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DVD Review: ‘Transformers’ 2-Disc Special Edition (Blu-ray)
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2-Disc Special Edition (Blu-ray)
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson
Paramount Home Video
Release date: September 2, 2008

During the middle of the Transformers, a fat kid with a digital camera comes running out of his house to take pictures of craters that fell from the night sky. He screams “this is 100 percent better than Armageddon!” Director Michael Bay makes it clear to us that he’s having a blast making this movie. The kid wasn’t lying. It is more fun than Bay’s Armageddon, and his Pearl Harbor. He found the right place to work his magic and we don’t feel overwhelmed by the special effects. This movie needs them unlike his previous films did. Having Steven Spielberg as executive producer could have only helped Bay.

I was never into the whole Transformers craze that was full throttle through the ’80s and ’90s. Morphing cars, airplanes, anything, it never struck interest in me. Never watching it could be a good thing because I didn’t expect it to be much (unlike TMNT). Watching it could have been a good thing as well because I could have a better idea of what was going on with the meaning and importance of the cube. Transformers proves to be a great action film and a great teenage love story at the same time. Fan of the franchise or not, the movie does it good justice.

The arena for this epic but still simple battle between good and evil, is our planet Earth. It’s between the Autobots (good guys) led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons (bad guys) led by Megatron. They came to Earth from their planet Cybertron because the Allspark can make everything good again. The Allspark is hidden somewhere on our planet. If the Decepticons retrieve it, they will have complete power over the entire human race.

Shia LaBeouf gives a strong performance here. He’s Sam Witwicky, the kid in the 11th grade who gets picked on and made fun of because he didn‘t make the football team and he doesn‘t have an attractive car. His dad takes him out to buy one: a dirty yellow Camaro. It turns out that this car is a Transformer, Bumblebee, a good guy. This car also helps him get the girl he desires, the beautiful Mikaela (Megan Fox). She doesn’t even know that he’s in five of her classes. The car does whatever it can to help Sam get with the girl. This car also makes us feel sorry for him and we get shown that it also possesses feelings. When Mikaela makes fun of its paint job, Bumblebee transforms into a new beautiful and shiny Camaro. I got the feeling that there was real chemistry between Sam and Mikaela. I really loved the scenes between these two.

There is one thing going for Sam: He’s the great great grandson of the great explorer Morgan Whitwicky, who found the first Transformer buried beneath ice. Sam is in desperate need of money so he’s auctioning off all of the explorer’s legendary equipment, all in order to buy a car. He soon finds out that the explorer’s eyeglasses are worth more than what he wants to get for them.

America’s troops are stationed in Qatar and it’s here where we first witness a Decepticon. It rips through the entire camp and leaves only a handful of Army survivors. When Secretary of Defense (Jon Voight) finds out about this, he brings in a bunch of voice analysts to try and figure out what was making this weird noise that they recorded at the camp site. Voight is running the entire country while the President is shown once and that is asking for a dingdong to eat.

The government has been hiding the fact that it had a Decepticon named Megatron locked up, along with the Allspark. Both buried beneath layers of concrete. They didn’t think it was any kind of threat. Huh. What else is the government hiding from us? Voight didn’t even know about this. It’s so top-secret that it had a group named Sector Seven, run by the energetic John Turturro, as the only people in the world knowing about it. Now a pair of Army men (Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel) along with computer nerds, Sam and Mikaela, and the Sec. of Defense know where this is stationed. It’s their job to keep the Allspark from the Decepticons. An epic battle sequence that lasts roughly around a half-hour puts the icing on the cake.

One of the best scenes in the movie would have to be when all the Autobots are hiding in Sam’s backyard. It was something out of a screwball comedy. Hilarious how huge robots out to save the world have to avoid being seen by Sam’s parents.

I got irritated on a couple of instances during this movie. Those little evil Transformers went around government facilities and airports like it was nothing, nobody ever saw them. Where is everybody?! Always the guy who knows most about hacking computers is living at home with his mother or grandmother. One time I hope we get a man who lives in a top-secret facility, rather than the projects. Most of all is the fact that recent movies continue to use the same plot that contains bad guys hacking into our computers and stealing valuable information. We’ve seen it in Breach, Fantastic Four,, and Live Free or Die Hard. That was only last year. Enough is enough.

DVD Bonus Features

Having already viewed the HD version of Transformers, the much awaited Blu-Ray version was expected to exceed its predecessor. With all of the features pretty much being mirror images of each other, the Blu-Ray really exceeds at capturing the picture in stunning clarity. With the HD version images were rough, dark and, especially during the action heavy scenes, choppy. That’s usually the case with Michael Bay. His films tend to showcase a little too much action, resulting in some scenes that are just overwrought with sequences that are just too loud. Paramount overdoes itself here with a crisp transfer that catapults this Blu-Ray into elite status as far as picture quality goes and audio quality. Some scenes here are mostly shot during the night and the black hues that accompany those shots are exquisite and very evenly matched throughout each scene. Some Blu-Rays don’t capture the essence of its surroundings; Transformers breaks that mold as it pays strict attention to each gigantic Transformer down to the smallest detail. Blades of grass are fully examined giving it the same pristine treatment as that of one of the transformers. I love when transfers gather all of their elemental surroundings and doesn’t let anything go unnoticed.

Audio Commentary
Two and a half hours with Michael Bay! Help me! Well, that was my first thought. As I pressed the button to ignite this commentary, I found it refreshing and not so overwhelming. He cracks some jokes about the stars of the film and discusses his chats with producer Steven Spielberg.

Documentary: Our World HD
Broken up into four different segments, the first dealing with “The Story Sparks.” A nice feature that captures the essence of the Transformers community. Interviewing fans, attending special conventions, and receiving e-mails on how to create and not create a certain transformer figure. Included also are some vintage commercials of the toys and how the states came up with a story that Japan (the toys native land) didn’t have.
“Human Allies” introduces us to the thoughts that the actors had when they were first cast into their given roles. Most notably here is Bernie Mac, who has recently passed away. “I Fight Giant Robots” focuses on the military aspect of the film. Bay was very pushy to receive cooperation with the Army to make sure that scenes containing military personnel were very accurate. “Battleground”
wraps up any questions you had on how Bay captured such epic battle sequences with such enormous robots.

Documentary: Their War HD
Another set of short documentaries starting with “Rise of the Robots.” To me this was the most fascinating and funny piece of footage on this disc. It details the journey of what robots would be able to make an appearance in the film and how the creative team would create their look on the big screen. But all the while that creative team was receiving e-mails, letters and phone calls from die hard Transformers’ fans to not mess anything up!
“Autobots Roll Out” along with “Decepticons Strike” are two interesting documentaries that elaborate on the effects used to create each of the transformers. “Inside the Allspark” is a nice little piece of information that literally ties in all the other special features into this hefty one. Very convenient and gets the job done.

From Script to Sand HD
The evaluation and dissection on how the desert attack scene was done.

Still Gallery HD
High definition concept are of the robots are on display.

Theatrical Trailers HD

Picture in Picture: Transformers H.U.D.
Unlike Beowulf or Cloverfield, this Blu-Ray disc offers a minimized screen while the film plays out. Instead of being shown how certain scenes were caught on film, like those previous two Blu-Rays did, Transformers offers directors, producers, actors, and pop-up facts to entertain us. Nothing to praise here.

BD LIVE Intelligence Center
This is the feature I adored. BD LIVE is a feature that requires your Blu-Ray player to have a connection with an internet source. Once that is taken care of, Transformers scores big points. With this feature, featuring Autobots and Decpticons on the left side of the screen while the movie is playing, each robot from their respective group is highlighted when they come on screen. This is provided for us to keep track of all the robots throughout the film. And when they do battle, the minimized screen shows the robots weak points and how much damage is done to their armor.

BD LIVE Intelligence Center
Same name as the previous feature but offers such a neat perspective. Here, we are able to get a full 360-degree view of each robot and study their structure and every detail. This feature was left off the standard DVD edition because it looked too dry in standard definition.

DVD Rating: ***

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