Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Transformers Ultimate Collector's Trilogy Blu-ray

Is this mammoth release worth the $90 price, or is a another bloated effort in the TF's line?

Well, the thang came in the mail today!  Gotta love Amazon Prime!!  And for any of you who had doubts about this release, RELAX!  It's everything that was advertised, and will go down as one of the most impressive box set releases in years.  Here's my review:

Outer Packaging: 5/5
What seemed to be a massive box set IS IN FACT A MASSIVE BOX SET.  Yes, I meant to yell that: Call Optimus on me!  Anyways, the outer packaging is made of a durable, shiny cardboard, far thicker than anything I've seen.  The outer packaging gives off a suggestion that it is actually made of steel.  The outer packaging is actually two pieces: the 'TF' triangular case, and its metal grading-look base.  The top of the 'TF' has a nice pseudo-riveted Transformers Ultimate Collectors Edition sign attached, which were not included in the preview set I found online.  Standing at 9" tall and 9" wide, this has to be one of the largest box sets ever made.   Picking this beast up is no laughing matter, as the whole thing comes off as a very solid piece, although the base and 'TF' don't see to be magnetized.  Too bad, as this might have helped to stabilize it for moving.  However, this piece is not meant to be taking to a friend's house for Show and Tell.  No, this is meant to be displayed along with your best box sets, and should stand front and center with Amazon's Watchmen Exclusive and the creepy Alien Anthology or T2 bust set.    

Inner Packaging: 5/5
Opening this beasty is also a joy; it's funny that the set came with directions to open it.  Basically, you pull the 'TF' off the base, lay the large Transformers plate facing down, and 'peel' the ends back until it displays like this:

You can see that each angle of the triangle contains discs from each movie.  Each end of the angle is magnetized, so the whole thing packs back up very well.  The inner packaging is also cool, in that you are given selected cells from the films, and an (apparently real) autograph from director Michael Bay.  There is a large amount of padding which is provided to both keep things from moving around, and the from the contents from scratching.  BE WARNED: the tape which is used to keep each set locked down needs to be removed immediately, as some of the tape ended up removing some of the lettering from one of the discs.  My suggestion: cut small pieces of the tape once you remove it and re-use on the corners of the disc cases.  It's the only disappointing part, but not even all that much of a problem if you remove it soon.
The Discs: 5/5
I haven't gotten to see asll the features yet, but when you have 7 discs of content, it reminds one of the Ultimate Matrix set I reviewed here.  The one issue I had here was that only Dark of the Moon was released as a 3D set; probably too expensive to remake #1 into 3D, but I'm sure some fans were hoping for 3D versions of all three.  This is not a reason not to buy it; there's plenty to look at on here.  The 7-disc set contains new featurettes and a 3-disc release of Dark with nearly 4 hours of special features.  Here is the breakdown of each film:

7-Disc Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray Trilogy

"Transformers (2 Disc Special Edition Blu-ray )"
Disc 1:
  • Feature film in high 1080p definition
  • Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby
  • Digital Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Commentary by Michael Bay
Disc 2:
Our World
  • The Story Sparks - Steven Spielberg discusses his love for the franchise and early concept art for the film. Explores how the writers adapted the cartoon into a live action movie and why Michael Bay is the perfect director for the film.
  • Human Allies - A look at how the actors were selected and their experiences on the set.
  • Fight Giant Robots - An exploration of the military training that Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson underwent for their roles and the various stunts that the actors were asked to perform.
  • Battleground - A piece on the senior officials from the Department of Defense and Air Force who consulted on the film to give it authenticity and the key locations that the U.S. government provided access to.
Their War
  • Rise of the Robots - Explores the interaction between Hasbro designers and Michael Bay to bring the toy line roaring to life.
  • AUTOBOTS Roll Out - Michael Bay discusses working with Chevy and its designers and the modifications that were made to the cars seen in the film.
  • DECEPTICONS Strike - The film's military advisors discuss the "toys" they allowed the production to borrow: F-22 Raptors, Ospreys and A-10 Warthogs.
  • Inside the AllSpark - ILM's digital artists discuss the challenges of bringing the TRANSFORMERS to life.
More Than Meets The Eye
  • From Script to Sand: The SKORPONOK Desert Attack - An in-depth look at the making of this particularly epic and challenging scene from initial storyboarding through production and visual effects.
  • Concepts - Early sketch concepts of the robots.
  • Trailers
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2 Disc Special Edition Blu-ray)"
Disc 1:
  • Feature film in high 1080p definition
  • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Commentary by Michael Bay, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
Disc 2:
The Human Factor: Exacting Revenge of the Fallen--This multi-chapter documentary chronicles the entire creation of the film and includes interviews with the cast and crew:
  • Seeds of Vengeance - Development and Design - After the overwhelming success of 2007's Transformers, how do the filmmakers top themselves for the sequel?
  • Domestic Destruction - Production: United States - Michael Bay believes in going big: Big action and big explosions. Cast and crew are pushed to the limit as they traverse the U.S. from New Mexico to Pennsylvania.
  • Joint Operations - Production: Military - No other filmmaker in the world enjoys the kind of military access and cooperation Michael Bay has. Here we see just how efficient our armed forces are and the awe and respect shown by the cast.
  • Wonders of the World - Production: Middle East - You can't really reproduce Egypt anywhere but Egypt so off we go to Giza and Luxor.
  • Start Making Sense - Editing - In order to turn over the massive amount of film as quickly as possible to VFX, four editors work tirelessly in a unique tag-team approach to shape the film.
  • Under the Gun - Visual Effects - Revenge of the Fallen features the most complicated VFX in film history. So complicated in fact that the filmmakers were unsure they would make the deadline. The DEVASTATOR VFX alone required 83% of ILM's total render farm capacity.
  • Running the Gauntlet - Post-Production and Release - Working seven days a week, Michael Bay and company usher the film through sound design, Digital Intermediate color-timing and a globe-trotting whirlwind of premieres.
  • A Day with Bay: Tokyo--An intimate and fun all-access journey with Michael Bay as he travels to Tokyo, Japan for the world premiere of the biggest film of the year.
  • 25 Years of TRANSFORMERS--Access an all-new featurette celebrating a monumental milestone for one of Hasbro's most successful and popular franchises.
  • NEST: Transformer Data-Hub--Explore conceptual artwork created by the production for 12 of the most popular AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS from the film.
  • Deconstructing Visual Bayhem with Commentary by Pre-Vis Supervisor Steve Yamamoto-- A series of multi-angle pre-visualization sequences allowing viewers to learn how some of the film's most spectacular scenes were created with an introduction by Michael Bay.
  • Extended Scenes
  • Music Video: Linkin Park's "New Divide"
  • NEST: Transformer Data-Hub--A database of some of the TRANSFORMERS characters that appear in the new film, offering users access to each robot's confidential file including:
  • Innovative 3D spin galleries of each robot
  • A timeline for each TRANSFORMERS character charting its origins, back story and design evolution from toys to animated series to comics and finally feature films
  • Giant Effing Movie - A very personal look at the making of the movie.
  • The Matrix of Marketing--An archive of the film's promotional media including trailers, posters and television spots.
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2 Disc Special Edition Blu-ray)"
Disc 1 (Blu-ray):
  • Feature film in high definition with Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray are presented in 1080p high definition with English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1 Discrete Dolby Digital
Disc 2 (Blu-ray):
  • Above and Beyond: Exploring Dark of the Moon
  • Rising from the Fallen: Development and Design
  • Ready for Prime Time: Filming Across America
  • Battle in the Heartland: Shooting in Chicago
  • Attack of the Birdmen: Aerial Stunts
  • Shadow of the Sentinel: Post-Production and Release
  • Uncharted Territory: NASA's Future Then and Now
  • Deconstructing Chicago: Multi-Angle Sequences
  • Previsualizations with optional commentary by director Michael Bay and previsualization supervisor Steve Yamamoto
  • Previsualizations/Final Shot Comparison with optional commentary by director Michael Bay and previsualization supervisor Steve Yamamoto
  • Visual Effects with optional commentary by visual effects supervisors Scott Farrarand Matthew Butler
  • Visual Effects/Final Shot Comparison with optional commentary by visual effects supervisors Scott Farrar and Matthew Butler
  • The Art of Cybertron
  • Autobots
  • Decepticons
  • Environments
  • Weapons and Gear
  • Ships
  • The Dark of the Moon Archive
  • 3D: A Transforming Visual Art
  • Moscow World Premiere
  • Birdmen Featurette
  • Cody's iPad
  • The Sound of Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • The Matrix of Marketing
  • Trailers
  • Marketing Gallery
Disc 3 (Blu-ray 3D):
  • Feature film in high definition 3D
Disc 4 (DVD):
  • Feature film in standard definition
  • Digital Copy-Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media


The Final Word: 5/5
Regardless of whether you like Michael Bay as a director, this release should go down as one of the best efforts ever.  If you bought the stripped-down version of Dark, you were given a $10 coupon, which I hope you remember to use.  If you're still not convinced, listen to Bay talk about the release: