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For centuries, two races of robotic aliens–the Autobots and the 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. An average teenager, Sam is consumed with everyday worries about school, friends, cars and girls. Unaware that he alone is mankind’s last chance for survival, Sam and his friend Mikaela 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!"
For more about Transformers and the Transformers Blu-ray release, see Transformers Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 13, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson
Director: Michael Bay
» See full cast & crew
Transformers Blu-ray Review
The wait is over.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 13, 2008
Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.
Transformers. Blu-ray. Finally, after nearly ten months, the film that was the centerpiece of the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war is available on the victorious and superior high definition format, Blu-ray. Much like the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons as depicted in this film, the high definition format war was short but brutal. Paramount Pictures, the distributor of Transformers, shifted from a policy of format neutrality to one of HD DVD exclusivity only weeks before the expected street date of Transformers on both formats. Many high definition fans were shocked and saddened at the news, and the fact that Transformers had tags such as "format seller" and "potential audio and video reference material" attached to it worsened the blow. At the time, it was one of, if not the, most anticipated Blu-ray releases ever, and with word of the press release announcing format exclusivity on the part of Paramount, Transformers became something of a legend among Blu-ray fans, the symbol of the format war, and the movie was sited as the title that was to put HD DVD over the top and spell the beginning of the end for Blu-ray. As fortune would have it, however, high definition consumers, studios, and many consumer electronics manufacturers recognized the strengths of the Blu-ray format and, as days turned to weeks, as weeks became months, the writing-on-the-wall began to materialize, and it spelled the end of Toshiba's inferior high definition optical disc platform. Now, Transformers is home on Blu-ray, where director Michael Bay (The Rock) wanted it all along, and it's all we once dreamed it could be. The disc is a winner in every regard, a trophy that, for me, even more than any press release or HD DVD fire sale, symbolizes the official end of the HD DVD platform and the victory of the superior Blu-ray format.
This is easily 100 times cooler than 'Armageddon'!
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) is a high-school aged boy who wants nothing more than a smoking hot car and an equally attractive girl to ride in it. To acquire the funds to purchase the vehicle, he's selling off some priceless family heirlooms, including a pair of spectacles worn by an ancestor who was one of the first people to explore the Arctic. With his father's help, Sam becomes the proud new owner of a beat-up vintage yellow Chevrolet Camaro, and the choice of car and driver seems to be a mutual one. With his new ride, a few squirts of breath freshener, and a disco ball installed in the interior of the car, Sam manages to offer the most beautiful girl in school -- Mikaela (Megan Fox, TV's "Hope & Faith") -- a ride home. Little does she know that the car she is riding in as actually a robot from another world, a "Transformer" that has come to Earth in search of the "All-Spark," a cube of great power that gives the Transformers -- and any man-made electronic or mechanical device -- life. Sam and Mikaela learn that those very same spectacles that belonged to the elder Witwicky are in fact a key in discovering the location of the All-Spark. As two warring factions of Transformers -- the peace-loving yet incredibly tough Autobots and the villainous, destructive Decepticons -- descend on Earth, Sam, Mikaela, and all of humanity will find themselves as pawns in one of the deadliest confrontations Earth has ever seen from a race they could have never imagined.
I think there's a lot more than meets the eye with you.
Transformers is certainly not the best movie ever made, but it's awfully entertaining and, perhaps more importantly, a new milestone in cinematic special effects. Even though we've seen the concept of "Transformers" before in numerous toy and cartoon versions, we've never seen a movie quite like this, where larger-than-life heroes and villains look as real and believable as if they were themselves living beings starring in the film. The concept and the execution are both wonderfully original and unique, and the film is brought to life with seamless special effects. One can look at the evolution of the special effects creatures throughout the history of film: from 1933's King Kong, to films aided by the then-revolutionary and still-influential effects of Ray Harryhausen, as seen in films like 1957's 20 Million Miles to Earth, to the wonder of the dinosaurs in Steven Speilberg's 1993 ground-breaker Jurassic Park, and now, today, to the seamless integration of giant transforming robots in Michael Bay's most recent summer blockbuster. These four films represent demarcation lines in this history of cinematic special effects, and as amazing as those effects we see in Transformers are, it's not out of the realm of possibility that in only a decade or two they'll look as phony as the claymation effects of yore. Still, today, Transformers is the pinnacle of computer-generated effects, and regardless of your take on the remainder of the movie, there is simply no denying the grandeur and awe-inspiring vision of witnessing what plays out on your screen from a technical perspective.
At the end of this day, one shall stand, one shall fall.
There are many problems cited about why Transformers was not as successful a movie as it could have been. Certainly, the film was a commercial success, earning nearly $320,000,000 domestically -- more than twice the film's budget. Many fans, including myself, were disillusioned over the fact that director Michael Bay took artistic and dramatic licenses that altered the appearance of many of their favorite characters. Nevertheless, I saw the movie in theaters with an excitement that I hadn't experienced since I sat down on the opening night of Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace. I was awed and amazed by what I saw in Transformers, revolutionary special effects and a final battle between Autobots and Decepticons that practically blew me away, filmed in the style of the best modern war movies but this time featuring stories-tall robots battling to the death as humans both watched and participated in the mayhem while a city crumbled around them. After the screening, I was still unsure of how I ultimately felt about the film. Entertaining and satisfying were two key words, and over time, the film's style and groundbreaking effects won me over. Still, the film could have foregone some of the sappier moments, pop-culture integration (eBay, Internet user screen names), and inane jokes in favor of a rougher and harder edge, but Transformers follows a tried-and-true formula of intertwining a little something for everyone, and like it or not, the approach is generally a success financially for the studios. Ultimately pleased with the final product, even enjoying the many less-than-action-oriented, audience-friendly moments in the film glossed over above, I eagerly await the 2009 sequel, also directed by Bay and again featuring stars LaBeouf and Fox, though I wouldn't mind a more serious, grittier, slightly more violent take on the Transformers universe. One thing's for sure, though: Michael Bay's trademark eye for action, quick and fancy camera work, and gorgeous locations will play a prominent role in the film, and maybe even more important to Blu-ray fans, it's sure to look and sound fabulous when it arrives late next year on the world's finest high definition format.
Transformers Blu-ray, Video Quality
Transformers may very well transform how you look at Blu-ray thanks to its exceptional picture quality that exceeds all expectations fans had for the Blu-ray release of the film. For those of you considering an upgrade from the HD DVD version, I am of no help as I never saw the film on that format (or even owned an HD DVD player, for that matter), but I can assure you this is one fabulous looking MPEG-4 Blu-ray, and as nice as the DVD looked upconverted, this edition far surpasses it in every regard. Framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p, Transformers wows from the first frame to the last. From the beginning, as the U.S. soldiers in an Osprey are flying above Qatar, the image shines. Colors, clarity, and detail are great as we see the sweat gleaning off the soldier's faces, the dirt, dust, and grime that is caked on their faces and uniforms, and the vibrant and lifelike reproduction of their fatigues and the interior of the craft. Only moments into the film, the stage is set for a fabulous transfer. The desert base doesn't offer much color other than earth tones, but it looks great as well with crystal-clear resolution, razor-sharp edges, a clarity to die for, and still more fine, natural detail. In fact, these desert scenes shine throughout the movie. The second battle of Qatar in chapter eight offers tremendous depth and clarity, great colors, and a sharpness and vibrancy that again allows every drop of sweat, the rough texture of the stone and bricks that make up the structures, the wear and tear on the weapons, and the bright explosions to jump right off the screen.
Minute detail is wonderful, too. In a shot of the control tower at the base in Qatar, we can make out every smudge and mark on the windows of the tower. A small detail to be sure, but an incredible one and a fine example of how meticulously pristine this image is. Grain is present over the transfer, sometimes heavier in spots (such as when Sam's parent's confront him in his room while the Autobots hide outside), but it is not a distracting amount in any scene. It adds a nice depth and completes the pristine movie theater experience the disc engenders visually. Black levels are absolutely fantastic. Dark, deep, and inky describes them perfectly. Colors are eye-popping not only in the desert scenes mentioned above, but throughout the entirety of the movie. Watch the scene featuring the late Bernie Mac where Bumblebee not-so-subtly chooses Sam at the car lot. Yellow, as expected in a scene featuring Bumblebee's introduction, is the dominant hue, as seen in the car, the black and yellow shirt Bernie wears, and even the dull yellow paint of his office. The dirt, dings, and grime on Bumblebee look marvelously real, and the reveal of the Autobot logo on the steering wheel is all the more powerful in full 1080p glory. The exterior of the Witwicky household has a depth and lifelike realism to it that practically places us there; we can almost feel the grass underneath our feet. There is a warmness to the picture that stays true to both the theatrical version I saw and the DVD version I own. As a result, flesh tones are a bit more red and orange rather than a more natural hue. Speaking of theatrical, this disc absolutely blows away the print I saw at the local multiplex, although, granted, the local theater suffers from chronic mediocrity. This Blu-ray disc, however, sports a perfectly cinematic look that had me crying on the inside for a larger display. 65" just doesn't do this film justice.
Perhaps the best reason to watch Transformers on Blu-ray is to sit in awe at the intricacies of the robots themselves. As discussed above, the special effects are first-rate, arguably the finest we've seen yet, and this Blu-ray edition of Transformers is so meticulously detailed that we become privy to every nook, cranny, ding, dent, chip, and worn spot on the faces and bodies of the robots. When we first meet Optimus Prime, we see the many little nuances that make up his head, mouth, eyes, etc. It all works in harmony to bring the character to life and the level of detail is amazing. The final battle of the movie in the city offers incredibly rich detail, too. No major softness is apparent in even the most distant of background images; edges are sharp and crisp, the city looks as real as if we were in the middle of the street, and the action sequences come to life as every piece of debris and spent shell casings practically fall into our living rooms. As you can tell, I was most impressed with Paramount's effort for this Blu-ray transfer of Transformers. It's reference material all the way, and if you have the sound system to go with the pristine 1080p picture quality, the experience will be one that's hard to forget, a fact detailed in the following paragraphs.
Transformers Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Transformers makes its long-awaited Blu-ray and lossless audio debut with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. Also available are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy soundtracks. Please note that there is no other track to be found on the disc, save for the Michael Bay commentary track. The TrueHD track hovers between 3.5-4 MBps on the bit rate meter on my Playstation 3. We know we are in for a treat when even the Paramount stars flying by in the opening sequence featured fantastic surround presence and directionality. Peter Cullen's (the voice of Optimus Prime) voiceover booms and sounds as crisp as you could possibly imagine as he introduces us to the film. As the music swelled, I got chills. Transformers is really here on Blu-ray! The first attack sequence on the military base is as good as I hoped it would be. Sound flies from all directions, the devastation the single Transformer wreaks is amazing in its sonic wonderment. The high of shattering glass, the low end rat-a-tat of machine gun fire, the ridiculously good bass that accompanies explosions, and the footsteps of the alien machine, including its digitized, frightening "voice," all come together for some of the finest few minutes I've heard on Blu-ray yet. As I watched, I sat in anticipation of what was to come, notably the final battle. The attack on Qatar in chapter eight, like the first, is a mesmerizing listen. The 105mm shells the AC-130 fires from its on-board Howitzer, for example, have a distinct thud that increases the wonder and realism of the scene. The sound is crisp without being overbearing. It's loud without being distorted, but not so loud as to blow out your eardrums.
As active as the track is, surrounds aren't always blasting away. The scene where Sam and Mikaela are driving in Bumblebee in chapter five is generally silent save for the dialogue coming from the center channel, but as Bumblebee turns on the radio, the sound swells into the rear channels for a nice, subtle, but noticeable effect. Dialogue is rendered perfectly throughout. It is never lost under music or action. One moment I was eager to hear, one that I was hoping to offer a resounding "wow," was the scene where the Autobots arrive on Earth, and as I suspected from listening to the first hour of the movie, I was not disappointed. Once again, the audio is perfectly balanced; it is nice and powerful without being obnoxious, featuring great use of lows that shake the chair but don't rattle the foundation. Finally, we arrive at the the final battle of the movie. From the first shot Devastator fires from its cannon, the intensity and terror of the scene comes to horrific life. It's one of the best-staged action sequences I've ever seen, something completely different that mixes the real with the surreal and the Dolby TrueHD track brings it right into our living rooms with excellent bass, awe-inspiring sound effects, and fantastic crashes and bangs that burst out of every speaker. Every expended round from the machine guns employed by the Transformers rattles your seat with wondrous bass that, like the rest of the track, never overpowers you, but provides just the right amount of oomph for the full effect. Transformers doesn't offer the loudest, most active track ever, but everything is here in just the right proportions to create 143 minutes of movie magic. Transformers offers listeners one of the best lossless tracks yet, hands down.
Transformers Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Before beginning the supplements, I must say that this Paramount disc failed to load in my Panasonic BD-30, but it worked just fine in my Playstation 3. I've had similar experiences with a few other Paramount titles, and hopefully other users will not experience this problem. Transformers' supplemental package is divided up over two discs. Disc one begins with a feature-length commentary track with director Michael Bay. Bay discusses the military involvement, shares some fascinating information about the design of the Transformers, the assembly of the first trailer, Steven Spielberg's request for him to helm the film, his crash course in all things Transformers, and more. That's just the first few minutes of the track. What's so great about this track is that Bay always offers pertinent information. It's not full of superfluous tidbits or a play-by-play of what's happening in the movie. Rather, Bay speaks his mind about things we want to know, pertinent behind-the-scenes nuggets and stories that keep fans interested and reinforces his status as a passionate and knowledgeable filmmaker. There are a few minor segments of dead air where Bay allows the movie to speak for him, but these moments come at opportune times in the track to drive home a point. One of the finest moments of the track comes in chapter five when Bay speaks about the outrage directed at him on the Internet, mentioning death threats and fans who were afraid their childhood would be "wrecked" when he was finished with the film and the Internet craze that followed its every step. This is an honest, informative track, one that everyone needs to listen to. Next is Transformers H.U.D. This feature is an informative pop-up trivia track that offers many tidbits, some found elsewhere in the extras, some not. It covers everything from the specifications of the real-life military hardware found throughout the film to the statistics on vehicle theft in 2004. There are some gaps in the presentation, but the information is interesting enough.
The first feature on disc two is Our World (1080i, 49:14). This four-part feature begins with The Story Sparks (8:32), a piece featuring interviews with executive producers Steven Spielberg and Brian Goldner, writers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, director Michael Bay, and more. This feature looks at the origins of the story, with plenty of clips from the original cartoon series, a look at some classic toys, and plenty of other interesting nuggets. Bay delves further into the reworking of the story and the special effects, while the other commentators discuss the talent and eye for action Michael Bay brought to the film, and more. Human Allies (13:09) focuses on the past successes of people who work with Bay, as well as casting the primary actors in the film. I Fight Giant Robots (13:58) examines the U.S. military's cooperation with the filmmakers and the training the cast underwent to enhance their roles. Gun fanatics will like the glimpse at a .50 caliber machine gun the crew was privileged to train on. The feature moves onto more behind-the-scenes glimpses at the making of the film's climactic battle scene. Finally, Battleground (13:33) looks at some of the logistics behind the making of the film and shooting at the various locations seen throughout.
A five-part feature entitled Their War (1080i, 1:05:10) begins with Rise of the Robots (13:39). This is a great piece that looks at the history of the Transformers franchise, the fans of the franchise, it's popularity around the world, and the importance of keeping fans happy. Bay repeats some information here that is found in the commentary where he discusses the negative reaction fans had to some of the early concepts, and the release of the teaser trailer. The piece then focuses on why some of the changes were made to the characters, the cost limitations of adding more robots to the film, and so much more. This is a great piece. Autobots Roll Out (19:59) is an in-depth look at the cars chosen for the Autobots, looking at why the Volkswagen Bug wouldn't work for Bumblebee, for example, and delving into the cars chosen for Jazz, Ratchet, Ironhide, and, of course, Optimus Prime, including a discussion of the changes made to the look of the vehicle. Decepticons Strike (14:32), like the last feature, examines the Decepticons more in-depth while looking at the military equipment seen in the film and the U.S. military's cooperation with the filmmakers. Inside the Allspark (16:59) focuses on the work of Digital Domain and ILM in creating the special effects for the film. Transformers Tech Inspector allows users to get up-close and in-depth looks at their favorite Transformers -- including Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Megatron, Blackout, and Starscream.
More Than Meets the Eye is next, a feature that is broken down into three parts. From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack (1080i, 8:52) is an in-depth look at this important action piece from the film, beginning with the design and origins of the Decepticon featured in the scene and moving on to the animatics, 3-D animation of the character, scouting the location for the scene, creating the practical special effects as seen in the scene, and adding special effects to the scene in post-production. Concepts (1080i, 2:09) is a series of conceptual art images that were the foundation of the film and its characters. Finally, the film's teaser trailer (1080p, 1:49) and two theatrical trailers (1080p, 2:11 and 1080p, 2:34) conclude the special features. Paramount is to be commended for such an in-depth supplemental section, and the video quality is fantastic on each and every piece. All the features are well worth watching.
On June 16, 2009, Paramount released several new features to the Transformers Blu-ray BD-Live page, some of which tie in with the upcoming theatrical release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and others that add more exclusive content that take viewers deeper into the making of the original Transformers. 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' Exclusive Sneak Peek allows users to view We're Gonna Die, a scene from the upcoming film featuring Sam and Mikaela under Decepticon attack. The scene, and all of the other features included in this update, plays in a small window in the middle of the screen. Two additional "sneak peaks" are available, too: Shanghai, a scene featuring soldiers engaging a Decepticon, and Adobe Hut, another scene showcasing Sam and Mikaela, this time in hiding from several Decepticons. Also included and connected to Revenge of the Fallen is the two-part From the Set. Day 1 takes viewers to the set for the crucial first day of the shoot in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and the "Bayos" that surrounds the creation of a Michael Bay film. A Day in the Shade looks at the pampered treatment Megan Fox received on the set.
The remaining materials focus exclusively on Transformers. The extras begin with a pair of deleted scenes entitled Maggie and Glen Introduction and Fig Death. Next up is Fly on the Set: Pentagon, a short piece taking viewers onto the set for the work that went into creating a realistic look and feel for several of the more crucial scenes from the film. Music and Mayhem features a look at several of the film's most special-effects heavy sequences in various stages of completion. Metal in Motion showcases some preliminary special effects that provided the groundwork for the final effects as seen in the film. Stunts 101 looks at the dangerous world of stunt work, particularly in an action-packed, explosive film like Transformers. This piece contains behind-the-scenes footage that shows the many preparations needed to successfully conduct a stunt shot, accompanied by several crew interview clips. Next up is Choose Your Weapon, a fun piece that examines the presence and use of the many weapons as seen in Transformers. Also included is a glimpse at the weapons training several of the actors partook in to lend realism to the experience. The Man in the Ice looks at how Los Angeles, California doubled for the Arctic during the making of Transformers. The piece also contains Director Michael Bay recounting the purpose of the scene as well as some previsualization sequences that helped the filmmakers envision the final product. Voices takes audiences behind the gears and gizmos and introduces them to some of the actors who breathed life into the robots, including longtime Optimus Prime voice Peter Cullen. Finally, Audition Tapes: Megan Fox allows viewers to watch the actresses' audition for the role of Mikaela.
Transformers Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Awarding a film like Transformers a score of 4/5 for the movie might seem like a risky move. Keep in mind the score is not an absolute, meaning that it is not necessarily as good as every other movie from every other genre that has ever received a 4/5. For what Transformers wants to be -- an exciting, action-packed special effects extravaganza -- it's fantastic. It'll never be classic cinema, but like Independence Day, it's a terrific popcorn movie that shows us things we've never seen before on a scale and with a technical perfection that is second-to-none. Transformers features plenty of exciting action sequences, first-class special effects, and a story and cast of characters that are good enough to move the film along and allow us to revel in the wonder of the Transformers without the distraction of a completely ridiculous plot. For awesome action and visuals, you cannot do better than Transformers. Paramount has released one of the finest Blu-ray discs available to date, rivaling the likes of I, Robot and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in terms of overall quality. With breathtaking video, heart-stopping audio, and a wealth of bonus material, the disc never disappoints. For all the title represents -- great picture, wonderful sound, a plethora of supplements, and its status as one of the most desired Blu-ray discs of all time, not to mention its embodiment of the end of the high definition disc format war -- Transformers receives my highest recommendation.
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Transformers Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D Blu-ray (Updated) - December 27, 2011
Paramount Home Entertainment will release the 3D version of Transformers: Dark of the Moon on Blu-ray next month. The third installment in director Michael Bay's action series follows Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Disturbia) as he and the Autobots make a last stand ...
• Transformers Prime: Season One Blu-ray - December 10, 2011
Independent distributors Shout Factory have officially announced that they will release a on Blu-ray Transformers Prime: Season One. This Limited Edition 4-disc set will include all 26 action-packed episodes (including the 5-part miniseries Darkness Rising) and ...
• Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray (Updated w/Battle Zone App) - September 21, 2011
Paramount Home Entertainment will release Transformers: Dark of the Moon on Blu-ray this month. The third installment in director Michael Bay's action series follows Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) as he and the ...
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