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Transformers: Two-Disc Special Edition DVD Review

Transformers (2007) movie poster Transformers

Theatrical Release: July 3, 2007 / Running Time: 143 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes), Josh Duhamel (Captain Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (USAF Tech Sergeant Epps), Rachael Taylor (Maggie Madsen), Anthony Anderson (Glen Whitmann), Jon Voight (Defense Secretary John Keller), John Turturro (Agent Simmons), Michael O'Neill (Tom Banachek), Kevin Dunn (Ron Witwicky), Julie White (Judy Witwicky), Amaury Nolasco (ACWO Jorge "Fig" Figueroa), Zack Ward (First Sergeant Donnelly), Ashkan Kashanchi (Mahfouz), Rizwan Manji (Akram), W. Morgan Sheppard (Captain Witwicky), CJ Thomason (Sailor), Bernie Mac (Bobby Bolivia), Carlos Moreno, Jr. (Manny), Johnny Sanchez (Clown), John Robinson (Miles), Travis Van Winkle (Trent)

Voice Cast: Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Mark Ryan (Bumblebee), Darius McCrary (Jazz), Robert Foxworth (Ratchet), Jess Harnell (Ironhide/Barricade), Hugo Weaving (Megatron), Jim Wood (Bonecrusher), Reno Wilson (Frenzy), Charlie Adler (Starscream)

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By Aaron Wallace

Shia LaBeouf starred in one of the best and one of the worst movies of 2007. The former was the excellent suspense thriller, Disturbia; the latter was Transformers, a Michael Bay-directed schlockfest that managed to make the 1980s look bad. Based on the line of toys -- yes, toys --- popularized by Hasbro in 1984, Transformers chronicles an age-old feud between good robots and bad robots... but wait, there's more.
These aren't just robots; they can turn into cars too. Robots? Cars? What are you waiting for -- let's make a movie! Such must have been the mindset of executive producer Steven Spielberg when he signed up for Transformers and of millions of American viewers when they made it one of the most successful movies of all time. Don't let the box office numbers fool you, though; Transformers are every bit as lame on the big screen as they were on toy shelves twenty years ago.

As the film begins, Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) is about to embark on that familiar teenage right of passage: purchasing his first car. His cheapskate father (Kevin Dunn) pulls tight on the purse strings, so all Sam can afford is a beat-up 1976 Chevy Camaro with a $4,000 price tag. He quickly discovers that this particular car is a bit more than standard issue, boasting comfortable seating and a mind of its own. That's all well and good when it helps him get the attention of smokin' hot Mikaela (Megan Fox), the 'it' girl in school who would never pay an awkward goofball like Sam any mind. When the Camaro turns out to be an alien robot with an agenda, though, Sam and Mikaela get a little flustered.

It seems that the Camaro, better known as Bumblebee, is part of a virtuous squad of Autobots who are on Earth to ward off the nefarious Decepticons from their quest for power. At the center of their mission is the Allspark, a small cube (what else?) that is the source of all that transformin' energy. We learn that it's hidden deep within the Hoover Dam and that Sam's great-grandfather got a little too close for comfort back in the day. Now the robots from both sides are after Sam's family heirlooms in the hopes that they can point to the Allspark.

Mikaela (Megan Fox) and Sam (Shia LaBeouf) look up at the Transformers around them. Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and Ratchet tower over Sam and Mikaela. They would, being cars that turn into robots.

That's all the story you'll ever get out of Transformers. The first hour is filled with mindless action, after which comes a lull of ten minutes or so where the above facts are thrown in for good measure, and then the mindless action resumes for another hour-and-a-half. Sure, there's something about a group of Internet age hackers working for the US Secretary of Defense (Jon Voight) and a team of US Army Special Ops, but both seem to be there merely for the sake of a bigger cast and added weight.
The Decepticons first spring up in the Middle East, you see, and I'm sure that's it just coincidence that they land in the middle of the War on Terror. Combine that with a faceless president who asks for Ding Dongs with a Texan accent and you might just be looking at some political commentary. Oh, Michael Bay, you're so relevant.

