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February 20 2012
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Limited 3D Edition Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
29/6/201116/2/2012ParamountMichael Bay
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 7.1MShia LeBeouf

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Bumblebee returns in the third Transformers movie, as does most of the cast.

Before I get into this review I'm just going to say I'm sick of the Michael Bay haters. Why is it so "fashionable" to hate he and his movies? To me he's a great "popcorn flick" director - he makes movies to entertaining and that's what his films do in a massive way. Just look at the worldwide grosses of the three Transformer movies to date - $US709 million, $US836 million and $US1,123 million. It's obvious these films have a lot of fans, and I'm included in that.

While a majority of the crew returned to make this third outing one of the main changes has been replacing the writers of the first two films, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, with Ehren Kruger (who co-wrote the second Transformers film as well as The Ring, and Arlington Road). This third film starts out telling us the real reason for the race to the moon - that being to explore the crash site of an alien vessel which is from Cybertron. This ship contained the last hope for the Autobots but in the wrong hands this technology could also mean the end of planet Earth. It's up to the Autobots, with the help of Sam Witwicky, to save humanity... if they can.

While the second film dropped the ball in terms of storyline it must be said that this film is back on the money. Sure, it's not going to win an Academy Award for scriptwriting, but there is some depth an emotion here - I doubt if anyone that loves this series doesn't feel for Bumblebee at one particular point in the film. We're also very grateful that Michael Bay has toned down the humour in the film - there's still the occasional laugh - but nothing like the humping dogs or hash cookies from the last film. Even the "racial" twin Autobots, Mudflaps and Wheelie, have been given the boot from this film - no racial stereotype here.

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The gorgeous Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly.
Almost all the main characters (Transformers) and actors are back including Shia LeBeouf, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson while the voice work is highlighted by Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime. As many of you may be aware Megan Fox was dropped for this film - officially, and as per the documentary, her look no longer suited the film, but read around online and you may discover that saying that Michael Bay like working with a Nazi probably isn't the best career move. In any case the new leading lady is the very sexy Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who does a great job as Sam Witwicky's new love interest Carly. Another newcomer to the film is John Malkovich as Sam's boss but, unfortunately, despite a brilliant performance his role is rather limited and he seems wasted while Frances McDormand puts in a decent performance as the hard-nosed Mearing.

When we reviewed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen we asked just how Michael Bay could ever top the stunning action sequences in that film. Not only has he topped them but he has set all new benchmarks for destruction with the only film to come close in visual spectacle being Roland Emmerich's 2012. This film though is littered with jaw-dropping explosions and stunt work not least of which is a super wingsuit flying sequence. Watch the extras on this disc and you'll realise that these were filmed practically with stuntmen flying through the streets of Chicago.

Visual effects really are second to none in this film with the last film being almost an hour-long battle on the streets of Chicago. It's amazing how much of the action sequences are actually practically shot on location, but almost every scene required visual effects from ILM, Digital Domain or almost a dozen other companies that assisted technically with the production. This film must win the best visual effects Academy Award - if not, well, there's something wrong in this world.

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Visual effects in Dark of the Moon are stunning.
Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon is a strong return to form for the franchise following a disappointing, but still entertaining, second outing. Everything here is cranked up to a new level and it's a fantastic couple of hours of popcorn entertainment.

This edition of Transformers: Dark of the Moon comes with both the 2D and 3D versions of the film - each receiving their own disc. Unlike most 3D Blu-Ray's the 3D disc here will not revert back to 2D if you don't have the correct TV, so you'll need to select the correct disc. Given the length of this film, by putting each version on a different disc Paramount are ensuring the video quality is kept at a premium, and what a stunning result it is.

Encoded at the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio the video codec is given plenty of room to breathe with a bit rate, according to our PS3, that often hovers around 30Mbps, if not much higher.

In terms of the 3D version Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a film that had a vast majority of scenes filmed using native 3D while the occasional scene was shot in 2D due to technical issues and converted in post-production. Forget about many crap post-production efforts (Clash of the Titans), this is a 3D showcase that should sit right up there with Avatar and Resident Evil: Afterlife. If you own a 3DTV then this is certainly a showcase release for the format.

No matter whether you're watching the 2D or 3D version of this film, the Blu-Ray transfer is reference quality all the way with stunning amounts of fine detail, some of the most impressive visual effects every put to film (although Michael Bay does do a surprising amount of practical effects too), vibrant colours and superb contrast levels.

