Transformers: The Last Knight Ultra HD Review

Ralph Potts reviews the fifth installment in the Transformers franchise, where the hunted will become heroes. Heroes will become villains. Only one world will survive: theirs, or ours.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

95

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 154 minutes
Genre: Action/Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1, 2.00:1, 1.90:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Tony Hale Voices: Peter Cullen, John Goodman, Ken Wantanabe, Jim Carter, Steve Buscemi
Directed by: Michael Bay
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Written by: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 26, 2017

“For One World to Live, the Other Must Die”

My Take:

Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Now, it’s up to the unlikely alliance of inventor Cade Yeager, Bumblebee, an English lord and an Oxford professor to save the world.
Whether you like Michael Bay or don’t like him there is no denying that he knows how to make an action film. I tend to like his work, probably because I am an action junkie that loves to see and hear stuff blow up, and few do it better than him. I was a teenager when the Transformers toys/animated TV series was 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 the first Transformers film hit theaters in 2008 I had little interest in taking the plunge and decided to wait and see what it offered on home video. As it turned out Transformers was a big hit which spawned two sequels. Each of the films revolves around a continuing/age old battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons from the distant planet of Cybertron. After their war decimated Cybertron their epic struggle came to Earth, where the Autobots joined forces with humans to combat the global threat.

Of the first four films the original remains my favorite as neither of the sequels added anything of significant value to the overall thematic rendering. Needless to say, when I heard about installment number five I didn’t hold out any hope that it would somehow breathe new life into the franchise. As alluded to earlier I am an action film junkie and can be pretty forgiving of minimalist storytelling especially when there’s plenty of high octane production value. Transformers: The Last Knight is largely contrived both in concept and execution, although as you would expect from Michael Bay, a few of the effects laden set pieces and stunt work are pretty cool. In most respects though the film offers a shoestring plot, hollow characters and predominantly repetitive action sequences that make its bloated 154 minute runtime interminable.

I generally like Mark Wahlberg, but there were times where I laughed out loud at his whiny, nasally, delivery. Anthony Hopkins is a quality actor, and listening to him stumble through some of his lines was at times a little painful. Words like campy, and mawkish, came to mind as I watched Wahlberg’s character interact with his teenaged companion, and Bumble Bee which only served to add another layer to the ineptly written script. The attempt at romance was equally abysmal. I won’t even go into Stanley Tucci’s ridiculous portrayal of Merlin in the film’s opening.

The action was exactly what you’d expect, but frankly nothing that we really haven’t seen from the earlier films, save for a few nips and tucks that were decent. The door was left wide open for number six. I don’t have any illusions that it will reinvent the series wheel. Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind if they turned things around as I would like to see something new from this franchise.

Replay Value: 2 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo.

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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Transformers: The Last Knight comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 5.6 Mbps.

Transformers: The Last Knight garnered a solid report from me on its video quality in 1080p. Its presentation in Ultra HD, was rendered from a digital source/2K DI and up-converted to 4K.

As is typical with the Transformers films, The Last Knight is a colorful film, and this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a discernible increase in detail and emboldened chromatic highlights the image appears noticeably sharper and vibrant when compared to the 1080p version. Primary colors such red, blue and green are pleasingly rich while whites appear gradational and snappy. Secondary colors benefit from the wider color gamut as well. The added dimension in the grays, blacks and shadows is immediately noticeable.

I find the natural rendering of light via its discernible stages and incremental highlights to be one of the big pluses I’ve noticed with HDR. The opening segment featuring the ancient backstory/battle, looked terrific top to bottom. The image had excellent dimension that enhanced the action while colors literally popped off of the screen. The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the superb rendering of detail. At times the level of minutia is amazing as even the finest nuance in the physical features, backgrounds/sets and computer-generated imagery seen onscreen is resolvable.

The difference between viewing Transformers: The Last Night in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t quite night and day but there is no question regarding which rendering stands out. I am pleased with this presentation and continue to be excited by the format’s potential.

The integrated IMAX segments shifting back and forth between 1.90:1 and 2.00:1 and 2.39:1 aspects look great. In examining segments of each I didn’t notice any issues with fidelity and saw no perceivable difference in resolution. The aspect ratio shifts are done perpetually throughout the film, even during segments where it isn’t thematically beneficial. At times I found it to be a bit of a distraction but not to an egregious level.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above and at ear level is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. This creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events, enhancing the thematic content of the material. The Atmos track consistently utilizes the entire platform to create a realistic listening environment which at times is completely immersive. As the film’s events escalate the track follows suit, as the blend of music, explosions, falling debris, underwater submersion, and smaller object sounds rain down from above, placing you inside the action, with sounds rotating and revolving around the soundstage. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. It made the film a bit more tolerable as it provided an entertaining home theater experience.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I recently added the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel to my review system. This was to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Transformers: The Last Knight, I found the HDR to be extremely close. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were nearly negligible, with the slight edge going to DV for providing a hint more richness to primary colors, and the dynamic highlights found in the film’s plethora of action sequences. The differences don’t warrant a deduction, resulting in the same rating for each. I found nothing to complain about with either as they look great.

Blu-ray Video:

Audio: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 

Video: 98
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 

Transformers: The Last Knight comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 5.6 Mbps.

This is a high-quality video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute with appreciable sharpness, crisp detail and discerning subtle refinement. Certain scenes appeared better resolved than others although this appears related to the photography and not the encoding. Contrast is dynamically applied without being overpowering and blacks are respectably deep with discernible detail in low lighting and shadows. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent. It should be noted that the 2D Blu-ray presentation includes the expanded IMAX rendering.

I had high expectations for this soundtrack and this audio presentation didn’t leave me wanting. I was treated to an impeccably detailed, powerfully dynamic, and demonstrative surround sound experience. Multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that their purpose is definable yet never overstated. The mix makes effective and aggressive use of the surround channels to extend the soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this demanding soundtrack. The front and rear sound fields are integrated with precision which enables a tight correlative blend during panning sequences. Dynamics are potent and impact felt with discerning articulation and resolute clarity. This is an engaging surround mix that utilizes the subwoofer to accentuate its already extended dynamic range. The quality of the bass is first rate as it is fills the room with clean, hard hitting, and deep resonating low frequency detail. Dialogue has excellent presence with clear, defining vocal character and noteworthy room penetration. Transformers: The Last Knight makes for an entertaining home theater experience on Blu-ray.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Transformers: The Last Knight Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: Transformers: The Last Knight Blu-ray
    Disc 3: Bonus Features Blu-ray
  • Merging Mythologies – Explore the secret TRANSFORMERS history
  • Climbing the Ranks – Military training
  • The Royal Treatment: Transformers in the UK
  • Motors and Magic
  • Alien Landscape: Cybertron
  • One More Giant Effin’ Movie

Final Thoughts:

Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth installment in the popular film franchise. Unfortunately, it fails to capture the freshness and engaging thrills of the original film, and feels boringly formulaic and overlong. On a positive note it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Combo Pack from Paramount Home Entertainment that features sparkling Ultra HD video, reference quality high definition audio/video, including an entertaining Dolby Atmos immersive surround mix, and a middling supplemental package. As a film Transformers: The Last Knight is tough to recommend, but as a home theater experience it’s got plenty to offer.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems