Paramount adds a fresh coat of paint to ‘TRANSFORMERS’ 1-4 with 4K release

Connor Bynum // Film Critic

TRANSFORMERS 1-4

Director: Michael Bay
Cast:  Shia LaBeoufMegan FoxJosh DuhamelTyrese GibsonMark WahlbergRosie Huntington-WhiteleyNicola PeltzJack Reynor and John Turturro
The movies are sold separately and are available on 4K Ultra HD today.

Despite Michael Bay’s greatest efforts, the TRANSFORMERS movies have never been about telling Oscar-caliber stories. What they have been about is explosions, cars and giant fighting robots looking sexy as humanly possible. Just in time to stuff the stockings of home theater enthusiasts everywhere, Paramount is releasing the first four entries in the franchise on 4K UHD Blu-ray.

Movie(s) Grade: C-

This review specifically covers TRANSFORMERS (2007), TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009), TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (2011) and TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (2014), and how they each fare in their transition to 4K UHD. While each title is available for individual purchase, the movies themselves are essentially interchangeable in terms of story.

Autobots and Decepticons from the distant planet of Cybertron settle their differences by duking it out on planet Earth while being sure to destroy literally everything in the process. A human character played by either Shia LaBeouf or Mark Wahlberg gets caught up in the mix and fights alongside the Autobots to stop the Decepticons from taking over the planet. Explosions and general destruction ensue until Optimus Prime gives a rousing speech as the credits roll accompanied by a Linkin Park song, leaving the audience to figure out how to handle their sudden boner for America.

These films are best enjoyed with one’s brain turned off, as virtually none of the characters or actions on screen are aligned with the laws of logic. But when Bay ramps up the spectacle, he proves that he is a master of destruction.

Video/Audio Grade: A

It shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that these films feel like they were made for 4K. With each entry featuring a story more absurd than the last, these movies would have almost no redemptive qualities were it not for their stellar visuals. Naturally, the first TRANSFORMERS suffers the most from some instances of CGI showing its age. Likewise, the quality of the computer generated effects only increases from REVENGE OF THE FALLEN all the way to AGE OF EXTINCTION. There are some scenes of noticeable grain across the board, but I’ll have to believe these moments are intentional, as the image is crystal clear the rest of the time.

The use of HDR in these movies is a welcome addition; although, it can become a little much at times. Bay’s filmography already tends to lean a little too heavily into the color saturation levels as it is. Every character is covered in a thin, but noticeable layer of Bay’s patented “Glisten Ooze™” with their mouths ever so slightly agape and the added dynamic range only makes this all the more distracting.

One aspect I could not stand in the 3D release of AGE OF EXTINCTION was the obnoxious and misused transition to and from IMAX footage. This could be seen where the aspect ratio would relentlessly change with every cut and take the viewer out of the experience. Thankfully, this has been removed from the 4K release, which actually makes it much more watchable.

The audio design is simply fantastic. In a series of films where clunking, clanking metal sounds could easily get jumbled together, I never felt like any sound effect was not there to serve a purpose. With all the visually chaotic mayhem on display, the audio never fails to keep up.

Extras: B-

The supplemental material leaves somewhat more to be desired when viewed as a collection. For one thing, only the first two films feature a commentary track. Each one does come with a decent amount of extras, but fails to provide anything new for return customers. Additionally, all extras remain on the standard Blu-ray included in each film, with exceptions for the aforementioned commentary tracks for the first two titles. However, those who are buying for the first time will have plenty to keep them busy here.

TRANSFORMERS

Special Features:

4K Blu-ray

  • Audio Commentary by Director Michael Bay

Blu-ray (Disc One)

  • Audio Commentary by Director Michael Bay
  • Transformers H.U.D. (Heads Up Display)

Blu-ray (Disc Two)

  • Our World
    • The Story Sparks
    • Human Allies
    • I Fight Giant Robots
    • Battleground
  • Their World
    • Rise of the Robots
    • Autobots Roll Out
    • Decepticons Strike
    • Inside the AllSpark
    • Transformers Tech Inspector
  • More Than Meets The Eye
    • From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack
    • Concepts
  • Easter Eggs

Technical Specs:

4K Blu-ray

  • Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc One)

  • Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH†, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc Two)

  • Audio: English Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

Special Features:

4K Blu-ray

  • Audio Commentary by Michael Bay, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Blu-ray (Disc One)

  • Audio Commentary by Michael Bay, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman

Blu-ray (Disc Two)

  • The Human Factor: Exacting Revenge of the Fallen
  • A Day with Bay: Tokyo
  • 25 Years of Transformers
  • NEST: Transformer Data Hub
  • Deconstructing Visual Bayhem with commentary by pre-vis supervisor Steve Yamamoto (multi-angle)
  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes
  • Easter Eggs
  • The AllSpark Experiment
  • Giant Effing Movie
  • Linkin Park – New Divide
  • The Matrix of Marketing

Technical Specs:

4K Blu-ray

  • Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
  • Subtitles; English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc One)

  • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH†, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc Two)

  • Audio: English Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

Special Features:

  • Above and Beyond: Exploring Dark of the Moon
  • Uncharted Territory: NASA’s Future Then and Now
  • Deconstructing Chicago: Multi-Angle Sequences
  • The Art of Cybertron
  • The Dark of the Moon Archive
  • The Matrix of Marketing

Technical Specs:

4K Blu-ray

  • Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc One)

  • Audio: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH†, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc Two)

  • Audio: English Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

Special Features:

  • Bay on Action
  • Evolution within Extinction The Making of TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
  • Just Another Giant Effin’ Movie
  • A Spark of Design
  • T.J. Miller: Farm Hippie

Technical Specs:

4K Blu-ray

  • Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc One)

  • Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Discrete Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH†, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Blu-ray (Disc Two)

  • Audio: English Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese Subtitles

Final Grade: B

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The majority of those contemplating whether or not to purchase any of these four movies aren’t looking for a compelling or coherent story. They want to know if the upgrade to 4K UHD justifies the investment. To put it simply: these films look phenomenal with the increased resolution and color depth, but they are still deeply flawed experiences that can often test one’s patience for the colossally absurd. If you’re looking to show off your 4K system with shiny things, explosions, and attractive people, these films are sure to get the job done.

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