Far be it from me to diss the respected institution that is the summer popcorn blockbuster. Unlike many critics, I readily embrace some of these each and every year, and am loath to dismiss a film because of large explosions or a high body count. So when I say that Transformers is an insult to the human capacity for thought and analysis, I say it with no ill will towards the genre. It's just that in order for action to be interesting, there must be underlying narrative to support it. The brilliance of an action sequence lies in its ability to bridge the visual wonders of the film medium with the empathy an audience feels for a character. A film that fails to engage its audience with a good story structured around well-developed characters cannot elicit suspense. Why should I care if one robot beats up the other? I don't, and that makes this excessively long (two-and-a-half hours!) movie a chore to endure.

I can only assume that Steven Spielberg hoped the inherent silliness of Transformers lore and Michael Bay's notorious propensity toward bad filmmaking would cancel each other out when he enlisted Bay. Sadly, one only magnified the other. Poorly directed throughout, Transformers always goes for the most obvious shot, the most conventional presentation. Like a thousand forgettable action flicks before it, the film relies on a series of fast and hectic shots to generate excitement and with Bay at the helm and Jerry Bruckheimer nowhere in sight, it's not at all captivating. The audience is force-fed car chases and gunfire while the movie gets lost in confusion as to whether it wants to be a sci-fi flick, a political thriller, or a war film. As a result, you get troops firing at giant robots as they awkwardly clank down the streets of LA and wax philosophical about human-alien relations. If The Fast and the Furious collided with Pearl Harbor somewhere in outer space and fell back down to Iraq, it would produce something similar to (but probably still better than) Transformers.

Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson) shift their focus from Middle East evildoers to high-tech robotic stuff. Just your typical hot 20-something Aussie decoder, Maggie (Rachael Taylor) brings a stolen memory card to the attention of her video game-playing pal Glenn (Anthony Anderson).

If that doesn't sound cheesy enough, just wait until you hear the dialogue. Some of the worst lines in recent memory are delivered as if they're the next "Here's looking at you, kid", most frequently coming from the robots, to whom the garish voice-acting lends no credibility. I can understand how former soap star Josh Duhamel, who is unbearably bad in his role as Army Captain Lennox, might not blink an eye when handed this script, but I'm in disbelief that LaBeouf and Voight (and for that matter, Spielberg) so lowered their standards. Steve Jablonsky's uninspired score is equally condemnable, echoing the film's clichιd vibe.

Not everything goes wrong, however. Duhamel and a few small roles notwithstanding, the acting isn't bad. LaBeouf does a good job with the weak material he is given and manages to be funny throughout. In fact, the movie succeeds at being funny in a handful of scenes, both intentionally and otherwise. Some of the jokes are risquι, earning a PG-13 rating where one might not otherwise have been warranted. Depending on your feelings about product placement, you might find some poorly hidden corporate logos funny too. Towards the end, the action itself also deserves mention. Even if unsupported by narrative and poorly shot, the effects and explosions create a spectacle that simply looks cool, if nothing else.

These fleeting moments do not salvage the movie or justify the more than two hours that it demands from viewers. Even if I could be convinced that there is a story worth telling in the world of Transformers, the screenwriters and director Michael Bay have done a dismal job at structuring that story into a narrative. Those who grew up with the "Transformers" cartoon might deem the fact that a childhood love has been captured in live-action enough to make an investment in this movie worthwhile. I would think those fans would be more disheartened than anything, though, given that the Hasbro property has been used as nothing more than a vehicle (no pun intended) for superfluous action in a competitive summer movie market, forsaking any attempt at making a good movie.

Buy Transformers: Two-Disc Special Edition DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish;
Closed Captioned
Release Date: October 16, 2007
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $36.99)
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Clear Keepcase with Transparent Slipcover
Also available in Single-Disc DVD and
on 2-Disc Special Edition HD DVD


The movie was filmed in the very wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is presented in the same on DVD in an excellent anamorphic transfer. As expected from a brand-new, big budget production, video quality is nearly flawless and looks great even on a big screen. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is equally pleasing, dynamically mixed to fill all the channels with appropriate levels of dialogue, score, and effects. Bass, too, is as it should be. An additional DTS track would have been appreciated but otherwise, video and audio quality leave no room for complaints.

For foreign language viewers, separate Dolby Digital 5.1 French and Spanish tracks are included. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also available for the movie and the Disc Two bonus features, though there are no alternate audio tracks on Disc Two.


Transformers is available as a single-disc DVD, double-disc DVD, and double-disc HD-DVD. It is the Two-Disc Special Edition DVD that is the subject of this review.
While it seems likely that DreamWorks and Paramount will want to revisit the movie in the future, this release serves up a substantial amount of extra content.

The sole bonus feature on the Disc One menu is a feature-length audio commentary with Michael Bay. Considerably more entertaining than the movie itself, the value of this track is in Bay's amazing ability to speak of himself as if he's Orson Welles for 2½ hours. During the course of his arrogant rant, he manages to disparage respected filmmakers, studio executives, fans, and even his own cast. Bay paints himself as a discerning filmmaker who was reluctant to stoop down to comic-type fare but ultimately succeeded with flare. He notably identifies Pearl Harbor as the new Hollywood standard for effects, one which he feels he's surpassed with Transformers. Let's just hope George Lucas isn't listening when Bay knocks Star Wars effects as inferior to those he created for the masterpiece that is Transformers. The whole thing comes off as an attempt to tout the movie's box office success and to justify Bay's apparently ill temper toward others on the set. Those who loved the movie will at least appreciate that Bay gives clues about what he will and won't do in Transformers 2, even revealing that he has no idea what the story will be yet (a sure sign that the sequel will be awesome).

Director Michael Bay isn't short on ego in the featurettes and his "Transformers" audio commentary. Megan Fox's audition is seen in the Our World featurette "Human Allies." "Spielberg's here. Look like you're not making crap, guys!"

Disc Two is divided into three sections. The first is "Our World" (49:20), a feature-length documentary that is divided into four featurettes but best viewed with the Play All option. Filled with an abundance of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, this piece focuses on the actual production of the film and the work that led up to it. Even for someone who didn't enjoy the movie, this is interesting and revealing, covering everything from the casting process to the filming of specific scenes.

The second section is "Their War" (1:05:12), another feature-length documentary. This one covers the story origins in greater detail and the process of adapting the Transformers toys and cartoon into a live-action film. There is quite a bit of discussion about the car designs and the characters themselves. Complete with excerpts from "Transformers" cartoons and toy commercials, this one will surely please diehard fans but for the casual film fan, "Our World" will be the more interesting of the two. Both are filled with valuable contributions from many of those involved with all aspects of the production and relevant footage. Like "Our World", "Their War" is divided into four featurettes but is best viewed as a cohesive documentary via Play All.

The third section is entitled More than Meets the Eye. There are three items within it, the first is a featurette entitled "From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack" (8:53), which is a brief look at the production of one of the battle scenes. Though Michael Bay elsewhere reveals that he doesn't use much storyboarding these days (I'm shocked), you'll get to glance at some here.

Excerpts of the 1980s "Transformers" cartoon series are included in "Their War" featurettes. Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) takes us on a tour of "The Scorponok Desert Attack", but he doesn't tell us if he's still scared of Ralphie or how his eyes got to be yellow. "Concepts" displays development artwork like this.

"Concepts" (2:12) is essentially a stand-in for an interactive gallery, one which I find preferable.
Nearly fifty colorful concept art stills rotate as the a selection of Transformers score plays in the background. There is a mix of character design stills and background design artwork.

Finally, there is a gallery of three trailers: "Teaser Trailer 1" (1:49), "Theatrical Trailer 2" (2:13), and "Theatrical Trailer 4" (2:35), all of which make the movie look much cooler than it actually is. It's unclear why the rest of the trailers weren't included, but Paramount and DreamWorks deserve credit for including these. All three can be viewed individually or together.

There are a number of Easter Eggs on the DVD. If you'd rather find them for yourselves, click here to skip past this section. On Disc One, allow the end credits to play through (or just fast-forward until their conclusion). This will trigger a hidden trailers menu, which provides the trailer for 2008's Iron Man (2:30) and two teaser trailers for Transformers (different from the one on Disc 2). One is simply labeled teaser trailer (1:49), the other is "Rise of the Autobots" (1:11). Act fast, because the menu screen doesn't stay up for long.

From Disc 2's Main Menu, scroll down to the Set Up option and press the left arrow button, and then enter. This accesses several screens of DVD credits.

While in the "Our World" screen, scroll down to "I Fight Giant Robots" and then press the down arrow key. An icon will appear next to "Main Menu"; press enter and you'll see an old Transformers toy commercial reworked to advertise the Bay Bot toy (0:21).

In the menu for "Their World", scroll down to "Inside the AllSpark" and hit the left arrow button. Press enter to see the very funny filming of a deleted scene in which Michael Bay and others are thrown out of a car suspended in the air while Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox egg him on from the sidelines (2:35).

In the More than Meets the Eye menu screen, press the up key once and you will select an icon next to the words "Main Menu". Press enter to access "Casting Mojo" (1:19), a short reel of dog auditions for the part of Sam's family pet, Mojo.

Finally, under the trailers menu in More than Meets the Eye, scroll down to "Theatrical Trailer 4" and then hit your right arrow key. This will take you to the left of the "More than Meets the Eye" button; press enter and you'll be treated to the filming of a scene in which an extra loses her clothes again and again, followed by the almost-finalized version of the scene, which was deleted from the final cut (2:03).

A Transformer's hand apparently rotates clips from the movie on the animated Disc 1 Main Menu Disc 2 opts for simplicity with black, steel, and logos.

Naturally, there is more that could have been included on this DVD. The absence of deleted scenes is especially noticeable and perhaps suggestive of an extended cut in the future. Overall, though, the two discs have a lot to offer, nearly all of it substantive. It's just a shame all these hours of extras weren't spent on a better movie.

The 16x9 main menu is animated on Disc One, stagnant on Disc Two, but accompanied by score on both. Generally quite navigable but not especially creative, there isn't much to say about the menus. The audio commentary on Disc One is stored inside the Set Up menu, as there isn't a Bonus Features menu on the first disc.

Both discs are adorned with a nondescript silver/gray label and packaged inside a clear keepcase. A clear plastic slipcover slides off to take away the movie's title and leave the image of a somber-looking Autobot against a white background. The same is true for the backside of the case (once the UPC card is removed), only with an angrier-looking Decepticon. The only insert inside the case is a four-page advertisement for the new Chevrolet Camaro and a Transformers-themed sweepstakes.

The single-disc edition's artwork is superior to that of the double-disc edition. Fortunately for fans, various retailers are offering more creative packaging options that will undoubtedly be available for only a limited time.

A boy and an alien? Check. A boy and a Gremlin? Check. A boy and a car/robot? No check. Despite his long, proven track record, executive producer Steven Spielberg can't make us care about Transformers. Five of the movie's male leads (Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, John Turturro, skip, Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson) pose heroically.


With mighty morphin' robots fighting for hours on end, Transformers is little more than "Power Rangers" on a $150 million budget. Poorly scripted and directed, the movie quickly falls apart without the support of story strong enough to sustain a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie. Those who somehow managed to like the movie (and apparently there are many of them) will be pleased by the Special Edition DVD's excellent audio and video presentation and the solid extras. Still, even hours of good bonus features can't make up for a bad movie.

Transformers is a lot like the robots at its center -- lifeless, artificial, and most interesting to comic geeks still stuck in the '80s. I kept waiting for the movie to live up to its name and transform into something better, but sadly, it held strong to the Michael Bay rule of action first, story second and this time, story never showed up at all.

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Related Reviews:
Starring Shia LaBeouf: Disturbia • Holes • Surf's Up • The Even Stevens Movie • The Greatest Game Ever Played
Megan Fox: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen | Tyrese Gibson: Annapolis | Steven Spielberg: Poltergeist: 25th Anniversary Edition
Jon Voight: National Treasure • Enemy of the State: Special Edition • Glory Road | Bernie Mac: Mr. 3000
Summer Blockbusters: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer • Fantastic Four: Extended Edition • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Late '80s Toons/Revivals/Voice of Peter Cullen: TMNT • DuckTales: Volume 1 • Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: A Great Day of Discovery
Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows • Tron • Toy Story: 10th Anniversary Edition • Beyblade: The Movie - Fierce Battle
Cloverfield • Iron Man (Ultimate 2-Disc Edition) • District 9 (2-Disc Edition)

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Reviewed October 15, 2007.

Text copyright 2007 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2007 DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Paramount Home Entertainment.
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