DVD Review HTF DVD Review: Transformers (2-disc) (Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by JustinCleveland, Oct 5, 2007.

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  1. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

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    [​IMG]
    Transformers: 2-Disc Special Edition
    Directed by Michael Bay

    Studio: Dreamworks
    Year: 2007
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    Running Time: 144 mins
    Rating: PG-13
    Audio: Dolby Dolby Digital English 5.1, French, Spanish
    Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    MSRP: $36.99

    Release Date: October 16, 2007
    Review Date: October 5, 2007

    The goal was simple: Make robots cool enough to sell a myriad of small, plastic toys. The year was 1984, the company was Hasbro, and the trend that took the world by storm was called “Transformers.” The stories were impressively complex for a thirty minute toy ad, drawing out emotions that culminated with a feature-length motion picture in 1986. Fast forward 21 years and the generation that grew up on “Transformers,” who spent countless dollars on the toys and related merchandise, are now being presented with a new iteration of their revered franchise, bringing the fight between Autobots and Decepticons into the new millennium.

    Director Michael Bay leads a large cast, including future star Shia LaBeouf as the human protagonist Sam Witwicky who stumbles into the conflict between the warring refugees from Cybertron. He is accompanied by the gorgeous-yet-tough Mikaela (Megan Fox), a girl with a complex past who grows quite fond of Sam. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson lead a band of military refugees who survived an unexpected attack, while Jon Voight, Rachael Taylor, and Anthony Anderson round out a crew of Pentagon-sponsored hackers who are trying to stem an electronic attack on the nation’s infrastructure. The acting is by-and-large fantastic, though it occasionally strays into extremes—particularly John Turturro who plays a secret government agent.

    But who cares about the humans: this is a movie about giant killer robots, right? Well, they look fantastic. Believable and beautiful, you will buy into the possibility that a robot battle is taken out into the city streets. My primary problem with the film was how indistinct the different robots seemed. With the exceptions of Optimus Prime (voiced brilliantly by Peter Cullen) and Bumblebee, it was hard to tell the difference between the battling robots. Coupled with some horrible, Paul Greengrass-level shakycam, the battles are difficult to distinguish. What I could make out, however, looked amazing.

    This movie is big, brassy, loud, and fun. About the only problems I can find is in how much the film tries to tackle, pushing several storylines, including Sam, the military, Sector 7, the Autobots, and the hackers. While this does allow for a wide variety of locations, it dilutes the audience’s connection to any particular character. Similarly, there are more than a few moments when the tone shifts to stupid humor, like the Autobots hiding in a courtyard, the cringe-inducing Sector 7, and the downright goofy Frenzy. These events take away from the awesome tone Bay constructed.

    The other major distraction stems from the most overt, blatant product placement since “The Blues Brothers.” It’s obvious who paid to have their product in the movie, because an Xbox, Nokia, Chevy, and Mountain Dew soda machine all turn into killer robots. Bay, who has a history of shooting car commercials, makes several parts of this movie look like car ads. I understand that the source material itself is an advertisement, but I feel like these could have been better integrated.

    Ultimately, however, the film is perfect summer fair. As long as you’re looking for big explosions and robot-on-robot violence, you won’t be disappointed by “Transformers.”

    Video:
    Perfect. Stunning. Pick your adjective. Colors are gorgeous and vibrant, details are fine, blacks are deep. Even fog, dust, and smoke looks good, a normal limitation of DVD. Shot and presented in 2.35:1, I cannot imagine this set looking any better. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to pick up the HD-DVD; but the DVD is satisfying.

    Audio:
    Much like the video, expectations were high. The soundscape is amazing, the score is beautiful, and half of the battle is drawn aurally. Thankfully the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track completely lives up to expectations. Dialogue comes through crystal clear, the bass rumbles and growls.

    Extras:
    Unsurprisingly the extra features are plentiful on the 2-disc DVD set, commencing with a feature-length commentary from director Michael Bay. Bay is chatty and filled with information, though he does justify a lot of his choices, explaining how fans reacted and why he disregarded their opinions.

    Themed as a series of featurettes dealing with various aspects of the story, the second disc goes through everything you would like to know about the construction of the movie. From the initial story to envisioning the look of the true stars to the directing style of Michael Bay, no stone is left unturned. The documentaries do duplicate a lot of the information Bay discusses in the commentary. Broken down by themes, Our World takes on the making of the movie. Their War goes through the history of the Transformers brand, its fans, and how they translated a cheesy cartoon show into a series of badass robots. Each individual character is broken down from concept to completion. Integrated are deleted and extended scenes, though I would have liked to have them separated.

    From “Script to Sand” goes through the mapping of the first scene in the film, from scrip to storyboard and animatics to the final product.

    After seeing some of the concept art, I want the book that features it all. Gorgeous paintings abound in this series, which plays like a slideshow, scored to the film’s theme.

    Overall:
    Although Bay says this movie tested well with children, this is most certainly not a kids movie. Violent and beautiful, “Transformers” earned its PG-13 rating. If you can get past the lackluster story, there are some solid performances here both human and… otherwise, and a lot of robot-fighting fun. “Transformers” is certainly a flawed film, but overcomes its limitations to present an entertaining romp. The 2-disc DVD is flush with extras, documentaries running over two and a half hours, and featuring a fantastic audio/video presentation, I can easily recommend this set for any home.
     
  2. Nkosi

    Nkosi Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review!
     
  3. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Is this the original theatrical version, or will it include the additional scenes shown in the IMAX version?

    -paul
     
  4. gushin

    gushin Stunt Coordinator

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    So theatrical only...never on any media except IMAX
     
  5. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Thanks for that info! I'm interested in seeing this once (still waiting for a Michael Bay film that I want to re-watch), so it's good to know without having to pre-screen it that it probably isn't appropriate for my pre-schooler (who sleeps with a stuffed "Softimus Prime" [​IMG] ).
     
  6. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

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    When I saw the film theatrically, a set of Grandparents came in with a 4-year old girl and her 6-year old brother. They seemed shocked that it was so violent, huffing out of the theater with the little girl's eyes covered. The rating system is supposed to warn them, but sometimes it's not enough.
     
  7. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    The rating system did warn them--it was their inadequate parenting skills that, in this case, were not enough. Every ad for this movie listed it as being rated PG-13, and it says right on the film's poster that parents are "strongly cautioned" that the film contains "intense sequences of sci-fi action violence."

    What more can you expect from the rating system?
     
  8. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

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    True, but the ratings system is an inexact science. I want to make sure parents are aware that this is a violent action movie. It's a Michael Bay movie.
     
  9. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    This film is the umpteenth in the series of films I wanted to go see in the theater this summer but didn't.

    So, I am very much looking forward to seeing numerous CGI shots and explosions in the comfort of my living room.

    I know nothing about The Transformers as a toy...or way of life...except they are robots who can "transform" into different shapes. Roger Ebert's review makes me feel, though, that I can enjoy the film (for what it's worth) without having that knowledge! [​IMG]

    Thanks, Justin, for your review.


    That's what I'm looking forward to! [​IMG]
     
  10. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    Glad to see the review is up, this was already a buy for the family. The wife loved it also and she's not really a action person. My son, well let's just say daddy will be the hero next week.
     
  11. scarabus

    scarabus Extra

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    AMEN!

    I have seen MANY situations of people (not with children) leaving a theater huffy and surprised at what they saw...despite the CLEAR R RATING! Usually complaining of language or violence or nudity...WTF?

    These are the same people (in my experiences) who constantly complain in favor of these syetems!

    One instance was at Knocked-Up...obviously one particular shot involving birth and the necessary female part, had one particular lady in a huff...personally, the shot may or may not have been necessary, but it was hardly vulgar, and only 'shocking' because audiences are acustomed to the inferred idea that actors and actresses have no genitalia.

    It isn't a perfect system, but it works better than many think...so long as it's actually used!
     
  12. Patrick.C

    Patrick.C Second Unit

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    As a promo for the dvd, there is a site set up that will allow Optimus Prime to call your friend/son/daughter/whatever and talk to them over the phone. I had some fun with my five year old. Here's the link:

    http://optimus.transformersmovie.com/
     
  13. RichardK

    RichardK Second Unit

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    just went to the site! that is great!
     
  14. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I used to work in a movie theatre, and I remember seeing people bringing 4 and 5 year olds to movies like Bad Boys 2 (another Michael Bay film). I also used to get phone calls from stupid parents who would ask if a film was rated 18A (equivalent of R in Alberta), did that mean they had to accompany their teenage child into the theatre. Some people are idiots.
     
  15. Todd Schnell

    Todd Schnell Second Unit

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    My 10 year old son got a huge kick out of that. Thanks!
     
  16. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    My wife, who did NOT see Transformers in the theater, has volunteered to pick up my copy at Best Buy tomorrow (with the two figurines), and is planning for us to have a Transformer movie night tomorrow night! Our son had Transformers when he was in grade school....
     
  17. CarlosL

    CarlosL Stunt Coordinator

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    Can anyone confirm that the single-disc version will contain the same video and audio as the two-disc version? Thanks!
     
  18. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    I'm 99.999% it'll just be DVD One of this set. If I'm wrong, I'll eat a bug...
     
  19. CarlosL

    CarlosL Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Colin!
     
  20. Patrick.C

    Patrick.C Second Unit

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    There are three easy to find easter eggs on disc 2 of the SE. Navigate the cursor on each of the menus (our war, their world and more than meets the eye) to the left of Main Menu rather than the right. One is footage of the filming of Michael Bay's cameo which he ended up cutting from the movie, one is a fake commercial for the Transformers "Bay-Bot" and one is the "casting footage" of the dog in the movie.
     

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