Ralph Potts reviews the fourth installment in the popular Transformers film franchise which is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution.

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

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

93
Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 164 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish/French/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, TJ Miller, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, Voices: Peter Cullen, John Goodman, Ken Wantanabe,
Directed by: Michael Bay
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: December 5, 2017
"This is Not War, it’s Extinction"
My Take:

I reviewed Transformers: Age of Extinction’s 2014 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound mix (which wasn’t originally covered) are below.

Transformers: Age of Extinction begins after an epic battle left a great city torn, but with the world saved. 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. With the help from a new group of humans, Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet while an old nemesis waits in the wings. In an incredible adventure, they are swept up in a war of good and evil, ultimately leading to a climactic battle.

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 2007 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 three 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 that a fourth installment was on the horizon I didn’t hold out any hope despite the new cast. 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: Age of Extinction 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 164 minute runtime interminable.

I like Mark Wahlberg, T.J. Miller, Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci but there were times where I laughed out loud at their dialogue. Grammer and Tucci are actors capable of serious role playing and listening to them stumble through some of their 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 daughter (Nicola Peltz) which only served to add another layer to the ineptly written script. The attempt at humor was equally abysmal which is a shame because Tucci/Grammer are equally adept at being funny. The lines written for T.J. Miller’s “Lucas” were just plain terrible and again failed to capitalize on a guy that can add a viable element in the chuckle department.

The action was exactly what you’d expect but frankly nothing that we really haven’t seen from the first three films, save for a few nips and tucks that were decent. The door was left wide open for number five and judging from how well Transformers: Age of Extinction did at the box office I would say that fans are certainly ready for more. I don’t have any allusions that it will reinvent the series wheel but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t hopeful.

Replay Value:2.5 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): 92
(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): 92
(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: Age of Extinction 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: Age of Extinction garnered a solid report from me on its video quality in 1080p. Its presentation in Ultra HD, was rendered from mixed sources/2K DI and up-converted to 4K.

As is typical with the Transformers films, Age of Extinction 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 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 segments in Texas, followed by the capture of Ratchet in chapter 3, looked terrific. The extended sequence aboard Lockdown’s ship, during the rescue of Tessa/Optimus, is among the presentation’s highlights. Overall, 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 superb as even the finest nuance in the physical features, backgrounds/sets and computer-generated imagery seen onscreen is resolvable.

The difference between viewing Transformers: Age of Extinction on Blu-ray and Ultra HD isn't quite night and day but, there is no question that the addition of high dynamic range elevated the viewing experience. I am pleased with this presentation and am glad to see Paramount releasing catalog titles in support of the Ultra High Definition format.

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 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 Dolby Vision and HDR-10 presentations for Transformers: Age of Extinction, I found the HDR results to be extremely close. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were nearly negligible, with the slight edge going to Dolby Vision 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 rating separation as both looked excellent.

Transformers: Age of Extinction was the first home video release to contain a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. I recall the buzz over it as well as the complaints from enthusiasts that felt that there wasn’t enough sounds/effects mixed to the overhead/height channels. I wasn’t set up for Dolby Atmos when this title was released in November 2014 which is why my original review didn’t cover that aspect. Personally, I have never had a problem with the Dolby Atmos mix, finding that as a whole, it’s a terrific listening experience. Here are my impressions:

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 of discrete effects, ambience and music. This is a wonderfully crafted and active object based mix that creates a tangible level of immersion, regardless of which speakers the sounds emanate from, that enhances the thematic content of the material. The Atmos track utilizes the entire platform to create a realistic listening environment which at times is completely involving. As the film’s events escalate the track follows suit, as the blend of music, explosions, falling debris, weapon fire, venue replicating atmospherics, and smaller object sounds place you inside the action, with sounds rotating and revolving around the soundstage. After multiple viewings, I still myself entertained by this track’s balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. It makes the film a bit more tolerable, providing an engaging home theater experience.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Transformers: Age of Extinction Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: Transformers: Age of Extinction Blu-ray
    Disc 3: Bonus Features Blu-ray
  • (HD) Bay On Action—In-depth interview with Michael Bay about his vision and approach to the film’s mind-blowing action sequences – 10 minute featurette
  • (HD) Evolution Within Extinction (8 segments totaling 123 minutes):
    1. Generation 2—A look at where the fourth film picks up as we meet new faces—both man and machine—and a Transformers world after the Battle of Chicago.
    2. Drive Like Hell—Two entirely re-envisioned models of OPTIMUS PRIME and BUMBLEBEE appear in the film, along with an intimidating new nemesis, LOCKDOWN, as a Lamborghini Aventador plus other incredibly cool cars including a sophisticated Bugatti Veyron and a sleek Pagani Huayra. Check them out and see how actor Jack Reynor learned how to drive his Sonic rally car for the intense chase sequences.
    3. Small Town, Big Movie— When Transformers rolls into some small Texas towns, the normally quiet and picturesque countryside is suddenly alight with explosive action. Explore the different locations with members of the show's art department and hear from robotics students whose designs appear as part of Cade’s lab.
    4. Shadow Protocol Activated— Follow the production to Detroit with unprecedented access to GM's Lansing plant and Milford Proving Grounds test track; watch an impressive indoor car chase created in an auto parts factory; return to Chicago where location managers discovered a historical movie theater that served as the backdrop for Cade’s fateful first encounter with OPTIMUS PRIME; and finally travel to Washington state and the unlikely site of a never-used nuclear power plant.
    5. The Last Stand—A vacant lot in downtown Detroit is turned into a square block of Hong Kong. Watch as it literally takes shape from the ground up—then marvel as the crew blows it up piece by piece.
    6. The People’s Republic— China plays an extremely prominent role in the film both on-screen and behind-the-scenes; in fact, four Chinese actors were chosen from thousands of applicants on a reality TV show to appear in the movie. In addition, the production traveled to Hong Kong, the beautiful valley of Wulong Karst National Park in Chongqing and the Great Wall in Beijing to capture breathtaking footage.
    7. Rise of the DINOBOTS—Several new TRANSFORMERS characters make their live-action debut in this film. Get a brief history of the new recruits and then go inside Industrial Light & Magic to see how they were designed and conceptualized for the film.
    8. The Finishing Touch— Watch Michael Bay work like you’ve never seen him before. The director connects virtually with his Santa Monica headquarters, visits the editing bay and then checks in on the visual effects house in San Francisco—all from the comfort of his Miami home office. Also, get an in-depth look at the music contributions of Imagine Dragons as they collaborate with the film's composer Steve Jablonsky. Finally, get exclusive red carpet access to the film's world premiere in Hong Kong.
  • (HD) Just Another Giant Effin’ Movie—Discover the fun, frenetic and amazing way a movie like Transformers: Age of Extinction gets made – 10 minute featurette
  • (HD) A Spark of Design— Enjoy an exclusive look inside Hasbro's creation of TRANSFORMERS: Age of Extinction Stomp and Chomp Grimlock action figure from concept and development to sculpting and painting, and then ultimately to the assembly line – 15 minute featurette
  • (HD) T.J. Miller: Farm Hippie — Actor/comedian T.J. Miller never imagined he’d be part of a massively successful franchise like Transformers so he sets off to personally thank the people who made it possible. Come along as he visits Bay Films, gets some pointers from Kelsey Grammer, and even stops by Mark Wahlberg’s house in this funny piece – 19 minutes
  • (HD) KRE-O TRANSFORMERS: Take Us Through the Movies! – OPTIMUS PRIME will bring you up to speed on all of the TRANSFORMERS movies one by one in this hilarious, animated short where the TRANSFORMERS KREON figures act out the movies while building and rebuilding each scene…brick by brick.
  • (HD) The Angry Birds TRANSFORMERS: Origin Story - Bonus content tells the origin story of how the EggSpark has landed on Piggy Island causing the eggs on the island to turn into evil Egg-bots, wreaking havoc across the whole island. The EggSpark has also caused the Birds and Pigs to turn into Autobots and Deceptihogs, who must team up in order to stop the Egg-bots before it's too late!
  • (HD) 2 Theatrical trailers
  • Digital HD Copy
Final Thoughts:

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth installment in the popular film franchise. Unfortunately, it fails to capture the freshness and engaging thrills of the original film and feels flat, boringly formulaic and overlong. On a positive note it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Paramount Home Distribution that features sparkling Ultra HD video, reference quality high definition audio/video, including an entertaining Dolby Atmos surround mix, and a comprehensive supplemental package. As a film Transformers: Age of Extinction is tough to recommend, but as a home theater experience it’s truly top notch.

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
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