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Transformers (Two-Disc Special Edition)
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From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg comes a thrilling battle between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. When their epic struggle comes to Earth, all that stands between the Decepticons and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Unaware that he is mankind's last chance for survival, Sam and Bumblebee, his robot disguised as a car, are in a heart-pounding race against an enemy unlike anything anyone has seen before.
"I bought a car. Turned out to be an alien robot. Who knew?" deadpans Sam Witwicky, hero and human heart of Michael Bay's rollicking robot-smackdown fest, Transformers. Witwicky (the sweetly nerdy Shia LaBeouf, channeling a young John Cusack) is the perfect counterpoint to the nearly nonstop exhilarating action. The plot is simple: an alien civil war (the Autobots vs. the evil Decepticons) has spilled onto Earth, and young Sam is caught in the fray by his newly purchased souped-up Camaro. Which has a mind--and identity, as a noble-warrior robot named Bumblebee--of its own. The effects, especially the mind-blowing transformations of the robots into their earthly forms and back again, are stellar.
Fans of the earlier film and TV series will be thrilled at this cutting-edge incarnation, but this version should please all fans of high-adrenaline action. Director Bay gleefully salts the movie with homages to pop-culture touchstones like Raiders of the Lost Ark, King Kong, and the early technothriller WarGames. The actors, though clearly all supporting those kickass robots, are uniformly on-target, including the dashing Josh Duhamel as a U.S. Army sergeant fighting an enemy he never anticipated; Jon Voight, as a tough yet sympathetic Secretary of Defense in over his head; and John Turturro, whose special agent manages to be confidently unctuous, even stripped to his undies. But the film belongs to Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and the dastardly Megatron--and the wicked stunts they collide in all over the globe. Long live Transformers! --A.T. Hurley
On the DVD
The special edition of Transformers is packed with extras (and more than a few product placements for Hasbro). The entire second disc is devoted to featurettes on aspects of making the technical tour-de-force--and the land mines involved in tinkering with a beloved '80s franchise. Executive producer Steven Spielberg is very much a part of the proceedings, from his introductory comments ("I think everybody likes the idea of taking something you're familiar with and turning it into something you're not so familiar with--like an 18-wheeler become Optimus Prime") to mentions of his films that influenced this one, like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Director Michael Bay is brash and entertaining as he talks about his initial reluctance to take on the project, his indoctrination at "Transformers U" at Hasbro, and his enthusiasm for guerrilla-style action filmmaking. Star Shia LaBoeuf says, "He is the sickest action director" out there, and there's plenty of evidence here to support that. Other great highlights include features on how key scenes were shot, including the heart-pounding desert battle and the shootout in the streets of downtown L.A.--adrenaline-pumping stuff, even without the Transformers CGI'd in. --A.T. Hurley
More Than Meets the Eye
The Original Movie
Transformers Image Gallery (click for larger image)
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Top Customer Reviews
THE EXTRAS: Although Michael Bay movies are skin-deep when it comes to anything other than the visuals, they actually make for excellent home video releases because of those visuals, and a healthy amount of supplementary material. This particular Blu-ray edition has 2 discs. One has the main feature, which has optional audio commentary as well as a picture-in-picture option that provides additional behind-the-scenes information. The second disc has the rest of the material, subdivided into three sections and all in HD. The bulk of this is split into two multi-part documentaries that last a little under two hours total. "Our World" has interviews with the cast and crew and goes into pre-production, as well as stunts and a look at the many locations they shot at. This was actually the most impressive part for me, to see that they achieved quite a bit practically and in real locations, as opposed to sets. "Their War" goes into all things 'robot' and delves quite deeply into how the visual effects were conceived and achieved. However, as much as the visual effects were impressive and required tons of work, I wish a little more thought had been put into the characters. The last section, "More Than Meets the Eye," is composed of a short featurette on the Skorpnok desert sequence, around 2 minutes of concept art and some trailers. Despite the shallowness of the product from a writing and character perspective, they more than made up for it with the amount of detail provided on all of the technical aspects of filmmaking.
OVERALL: This first Transformers movie is still my favorite, and for a couple good reasons. First, the magic is still there and all of the actors do their best given the absurdity of the material they were given to work with. Secondly, Michael Bay hadn't yet gone over the deep end with his pervy humor, and generally kept his baser tendencies in check (partly due to the PG-13 rating). As far as a Blu-ray release is concerned, they provided enough extra material for something labelled a "Special Edition," even if most of it was largely concerned with technical matters. As a final thought, even though it was mostly addressed in jest, it was clear in some of the interviews that Michael Bay can be a difficult person to work with. He has his singular vision, and something will be added or changed if he thinks it looks "cool." As somebody who didn't really watch any of the cartoons consistently, nor play with the toys, I enjoy this movie well enough. It's not high art, but it does what it sets out to do rather effectively. And this 2-disc Special Edition Blu-ray is probably the definitive release for fans.
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