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Paramount Home Video presents
Transformers (Blu-ray) (2007)

"At the end of this day, one shall stand, one shall fall!"
- Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen)

Review By: Matt Serafini   
Published: October 20, 2008

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Peter Cullen
Other Stars: Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, John Turturro, Zack Ward, Bernie Mac
Director: Michael Bay

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, and language
Run Time: 02h:23m:18s
Release Date: September 02, 2008
UPC: 097361312422
Genre: sci-fi


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ C+A+A B+

DVD Review

I was as excited as any self-respecting child of the '80s when it was announced that Transformers was going to be made into a massive, summertime blockbuster. Of all the cartoon properties I loved as a kid, itís hard to imagine one that lends itself as naturally to the Hollywood makeover process as Transformers. After all, it just takes a few talking, transforming robots and a lot of explosions stay faithful to the line of toys which served as the basis of this film.

And I was wrong. I donít have much love for Michael Bay and Iím still certain that a better filmmaker could have done this script even better, but when it comes to action and spectacle there arenít many people who work better than Bay. Sadly, with said action and spectacle comes a gutterball of lame humor, unnecessary subplots, and a script that always feels like it needed another polish or two. Seriously, Michael Bay is his own Yin and Yang.

Iíve always felt that way, but youíll never see a better example of what Iím referring to. A movie thatís so good and so terrible all at once. You see: I love the robots. I love the spectacle on display here. Itís fun, imaginative, the stuff that invokes the kid in all of us. When it works, itís movie magic at its absolute best. But there are just too many detours that temporarily displace all that fun stuff. Most of the time it comes in the guise of unnecessary characters: John Tuturro, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, Kevin Dunn, and Julie White. For a movie about giant robots from another planet, it sure likes spending time with its superfluous supporting cast Ö all of whom could and should have been cut from the final product.

At times it often seems like Michael Bay is going out of his way to avoid any sense of depth in his films and again, this is no exception. He misses several opportunities to allow us to know the core characters (probably because heís too busy cutting back to the aforementioned secondary cast), opting instead to give us a Cliffs Notes version of character development. Look at the scene where Sam (Shia LeBouf) drives Mikaela (Megan Fox) home. We cut from their awkward introduction to her being dropped at her doorstep where all she can say is: ďthanks for listening.Ē But it never occurs to Bay that we, the audience, might have some interest in actually listening too. Give us some reason to care about these characters, pal.

My least favorite thing about Transformers stems from one moment that just completely rubbed me the wrong way. Iíd been looking forward to taking my nephews to see the movie for sometime. I thought it would fun to introduce them to something that I enjoyed very much at their age. Besides, itís giant robots. What kid isnít going to love that? And it really just bugged me when the filmmakers felt the need to include a moment where Samís parents point blank ask him if heís been masturbating in his room. Itís a crude bit, a little more obnoxious than most. I can deal with the profanity but what if a parent doesnít want to be forced into explaining to their child what masturbation is while walking out of a giant robot movie? I'm not puritanical in any way, shape or form, but that's a tasteless bit—more than a little out of place in a film based on children's toys.

We can talk a little bit about the robots, I suppose: every second theyíre on screen the film becomes the stuff of thrilling spectacle. It somehow dwarfs the shoddy storytelling practices that cripple every Mike Bay production. Honestly, those robots are just that cool. But that leads me to another problem: why arenít we spending more time with them? Maybe itís because Bay wasnít sure how the audience would react to those characters, but you know what? Have some confidence in your source material. Michael Bay certainly is a successful filmmaker but he lacks the real innovation to be considered a great one. For some reason though, I think he can live with that.

What ultimately makes Transformers a success for me, however, are the little touches. Certain bits of dialogue are taken directly from the '80s cartoon that was such a prominent fixture of my youth. When I heard it on the big screen, I couldnít help but grin. Thereís also the casting of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime. Cullen, as most of you know, voiced Prime in the cartoon. To hear him play Prime again with adult ears Ö itís a special bit of nostalgia.

Transformers isnít consistently good, but thereís plenty of things to like if youíre willing to overlook the utter nonsense that clutters the downtime. If the spectacle of giant warring robots is enough to win you over, then itís absolutely worth a look. I had a great time, warts and all.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Transformers is all over the place in terms of its visual palette. From the desert to suburbia and including the full-on destruction of several city blocks at the conclusion, this is a busy film. Paramount's Blu-Ray brings it to home theaters without the slightest of issues. Flesh tones are natural and textured (Megan Fox in HD is a sight!) while shadows are rich and detailed. This disc even showcases the integrity of the CGI-laden action by revealing textured effects work that blends seamlessly with the live-action performers and backgrounds. Paramount nailed Beowulf and this title is every bit as incredible.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
TruHD
English (TruHD), English, French, Spanish (all 5.1 surround)yes


Audio Transfer Review: Unexpectedly, your home theater is going to get a workout when playing this disc. The opening action sequence in Quatar sets the pace quite nicely by filling your front and rear speakers with halos of gunfire while your subwoofer pumps out consistently punchy bass.

Occasionally some of the quieter scenes tend to level the dialogue a little bit on the soft side. Believe me, it's not a big deal and it only happens a few times, but it's just enough to warrant a mention.

Beyond that you won't be disappointed by this track. It's wild, full-bodied, and almost non-stop. A near-perfect mirror to the superb video quality.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Korean, Spanish with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Iron Man
1 TV Spots/Teasers
3 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Michael Bay
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Picture-in-Picture
  2. MyClips
  3. Intelligence Center
  4. Still Gallery
Extras Review: One thing I love about Paramount is their insistence on presenting all their Blu-Ray extras in HD. Transformers is no exception. Here the content is strewn across two discs and the extras are a nifty collection. There's a lively commentary track with Michael Bay. I might have let it slip that I'm no great fan of Bay, but I might just be coming around. In his talk here he is funny and likeable and demonstrates his passion for the filmmaking process time and time again. By the end of it I was tempted to reconsider my stance on Bay. Almost.

The picture-in-picture track is a bit of a bore, sadly. It's a bit of glorified trivia track that offers some forgettable factoids about the production. Nothing too special here.

Disc 2 is loaded with groovy documentaries. First up is Our World (49m:20s). It begins with a brief history of the classic Hasbro franchise and springs to segments on casting, military authenticity (?), and action sequences. The second documentary, Their War (1h:05m:13s), is even better: it's an extensive look at recreating the Transformers from the '80s to today. Things get a little less compelling once we move onto the technical process required to give life to the robots, but it does help to illustrate the amount of work and research that went into producing this blockbuster. More than Meets the Eye(17m:41s) covers some additional behind-the-scenes action footage and some newborn animatics. Nothing special, but worth a look.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Another Blu-Ray must own! Paramount has packaged a fun film with a boatload of extras (most of which are in high def) with another reference-quality disc. The film's a lot good time in the right frame of mind, too. These are the types of films Blu-Ray was made for and, with that perspective, I can't recommend this one enough.

 


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