On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee , battle-scarred and broken. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review of Bumblebee.


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

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

94

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 113 minutes
Genre: Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC: HDR-10/Dolby Vision
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider
Directed by: Travis Knight
Music by: Dario Marianelli
Written by: Christina Hodson
Region Code: A

Release Date: April 2, 2019
"Every Hero Has a Beginning"
Synopsis:

“On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.” – Paramount Home Media Distribution

My Take:

CYBERTRON has fallen. When OPTIMUS PRIME sends BUMBLEBEE to defend Earth, his journey to become a hero begins. Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenager trying to find her place in the world, discovers and repairs the battle-scarred robot, who’s disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. As the DECEPTICONS hunt down the surviving AUTOBOTS with the help of a secret agency led by Agent Burns (John Cena), BUMBLEBEE and Charlie team up to protect the world.

Suffice it to say, I would consider myself a Transformer film franchise fan, despite its overused, overplayed formula that we’ve seen time and again. When Bumblebee was announced I couldn’t help but feel as though it had the earmarks of a money grab, hoping to reel fans of the popular character in. Well, while that certainly may be true Bumblebee musters enough charm, story and action to qualify as more than something tossed at the wall to see what sticks.

No, it doesn’t break the franchise mold but, its focus on the relationship between troubled teen Charlie and a noticeably younger Bumblebee, both of whom discover what true friendship is, is at the center of what makes the film work. The remaining characters and events depicted within serve only as support in furtherance to that end. It’s important to look at Bumblebee with a fresh take on its subject as there are a few continuity problems with respect to its connection to some things depicted in the Transformer film franchise. None are detrimental. Hailee Steinfeld proves, yet again, that she can anchor a film.

I found Bumblebee to a bit campy at times but, truly enjoyed its sense of adventure, character building and nicely infused elements of action. I am not clear where it goes from here but, I am looking forward to what comes next.

Replay Value: 4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sequences of sci-fi action.

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: 
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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: 
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Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Level of immersion: 
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Bumblebee comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Bumblebee was derived from a 3.4K source and finished on a 2K Digital Intermediate. This is an excellent Ultra HD presentation that looks terrific on my large screen. What struck me from the onset is the lifelike reproduction of the textures captured by the camera's lens. Whether it be the finest minutia in physical features or the rough textures on the interior of a well-traveled VW Beetle, a home garage/workshop, or the vistas of the shooting locations, the imagery is gorgeous. The benefits of high dynamic range and wide color gamut are on display as earth toned colors have an added dimension that enlivens shots where they would have been seen as a less provocative background element. Color reproduction across the spectrum of those used in conjunction with the film’s thematic elements look great.

Whites are emboldened, detailed and bright, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. The rendering of natural light during the sun splashed daytime segments is among the presentation’s highlights. Contrast abounds, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, bringing it to a visually rewarding level. The nighttime battle at the radio tower looks fantastic with the explosions and flashes of arcing light set against the dark gradations in the sky and background.

Shot digitally, this rendering reproduces its elements with aplomb. Looking at the 1080p version, which is solid as well, the difference is noticeable, but not what I would describe as night and day. That being said, there is no question that the Ultra HD presentation makes for the more gratifying and engaging viewing experience.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system 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 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 Bumblebee, 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 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.

Dolby Atmos:

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 is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the first act, there are several instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field. This continues with the film’s action-based sequences as they convey the breadth/expanse of interiors and exterior venues, which bristle with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects.

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

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

 

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Bumblebee comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is a reference quality video presentation that shines on Blu-ray. Images have a rich, dynamic quality that highlights its near flawless rendering of detail. The video has excellent dimension, smooth rendering and defining clarity. The visual design features a limited color scheme that boasts deep shades of gray, blue, sepia, white and black. These colors are not vivid in tonality but their depiction is stark and fully appreciable onscreen. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages that only occasionally obscure the finest details. The various wide-angle shots, darkened interiors and brightly lit exterior sequences look terrific. Flesh tones are not overtly complex in tone but appear diverse in subtle structure and complexional makeup. This is a complimentary visual design that successfully combines live action and CGI. The end result is a rewarding and faithful video presentation.

I had high hopes for this soundtrack on Blu-ray and am happy to report that this 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD (Atmos core) presentation didn’t disappoint. This lossless soundtrack is dynamically supported which accents the active nature of the sound design. Dialog has excellent presence with clear, defining vocal character and noteworthy room penetration. The mix makes involving use of the surround channels as multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that they coincide with the events transpiring onscreen. The surround mix utilizes the subwoofer to accentuate the action-based sequences which feature a palpable and occasionally room shaking low end. Throughout the presentation the quality of the bass is excellent, as it fills the room with clean, resonating, low frequency detail. A solid all around home theater presentation.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Bumblebee Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Bumblebee Blu-ray
    • Sector 7 Archive
    o Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7
    o Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome (All-New Motion Comic)
    • Deleted and Extended Scenes
    • Outtakes
    • Bee Vision: The Transformers robots of Cybertron
    • Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen
    o The Story of Bumblebee
    o The Stars Align
    o Bumblebee Goes Back to G1
    o Back to the Beetle
    o California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

Bumblebee turned out to be a welcome surprise that made for an engaging and refreshing film that tweaked its thematic tone for the better. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media Distribution in the Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring sparking overall video quality, involving lossless sound, including a Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience, and a fan friendly supplemental package. Bumblebee is a must have for Transformer film fans and comes highly recommended on Blu-ray.
 
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” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray 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)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems