rides in disguise won’t change their mind after hopping on Transformers: The Ride — 3D at Universal Studios, but they might have a dramatically improved opinion of theme-park rides. The $100-million ride, which officially opened May 24, is being hailed as a game-changer by the reviewers and bloggers who cover such things (yes, there is quite a bit of room on the Internet), and even rivals at Disney Imagineering have, in private, acknowledged that the shiny new kid on the block is pretty impressive and possibly, well, transformative. Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, opening this month, has been the big theme park story this summer due to the scale of the project and […]
April 20, 2012 | 3:59 a.m.

‘Transformers’ producer seeks ‘Gods’ and profits in China

Tom DeSanto
Visit any toy aisle in America and you’ll probably find an action figure based on a Hollywood movie, and there’s a very good chance it will stamped “Made in China” — but will that be that same phrase soon apply to Hollywood’s biggest action movies as well? Disney has just announced that “Iron Man 3,” one of the highest-profile popcorn films for 2013,  will be a joint production with DMG Entertainment of Beijing. It’s a major moment in the American film industry’s intensifying courtship of China, which many industry experts say is on track to be the No. 1 movie market in the world by 2020 (it’s ranked third now, up from fifth a year ago). Tom DeSanto is among the many Hollywood players poised to exploit that surging marketplace. The 43-year-old New Jersey writer and producer was a key figure on the first two “X-Men” films, […]
Feb. 27, 2012 | 8:24 a.m.

‘Star Trek: TNG’: LeVar Burton engineers new career chapters

Levar Burton (featured image)
This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details. Television fans have watched LeVar Burton for 35 years now, but when they walk up to the actor he’s never quite sure which of his three signature personas they will mention. For many, he will always be the face of the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries “Roots,” but more recent generations know him as the ever-affable host of “Reading Rainbow,” which opened up the world of books to young PBS viewers for 22 years and 150 episodes. And, of course, to millions of Starfleet fans he’s the chief engineer of a starship called Enterprise. Burton portrayed the resourceful Geordi La Forge for seven seasons of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and in the crew’s four feature films. These days, Burton is working full-time to relaunch an online revival of “Reading Rainbow,” which went off the air in 2009. […]
Feb. 02, 2012 | 6:42 p.m.

Transformers: The Ride 3D primed for Super Bowl spotlight

Optimus Prime in new ad for "Transformers: The Ride 3D" (Universal Studios)
If you tune in to the Super Bowl on Sunday you’ll see a parade of commercials for Hollywood’s upcoming heavy-hitter hopefuls (“The Hunger Games,” “The Avengers,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “John Carter”)  but two even bigger box-office brand names — “Transformers” and “Star Wars” — will be selling something beyond the silver screen. “Star Wars” is back in a Volkswagen ad (after last year’s super-popular tiny-tot Darth Vader spot) while the massive space robots from Michael Bay’s film franchise will be bringing their unique version of heavy-metal combat to a pre-game, 30-second ad for Transformers: The Ride 3-D, which opens in May at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Here’s a snippet that, if you think about it, is a promotional teaser for a commercial about a ride  based on a movie created around a toy line. The ad will also introduce the website, where fans can check out tie-in videos or […]
Dec. 03, 2011 | 8:03 a.m.

Terry Gilliam on ‘Dark Knight,’ ‘Tintin’ and ‘Transformers’

Terry Gilliam
We’re still hearing a lot of response to our biggest article this week, “Terry Gilliam: The heir of Fellini and the enemy of God?,” but the story isn’t quite done yet. Gilliam, the director of “Brazil” and “Twelve Monkeys,” is a man of fiery opinions and during our two interviews (covering three hours and spread over two days) he lobbed a few Molotov cocktails in different directions. So, with quotes that didn’t make it into that first article, we bring you the World According to Gilliam: * On “Transformers: Dark of the Moon“: “The latest ‘Transformers’ movie was on the plane coming over to Los Angeles. It’s horrible and there’s all these phallic things going on. I just couldn’t even deal with it. C’mon, leave some room for me, as the audience. The audience is totally excluded, you just sit there and watch the explosions. […]
July 01, 2011 | 1:16 p.m.

‘Transformers’ review: 3-D artistry and robots are the stars in ‘Dark of the Moon’

After seeing the third installment in Michael Bay‘s big-budget blockbuster action film franchise, Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey writes in her review that “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” takes the audience on a romp, delivering excellent 3-D, a cleaner story and more eye candy than its critically panned predecessor. That’s not to say “Revenge of the Fallen” set the bar very high, Sharkey writes, saying the series “remains as much an endurance test as a movie.” Sharkey praises performances by Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Shia LaBeouf and even newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, “who delivers just as convincing a pillowy pout as Megan Fox did” in the first two films, but notes that the real stars are the robots themselves. Though the bulk of the film follows Bay’s babes, ‘bots and blasts formula, Sharkey writes that it also allows the […]
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