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November 7, 2008
Transformers Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
28/6/20079/10/2008ParamountMichael Bay
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MShia LaBeouf

THE MOVIE
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Transformers' highway scene is brilliant.

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!"

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Josh Duhamel as Captain Lennox.
With a phenomenal worldwide gross of over $US700 million it's clear that this was a very popular movie during 2007. Do I think it's the best movie ever? No. There are some small pacing issues, I would have loved some more Transformers and the idea that they could battle in the city streets and then be dumped to be forgotten is a bit unbelievable. I also wasn't a fan of the small, and new for this movie, transformer Frenzy which runs around Air Force One. The way Frenzy walks off towards and into the Police car (aka Barricade) and not be spotted is a little far fetched. Still, these are small issues in an otherwise very entertaining movie.

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.

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Megan Fox looking super hot.
It's not all action though as there's a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure, and it's never groan worthy while Megan Fox certainly adds in a bit of sex appeal (well, OK, a lot of sex appeal!). There are so many great actors in this movie too. The late Bernie Mac is brilliant as the car salesman, John Turturro plays the Sector 7 operative, Agent Simmons, perfectly while Josh Duhamel plays Captain Lennox with plenty of style. Throw in Rachael Taylor and Anthony Anderson as the computer geeks, Jon Voight as Defense Secretary John Keller and Kevin Dunn as Sam's father Ron and you can see just how brilliant the cast is for this movie.

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.

VIDEO
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Autobots rolling out...

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.

AUDIO
Not to be outdone by the visuals the audio on this disc is also stunning. From the very first moments when the Paramount logo enters to a mechanized tone you know this is something very special indeed. Encoded using the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 this is a brilliant sound mix and, for home users, provides the same thrilling experience everyone had in the cinemas. Dialogue is crystal clear, and there is ample use of surround sound and sub-woofer channels. Also deserving a mention is the brilliant score from composer Steve Jablonsky (who you may recognise from his music in Michael Bay's previous movie The Island).

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Oww! You're breaking my back!
It should be noted that, as intended, this movies audio is very bass heavy. Your room will certainly boom and shake like no other Blu-Ray disc has managed so far. Is it too much? Hell no. I mean these Transformers are several stories high and weigh several tonnes each. If that wasn't enough they then battle in the streets destroying everything in sight. The only way this audio could have been improved is by including a 7.1 mix, something which I would like to see more of on Blu-Ray in future. Still, we're not going to mark this movie down for that small niggle.

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.

EXTRAS
Transformers comes to Blu-Ray with a suite of extras, all presented in glorious High Definition. Rather then babble on let's get to it...

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The late Bernie Mac is hilarious in Transformers.
Commentary by Director Michael Bay: As one of the biggest action directors today this is a fascinating commentary in which Michael details the filming, support from the Army, production design and almost all other aspects. Despite the length of the movie, this commentary remains engaging throughout.

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.

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Check out the texture detail.
We now head onto disc two which contains the main video documentary styled features. There's some incredible stuff here so let's have a look...

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.

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Bumblebee, Sam Witwicky's friend.
Trailers (6:19/HD): Three trailers are presented here, each in High Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps audio.

Easter Eggs: Have a look around on the second disc and you will find some Sector 7 video clips hidden away as Easter Eggs...

OVERALL
Transformers is easily one of Michael Bay's best directorial efforts. There is plenty of action, a solid storyline and some decent humour thrown into the mix here, but it's the visual effects that steal the show. Without a shadow of a doubt this is one of the finest Blu-Ray releases deserving of any collection.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
10/10
THE AUDIO
10/10
THE EXTRAS
9/10
OVERALL
9/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.