The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 143 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Starring:Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Bernie Mac, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Michael O'Neill, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Amaury Nolasco, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Mark Ryan, Jess Harnell, Robert Foxworth
Directed by: Michael Bay
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Written by: Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 2, 2008
"More than meets the eye"
From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg comes a thrilling battle between the heroic Autobots® and the evil Decepticons®. When their epic struggle comes to Earth, all that stands between the Decepticons® and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Unaware that he is mankind’s last chance for survival, Sam and Bumblebee, his robot disguised as a car, are in a heart-pounding race against an enemy unlike anything anyone has seen before.
I was a teenager when Transformers were all the rage among young kids in the eighties. I honestly never once watched the cartoon but I can recall the theme pretty well. When this film was released last year I just didn’t have any interest in seeing it in the theater. I mean come on, a movie about Hasbro toys from the eighties? Well there was so much hype surrounding it after release and then its impending release on high definition HD DVD I figured I better get in on it. Well I am glad that I did. Let’s be honest this is not great cinema or award winning acting, but does it really need to be? This is an entertaining film that features cool special effects, great action, decent characters, and just the right amount of imagination to bring us all back to a time when we believed in things that were not possible. A prime example is during the battle on the freeway in chapter 19 when Optimus is battling the Decepticon and the little boy and his mother almost collide with them. The kid sees two giant toys rumbling in the middle of the freeway and his first reaction isn’t fear but is simply “Cool Mom!” Character development is good enough that we get a feel for the varying sets of individuals, which includes the alien robots (to a lesser degree), from each perspective. The main players, LaBeouf and Fox have good onscreen appeal and chemistry that works. The rest of the cast are divided up into groups who are working to deal with the alien robot threat. This is a big budget production that features solid casting and a director who is no stranger to action/adventure films. Like him or not Michael Bay knows how to make action flicks that deliver plenty of high octane. This film has some incredible action based sequences that are just so much fun to watch. The special effects are dazzling and include some of the best CGI that I have seen. For me this film is the kind that I like to revisit from time to time. It doesn‘t have a higher purpose or require strict attention to detail. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence, brief sexual humor and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Transformers comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 4.1 mbps.
Both the audio and video are relatively high bitrate encodings which translate positively to this presentation. When Transformers was released last year on HD DVD it was easily Paramount’s most ambitious home video release. Fans were somewhat baffled by Paramount’s decision to go with lossy Dolby Digital Plus audio rather than lossless Dolby TrueHD. The end result was quite impressive but many were still left wondering about the inherent potential in lossless’ high fidelity. The other issue was that many felt the low frequency effects channel in the mix was not reproducing bass that was consistent with the dynamic characteristics in the remainder of the soundtrack. I was and still am a member of that group. My feeling was never that the bass sounded thin but it didn’t have the weighty impact and dynamic presence to keep pace with the soundtrack’s explosive elements. When Paramount announced that Transformers was being released on Blu-ray with a TrueHD sound mix I looked forward to checking it out.
The mix is an aggressive one that utilizes the system to its full potential. Dynamic range is extensive as there are transient peaks that could be potentially threatening to some systems at reference levels. The audio bombards the senses with a plethora of hard hitting and detail rich sound effects. Surround activity is abundant with purposeful near field and broad atmospheric placement that creates a sound field that is immersive and engaging. Balance between the front and rear soundstages is spot on so that sounds that pass between the speakers going in either direction is done so in a seamless fashion. Steve Jablonsky’s music sounded elegant with succulent detail and comprehensive instrumentation. Low frequencies are rendered cleanly with authoritative depth, and room filling resonance that increased in intensity where appropriate. Here are a few of my favorite scenes for checking out the dynamic potential on this soundtrack: Chap 2 - The opening fade in, The EMP blast at the base. Chap 8 - The Skorponok Decepticon attack in the desert/village. Chap 9 - The attack by the Decepticon police vehicle. Chap 10 - The chase by the Decepticon police vehicle and battle with Bumble Bee. Chap - 19 The highway battle. Chap 21 - Take your pick.Dialogue was well articulated throughout and exhibited excellent tonal distinction. I would have preferred for its output to have been just a hair higher which would make dialogue a bit more prominent. This is an aurally stimulating sound design that is truly capable of creating a thrilling home theater experience.
The video presentation was on par with the audio and looked superb. Images exhibited high level detail, razor sharpness and resolute definition that brought out the lifelike textures captured by the camera. Dimensional perspective had an infinite appeal that was visually arresting at times. I never saw any softening or ill effects from mixing CGI content with real people or objects. Colors were deeply saturated with wide variable textures and eye catching quality that was accentuated by the video’s higher contrast. Whites were on the hot side but maintained good delineation so that details were visible during brightly lit scenes. Flesh tones were mildly affected by this, especially those with lighter complexions, but overall the balance was acceptable. There were a few exceptions where faces had a golden glow to them which was obvious but didn’t seem out of place. Blacks were rich, deep and dynamic which enhanced sequences containing mixed content that had both light and dark elements. Shadow detail was very good but not among the best that I have seen. Grain was visible in fine layers and looked excellent overall.
This is a reference quality audio/video presentation that can be used to demonstrate the potential of your home theater system.
I ran a few comparisons between the Blu-ray Disc and the HD DVD. Upon comparing the quality of the video I saw no discernible difference between the two. I compared the lossy Dolby Digital Plus and Lossless Dolby TrueHD sound tracks. After level matching I ran all of the aforementioned sequences. I powered up both players and cued up the beginning of each sequence. I watched them one at a time switching back and forth. There have been reports (two from writers whose opinions I respect) of a 6 to 10 decibel increase in volume on the TrueHD mix. I did not experience that in my evaluation/comparison. What I did notice was an improvement in low frequency reproduction. It seems as though the minor attenuation (for lack of a better word) of the bass present on the HD DVD is no longer present. The bass has better tactility and improved depth which can be felt not just in the room but within the body as well. The improvement here seems to be related to the deeper bass frequencies and is most appreciable in the scenes in the film that contain lower bass content. That is not strictly the case though. An example would be in chapter 18 where the cryogenic freezing apparatus where Megatron is being held has begun to fail. There is an alarm that begins to sound and the scene switches the control room. There is a low bass tone that accompanies that transition before the scene switches again. It was detectable on the HD DVD but on the Blu-ray Disc it could be felt as wave of punchy low bass energy. The beginning of chapter 2 (mentioned earlier) definitely had a more distinct and powerful low bass presence than on the HD DVD. I ran these scenes along with the others mentioned earlier in this review 3 times each and double checked to ensure that output levels were the same. I also ran these same scenes using the PS3 rather than bit streaming the audio from my Panasonic and Samsung players and the results were the same. I am satisfied that the Blu-ray version of Transformers does in fact offer an improvement in this area over the HD DVD. I want to be clear that the low frequency effects on the HD DVD are quite good and the difference here is not night and day but is certainly noticeable. As far as any appreciable differences in the overall sound quality I would say that if present they are minimal.
The bonus content is abundant and is all offered in high definition. The numerous featurette style documentaries and short segments offers viewers a 360 degree look at the production from concept to implementation to filming. You can go as deep or as shallow as you like. This is essentially the same content that was available on the HD DVD. I was unable to access the BD-Live features and kept getting an error when I tried. I tried several other BD-Live enabled discs that I had on hand and they worked just fine. I can only assume that the features have not yet been enabled or there is a sever issue. Either way I am sure that all will be well by release day. Enjoy !
- Commentary by Director Michael Bay
- Transformers H.U.D.
- BD-Live Access/Features
- Our World:
- The story sparks
- Human allies
- I fight giant robots
- Their War:
- Rise of the robots
- Autobots roll out
- Decepticons strike
- Inside the All Spark
- Transformer Tech Inspector
- More Than Meets The Eye
- From script to sand: The Skorponok desert attack
- 3 Trailers
Transformers is an action packed adventure that appeals to viewers at various levels. It contains memorable characters, great action/special effects, and thanks to high definition Blu-ray disc, superlative audio/video quality and a host of special features that fans can spend hours enjoying. This two disc set has found a home in my collection and has been added to my list of recommended Blu-ray Discs.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS1x 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Outlaw Audio Model 7700 seven channel amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package