Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 22 Old 10-21-09, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Ramon Rodriguez, Hugo Weaving, John Benjamin Hickey
Director: Michael Bay
Studio: Paramount/Dreamworks
Runtime: 150 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Blu-ray Release Date: October 20, 2009

Movie

Note: for my review I viewed the Wal-Mart exclusive “Big Screen Edition” of the movie that preserves the sequences filmed on the IMAX camera in almost its full aspect ratio.

Two years after saving man-kind from destruction from Megatron (Weaving) the Autobots and a newly formed secret military branch called NEST, led by Major Lennox (Duhamel) and Master Sergeant Epps (Gibson) run into trouble. When the President of the United States begins to question why their presence is still needed a representative for the president, Galloway (Hickey), is sent to investigate their purpose and ultimately find reason to shut down the NEST team. Galloway and the President wonder why the Decepticons are still wreaking havoc on Earth even after their defeat two years ago and decidedly point the blame to the Autobots, insisting that they are the reason why the Decepticons still remain and that they should leave in order to make the Decepticons leave.

Meanwhile, a college-bound Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) discovers a small sliver of the allspark cube in a jacket that he saved as a memento from the fight against the Decepticons. Upon discovery the shard activates and imprints images and symbols in Sam’s mind. The activated shard also causes some of the home appliances to transform into little Decepticons at which time Sam’s Autobot guardian, Bumblebee, comes to destroy them and causes major damage to the Witwicky home. In order to keep it hidden from the authorities, he entrusts the sliver with his girlfriend, Mikaela Banes (Fox) and instructs her to keep it safe. Within a couple days of arriving at college Sam begins to hallucinate and write the symbols frantically everywhere. The Decepticons discover that the information that Sam now has is vital in finding the energy source for their survival.

The Decepticons also discover the location of their defeated leader, Megatron. They revive him in order to lead them in their mission to find Sam. Now, they will stop at nothing in order to retrieve that information and Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, warns Sam of the danger he and the rest of man-kind are in. Once again, the Autobots, NEST, Sam and Mikaela must defeat the Decepticons before they accomplish their mission in destroying Earth.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen does not have much in terms of an infallible story or plotline. Many people will find any numerous amounts of faults with things within the movie, but ultimately Michael Bay set out to do what Michael Bay does best, which is make a summer blockbuster film. He does not fail to deliver on that front. This film is checked full of hot girls, fancy cars, fighting, explosions and visual effects. Anyone expecting a lot of substance and possible coherency may want to steer clear of this film.

Rating

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material. This is typical Michael Bay stuff and it’s no more graphic than any of his other PG-13 movies.

Video

There is no sense in beating around the bush so I will come out and say it right now - I was totally enamored with the video transfer of this film. The original Transformers film hit high marks on the video side and I expected nothing less than that with the sequel and I got just that. First off, going into this film, you have to expect to see specific Michael Bay signatures. What I mean by that is the video style that he always goes for doesn’t vary much. He tends to make the film excessively contrasted with overblown whites and crushed blacks. Colors are generally very saturated as well.

That did not stop me from being floored throughout much of the movie by the beautiful imagery. Detail was razor sharp at all times. Having so much detail allowed me to appreciate the complexity of each of the different robots and the amount of effort that went into designing each one of them. This movie is absolutely flooded with computer-generated sequences and surprisingly enough I never even thought about it negatively when I was watching the movie.

Color saturation was what exactly as I expected with Bay’s work, over saturated. The overall color temperature was very warm and it made human characters all have orange-ish skin. As I mentioned before, black levels were crushed, but Bay makes sure that they are never to the point that you lose a sense of what is going on even in darker scenes. There’s also some constant film grain throughout the film giving a feel of natural grittiness in the video transfer as well.

I also wanted to mention the “Big Screen Edition” I viewed. The Dark Knight was the first film to alternate standard 35mm film stock and also the IMAX 70mm film stock into production of a full-length feature film. The Dark Knight utilized the IMAX camera a decent amount and mostly during wide aerial shots of the cityscape, but also incorporated it also for some of the key action sequences of the movie. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen did something similar as they utilized the IMAX camera for two specific sequences in the film. Unlike The Dark Knight, however, it was used only for two sequences, so the IMAX sequences were much less prevalent through Transformers comparatively. It ultimately adds up to several minutes of footage. During these sequences, the aspect ratio would switch back and forth between the 2.39:1 AR and the 1.73:1 AR for the IMAX sequences. The actual IMAX cameras project at 1.43:1 aspect ratio, so even for this release a little bit from the top and bottom is cropped, but it still gives a similar experience.

I eagerly anticipated seeing the switching aspect ratios much like I did for The Dark Knight and when it got to those sequences I was really pleased with the result. Those two specific sequences really floored me the most. Details were amazingly clear and the sheer scope of the massive robots in those sequences led me to even further appreciate the filmmakers work on this movie.

Audio

Special note about the “Big Screen Edition”:

Originally, while I was watching the movie, I found the audio to be lacking some, in fact, it was distractingly lacking, and my review draft of the audio review reflected that. The overall dynamics seemed quite a bit lower and I had a hard time hearing what was going on with the movie. After researching a bit today I came across several sources stating that the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for this "Big Screen Edition" has a dialog normalization in effect and it is set at -4dB. After going back and viewing roughly about half of the film again and compensating by turning the volume up 4dB I found the experience to be much, much more pleasing and my audio review portion below reflects my revised findings


I was just as impressed by the audio transfer of this film as I was with the video transfer. The DTS-HD Master Audio track has so much going for it. This is one of the most active soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. Right from even the beginning studio logos surround speakers bombard you with a great aural experience. The sound does not let up, either. Explosions, gunfire, wreckages of all sorts, plane and helicopter fly-bys, chatter, you name it, the track’s surround speakers simply envelopes you from start to finish. In fact, even during the opening credits there is sound material that will jump out at you and envelop the you in aural delight. This film also has such a unique set of sounds that correlate with the alien robots, their mechanics and machinery, as well as their weaponry. The sound designer, Nigel Albermaniche, did a truly phenomenal job.

The low frequency effects in this film were also just as abundant as the surround activity. This films action sequences has plenty of demonstration material to show your friends and family members the next time they are over. There were plenty of instances that my room just flexed with deep bass. Once again, from the very beginning of the film all the way to the end, the low frequencies just do not let up. You could just feel the sheer force and weight of the giant robots in many instances, but it never was overbearing nor did it feel bloated; it really seemed balanced to the rest of the speakers. There were even a couple instances I found myself rewinding just to hear the sequences again out of sheer pleasure.

Extras

Disc one is almost completely dedicated to the film allowing the bitrate to breathe a good amount. The only bit of extras on the first disc is a commentary by Michael Bay, Robert Orci, and Alex Kurtzman.

The second disc contains the following extras:

-The Human Factor: Exacting ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ (2 hours and 14 minutes) documentary
-A Day with Bay: Tokyo featurette (13 minutes)
-Deconstructing Visual Bayhem featurette (22 minutes)
-NEST: Transformer Data Hub – a collection of images, back-stories, and a 3-D gallery of the twelve main robots of the film
-Three deleted and alternate scenes of the film (about 6 minutes in total)
-Music Video: Linkin Park’s “New Divide” (4 minutes)
-Giant Effing Movie featurette (24 minutes)
-Several trailers and TV spots (about 7 minutes in total)

Overall

As far as the film goes, I found a second viewing felt more long-winded than my first experience in the movie theaters. Things throughout the film bothered me more than they did the first time around. I still don’t quite understand why some of the robots have stereotypical personalities. In fact, the twin Autobots specifically really struck me as out of place especially with their constant banter and jive talk. There really is no reason why they ought to talk like they do or swear like they do. Other than that, the film was exactly what I expected and I still admit I enjoyed it on many different levels even if it is a guilty pleasure. There is no doubt about it this film delivers the reason to watch the film, the robots, in all their magnitude. The video transfer is nothing short of great and it really does this film’s visual effects justice. The audio track impressed me enough that I will certainly be using several sequences as some new reference demo material.

Regarding the Wal-Mart “Big Screen Edition,” I am baffled as to why Paramount chose to do an exclusive like this. First off, average Wal-Mart shoppers are really not going to care about the changing aspect ratios all that much. Secondly, they are even less inclined to want to buy the Blu-ray version of the film. It doesn’t seem like a smart marketing strategy for Paramount, but it certainly did give Wal-Mart a sale from me, which I would’ve otherwise chosen not to do. Is the “Big Screen Edition” worth it? I personally love the switching aspect ratios so you have to first decide whether or not you do. You also have to decide whether or not the several minutes that they utilize the IMAX camera are worth it enough for you to pick this version up at Wal-Mart. If you frequent Walmart as it is, it's a no-brainer to get this version, otherwise it may take some extra effort.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #2 of 22 Old 10-23-09, 05:20 PM
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

Huh. Movies like this, with their super-high resolutions and oodles of extras, remind me of suped-up Dodge Neons. No matter how much you spend on body kits, spoilers, and nitrous, it's still a Neon, and no matter how great the HD picture and no matter how many people on the commentary, this is still a lousy Michael Bay movie.
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post #3 of 22 Old 10-23-09, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

I agree. While I enjoyed the film for what it was, I cannot recommend or praise it for what it wasn't.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #4 of 22 Old 10-26-09, 11:48 AM
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

Hello,
I have you read the reports that the special Wal Mart edition is actually recorded at a lower volume?
Here is a link describing that the IMAX edition requires you the raise the volume on your processor to get identical SPL's to the regular Blu Ray edition.: http://www.highdefdiscnews.com/?p=27195
The discussion about the differences in volume are described in the Audio section of the review.

****** I should have read your review more closely as you describe these differences. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.*******

Either way, this might be the best demo disc I have ever owned. The bass track is monstrous and the Center Channel track sounds great on my Martin Logan rig.
Excellent write up by the way.
Cheers,
JJ
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post #5 of 22 Old 10-26-09, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

JJ,

Thanks! This movie release has been on the top list of controversy talk all over the internet. People still say that even with turning the volume up by 4dB doesn't equate it to the "regular" edition of the movie. In all honesty, I found little to no fault with the track after I raised it up 4dB to compensate. Originally, when I watched the film, the audio lacked punch from what I was expecting and while it was still impressive in its own right, especially with the surround sound usage, the impact wasn't quite right. I was so glad to hear that it was just a matter of -4dB Dialnorm in effect.

I will definitely use a handful of the scenes as my new demo material, as well.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #6 of 22 Old 10-26-09, 01:12 PM
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

Hello,
Jon, I would borrow or rent the standard BD of the movie and see what you think. All I know is that the standard version shakes my entire house.

The only possible problem I see with raising the volume 4db is the potential loss of headroom due to the higher viewing levels.
Cheers,
JJ
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post #7 of 22 Old 10-26-09, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

True, loss of headroom might be an issue. I will try to see if I can get a copy of the standard edition and compare.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #8 of 22 Old 10-26-09, 04:24 PM
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

Hello,
Jon, that truly was an excellent review of ROF. Very professional, very through.
It also appears there are 31 additional seconds with the Big Screen Edition (Wal Mart Exclusive).
Given the movie is almost 3 hours as is, I am not sure what more they can throw in.
Cheers,
JJ
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post #9 of 22 Old 10-26-09, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

The 31 seconds extra is solely in the scenes with the IMAX footage. It doesn't change any dialog or anything and if I am not mistaken it's just extra IMAX scenes that were added.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #10 of 22 Old 10-27-09, 11:29 AM
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Re: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Blu-ray Review

I have the first on region 2 DVD plus I’ve seen it Empire Leicester Square on the JBL 56KW THX the biggest THX screen in the UK and it still didn’t make sense because it was all-too fast action orientated I couldn’t tell who was the good guys and bad guys and I don’t care much for the characters.

No, I’ve just about got very little interest in buying this one Michael Bay can keep this Transformers 2.
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