has an average rating of 6.2 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are still “more than meets the eye“
– 150 minutes
– DreamWorks (Paramount)
This uses 45.4GB total.
Overall Verdict – The DEFINITIVE Demo Disc!
— Review written by: James Segars —
The Movie Itself is directed by Michael Bay (Transformers, The Rock, Bad Boys and Bad Boys II).
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen picks up a couple years after the first film left off. Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela (Megan Fox) are enjoying the limited time they have together prior to Sam’s cross-country move to the East coast for college. He and his family are still under protection of Bumblebee, while the remaining Autobots fight alongside the military, sniffing out the remaining Decepticons on Earth. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the somewhat peaceful equilibrium is disrupted when Megatron is reanimated by a remaining shard of the Allspark. This sets into motion a series of events that will put the entire world in jeopardy as the ancient leader of the Deceptions, “The Fallen” plots his return to earth, and his ultimate revenge.
Irrespective of their achievements, artistic merit, or aesthetics every film is, at the very basic core, a labor of love for better or worse. Anyone who has ever made a film, or attempted to make a film will be quick to stand behind that statement. It is no easy task. One does not simply pick up a camera and shoot. The end result is never guaranteed, and the “vision” is easily corrupted, compromised by outside forces, creative input, acting shortcomings, or anything that might stand between the film and its eventual release.
For people to discount a film based on a single flaw or shortcoming is not only shortsighted, but downright wrong. To criticize a film for being what it was destined/designed to be, is asinine. To lambaste a creative effort, no matter how failed is inconsiderate. To make myself abundantly clear, through this somewhat tangential tirade, I am not saying that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen deserves more praise than it’s received, nor am I saying that it’s a monumental achievement in cinematic expression. I am, however, saying that Revenge of the Fallen is precisely what I was expecting, and then some.
It is an explosive, high-octane sequel that raises the already spectacular spectacle to new heights. I was enthralled, engrossed, entertained, and amused — what more could a summer blockbuster do to satisfy that annual craving? The answer is nothing.
In the grand scheme of things, Revenge of the Fallen was the perfect summertime action flick. It may be far from the best action sequels ever made (Terminator 2, Aliens) but that’s an entirely different argument. This film delivers the goods that fans and critics demanded of the first installment — more fights, more robots, less humans, more action. So why then are people hating on a film that does precisely what they asked it to do, a film that performs perfectly in line with its predecessor?
In short, I don’t know. It baffles my mind. I not only find it absurd that fans and critics are hating on such a orgasmic opulent presentation, but that they also somehow failed to see what the first film was all about in the first place. How else would you explain the critical backlash that this sequel has been wrought with, while the first film was generally well received?
In the end, I can only speak from personal experience but I’ve never expected anything from Transformers beyond what should be considered the properly framed expectations for a summer blockbuster. They are, and always will be comprised of expertly crafted action, glossily photographed, frenetically framed, and mind-blowingly detailed (CGI). If you go into the film expecting Apocalypse Now or some other contemplative, introspective fare, you’ve not only got the wrong idea, but you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
If you’re like me and you genuinely like the Transformers movies, you’ve no doubt been verbally assaulted by friends, family members, and/or critics who either mock your cinematic taste, or question your intelligence and knowledge of film, all because you happen to love of these movies. It sucks, I know, but rest assured that the last laugh is on them because anyone who claims there are absolutes regarding a film’s value are not only wrong, but their opinions are fundamentally flawed. This is because film is, and always has been, a perspective art, based upon rudimentary action and directed points of view. And because film itself is subjective, so too is the perceived value of the film. In other words, there is no “best film” and no “worst film” despite what some “critics” may say. Most importantly, anyone who thinks that being a “critic” means that you can’t enjoy popcorn flicks such as these, isn’t a true critic.
Instead, I would argue that critics should be able to look for and highlight the positive aspects of all films, rather than focusing almost exclusively on the negatives — wouldn’t that be something?
The truth is that the title “Critic” is thrown around so loosely today that it means virtually nothing, and this has had an adverse effect on the way the audiences view critical opinions in general. Now, I don’t claim to be a critic, but I do consider myself a filmmaker, and an avid film watcher. And while I’m far from an authority of film theory and history, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about the craft, and when I see something that is genuinely exciting, entertaining, and worthwhile I recommend it. It’s as simple as that. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is one such movie. It might not be for everyone, and it’s certainly not destined to be a timeless classic, but I enjoyed it thoroughly all the same, and I am most definitely looking forward to whatever comes next.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) presented in two different aspect ratios because of the camera sources: Panavision Panaflex cameras on traditional Super 35mm film and IMAX MKIII and MSM series cameras on 65mm film.
This Wal-Mart exclusive “Big Screen Edition” is without question, the must-own version of the film for collectors, fans and cinema purists alike. It is so because it retains as much as possible of the director’s original vision by maintaining the shifting aspect ratios between the 2.35:1 material and the full frame IMAX film cells. Now, it should be noted that the film does not show the entire IMAX frame, but mimics the presentation done unto The Dark Knight, wherein the IMAX material is cropped slightly to fit a 1.78:1 ratio — in other words, it will fill your entire HDTV/Projector screen where the 2.35:1 (the majority of the film footage) will be appropriately letterboxed.
Now, I realize I might be in the minority here, but I don’t happen to think The Dark Knight is a flawless video presentation, which is not to say that I think the IMAX scenes were sub par, quite the opposite. The IMAX scenes ARE flawless, but the rest of the film (the 2.35:1 material) appears to be sharpened, with halos and edginess littered throughout the presentation. I’m not going to point fingers, nor am I going to speculate how that happened, but I’m happy to report that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is not plagued by this anomaly. In other words, in comparing the video quality of both the BSE version and the standard retail version from Amazon.com both showcased the 2.35:1 material flawlessly, with zero signs of post-processing enhancements. This is something that I was absolutely thrilled to find because it means that no matter your preference, whether you want the shifting aspect ratios or not, you’re going to get a flawless image. Major thanks go out to the folks at Dreamworks/Paramount for their expert handling of this.
Now, getting back the the overall video quality. Having seen this film twice in IMAX theaters (the very same Air and Space Museum they filmed at, to be exact) I had my expectations set very high for this blu-ray release, and they were completely fulfilled by the presentation we’re given here. Fine object detail is outstanding, black levels are rock solid, film grain is retained, saturation and color are perfectly rendered in line with the theatrical presentation, and the previous film. Skin tones aren’t “accurate” but they are no less consistent with Bay’s coloration preferences. Certainly, the main event (this being the BSE version) is the IMAX material, and it boasts some of the best HD material I’ve ever bared witness to. Fine object detail is completely redefined by the amount clarity and definition that is afforded the CGI modeled robots through their 4k rendering. Take a look at some of the included screenshots, or skip to either of the IMAX scenes to soak it all in. It’s absolutely breathtaking. The fine detail in the IMAX shots is so good in fact that you can actually make out a newspaper-print easter egg. Skip down to Screenshot #7 to see the article headline “…erious Robot Spotted” which we can only assume reads “Mysterious Robot Spotted”. Surely a testament to the ultra-fine resolution and detail, no?
Sadly, the combined running time of the IMAX scenes are but a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the film’s epic running time, but they’re worth every penny, and I can foresee people running the IMAX scenes over, and over again. Either way, what we have is more than enough to whet our appetites until someone takes it upon themselves to shoot an entire action packed feature film in the IMAX format and release it on Blu-ray. Until then we’ll just have to placate our eyes and minds with films like Baraka, The Dark Knight and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which is hardly a terrible fate.
In the end, the sequel to one of the most phenomenal demo discs on the market proves to be a worthy successor, delivering all of the visual goods, and then some. Whether you opt for the “Big Screen Edition” or any of the other standard/gift set releases, you can rest easy knowing that you have in your possession one of the finest Blu-ray video presentations to date. As such, this disc deserves nothing less than a perfect “5-Star Rating” for overall video quality. It’s that good.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio.
It should come as no surprise to the fans — or owners of the BD/HD-DVD copies of the previous film — that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen boasts a first-rate, reference quality audio presentation here on Blu-ray. Speaking from personal experience, the HD-DVD copy of Transformers was my greatest weapon in promoting the ill-fated format, not only because it was proof that the picture quality was top-notch but also that Dolby Digital Plus was capable of delivering impeccable sound quality despite being a lossy codec. Naturally, when Transformers was released on Blu-ray last year, I ran out and eagerly repurchased the film for the now-lossless (Dolby TrueHD) track. Again, the bar was raised. And now, a year later, with the release of the sequel on Blu-ray, I’m left wondering, does it get any better than this? How can it? How much more perfect can an audio presentation get?
Every single detail is rendered perfectly across the soundstage and every nuance is given a chance to shine. Nothing is buried or lost in this mix, and the razor sharp focus and panning of discrete effects is flawless, never allowing the soundscape to go completely silent. From beginning to end, the mix fires on all cylinders — whether its the opening Paramount Logo, the forest fight scene, the epic conclusion or nearly any scene in between, there is plenty of lossless audio goodness to go around and predictably, more than an enough low frequency effects abound to displace any number of loose objects you may have strewn about your home theater setup. To be fair, the entire movie isn’t an assault on your hearing. There are some slow-down moments where the dialog takes center stage, but even here the music, and atmospheric effects keep the surround channels active.
With that said, it’s time to address a potential issue that users/viewers might have with this disc. On my first time through watching the film on Blu-ray this past tuesday, I noticed that I had to crank the dial on my AVR a little higher than normal in order to get the track to sound “loud”. Immediately after the film was over, I hit the forums and did a little digging in an attempt to see if anyone else noticed the same thing with the BSE version. As it turns out, there were a number of people who had the same issue, although very few people had different copies to compare and cross check the levels. And so, that’s exactly what I decided to do, knowing that my original Amazon.com copy would arrive within two days (gotta love Amazon Prime, right?).
Well, after a lot of cross comparison and level matching, I can most definitely confirm that there is a difference between the two releases I have (the BSE, and the Amazon release).
What I’ve found is that the BSE (big screen edition) has a -4dB drop on the dialog (as you can see below). With the Amazon release, there is no change: 0dB. Beyond that though, there is a very noticeable volume difference overall, which varies from 8-10dB depending on the scene (while the SPL meter could also be accountable for some variations).
What this means (for those of you whose heads I’m speaking over) is that you will likely have to crank your Walmart BSE blu-ray disc anywhere from 5-10 decibels higher on your AVR (receiver) in order to get similar loudness performance to the other Transformer 2 discs, or any other Blu-ray for that matter. This of course depends on your listening preferences. I don’t listen to my discs at reference level, but I do like to keep a standard playback level at roughly -10dB on my AVR.
In other words, on my receiver (which works on a relative scale from -80dB up to 0dB, as opposed to an absolute scale 0 to 85) when watching the BSE disc I have to turn my AVR up to -2dB (approaching reference level) in order to get an average SPL output of ~96dB. On the other hand, I only need to run the AVR at -10dB when watching the Amazon copy to achieve similar output levels (again ~96dB average).
Let me be perfectly clear, this does not mean that there is any loss of quality. This is merely a question of overall loudness output, something that can be corrected by a mere turn of the AVR dial. When both discs were volume matched using my SPL meter, the two tracks were transparent to one another. This should help to put some of the rumors and unease to rest.
Simply put, if you’ve got the Walmart BSE disc, give it a little more juice from your AVR and you’ll be getting the same exact experience that others are getting from the non-BSE discs.
When all is said and done, after all of the tests and cross checks, both the standard retail version and the “Big Screen Edition” are deserving of the highest praise we can give them, that being a “5-Star Rating” for overall audio quality. Fans and newcomers alike will be thrilled by what they hear on this disc, and collectors will most definitely have to add this disc to their collection whether they like the film itself or not. This is reference material.
Bonus Materials are presented predominantly in High Definition (HD) except where noted otherwise.
- Feature Commentary with Michael Bay, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman – This commentary is reminiscent of the commentaries found on a few of the Bond Blu-ray Catalog titles (aka. MI6 Commentary) that are composed of separate recorded sources. Here we have Bay talking by his lonesome while Kurtzman and Orci fill in the gaps. Strangely enough, in the beginning of the commentary Kurtzman and Orci mention that Ehren Kruger might be with them, but he’s nowhere to be found. I would have liked to hear his thoughts on joining the original writing duo, and how his experience was overall. As it stands though, this commentary is quite informative and worthwhile. All three of the guys bring a lot to the table, and perhaps more importantly they don’t rehash everything that’s been presented/said in the rest of the bonus material.
- Augmented Reality – Access this feature online — www.transformersmovie.com/optimus — and through the use of a webcam and your transformers blu-ray case, you will be able to partake in a brief online puzzle/shooting game. I thought this was neat, but not entirely fun, also I had some difficulty in keeping the case in sync with the webcam. You can see a picture of this feature in action on our “Hands On” feature article.
- “The Human Factor: Exacting Revenge of the Fallen” – (2 hours, 14 minutes) I’m a huge fan of making-of documentaries, and I thoroughly enjoyed the making of features that were released with the Blu-ray release of Transformers, so my expectations for special features on this particular release were very high. As it turns out, Paramount/Dreamworks/Bay and Co. have churned out one of the better making of documentaries I’ve ever seen. It is extremely well organized, edited, entertaining, and informative — in a word, it’s perfect. I honestly don’t know how you could ask for more. In my opinion, it ranks up there with the finest making-of documentaries I’ve ever seen. The film might not be iconic (yet) like some of the great classics that “deserve” this treatment, but personally I would love to see every film get this type of treatment. Sure it might be overkill, but for fans of the film, there’s simply no substitute for a feature-length documentary. This is a must see feature that covers every possible base, and leaves all but a few stones unturned, if only because there needs to be material left for the other features on the disc.
- “A Day With Bay” – (13 minutes) Here we’re given an extended look at Michael Bay’s time spent before and after the world premiere in Tokyo. This is more or less an expansion of the final chapter in the previous Making-Of documentary, “Release”. It has some good stuff in it to be sure, but I’m thinking that it could have just as easily been edited into the main documentary, no?
- “25 Years of Transformers” – (10 minutes) This is a short video that briefly goes into Hasbro’s history with the Transformer brand, and the history of the toy designs. Not my favorite featurette on the disc, but I imagine that it might be so for some of the more die-hard fans of the action figures. I like toys, sure, but they’re predominantly of the Home Theater flavor.
- “NEST: Transformer Data Hub” – (HD/SD) Precisely what it sounds like, a data hub that contains all sorts of vital stats and information, graphics, comic cells, action figure renditions and more on six autobot and six decepticon characters from the film.
- “The Allspark Experiment” – (HD) A relatively simple, and uneventful character generator that sounded far better on paper. It only takes but a minute to do, and in the end, while we’re told on the case that we “might unlock a secret about the future of Transformers” I was unable to do so after trying four different robot types. Perhaps there is an easter egg to be found there, but I don’t think I have the patience to try all of the possible combinations to do so.
- “Deconstructing Visual Bayhem” – (22 minutes) Certainly one of the best features present on the disc. Narrated by Steve Yamamoto, we’re given the option to select one, or two angles that will show either the pre-vis material alone, or just above the finished product. Typically the pre-vis material in general tends to be boring or lackluster but here, with the narration, it flows much better and in the end it makes for a worthwhile and informative experience.
- Deleted/Alternate Scenes – (6 minutes) Evidently, not a whole lot of material made it on the cutting room floor, which speaks volumes about Bay’s efficiency and clear vision. Most of what we’re given should look familiar to viewers, but one deleted scene in particular caught my ear, and that’s “The Witwicky’s in Paris” scene. You’ll recognize this no doubt, but the real easter egg/gem is the music that can be heard in the background… that’s right, it’s very faint but if you listen closely it’s a violin solo rendition of the Aerosmith single “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” featured in Bay’s earlier film, Armaggedon. Pretty neat, huh?
- “Giant Effing Movie” – (24 minutes) A shorter, smaller scope making-of feature that recycles a little bit of the main documentary footage, but still manages to present plenty of new informative/hilarious segments, and thanks to some very clever and effective editing, it has a very unique and lively feel. If you liked the documentary and you’re hungry for more, or perhaps you just don’t think you can burn another two hours, you should sit down and give this feature a go. It’s quite good.
- “Linkin Park – New Divide” – (5 minutes) The music video to the song featured in the end credits.
- “The Matrix of Marketing” – (7 minutes, combined) A collection of theatrical trailers, TV Spots and posters/promotional material await you. Even now, watching the trailers for this film, despite the fact that I know everything that happens, I continue to get goosebumps. The theatrical trailers are phenomenally edited, designed to elicit all of the right responses from the viewer, compelling them to see the film in theaters. It’s spooky really, almost hypnotic.
- Subtitles – Lastly, users are given the option to enable a handful of subtitle options for the special feature material.
Overall, the bonus materials are pretty stellar. Not every feature is a “MUST SEE” but the ones that are easily make this release a “MUST OWN” for fans of the film. The feature-length making-of documentary is superb, and so are many of the supporting featurettes. And while there is much to chew through, I found it interesting that Paramount opted not to include either BD-Live functionality or Digital Copy on this heavy-hitting release. If ever there were a time for them to use those bonus features/incentives, I thought now would surely be the time, but it would seem as though Paramount couldn’t care less about connectivity or portable copies of the film. As for me, I’m as snug as a bug with my feature-length documentary and for the record, I’d take long making-of material over BD-Live/Digital Copy any day. There is simply far more to be gained from watching a feature length movie than there is by transferring a lower-res version of the movie to my ipod, or playing a clunky trivia game. This is somewhat of a tangent, I am aware, but I just felt that it needed to be addressed. I do think that BD-Live has potential, and the live director chats are proof of that, but the trivial features that are otherwise included aren’t exactly worthwhile or eye-opening. Nonetheless, after all is said and done, I feel that this disc easily earns itself a “4-Star Rating” for bonus material.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.