It will quickly become obvious that I’m not a big fan of Transformers. However, the film does have the distinction of getting me interested in HD DVD vs Blu-ray war that broke out in 2007. When Paramount released the high-definition version of Transformers exclusively on HD DVD back in 2007, it looked as though HD DVD might be gaining the upper hand. The move also angered Blu-ray enthusiasts that the HD DVD became one of the biggest selling high-definition movies of all time. Alas, by the Spring of 2008, Transformers was out on Blu-ray, and HD DVD was effectively dead.
Ten years after its theatrical release, director Michael Bay’s Transformers still looks good, sounds good, and has even managed to spawn four sequels despite a rather flimsy plot. Never one for subtlety, Bay seems to live by a simple credo: the more bombastic the better. The film’s final 45 minutes lend credence to that notion, with what is basically an endless battle between the good Autobots and the evil Decepticons. There’s no question that the special effects are top notch throughout, but never once, did I care who won or lost.
If you grew up on the Transformers action figures, and television series there might be enough to hold you’re interest throughout the entire film. Otherwise, this rather long special effects bonanza (clocking in at a punishing 144 minutes), will likely test your patience. Here’s the story in a nutshell: The Transformers are robots (in disguise) from a distant planet that can morph into assorted vehicles. Optimus Prime leads the Autobots, and is opposed by Megatron’s Decepticons. We are told their conflict has destroyed the Transformers’ native world. Now, the battle has shifted to Earth.
Although the emphasis is on robots, Bay and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, did find the time to create some fairly bland human heroes for the robots to deal with. Shia LaBeouf plays the geeky Sam Witwicky, who stumbles upon the Autobot Bumblebee when his father, Ron (Kevin Dunn), purchases a beat-up Camaro in a used-car lot. Sam initially uses the car to impress airheaded Mikaela (Megan Fox), but eventually drags her into the conflict once Bumblebee and the rest of the Autobots reveal their ultimate goal.
Much like Bay’s 2001 film Pearl Harbor, Transformers feels like it takes forever to get rolling. Every detail, no matter how small, gets covered. After the robots touch down near a Middle Eastern military base, Bay trudges through a series of rights-of-passage scenes that halt any sense of momentum the film might have had.
With any big special effects film, the audience is supposed to allow for a certain level of improbability. I not only expect it, I regularly enjoy it. However, there is a line where artistic improbability becomes stupidity and Michael Bay crossed it with Transformers. Optimus Prime tells Sam the Transformers learn to speak by absorbing the Internet, yet a villain frozen for decades speaks perfect English when thawed. After the cube is discovered, Air Force officials — led by Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson — decide to hide the device in the middle of a populated city! Come on now, I couldn’t buy that even for the sake of the story.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, this 4K presentation looks great from start to finish. The HDR has been utilized perfectly to bring an extremely high level of detail to the image, making noticeably sharper than the previous Blu-ray release. Spacing is very good, with a nice sense of separation between background, and foreground which is particularly noticeable during action sequences. Black levels are very impressive, with no crushing in evidence. Colors are vivid, and we’ll saturated throughout. Skin tones appear natural, and there are no artifacts. This is a top notch 4K presentation.
The disc comes with an array of audio formats: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English Audio Description.
The Dolby Digital Atmos track is great. Right from the start, things roar to life. As with prior releases, it’s a bit bass heavy, but nothing about this film is subtle! Everything is well balanced, and clear, with a nice sense of height for helicopter flyovers and the like. LFE gets a workout here, given the stomping of the Transformers, and various explosions. The surround presentation is wildly accurate, putting viewers right in the center of the action. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise throughout.
English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
The Transformers set comes with one 4K disc, two standard Blu-ray discs, and an Ultraviolet Digital Copy. Aside from a Michael Bay Audio Commentary, all extras are on the second Blu-ray disc.
4K Ultra-HD Disc
- Audio Commentary By Director Michael Bay
Blu-ray Disc 1
- Audio Commentary By Director Michael Bay
- Transformers HUD (Heads Up Display)
Blu-ray Disc 2
Our World (HD, 49:17)
- The Story Sparks
- Human Allies
- I Fight Giant Robots
Their World (HD, 1:05:13)
- Rise of the Robots
- Autobots Roll Out
- Decepticons Strike
- Inside the AllSpark
- Transformers Tech Inspector
More Than Meets The Eye
- From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack (HD, 8:55)
- Concepts (HD, 2:12)
- Trailers (HD, 6:34)
Movie title: Transformers (2007)
Director(s): Michael Bay
Actor(s): Shia LaBeouf , Megan Fox , Josh Duhamel , Tyrese Gibson , Rachael Taylor , Anthony Anderson
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi