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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

Transformers (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael Bay, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Paramount
Video: Paramount

 

Discs:

Region: FREE

Feature Runtime: 2:23:27

Chapters: 24

Feature film disc size: 43.4 Gig

One dual-layered, more supplements on a single-layered second Blu-ray (18.7 Gig)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard sleeve

Release date: September 2nd, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC

 

Audio:
English in Dolby True HD, and French and Spanish DUBs in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Subtitles:
Feature: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, none
 

Supplements:

Disc 1

• Commentary by Director Michael Bay

Preview trailer for Iron Man (2:29) in HD!
• Two trailers for Transformers for 1:49 HD + teaser 1:13 both in HD!

TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display)—In this mode, viewers can access running text-based behind-the-scenes background information on the production during the feature. Users can also watch relevant picture-in-picture b-roll and video with Bay, Spielberg and other filmmakers during select sequences.
BD-Live Features:
TRANSFORMERS Intelligence Mode
Menubots
TRANSFORMERS Profiler

 

Disc 2:
Our World - The Story Sparks - Steven Spielberg discusses his love for the franchise and early concept art for the film. Explores how the writers adapted the cartoon into a live-action movie and why Michael Bay is the perfect director for the film.(8:32) in HD!
Human Allies - A look at how the actors were selected and their experiences on the set. (13:09) in HD!
I Fight Giant Robots - An exploration of the military training that Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson underwent for their roles and the various stunts that the actors were asked to perform. (13:58) in HD!
Battleground - A piece on the senior officials from the Department of Defense and Air Force who consulted on the film to give it authenticity and the key locations that the U.S. government provided access to. (13:33) in HD!
Their War : Rise of the Robots - Explores the interaction between Hasbro designers and Michael Bay to bring the toy line roaring to life. (13:39) in HD!
AUTOBOTS Roll Out - Michael Bay discusses working with Chevy and its designers and the modifications that were made to the cars seen in the film. (19:59) in HD!
DECEPTICONS Strike - The film’s military advisors discuss the “toys” they allowed the production to borrow: F-22 Raptors, Ospreys and A-10 Warthogs. (14:32) in HD!
Inside the AllSpark - ILM’s digital artists discuss the challenges of bringing the TRANSFORMERS to life. (16:59) in HD!

From Script to Sand: The SKORPONOK Desert Attack - An in-depth look at the making of this particularly epic and challenging scene from initial storyboarding through production and visual effects. (8:52) in HD!
Concepts - Early sketch concepts of the robots. (2:09) in HD!

 

 

 

The Film:

On the face of it Transformers is a story as old as the Greeks versus the Trojans, the difference being that these warriors are visitors from another planet, the 1980s-sounding Cybertron, and there isn’t a jot of poetry, tragedy, beauty, meaning or interest in this fight.  The Autobots are trying to locate some all-important cube that looks like a Borg starship from Star Trek: The Next Generation before it’s found by the Autobots’ villainous alien brethren, the Decepticons.  During their mission the Autobots blend into the earthly backdrop by turning into zippy cars and mondo trucks, a strategy that works particularly well in Southern California.  Curiously, though the toys originated in Japan, no robot changes into a Toyota.

 

It’s kind of nifty when the robots transform the first time; they furiously shake back and forth like wet dogs desperately to dry off.  But by the 99th time there’s no fun left at all, even during the rock-’em, sock-’em knockdown that delivers the movie, in Spielbergesque pastiche, first to a violent and then to a warm-and-fuzzy close.  The actors tend to be more engaging, notably Mr. LaBeouf, who brings energy and a semi-straight face to the dumbest setup.  Just as easy on the eyes, though for other reasons, are the two female leads, the genius hacker in throw-her-down heels (Rachael Taylor) and the grease-monkey bombshell (Megan Fox) who helps Sam rise to the manly occasion.


Excerpt from Manohla Dargis, The New York Times located HERE

Product Description: From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg comes a thrilling battle between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. When their epic... struggle comes to Earth, all that stands between the Decepticons and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Unaware that he is mankind's last chance for survival, Sam and Bumblebee, his robot disguised as a car, are in a heart-pounding race against an enemy unlike anything anyone has seen before...


Image :
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The, almost 2.5 hour, film alone takes up a whopping 43+ Gig of space on the dual-layered first disc. We can safely assume that this is an improvement over the older HD edition simply because that defunct format couldn't hold that much data on one disc. This new Blu-ray looks very good balancing nicely between saturation and brightness (never extending too far in either reach) with some very healthy detail. The only problem I found was more with the effects which constantly force a shaky camera so as to adhere to the haze-producing CGI (and whatever other brands of computer generated effects that were utilized). After a while you'd prefer to actually see some of the Transformers in action but the camera is moving at such a rapid, jittery, pace that nothing is very discernable, in detail, for too long. Colors can look very intense at times - perhaps artificially boosted (does the sky or the desert really look those vibrant colors?). In the end, without my ineffectual griping - the image is damn impressive - jaw-dropping at times. I don't suspect any Digital Noise Reduction used to compensate for artefacts but the image is as smooth as a baby's butt anyway - minor noise exists as it always does, and will, aside from digital animation in Blu-ray - but it's at the very lower end of the scale with Transformers - regardless.  Resolution, on the other hand, is at an exceedingly high level - I just wish there were more opportunities in the film to showcase this and establish the disc as a demonstration reference. Transformers has some pristine detail - just not in abundance - and this is no fault of the transfer which could be described as 'flawless'. I can't imagine it being represented on this medium any better than this.

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
Aside from the two 5.1 foreign language DUBs - all we get is a hum-dinger
Dolby True HD track. Wow. It has some head-turning moments of intensity (did something break in the back of the room?). The lossless audio sounds about as aggressive and abundant as I can recall hearing... ever. For those keen on this aspect of their home theater - this may be a demo disc indeed. The low end also establishes support as well as the high frequencies - a decent range is covered. The soundtrack has a myriad of music interspersed between the explosions from "Guadalajara" by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán to Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing". We're given James Brown, The Cars and even the Goo Goo Dolls plus much more including a, sometimes stirring, original score, supporting some of the action sequences and lulls, by Steve Jablonsky. Overall, it's an exhausting refrain of dynamic genre effects and bombastic - never ending activity through the speakers. Dialogue is translated into English, English SDH, French, Spanish or Portuguese optional subtitles.

 

Extras:
Bay gives a decent, if not stellar commentary on disc one - most likely a repeat of the one found on the previous SD and HD-DVD editions. He's right into this stuff now. There are some
Blu-ray bells and whistles on disc one to boot. TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display)—In this mode, viewers can access running text-based behind-the-scenes background information on the production during the feature. Users can also watch relevant picture-in-picture b-roll and video with Bay, Spielberg and other filmmakers during select sequences. Also there are some BD-Live Features: including TRANSFORMERS Intelligence Mode, Menubots and TRANSFORMERS Profiler (untested by this reviewer.)

 

Disc 2 overflows with HD material - over 1.5 hours worth of featurettes (all in 1080) including interview segments with Bay, Spielberg, the cast, the writers - many involved in the production (also storyboards, scene-specific making of's, past animation references etc.) It is described by Paramount and listed above in more depth and detail than I could do them justice. Suffice to say - fans will be overwhelmed with all the post-input and observations by notables in the seven featurettes that run about 15 minutes each. Some may even consider the abundance overkill.

 

 

Bottom line:
What can you say? The film, for what it attempts, Transformers over-achieves and for the kids and adults fascinated with deceptive, altering robots - this film is probably the ultimate. It resurrected Hasbro and gave critics another reason to detest Michael Bay. The
Blu-ray is truly absurd in its completeness and like the film itself - overachieves in its own area. Now, I won't be demo'ing it to friends but many should find it worthy (depending on the friends, of course) especially in the audio department. Paramount have set a high standard that we can only hope Criterion will advance upon with their eventual Blu-ray discs. Can one imagine L'Avventura packaged as overwhelmingly as Transformers? Ahhh... we can dream. This Blu-ray should not disappoint anyone who would be keen enough to buy it in the first place. It's one of the Blu-ray transfers of the year - so far.

Gary Tooze

August 15th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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