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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2011

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"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

The year is 1961 and President Kennedy has just proclaimed his wish to put a man on the moon.  What the world doesn’t know is the US has monitored an impact on the moon and they want to be the first to discover just what’s landed there.  When the astronauts arrive, they find a gigantic alien shipwreck that looks like it was flown by giant robots.  It’s a relic of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons of Cybertron and it contains a powerful technology that must be kept out the hands of the enemy.

Flash forward to the present and Sam Witwicky, after saving the world twice, is looking for a job in Washington DC.  Optimus Prime, the lead Autobot discovers the weakened form of Sentinel Prime, the former leader of Cybertron on the Moon and brings him back to Earth.  It turns out the shipwreck also contains five pillars which can be used to build a transportation device.  Sentinel Prime is awakened and he immediately sets out to complete the device and transport the whole of Cybertron to Earth to rebuild his race and use the surviving humans as slaves.

The Decepticons are only too happy to participate and Chicago becomes their base of operations.  After destroying most of the city, they set up the pillars and begin to transport Cybertron to Earth.  At the last moment, Sam and the Autobots manage to destroy the control pillar and Sentinel Prime is defeated.

Specifications

  • Paramount Pictures
  • 2011, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 32 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring:  Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Leonard Nimoy
  • Directed by:  Michael Bay
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Innuendo
  • Language: Moderate

Commentary

You can say what you want about Michael Bay but the man knows how to put on a show.  Yes the story is cliché and the gags get repetitive but the action scenes and special effects more than make up for the films weaknesses.  I’ve never seen such convincing CGI and the devastation is completely believable.  I half-expected to hear of Chicago’s destruction on the news after watching this movie.  The story is a bit difficult to follow at times as most of the main characters are extremely hyper.  Shia LaBeouf definitely had too much coffee before filming because he practically explodes in every scene.  His girlfriend Carly is played by former Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and she does a passable job, though she’s no Megan Fox.  The actors are almost superfluous next to the amazing CGI robot characters.  The detail in their movements is quite a sight to behold.  If you want a two-and-a-half hour roller coaster ride in your living room, this film is for you.

Technical

Not only is the image reference-quality, it’s easily one of the best Blu-rays I’ve seen to date.  Detail, contrast and color are pretty much flawless.  No edge enhancement is used which made me very happy.  The color palette tends to the cool side but still retains great dimensionality and looks fairly natural.  The CGI effects are easily the most convincing I’ve seen.  Obviously, great care was taken from beginning to end in this transfer.

This disc is my new benchmark for audio quality.  The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 encode will grab and shake you from beginning to end.  If you don’t have an enormous sub you either need to buy one or watch this film at a friend’s house that has one because the LFE channel is beyond unreal.  I literally feared for the structural integrity of my room during the battle sequences as my Axiom EP800 shook me, and the furniture, and the walls, with tremendous force.  This is what home theater is for folks.  I can’t imagine replicating this experience in a traditional movie house.  The surrounds are also used frequently and effectively.  It all combines into a vast and enveloping soundstage.  The destruction of Chicago had my palms sweating and my heart racing.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer sensory overload caused by this amazing soundtrack.  A small word of warning:  this track is mixed LOUD.  If you are already pushing your electronics, expect some extra heat.

Extras

There are no bonus features included in this release.  Paramount does provide a $10-off coupon towards the upcoming 3D version which will include extras.  There is also a DVD copy and a code to download a digital copy which did not function at press time.Planet Earth:       Special Edition (Blu-ray)