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Transformers (DVD Review)

14 Oct, 2007 By: John Latchem

Street 10/16/07
Box Office $319.25 million
$29.99 DVD, $36.99 two-DVD set, $39.99 HD DVD
Rated ‘PG-13' for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor and language.
Stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Anthony Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Tyrese Gibson, Bernie Mac. Voices of Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Jess Harnell, Robert Foxworth.

Has Michael Bay always been this cocky? In his Transformers commentary, he openly brags about his Pentagon connections, his ability to use advanced military hardware when other productions can't, how he strongarms cities into letting him use historic landmarks and how he bullies his actors into performing dangerous stunts.

Bay even goes so far as to admit his goal for Transformers was to create a landmark movie for a new generation of filmgoers. Time will tell if he succeeded, but all the right elements seem to be in place.

The concept is admittedly goofy — vehicles that transform into robots to fight each other. And yet, Bay has embraced the absurdity and turned it to his advantage, marrying it to an adrenaline-fueled story that provides memorable characters, a good mix of action and humor, and seamless visual effects.

It's somewhat ironic that Bay can aim so high with a film like Pearl Harbor, and hit so low, while with Transformers he can make a film that is better than it has any right to be. Fans may still find Bay's style irksome. The frenetic action plays out like Bay's greatest-hits reel, and regular viewers will no doubt identify similar scenes from Bay's other films. (Which should help with the Michael Bay drinking game. “I've got green smoke!” Take a drink.)

This is not a film that needs to survive repeat viewings. On home video, fans will be able to relive their favorite sequences without the cumbersome burdens of plot and narrative flow, and absorb details that may have flashed by too quickly in theaters. Even the colors seem more vibrant than on the big screen.

The anchor of the film is rising star LaBeouf, but the masterstroke of casting was bringing in Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime, providing a much-needed connection to the classic 1980s cartoon series. The two-disc set and the HD DVD include an outstanding behind-the-scenes documentary that traces the development of the film all the way back to the earlier cartoon, complete with clips for comparison, which fans will eat up.

Too bad there aren't any deleted scenes here. The studio may be saving those for the inevitable mega-edition DVD set that will probably be released just before the announced sequel hits in 2009.

About the Author: John Latchem

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