Love it or hate it, the facts don’t lie: Transformers: Dark of the Moon became one of the highest-grossing movies of all-time this summer, breaking box-office records and joining the exclusive billion-dollar club by the time the dust had settled. Unlike fellow reviewer Chris Pandolfi – and most of the critical world – I actually enjoyed the movie. Maybe its just my bias talking here, but I’ve liked all of the live-action Transformers films and really immersed myself in this universe. Marketed as the ‘final’ chapter in one of the most surprisingly blockbuster trilogies ever, director Michael Bay knows brings the spectacle to the screen, and his latest is one of the most visually impressive, technically aggressive cases of pure cinematic adrenaline that’s ever been put to screen.
As a huge fan of the original Transformers animated TV show and toy-line from the 80s, I never would’ve guessed in that the franchise would make such a huge comeback in my lifetime, and in many ways they’ve managed to save the biggest – and sometimes best – for last. Unfortunately, while the film may be more than meets the eye, this barebones Blu-ray release is far from it.
While it still can’t live up to the original film, its certainly worlds better than the Revenge of the Fallen and a fantastic sci-fi epic on its own with a plot that vaguely references the animated series. The story exists in an alternate universe, where the Apollo 11 lunar mission was actually a cover mission to investigate a mysterious signal coming from the moon’s surface, which turns out to be the corpse of the ancient Autobot leader, Sentinel Prime. After an intense battle with the gigantic Decepticon Shockwave in Chernobyl, Optimus Prime learns that the US government has been hiding the secret of his old master’s existence for some time, and quickly heads to the moon’s surface to revive him. Only then does Optimus learn the true power of Sentinel’s ultimate weapon, one with the power to create an intergalactic Space Bridge capable of transmitting enormous amounts of matter through the vast reaches of space, even a dying planet like Cybertron right into Earth’s orbit.
The movie is much darker and far more serious than either of its predecessors, especially during the intense destruction of Chicago, which is one of the most intense and action-packed sequences in cinematic history. But there’s plenty of laughs, as guest stars Ken Jeong as Jerry “Deep” Wang and Alan Tudyk as Dutch make great impressions. Newcomers to the series John Malkovich and Frances McDormand add serious wattage (especially Malkovich’s craziness), and it was more than a little interesting seeing Coen Brothers’ regulars McDormand and John Turturro reunite in a Transformers movie.
It was also more than cool to see Leonard Nimoy return to the franchise as the duplicitous Sentinel Prime, and to see all of the fun Star Trek references sprinkled throughout (extra points for his classic “needs of the many” line). Speaking of cool, how bizarre was it having Optimus Prime onscreen and discussing the lunar mission with the real Buzz Aldrin? Say what you will, but this movie probably introduced him to more kids than 12 years of school ever would.
As with their previous releases, Paramount has done an excellent job with the transfer of the film to Blu-ray. The picture is extremely clear and shows every little detail on the Autobots and Decepticons as they move and thrash one another. I was actually able to notice a lot of fine details that I wasn’t able to see in the movie when I saw it in the theater. The sound is just as impressive, as the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 makes every thunderous clash, energy weapon, and explosion ring in loud and clear.
While the film is the silver lining, the dark cloud would be the Blu-ray itself, as there are no special features whatsoever. The only real ‘feature’ you’ll find here is a coupon for some cash off some of the toys, and another for the upcoming – and more expensive – Special Edition of the movie due later this year, which only serves as a slap in the face for those who bought this and didn’t know the features were missing. Of course, not everyone wants to watch hours of features, behind-the-scenes footage, extra trailers, or other value-adding options like that, so this barebones disc may be perfect for folks that just want to have the movie in high-definition to watch and then move onto other things. Not really a bad compromise, but its obvious this package was rushed.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a great film for those looking for an epic, action-packed spectacle featuring many of their beloved characters in Hasbro’s franchise, and the Blu-ray release brings that experience home. But that’s all it does, as this barebones release is devoid of any special features whatsoever, apart for coupons for other Transformers-related released, including the upcoming Special Edition that’s bound to contain all of the extra goodies and features that are sadly missing here. If you don’t care about the missing features and just want to see the movie, than this is for you, and judging by how popular the movie was, there’s plenty of you out there. Diehard fans and enthusiasts will probably want to wait until the upcoming Special Edition due later this year, which will hopefully be more than meets the eye.
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