[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=7121&w=l[/img]Title: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Runtime: 157 min
Release Date: 9/30/2011 (Blu-Ray)
HTS Overall Score:86
Neil, you are dark on the rock. The mission is a "go".
What if the space race of the 1960's was all a secret government project to investigate alien life on the moon? In Michael Bay's third and final installment in the Transformers franchise, Dark of the Moon this is exactly what happens. During the final days of the great war on Cybertron, the Autobots launch a desperate attempt to save their kind in a vessel called The Ark. On board is a technology that could win the war, and its inventor - the great Sentinel Prime, the predecessor to Optimus. During the escape from Cybertron, The Ark is damaged and considered lost, careening off into space. Eventually, the vessel is detected by Earth as it crash lands on our moon - triggering the space race.
Flash forward to present day, and the Autobots are busy around the globe helping NEST teams fight terrorists and solve the problems of Earth. Sam Witwicky has a new girlfriend named Carly (Huntington-Whiteley), is done with college, and has no job. With Bumblebee off helping the other Autobots, Sam is depressed and desperate to find work as Carly supports him. When Sam miraculously lands a job at Acuretta Systems, a defense and telecom giant thanks to a mysterious letter of recommendation from a board member - he's both excited and suspicious. Sam's suspicions soon prove correct as he finds himself once more in the midst of a Decepticon plot to take over the planet - this time with a far more sinister goal than ever before.
Like most of the hapless victims who didn't know what they were getting into when they walked into the theater to see Revenge of the Fallen - I had very low expectations for this film. Michael Bay's talent for making over the top action films is almost impossible to overstate, and in this final installment of the franchise - Michael Bay is truly in his element. The story of Transformers: Dark of the Moon is certainly less ridiculous than its predecessor, despite some rather severe pacing issues in the first act - which somehow manages to last the better part of 90 minutes. Despite the slow start and pacing concerns, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is ultimately a return to proper form for the series, focusing on good old fashioned giant robot battles and explosions like we've all come to expect from Mr. Bay.
It's a bit amusing that Bay probably has too much plot and back-story in this film, but is consistent with what is obviously a knee jerk reaction to the drubbing the previous film received from fans and critics alike. Criticism aside, if you can survive a slow start and get through all the catch up, the build-up and final battle are superb. This is a thoroughbred summer blockbuster that pulls no punches and makes no attempt to apologize for being what it is; this is Michael Bay at his best, the story might be weak and drag on like Pearl Harbor, but once the action starts - I promise you won't care anymore.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon comes to Blu-Ray with a spectacular AVC encode that features stunning detail and excellent overall quality. Shot on a combination of 35mm film and digital 3D using the Pace-Cameron rig of Avatar fame, there is not a moment in this film that doesn't impress visually. CGI is up to the usual quality of a Michael Bay film - and is next to impossible to tell apart from practical elements. Reflections, scratches, dirt and dust on the bodies of the transformers are flawlessly executed and show no visible flaws. Space scenes are full of inky, gorgeous blacks that show no sign of crush or loss of detail while shadows are clearly delineated with excellent detail throughout the gray-scale. High level detail abounds, with individual eyebrows, pores, specs of facial hair and even the occasional makeup flaw clearly visible. Color is generally excellent with strong, slightly overstated primaries and natural balance. Skin tones are generally good but appear to have a warmer color balance, resulting in a faint orange push in certain scenes, though this is likely a stylistic choice (see Huntington-Whiteley's legs in the opening minutes) intended to give the film a more vibrant look.
In sum, this is a stunning release that is sure to please even the most critical videophile - and while some may critique the color timing in skin tones noted above, I firmly believe this was a stylistic choice and is not a flaw so much as a fine example of director's intent.
I was pleased to note that Transformers: Dark of the Moon features a 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD lossless surround mix rather than the more typical DTS-HD MA we see so often. Regardless of format, this is one of the most engaging, nuanced and well realized surround experiences I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. The opening seconds as the Paramount logo shows on screen feature an impressive surround pan as a transformer sound effect literally engulfs the room. From this start forward there is nothing imperfect about this mix - surround content is aggressive, superbly positioned and spatially accurate. Action scenes are nothing short of ridiculous with some of the most accurate tight and controlled use of VLF content I've ever witnessed. This is not a boom contest, and this is readily apparent as no one sound drowns out the rest - instead every channel and component of the mix works with the others to create what can only be called a benchmark in surround audio.
Unlike the vast majority of surround mixes where a huge front soundstage is thrown with little respect given to spatial queues in the left and right channels, Transformers: Dark of the Moon features the most spatially immersive audio I have every heard on a Blu-Ray. Not only are sounds localized to the correct channel; they are precisely located in both the y and x axes. What is truly unique about this mix is that depth is clearly given great attention; the precise proximity of any effect whether it be an explosion or the visceral impact of two Transformers is perfectly resolved - objects moving toward the viewer on screen clearly do so sonically as well, and the result is absolutely spectacular. VLF content is precise and authoritative without being boomy or distracting - this is punch you in the gut bass with some serious ULF content as well. However you look at it,this is a reference quality mix that is near impossible to fault - from dialogue to atmospheric content to surround localization there is not a single thing done wrong here. Reference.
The only extra included with this edition is the DVD version of the film, and while this is slightly disappointing, the case does include a $10.00 coupon for the 3D version which will also feature extra content. Trust me, the A/V is so good I doubt you'll care.
- DVD version of the film
What else is there to say that I haven't said already? Transformers: Dark of the Moon is not a masterpiece when it comes to the art of film making or storytelling, it suffers from plenty of pacing issues and has a lot of yawn inducing back-story that really didn't need to be there. Despite all this, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a great action film and a true exemplar of what the summer blockbuster should be. There's enough action, explosions and eye candy to appease even the most ravenous action junkie, and this is bundled with superb visuals and what I am happy to declare is the finest lossless surround mix the Blu-Ray format has ever seen.
Whether you're after demo material, a fun action flick, or an edge of your seat thrill ride (for the latter half at least), this film delivers. Highly Recommended.