Transformers Ultra HD Review

Ralph Potts reviews the first installment in the popular Transformers film franchise which is making its 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 )

94

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 143 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, Bernie Mac, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Michael O’Neill, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Amaury Nolasco, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Mark Ryan, Jess Harnell, Robert Foxworth
Directed by: Michael Bay
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Written by: Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Region Code: A

Release Date: December 5, 2017

“More Than Meets the Eye”

My Take:

I reviewed Transformers 2008 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound mix are below.

From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg comes a thrilling battle between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. When their epic struggle comes to Earth, all that stands between the Decepticons and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Unaware that he is mankind’s last chance for survival, Sam and Bumblebee, his robot disguised as a car, are in a heart-pounding race against an enemy unlike anything anyone has seen before.

I was a teenager when Transformers were all the rage among young kids in the eighties. I honestly never once watched the cartoon but I can recall the theme pretty well. When this film was released last year I just didn’t have any interest in seeing it in the theater. I mean come on, a movie about Hasbro toys from the eighties? Well there was so much hype surrounding it after release I figured I better get in on it. Well I am glad that I did. Let’s be honest this is not great cinema or award-winning acting, but does it really need to be? This is an entertaining film that features cool special effects, great action, decent characters, and just the right amount of imagination to bring us all back to a time when we believed in things that were not possible.

A prime example is during the battle on the freeway in chapter 19 when Optimus is battling the Decepticon and the little boy and his mother almost collide with them. The kid sees two giant toys rumbling in the middle of the freeway and his first reaction isn’t fear but is simply “Cool Mom!” Character development is good enough that we get a feel for the varying sets of individuals, which includes the alien robots (to a lesser degree), from each perspective. The main players, LaBeouf and Fox have good onscreen appeal and chemistry that works. The rest of the cast are divided up into groups who are working to deal with the alien robot threat. This is a big budget production that features solid casting and a director who is no stranger to action/adventure films.

Like him or not Michael Bay knows how to make action flicks that deliver plenty of high octane. This film has some incredible action based sequences that are just so much fun to watch. The special effects are dazzling and include some of the best CGI that I have seen. For me this film is the kind 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 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): 92
(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): 92
(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

Transformerscomes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.7 Mbps.[/b]

Transformers was shot on film and derived from a 2K DI for its 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 excellent.

The 1080p transfer of Transformers is a good one, serving the film’s original elements well. I am happy to report that this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and dynamic highlights. This film makes 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.

Transformers 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, and of course the metallic bodies of the Transformers. Looking at the presentation as a whole I would say that it makes for a noticeable improvement when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray rendering.

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, I found the HDR renderings to essentially be identical. As I alluded to earlier, this 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 presentation the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround mix improves upon the previous 5.1 channel mix and sounds superb. This soundtrack runs 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 elements within the mix. The recording’s excellent dynamic range accents the soundtrack’s 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 this mix digs deeper than the original, 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 mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the first act there are several instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field. The opening with its narration/backstory, and attack on the military base, provide an idea of what the mix has in store. Audio object placement from both above and in the ear listening plane are put to effective use.

The sequence in chapter 8 where survivors of the base attack are assaulted in the desert, sounds great, as the various effects move in and around the room as dictated by what you see onscreen. While this scene sounds very good in the standard mix it’s taken to another level in the Amos mix. This continues with the film’s action based sequences as well as those that convey the breadth/expanse of interiors such as those in the underground facility where Megatron was kept on ice. The track simply bristles with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects. Overall, I would say that viewing Transformers in Ultra HD with the new Dolby Atmos mix made for a “transformative” and heightened home theater experience.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Transformers Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Transformers Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Bonus Features
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Transformers does exactly what it sets out to do, offering genre fans an action-packed adventure that contains top notch special effects, mated with the kind of fantasy that is great for putting away lots of popcorn. I am pleased to report that its Ultra HD presentation from Paramount Home Distribution is a complimentary one that includes excellent Ultra HD video quality, and a new Dolby Atmos immersive mix that enhance the film’s home theater experience. The package also includes a Digital Copy, the original Blu-ray release, and legacy supplements. If you’re a fan, and are set up to take advantage of what this Ultra HD Combo Pack has to offer Transformers is a must have for your 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 

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