Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon Ultra HD Review

Ralph Potts reviews the second and third installments in the popular Transformers film franchise which are making their debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution.

 

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2009/2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 149/154 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC @ 1000 NITS
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: > Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong, Frances McDormand, Leonard Nimoy, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving
Directed by: Michael Bay
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Written by: Ehren Krueger, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Region Code: A

Release Date: December 5, 2017

“The Battle for Earth Continues”

My Take:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Two years after he and his Autobot friends saved the Earth from the Decepticons, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) faces a new battle: college. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime and the Autobots are working with a secret military organization and trying to make a home for themselves on Earth. When an ancient Decepticon known as The Fallen rises up to wreak vengeance, Sam and his girlfriend, Mikaela, must figure out the history of the Transformers on Earth and find a way to defeat The Fallen once and for all.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and his new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), join the fray when the evil Decepticons renew their longstanding war against the Autobots. Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) believes that resurrecting ancient Transformer Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), once the leader of the Autobots, may lead to victory. That decision, however, has devastating consequences; the war appears to tip in favor of the Decepticons, leading to a climactic battle in Chicago.

Here are some general comments that I use when describing my feelings/experiences with the continuing plotlines of the Transformers films: Whether you like Michael Bay or don’t like him there is no denying that he knows how to make an action film. I tend to like his work, probably because I am an action junkie that loves to see and hear stuff blow up, and few do it better him. I was a teenager when Transformers toys/animated TV series was all the rage among young kids in the eighties. I honestly never once watched the cartoon but I can recall the theme pretty well. Needless to say when the first Transformers film hit theaters in 2008 I had little interest in taking the plunge and decided to wait and see what it offered on home video.

As it turned out Transformers was a big hit which has spawned 4 sequels. Each of the films revolves around a continuing/age old battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons from the distant planet of Cybertron. After their war decimated Cybertron their epic struggle came to Earth, where a teenage boy, Sam Witwicky, is befriended by the Autobots and joins them in their fight against the evil Decepticons. Over the first two installments in the series the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers, is revealed and we learn more about the war, the players and their history (and its relevance with respect to events in our own history). Sam, along with a select group of U.S. Military/government personnel and civilians play an integral role in assisting the Autobots with putting down the Decepticon threat. Unfortunately the Decepticons and their leader Megatron won’t easily give up their quest for the destruction of the Autobots and dominion over the Earth.

Transformers: Revenge of the fallen wasn’t completely unwatchable, but compared to the original it was largely disappointing. The announcement of Transformers Dark of the moon didn’t hold out much hope for better, so once again I opted to catch it when it made its way to Blu-ray. There was a bit of buzz surrounding the departure of Megan Fox from the cast. I thought she was okay in the first two films but, didn’t see her leaving as a big problem, and it wasn’t. In the third installment we once again see the uprising of the Decepticons and learn of Earth’s detection of an alien landing on the moon (during the Kennedy Administration) which served as the true impetus for the space race and moon landing. There is a tie in to those events in our history as well as the alien war which leads to the discovery of an ancient plot by the Decepticons the key of which lies on the dark side of the moon.

In each of these films things unfold pretty much as you might expect with Optimus and his Autobots squaring off against Megatron and his minions. There are some new faces on both sides of the alien and human equations while many of the characters return from the previous films. Let’s be honest, no one should sit down to watch these movies expecting grandiose storytelling, inspirational performances and original themes. We are in it for the action plain and simple. All we ask is for a fairly cohesive script, credible characters and rewarding mindless entertainment. I think that Transformers: Dark of the Moon manages to deliver that, and is a better film experience than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The cast in Dark of the Moon is a little top heavy with supporting roles filled by Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Patrick Dempsey, Leonard Nimoy, Alan Tudyk, and Ken Jeong, but it works out well enough. Returning cast members, Shia LeBeouf, Josh DuHamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving do well in reprising their respective roles. I wasn’t impressed by newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who added little, but took nothing away. The real star of this show is the dazzling special effects which are incredibly seamless and engaging to watch. For me, these films represent the kind of popcorn entertainment that I like to revisit from time to time. It doesn‘t have a higher purpose or require strict attention to detail. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence, brief drug material, brief sexual humor and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen/Dark of the Moon come to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 59/67 Mbps, and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.6/4.9 Mbps, respectively.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen/Dark of the Moon were shot on film and derived from a 2K DIs for their presentation in Ultra HD. With the limited exposure to Ultra HD sourced from 4K Digital Intermediates we are left to judge based upon what we have seen thus far. In this case the results are very good.

The Transformers films share much the same visual aesthetic/dynamic on Blu-ray and that carries over to their presentations on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Many of my observations of them are similar, hence, they will be essentially identical. In this case the only real difference I noted was that these two films didn’t have quite the defining resolution of the first one. Otherwise, they share the same overall quality, which in and of itself, is very good.

The 1080p transfer of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon are excellent, serving to represent each’s original elements well. I am happy to report that these Ultra HD renderings take it up a notch with a noticeable increase in detail, and dynamic highlights. Great examples of the use of HDR can be found in chapters 16-18 in Revenge of the Fallen, and Chapter 10 in Dark of the Moon. These films make use of a variety of lighting schemes, and when called for, the cinematography makes use of shadows, cascading/streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here is used very well drawing upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. The use of shadows mixed with light looked very natural.

Each film utilizes an array of colors that appear faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. The nature of the photography emphasizes primaries, allowing the wide color gamut to shine, appearing more vivid and eye-pleasing. Close ups reveal plenty of fine detail and textures in the skin, hair, costumes, shooting locations, both rural and urban, and of course the metallic bodies of the Transformers. Looking at these presentations as a whole I would say that they make for a noticeable improvement when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray renderings.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I recently added the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel to my review system. This was to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by online-shashki Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen/Dark of the Moon, I found the HDR renderings to essentially be identical. As I alluded to earlier, these film’s elements are lent to bright color and vibrant highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR-10 renderings, any minute differences were negligible and not enough to warrant a rating difference. Both looked terrific, leaving me similarly satisfied with what I saw.

Like the video presentations the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround mix (in the case of Revenge of the Fallen) improves upon the previous 5.1 channel mix and sounds superb. These soundtracks run the gamut between subtle passages of spoken dialogue to dynamically charged sequences that deliver opulent surround sound. Dialog rendering is excellent. Detail is first rate which brings out the finely articulated nuance of background effects within each track. The excellent dynamic range accents the varying elements during transitions from subtle to more aggressive active moments which highlights the potency of gunfire, explosions, or musical crescendos. Low frequency effects don’t reach subterranean depths, but digs deep, as its palpable presence is never in question, providing rewarding and ample bass response that resonates with authority. Surround use is prevalent and achieves a high level of envelopment that is appreciably involving as sounds and effects are seamlessly blended to create a stable and detail rich sound field.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mixes I found them to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. The use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to very good effect, creating a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the opening of Dark of the Moon the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field. Chapter 10 sounds terrific as effects swirl around the soundstage, enlivening the already involving surround mix. Chapters 16, 17, and 18 of Revenge of the Fallen are showcases, delivering an entertaining listening experience. Each track simply bristles with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects. Overall, I would say that viewing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon with the new Dolby Atmos mixes heightened their already excellent home theater sound.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Bonus Features
  • Disc 1: Transformers: Dark of the Moon Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Bonus Features
  • Digital HD Copies

Final Thoughts:

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon are the second and third installment in the Transformer film franchise. Neither lives up to the original, however, Dark of the Moon is a step above its predecessor, making for the kind of rewarding popcorn entertainment that action junkies like myself enjoy revisiting from time to time. I am pleased to report that the Ultra HD presentations from Paramount Home Distribution are complimentary, with each delivering excellent Ultra HD video quality, and a new Dolby Atmos immersive mix that enhance the home theater experience. Both also include a Digital Copy, the original Blu-ray release, and legacy supplements. If you’re a franchise fan, and are set up to take advantage of what these Ultra HD Combo Packs have to offer Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon are worthy of consideration for a place in your video collection.

Ralph Potts
online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems