Michael Bay is very much a director that polarizes opinions. His movies are often loud and over the top and often at the expense of a storyline. Personally I love the guy and his movies. They are usually action over substance, but if you go into the movies knowing that's what you'll get you should be very satisfied. Just look at his movies since the mid-1990's Bad Boys (and the sequel), The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbour and The Island. All very watchable (except, perhaps, Armageddon), and all massive box office successes.
For centuries, two races of robotic aliens, Autobots and Decepticons, have waged a war, with the fate of the universe at stake. When the battle comes to Earth, all that stands between the evil Decepticons and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). An average teenager, Sam is consumed with everyday worries about school, friends, cars and girls. Unaware that he is mankind's last chance for survival, Sam and his friend Mikaela (Megan Fox) find themselves in a tug of war between the Autobots and Decepticons. With the world hanging in the balance, Sam comes to realize the true meaning behind the Witwicky family motto - "No sacrifice, no victory!"
As with any Michael Bay movie it's the action set pieces that are a highlight, and Transformers sees him at the top of his game. From the first attack on the Air Force base in Qatar, to the Highway chase, and the final climactic battle in the streets of Los Angeles these are all massive battles on a massive scale. Adding to this excitement is the knowledge that much of the destruction such as cars flipping and the bus tearing in two were practical, and not CG unlike so many other movies these days.
Despite a runtime of almost two and a half hours this movie never really feels long. It feels spot on in terms of length. When the movie does slow down it's only for a few moments before you catch your breath and the next intense sequence starts up. Also impressive is the amount of military support this movie had with numerous planes (including F-117, A-10, AC-130, and CV-22) and vehicles used for this production, many of which have never been filmed for a movie before. Dare I suggest that military technology has never looked as good at home on your TV or projector!
Transformers could have been a terrible movie, but under the direction of Michael Bay it has come together remarkably well with a solid storyline, fantastic action sequences and very likable (human, and non-human) actors.
We've seen a lot of Blu-Ray discs now with a wide range in visual styles and transfer quality. Without doubt though Transformers sits atop the pile as one of the most visually exciting experiences we've ever had. This Blu-Ray transfer isn't a straight port of the HD-DVD version but has been totally remastered to make use of the 50GB space available (compared to the 30GB on HD-DVD). Now I don't have the HD-DVD to do a direct comparison, but what I can tell you is that the transfer of Transformers to Blu-Ray is astounding.
Using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 this movie really shines. Colours are vibrant and the transformers in particular are a sight to behold with the finest of texturing details evident on this Blu-Ray release. Dark scenes are handled well with no black crush evident while the film has a consistent grain level for the most part with only a couple of small darker scenes showing some increased levels.
Other languages on the Blu-Ray disc include German, Spanish French and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 640kbps. While not quite up to the refined standards set by the English Dolby TrueHD track, you certainly won't be disappointed. Subtitles are provided in 16 different languages for the feature film including English and English for the Hearing Impaired. From samples throughout the movie each track was accurate to the on-screen dialogue and effects while the commentary also has subtitles available in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.
Transformers H.U.D. (HD): This is the main pop-up trivia and video track. Quite informative there is plenty of information provided here in text based form, but there are also plenty of video footage with interviews and on-set filming footage. Again, quite interesting and worth a look.
BD-Live: Transformers Intelligence Mode, Menubots, Transformers Profiler (HD): First up is the Intelligence Mode which displays statistics during the movies playback including the Transformers on screen, location in the world via GPS, and other text based trivia. Menubots allows you to transform the in-movie Menu to one themed with Bumblebee, Optimus Prime or Megatron. Sure it does little, but is rather cool. Finally a Transformers Profilers lets you look at the actors in the movie and get details such as their biography and filmography.
Our World (49:17/HD): This is the first of two main documentaries. Split up into four parts (The Story Sparks, Human Allies, I Fight Giant Robots, Battleground) this feature focuses on the human side of the movie including the origins of the story, finding the cast, on-set filming and the locations of the film.
Their War (1:05:13/HD): This second, and longer, featurette is split up into five sections (Rise of the Robots, Autobots Roll Out, Decepticons Strike, Inside the AllSpark, Transformers Tech Inspector) and looks at the origin of the Transformers, how the filmmakers selected which Transformers made it into the movie, and which didn't, and then the massive amount of visual effects required to bring the Transformers movie to life. As with the other documentary this is a brilliant produced piece.
From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack (8:55/HD): A look at the process of bringing the desert attack to life from sketches, to animatics, to filming and the final film with visual effects.
Concepts (2:12/HD): Concept art is displayed to some rather dramatic music from the movie. There really is some brilliant artwork here and it's a joy to see how much detail goes into the pre-production for a movie like Transformers.
Easter Eggs: Have a look around on the second disc and you will find some Sector 7 video clips hidden away as Easter Eggs...
Review By: Dave Warner