Way too long with numerous unnecessary scenes, Transformers is excess in the worst way. The Transformers themselves are a sight to see, but it’s difficult to make them out when locked in combat. The thousands of parts used to create them end up being a mass of metal. Still, it is funny at times and when the action is controlled it’s spectacular, but the entire thing feels like it could have been a lot more.
What was once a huge selling point for HD DVD has come to Blu-ray in a nearly identical package. The transfer is the same, and there is nothing to complain about.
Despite the overly hot contrast that’s purely a flaw with the source, this transfer is loaded with immense clarity. Details are astounding at times. During the desert assault, wait for the close up of Jon Voight’s face. Every ripple and wrinkle is visible, for better or worse for Voight. Color bursts off the screen, and the remarkable black levels never let up. This is a visual hi-def assault.
The HD DVD featured a Dolby Digital Plus mix, while the Blu-ray goes uncompressed with TrueHD. The differences include heavier, deeper bass on Blu-ray, and some minor additional clarity in terms of positional audio. Only purists will notice anything other than the bass increase, especially noticeable during the ripple effect during the opening military base attack.
Regardless, this track offers everything during its action. Bullets and missiles fly around the viewer, debris can be heard in all channels as things are destroyed, and yes, the bass is top tier stuff. In the midst of all of this is well-mixed dialogue that never sounds like it’s being overwhelmed.
Two discs line the inside of this Blu-ray release, following the same path as its HD DVD counterpart. Rather stupidly, certain extras still need to be downloaded via BD-Live. If Blu-ray has all of this extra space, and the disc had around a year to come out, why force users to download stuff like the annoying bordered tracking feature?
Anyway, over on disc one, there’s the Transformers Heads Up Display, a HD/Blu-ray exclusive. Billed as a picture-in-picture commentary, there’s far more than that going on here. Pop-up trivia, interviews, pre-vis, and loads of other content are included.
A final hi-def exclusive is the Transformers Tech Inspector. Here you can view the individual Transformers from a variety of angles, in stills or in a spinning motion replay. You’ll play with this for a while until realizing you won’t be returning.
The rest of this two-disc set includes all extras from the standard DVD. The menus on this release seem barren, but there’s a wealth of content. A commentary by Michael Bay needed a few other people alongside him. There’s surely a lot more to discuss.
Over on disc two, two fantastic documentaries cover all aspects of the Transformers. Our World discusses the origins of the series and the film. Interviews range from the special effects team, writers, Hasbro execs, and the actors. At 49 minutes, it almost doesn’t seem like enough.
Of course, that isn’t enough, as the 65-minute Their War goes even further. The fan base is interviewed about their passion, design choices for all robots featured (and some not) in the film are discussed at length, and even some of the backlash from the die-hard followers gets some screen time. These two features would have made a fine purchase on their own.
Script to Sand is the final feature, a brief nine-minute look at the Skorponok desert attack. It’s mostly comprised of storyboard and animatics. After the exhaustive work in the other features, this doesn’t even seem necessary.
Transformers surprisingly gained the support of the U.S. Department of Defense, which helped drop the budget down. It marked their largest contribution since Black Hawk Down, letting footage of certain aircraft into the film, a first for planes like A-10.