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November 26 2014
Transformers: Age of Extinction Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
29/6/201426/11/2014ParamountMichael Bay
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 7.1MMark Wahlberg

THE MOVIE
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Age of Extinction has some very menacing, and new, Transformers.

Love them or hate them, there is no doubt that Michael Bay's Transformers franchise not only provide one of the most over the top, thrilling, action experiences in cinema, but with an astonishing $US2.7 billion dollars for the first three films there was no doubt that there would be many more sequels. While it took a little while to get Michael Bay back onboard, but this fourth film sees an entirely new human cast, and plenty of new transformers. Could the film still hold the attention of audiences the world over? You better believe it with an astonishing worldwide box office of just under $US1.1 billion! So what's this latest film about then...

Age of Extinction is set several years after the events that tore apart a city in Dark of the Moon, but with the world saved and much safer. As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs. On a farm in Texas a single father name Cade (Mark Wahlberg) takes scrap and invents new things to put his daughter through school. Bringing home a truck for scrap he soon discovers an Autobot - Optimus Prime who reassembles the Autobots to defend the planet.

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Battles are supremely entertaining.
The first big question most will ask is whether the series benefits from an entirely new cast with Shia LeBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and Tyrese Gibson sidelined in favour of Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Pelts and Jack Reynor. Again it's a pretty decent cast with Stanley Tucci being the standout in our books, but with everyone putting in a pretty decent performance. Not to be forgotten the voice actors for the Transformers also deserve a mention with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker returning while John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Robert Foxworth and John DiMaggio providing highlights as Hound, Drift, Ratchet and Crosshairs

As expected with any Michael Bay film it's the stunning set pieces and action that will have you on the edge of your seat and with a film that costs $US210 million to produce there is no expense spared to make this every bit as spectacular as movie goers expect. It's fair to say though that while there are spectacular moments here, not least of which when the Dinobots get unleashed, it never quite reaches the same jaw-dropping moments of the previous film when entire buildings are being ripped apart and collapsing. While we loved having the Dinobots in the film their presence is very limited and they didn't have the impact or screentime that we expected.

In terms of the actual film, and the storyline, we actually enjoyed it with plenty of new Transformers to get to know and love, the Dinobots going ballistic, and action set pieces that will have your jaw dropping frequently. The film focuses on the attempts for mankind to harness and use the Transformers power for their own benefit and it's a tale that had us hooked, and serves as a relevant warning with armies around the world currently racing towards unmanned machines and drones. With a runtime of 165 minutes it does feel a little lengthy however there isn't really a lot of fat to trim as it's such a continuous non-stop action packed ride.

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Mark Wahlberg as Cade in Age of Extinction.
Ultimately Age of Extinction introduces plenty of new characters - both human and Transformer to the mix and a pretty interesting storyline with a warning about humans trying to control something out of their power while the action set pieces are stunning. This is yet another very entertaining film in the franchise.

VIDEO
Transformers: Age of Extinction has been released in both 2D and 3D versions on Blu-Ray, and unfortunately we only received the 2D version to review, but it seems that seems to be the preference for the vast majority of movie watchers anyway so you might be interested in what we have to say here.

It's fair to say that Age of Extinction is yet another fantastic Blu-Ray release, and nigh on reference quality. Encoded in the AVC MPEG-4 codec everything in this release just pops off the screen with a phenomenal amount of detail throughout. Colours are bold and bright - even the Transformers look more colourful then previous films - and outdoor scenes in particular look stunning while interior shots, such as the barn on Cade's farm still look fantastic.

As for the 3D version, as we mentioned earlier we haven't seen that Blu-Ray but given the very strong audio visual transfer here, and the quality of the 3D in Dark of the Moon we would suggest those with 3DTV's that enjoy the extra depth may want to opt for that release as it includes the 2D disc as well.

Some of this clarity and sharpness must come from sections of the film being shot on IMAX's new 3D Digital Cameras. There is a segment of the film with the humans traversing some cables at a high altitude (I don't want to spoil the film so keeping details lite), and it's clear the scene has been shot entirely with 3D in mind, although it still looks pretty spectacular in 2D, and yes, spectaular enough to be classed reference quality.

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Michael Bay knows how to make an action sequence!
AUDIO
The primay audio track on this disc is a lossless Dolby Atmos track - this is the first time we've reviewed a disc with this audio format which is a new format which provides better multidimensional sound, with support for speakers overhead. Sadly we don't have the receiver, nor the speaker setup to test this so we're left with the "standard" Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track instead.

No need to fret however as this is every bit as impressive as any other audio track we have ever heard on a Blu-Ray. Sure, Michael Bay films are over the top in every regard, and that includes the aggressive use of surround sound channels, and booming sub-woofer effects that wil have you entire house shaking. Even the films opening minutes sees alien spaceships destroying the planet, and the dinosaurs with it, but the explosions will certainly leave an impression.

