Love them or hate them, there is no doubt that Michael Bay's Transformers franchise not only provide one of the most over the top, thrilling, action experiences in cinema, but with an astonishing $US2.7 billion dollars for the first three films there was no doubt that there would be many more sequels. While it took a little while to get Michael Bay back onboard, but this fourth film sees an entirely new human cast, and plenty of new transformers. Could the film still hold the attention of audiences the world over? You better believe it with an astonishing worldwide box office of just under $US1.1 billion! So what's this latest film about then...
Age of Extinction is set several years after the events that tore apart a city in Dark of the Moon, but with the world saved and much safer. As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs. On a farm in Texas a single father name Cade (Mark Wahlberg) takes scrap and invents new things to put his daughter through school. Bringing home a truck for scrap he soon discovers an Autobot - Optimus Prime who reassembles the Autobots to defend the planet.
As expected with any Michael Bay film it's the stunning set pieces and action that will have you on the edge of your seat and with a film that costs $US210 million to produce there is no expense spared to make this every bit as spectacular as movie goers expect. It's fair to say though that while there are spectacular moments here, not least of which when the Dinobots get unleashed, it never quite reaches the same jaw-dropping moments of the previous film when entire buildings are being ripped apart and collapsing. While we loved having the Dinobots in the film their presence is very limited and they didn't have the impact or screentime that we expected.
In terms of the actual film, and the storyline, we actually enjoyed it with plenty of new Transformers to get to know and love, the Dinobots going ballistic, and action set pieces that will have your jaw dropping frequently. The film focuses on the attempts for mankind to harness and use the Transformers power for their own benefit and it's a tale that had us hooked, and serves as a relevant warning with armies around the world currently racing towards unmanned machines and drones. With a runtime of 165 minutes it does feel a little lengthy however there isn't really a lot of fat to trim as it's such a continuous non-stop action packed ride.
It's fair to say that Age of Extinction is yet another fantastic Blu-Ray release, and nigh on reference quality. Encoded in the AVC MPEG-4 codec everything in this release just pops off the screen with a phenomenal amount of detail throughout. Colours are bold and bright - even the Transformers look more colourful then previous films - and outdoor scenes in particular look stunning while interior shots, such as the barn on Cade's farm still look fantastic.
As for the 3D version, as we mentioned earlier we haven't seen that Blu-Ray but given the very strong audio visual transfer here, and the quality of the 3D in Dark of the Moon we would suggest those with 3DTV's that enjoy the extra depth may want to opt for that release as it includes the 2D disc as well.
Some of this clarity and sharpness must come from sections of the film being shot on IMAX's new 3D Digital Cameras. There is a segment of the film with the humans traversing some cables at a high altitude (I don't want to spoil the film so keeping details lite), and it's clear the scene has been shot entirely with 3D in mind, although it still looks pretty spectacular in 2D, and yes, spectaular enough to be classed reference quality.
The primay audio track on this disc is a lossless Dolby Atmos track - this is the first time we've reviewed a disc with this audio format which is a new format which provides better multidimensional sound, with support for speakers overhead. Sadly we don't have the receiver, nor the speaker setup to test this so we're left with the "standard" Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track instead.
No need to fret however as this is every bit as impressive as any other audio track we have ever heard on a Blu-Ray. Sure, Michael Bay films are over the top in every regard, and that includes the aggressive use of surround sound channels, and booming sub-woofer effects that wil have you entire house shaking. Even the films opening minutes sees alien spaceships destroying the planet, and the dinosaurs with it, but the explosions will certainly leave an impression.
Music has been composed by Steve Jablonsky which is effective and fits into the universe perfectly, while even electronic dance DJ Skrillex provided some electronic sound effects for the film. Sound prioritization is also pretty good, but as expected, and as would be the case in real life, when the action really heats up the dialogue can get a little lost, but only momentarily.
Other audio tracks on this disc are English Audio Description, German, Spanish, French, and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. As one would expect these tracks lack the punch and fidelity of the English lossless track, but will get the job done if you require something other than English. Subtitles on are provided in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish. Samples of the English subtitles demonstrated accuracy to the dialogue in the film.
Evolution Within Extinction (2:02:50/HD): This is a phenomenally detailed look at the creation of this film which is probably as good as any documentary about a films creation you've seen since, well, the last Transformers Blu-Ray release. The documentary is split up into eight sections which we will detail below:
Just Another Giant 'Effin Movie (10:03/HD): Some more on-set footage with Michael Bay's mother talking about her son and what he was like growing up. Pretty lightweight in terms of actual facts and detail, but some nice candid moments from the actors and filmmakers.
A Spark of Design (15:24/HD): Of course Transformers has always been about the actual toys and this featurette looks at Hasbro's input into the toys, design of Transformers and creating the models using 3D printers and then painting them. Quite an interesting piece worth a look which is a little less "sales pitchy" then it could have been.
T.J. Miller: Farm Hippie (19:43/HD): One of the main actors in the film attempts to talk to other cast and crew members, with mixed results. Obviously setup, but it's mildly amusing at times.
Review By: Dave Warner