Transformers: Dark of the Moon comes to US Region Free Blu-ray complete with a suitably stunning 1080p High Definition video rendition, presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Bay’s Transformers movies – irrespective of actual content – have always made for demo-quality releases, ever since the Blu-ray release of the first one back in 2008; Dark of the Moon is certainly no exception. Shot using both traditional 35mm film and also 3D HD cameras, the film was released as a part-native 3D and part-Post-Production 3D conversion, reportedly with great success. As stated, by all accounts, it appears to be the best 3D release since Avatar. Of course this, just the first of several potential Blu-ray releases, is purely a 2D version. In spite of this, it is undoubtedly one of the most 3D-looking titles currently available, a real reference quality release that will no doubt be seen in home entertainment showrooms for some time to come.
Detail is excellent throughout; it’s pretty-much freeze-frame perfect and you would be hard pushed to find a single shot that does not live up to – or exceed – expectations. Every single element is handled well, from the human participants to the intricately-designed CG robots (arguably over-intricately-designed), with both longer establishing panoramic shots and in-your-face close-ups looking amazing. Of course the two forms of content (film and digital) have different looks on video: the former boasts a more traditional grain structure, which comes in the form of a light sheen that pervades the piece and lends it a lovely texture; the latter is, as you would only expect, pristine in its absolute perfection, with no noise whatsoever. The components are thankfully beautifully integrated and, after the extended prologue which has Bay commanding all sorts of faux (and real) stock footage to show the 1960 events, it is much harder to differentiate between them: you can see the differences, but only if looking for them – for the most part you will be too busy being blown away by the picture-perfect spectacle. Edge enhancement? DNR? Digital defects and artefacting? Not even a hint of it. This is a stunning video presentation: true eye candy.
The colour scheme is also handled well, although skin tones do come across as a little bit, well, orange. That said, I refuse to mark the video presentation down on this front because, quite honestly, the characters in almost all Michael Bay movies often look far too ‘tanned’, and it’s hard to fault a video presentation when it’s clear that’s exactly how he likes his ‘perfect’ characters to look. The robots themselves look fantastic – as is to be only expected – both in their natural transformed state, and in their vehicular form: bright, vibrant reds; beautiful rich yellows and oranges, deep golds and silvers, rich greens, and deep blues. Some of the shots from this movie could easily be used to advertise the performance cars on show. Black levels are resoundingly strong, with no signs of crush whatsoever, allowing for excellent shadowing. As stated there is a wonderful depth to the piece that gives it an almost 3D quality, and you should not be disappointed by this reference quality visual material.
This third Transformers movie comes to Blu-ray with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track and, whilst the video presentation is expectedly excellent for the series, the aural rendition is arguably one of the finest tracks to grace the format. A wholly immersive experience, every single element in this mix is presented perfectly, with resounding clarity and stunning attention to detail. It all kick-starts with the mechanical accompaniment to the Paramount logo, which immediately gives you an idea of the resonance, clarity and surround separation that you should expect throughout the subsequent two-and-a-half hours. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently – whether from the human components (including an incredibly shrill, unpleasant scream from Shia LaBoeuf) or from their robot counterparts – largely emanating from across the fronts and centre channels. Subtle effects are keenly observed, from the tiny robot bugs crawling in and out of Megatron’s wounds to the desert wind, the light rain and the other atmospheric touches that create a wonderful background experience, even when things aren’t all action-orientated. Of course the more action-driven sequences are the absolute highlight, truly bombastic power – yet maintaining the same keen and acute directional observation no matter how loud things got. Bass thrums throughout, the LFE seldom afraid of showing its presence. The score is also perfectly chosen and wholeheartedly enhances the entire experience, keeping the surrounds going from start to finish even when the atmospherics take a back-seat. Overall this is an exceptional sound presentation, one of the best that I have ever come across.
As you already know, this is just a bare-bones Transformers: Dark of the Moon release. Expect at least one more edition somewhere further down the line, with the same plethora of extras you would expect from a Transformers title on the format, and also with a 3D presentation. There’s no IMAX footage in this one, but there is a US Walmart-exclusive disc which, by all accounts, offers up a few more minutes of extra footage. Really, you didn’t come here for extras, you came here because you can’t be bothered to wait for the disc that comes with them – because this release really is the definition of prelude-to-a-double-dip.
After the unwavering criticism that Michael Bay’s second Transformers movie received, rumours were that the megablockbuster director had learned from his mistakes and worked hard at creating a film that would rectify them. Whilst a few tweaks and improvements would support this theory, by and large Dark of the Moon is the result of a man with an ego who has just become more entrenched in his ideas after the critical and public rebuke last time round. And why shouldn’t he? As the fourth most successful movie of all-time, with over a billion Dollars already taken in ticket receipts, why bother changing the recipe? After all, however bad it makes you feel afterwards; however unhealthy it is, McDonalds sure as hell know not to change a good thing – and so does Michael Bay. Replete with painfully unfunny gags (John Malkovich getting tickled by an Autobot) and a disappointingly over-the-top performance from the one human component who made the other movies more palatable – Shia LaBoeuf (who needs to grow up now) – as well as distinctly missing the Megan Fox element, especially when faced with the unquestionably terrible model-turned-actress who was somehow inexplicably chosen to replace her; Dark of the Moon’s biggest fault (of the many) is that it offers up an entire movie’s worth of exposition, padding, back-story, and character ‘development’ (i.e. characters goofing around), clocking up an hour-and-a-half of wasted material before it gets to the action proper. That the action is then handled extremely well, effects blending seamlessly with live components to create a wonderful audio-visual experience, is almost a moot point – you’re well and truly exhausted; and when the end finally does come, you feel like a starved man who has pigged out on McDonalds in the 11th hour. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
Yes, Dark of the Moon is an improvement over the last, botched, script-less debacle from Bay’s Transformers movie production-line, but that really isn’t hard is it? If Dark of the Moon had been the second movie, perhaps it would have been a more forgivable effort, but for a purported third and final entry (as if!), this really is a disappointing end result.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get spectacular, reference-quality video and audio, and zero extras. This baby is going to be the most popular choice for home entertainment showrooms around the world. At home, should you decide to pick it up, you could use it for similar purposes. As a movie, I doubt many people who have seen it once are going to be rushing out to watch it start-to-finish again anytime soon. Perhaps the last hour. Perhaps. But not the whole thing. One day some internet fanboy will do an excellent editing job on Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon, and splice them together to create 2 hours of fantastic action (maybe even CG-in Megan Fox into Dark of the Moon to fix a few terrible plot holes that they forgot to fill in her absence). Until that day, I guess you’ve always got your remote control handy.
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