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What's this on the moon?
Just like the visuals there really are very few movies that have the same wow factor as the Transformers films and Transformers: Dark of the Moon really is a sonic tour de force (it's no surprise to hear this was nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing in this month’s Academy Awards). This latest release, however, drops the DTS-HD encoding for Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48Khz/24-bit) but there is no need to fear as this is a cracking, perfect transfer that offers every single bit of clarity and impact one would expect from the gorgeous musical score by Steve Jablonsky as well as the dialogue. The surround sound channels are given regular use while the LFE channel will kick in every time a Transformer moves around (Shockwave being a prime example!), or an explosion is heard - which is almost non-stop in the second half of the film. This is one of the most impressive films I've ever heard on Blu-Ray and certainly demo worthy.

Other audio tracks on this disc include English Audio Description, German, French, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. Naturally these tracks aren't a patch on the English lossless track but they'll get the job done fairly well if required. Subtitles on are provided in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish. We sampled the English track and it was accurate to the on-screen dialogue.

This 5-disc Edition if jammed pack with extras, well more or less. Of course those 5 discs include the 3D and 2D Blu-Ray's as well as a DVD Copy and Digital Copy disc so there is only one disc of extras - but what a disc it is! First of all though we have to say we were disappointed this film doesn't include an audio commentary (Revenge of the Fallen's Blu-Ray included a commentary with Michael Bay, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman). Still, prepare for some of the best Extras ever seen...

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This building sequence in Dark of the Moon is absolutely stunning.
Above and Beyond: Exploring Dark of the Moon (1:50:46/HD): This really is a stunning "making of" documentary which is split up into several parts for easy consumption. This documentary alone is worth the price of this disc, it's simply brilliant.

  • "Rising from the Fallen: Development and Design" (22:24) looks at moving on from the poor second movie - even the filmmakers admit this - and improving on that disappointment for a third film including introducing new characters, their design (including a tonne of gorgeous artwork) and their place in the film. This segment also talks about the departure of Megan Fox (although there's no mention of her Nazi comments towards Michael Bay which are rumoured to have caused issues) and new female lead played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
  • "Ready for Prime Time: Filming Across America" (27:50) This article looks at the actual filming and starts off with a look at filming in 3D and the difficulties associated with moving to the new format. From there this looks at filming on the tilting building, filming around Detroit and Washington DC, including difficulties at Lincoln Memorial, shooting with a $1.6 million car, and shooting around Kennedy Space Centre.
  • "Battle in the Heartland: Shooting in Chicago" (13:40) focuses, unsurprisingly on filming the large Chicago set-piece including shutting down parts of the city, and Michael Bay's improvising on- set.
  • "Attack of the Birdmen: Aerial Stunts" (16:08) is a detailed look at the wingsuit skydivers who were picked up for the film after Michael Bay saw them featured on 60 Minutes.
  • "Shadow of the Sentinel: Post Production to Release" (29:30) is a fantastic look at the post- production of the film including editing where Michael Bay uses multiple editors working on the same scene, creating and getting Michael's approval for visual effects, the films sound design and then the release with the premiere in Red Square in Russia.

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Decepticons are destroying Chicago.
Uncharted Territory: NASA's Future Then And Now (26:15/HD): This featurette is a nice look at the role of NASA in exploring our universe, the ending of the Space Shuttle Program and where the future of space exploration lies.

Deconstructing Chicago: Multi-Angle Sequences (35:41/HD): This section contains twelve segments available in Previsualisation or Visual Effects form with optional commentary from Michael Bay and the artist involved. It's a good look at how detailed and planned out a film is before a single frame is shot on-set.

The Art of Cybertron (HD): This is a detailed image archive showing off the Transformers, Environments, Weapons and Gear and Ships. There are dozens of images present here, and some of the artwork really is spectacular.

The Dark of the Moon Archive (19:27/HD): This Archive contains five promotional clips including "3D: A Transforming Visual Art" (3:06) which is short segment from a presentation from James Cameron and Michael Bay. It's a shame we don't get the full interview in fact as it's well worth digging up online an watching, "Moscow World Premiere" (2:29) is a look at setting up and hosting the World Premiere at Red Square in Moscow, "Birdman Featurette" (2:28) which looks at the wingsuit jumpers, "Cody's iPad" (2:07) which is a nice piece with Michael Bay giving a young man with disabilities an iPad, and "The Sound of Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (9:17) is a nice extended look at the sound design in the film.

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Frances McDormand as Mearing - watch for her scene in the end credits!
The Matrix Of Marketing (4:54/HD): This section includes two the Teaser (2:28) and Theatrical (2:26) Trailers, as well as dozens of promotional items such as posters.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon corrects a lot of the missteps that were made with the second movie. It's still not a masterpiece in terms of script but I guarantee you've never seen a movie which has more actions, explosions, destruction or set pieces that will have your jaw on the flaw. The presentation of this release, be it the 2D or 3D versions, is exemplary while the disc of extras is worth the price alone. A stunning release, and essential purchase, especially for those with 3DTV's.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.