Music has been composed by Steve Jablonsky which is effective and fits into the universe perfectly, while even electronic dance DJ Skrillex provided some electronic sound effects for the film. Sound prioritization is also pretty good, but as expected, and as would be the case in real life, when the action really heats up the dialogue can get a little lost, but only momentarily.

Other audio tracks on this disc are English Audio Description, German, Spanish, French, and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. As one would expect these tracks lack the punch and fidelity of the English lossless track, but will get the job done if you require something other than English. Subtitles on are provided in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish. Samples of the English subtitles demonstrated accuracy to the dialogue in the film.

EXTRAS
For this releases we are reviewing the 2-disc 2D Blu-Ray release, so we can't comment on whether the 3D release has more, or less, extras then this release however the great news for fans of the film is that there is a second Blu-Ray disc full of the Bonus content. Let's get into it then...

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Dinobots are fantastic, but we wanted more...
Bay On Action (10:45/HD): In our books Michael Bay is one of the great action directors and this featurette sees Michael Bay talking about his filming style with some great on-set footage. Michael also discusses filming some of the sequences including the car hitting a stuntman in the face, a parkour sequence down some apartments in Hong Kong, filming in Detroit and using a brand new robotic camera.

Evolution Within Extinction (2:02:50/HD): This is a phenomenally detailed look at the creation of this film which is probably as good as any documentary about a films creation you've seen since, well, the last Transformers Blu-Ray release. The documentary is split up into eight sections which we will detail below:

  • Generation 2 (15:53): This first segment looks at setting up this next phase of the franchise including the all-new human cast and characters. It also looks at the new storyline including humans now trying to harness Transformer technology.
  • Drive Like Hell (13:29): Cars play a big part in the film as the Autobot characters and how the filmmakers tweak and upgrade the vehicles for each of the films. There is also a lengthy look at the stunt training which Jack went through prior to filming.
  • Small Town, Big Movie (11:22): Cade's house is in Texas and this featurette focuses on finding the right location for filming with over 200 locations scouted and then setting up the inside of the barn where Optimus is located. It then looks at filming in some of the small towns in Texas.
  • Shadow Protocol Activated (28:45): This pretty lengthy segment looks at the contribution which General Motors has had to the franchise, not just with vehicles, but also locations for filming including the production line and wind tunnel.
  • The Last Stand (11:03): Hong Kong features in this film and this featurette focuses on the film makers recreating the Asian city in the middle of Detroit. Plenty of time is spent on filming the massive explosions and action sequences. For such a visual effects heavy film it's great to see so many practical effects being used.
  • The People's Republic (12:54): As the title suggests this focuses on filming in Hong Kong including the chase and fight sequence on the top of a skyscraper,
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    Nicola Peltz is pretty good in Age of Extinction.
  • Rise of the Dinobots (6:10): This is the one area which could have been expanded as it look at the Dinobots - a new form of Transformer which makes its first appearance in this fourth film. Still, there's some pretty gorgeous stuff here including artwork, pre-viz and CG sequences.
  • The Finishing Touch (23:10): This segment looks at the post-production process following the actual filming on-set including the editing, visual effects, voice recording for the Transformers, recording the musical score and audio effects (by Skrillex no less!), and the World Premiere in Hong Kong.

Just Another Giant 'Effin Movie (10:03/HD): Some more on-set footage with Michael Bay's mother talking about her son and what he was like growing up. Pretty lightweight in terms of actual facts and detail, but some nice candid moments from the actors and filmmakers.

A Spark of Design (15:24/HD): Of course Transformers has always been about the actual toys and this featurette looks at Hasbro's input into the toys, design of Transformers and creating the models using 3D printers and then painting them. Quite an interesting piece worth a look which is a little less "sales pitchy" then it could have been.

T.J. Miller: Farm Hippie (19:43/HD): One of the main actors in the film attempts to talk to other cast and crew members, with mixed results. Obviously setup, but it's mildly amusing at times.

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This ship is sucking up anything metallic.
Trailers (9:54/HD): Here we have trailers for the film including Trailer 1 (2:28), Trailer 2 (2:28), Kre-O Transformers: Take Us Through The Movies! (3:42), and Angry Birds Transformers: Origin Story (1:16). That last trailer, seriously, WTF?!

OVERALL
If you didn't like the previous Transformers films then this fourth outing is unlikely to change your opinion, but as a fan of the franchise we certainly enjoyed this film which brings with it a new human cast, and plenty of new Transformers. Visual effects are stunning as are some of the action set pieces while the audio visual transfer is superb and the bonus content definitely worth your time. Fans of this film, and franchise, won't be disappointed with this great release.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
9/10
THE AUDIO
10/10
THE EXTRAS
8/10
OVERALL
9/10

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