DVD Review: 'Transformers'
More features than meet the eye, but they're rather unimaginative
Three months later, "Transformers" promises to be even more popular on DVD given that these huge action sequences will be more accessible on video and dissected for further enjoyment. Initially, it seemed fairly surprising that the special 2-disc special edition only boasted one audio commentary and three featurettes on its packaging. This is highly misleading because, after all, this is a product by Michael Bay, the master of overstatement.
Sure enough, each of the featurettes are further divided into submenus. More than meets the eye, indeed. Because of this wealth of information, just skip the audio commentary altogether unless you're a diehard Bay fan. Most of the stuff is covered in the featurettes anyway. Oh, and points for a very simple, navigable menu.
"Our World" is the requisite behind-the-scenes feature that begins with "The Story Sparks," how Bay was recruited by Steven Spielberg to direct the movie and going through "Transformers" school at Hasbro in Rhode Island. LaBeouf, who plays Sam Witwicky, acknowledges that Bay may be the man to call to action, but is no Elia Kazan. Also, check out the section's casting portion for John Turturro's Martin Scorsese impersonation, the cooperation of the military in the film and the demanding locations shots, including the impressive Megatron hangar.
Action becomes the focus of "More Than Meets the Eye," which details the stealthy Skorponok attack on the military in the desert. Sand, actors running and yes, real explosions demonstrate the elaborate extents necessary to create the scene. A submenu simply labeled "Concepts" reveals the gorgeous and intricate concept drawings set to music.
The section "Their War" is geared towards fans of the original '80s cartoon and the G1 (first generation) robot toys. In the subsection "Rise of the Robots," viewers are treated to nostalgic cartoon clips and that wonderfully cheesy theme song, how the robots' design had to be updated logically with an endoskeleton with no mass-shifting, and the explanation of why Peter Cullen (original cartoon voice for Optimus Prime) was cast for the new film but Frank Welker was passed over for Hugo Weaving as the voice of Megatron.
This section also examines the updates given to the opposing sides of the robot battle. The Autobots are more recognizable as everyday vehicles, although producers still can't quite satisfy fans unhappy about making Bumblebee (who was portrayed as a VW bug in the 1980s) a muscle car for the film. Additional changes were made to Optimus Prime as well, including the addition of painted flames and an elongated nose on the truck. The design of the Decepticons benefited from today's military vehicles, such as real-life Ospreys and Warthogs. There's also discussion about how Frenzy is a tribute to Soundwave (the original series' outdated boombox robot), why Megatron had to have a different protoform from a gun and an overview of the CG effects going into making the robots appear to be sentient, soul-bearing beings.
Despite all of these featurettes, the DVD feel a bit underwhelming content-wise for such a hugely popular film. There's very little joy or creativity in the supplemental offerings, just a straightforward recitation of facts. No doubt a bigger, better special edition DVD will take advantage of the format. The original animated movie DVD did it far better. In the meantime, there's always the blockbuster film to rewatch.
EXTRAS: Director commentary; "Our World" behind-the-scenes featurette; "Their War" featurette exploring the Autobots, Decepticons and special effects; "More Than Meets the Eye" featurette about the Skorponok Desert Attack scene; trailers