Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray review

At least it can't be as bad as Revenge of the Fallen... Can it?

After the unspeakable cinematic horror of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it’s a tiny miracle that Michael Bay could persuade anybody that the world needed another instalment in this toy-based franchise. But persuade them he did, and the resulting 3D sci-fi epic went on to rake in more than $1billion at box offices around the world. But is the film actually any good?

Well, as is often the case with Michael Bay, the answer is both yes and no. The simple fact is that Dark of the Moon is an improvement on its predecessor, thanks primarily to ditching the majority of the inane humour and racism that plagued that flick. It also scores highly with action fans, delivering some of Bay’s most accomplished set pieces to date (helped in no small part by the need for him to curb his usual hyperactive style due to shooting the film in 3D) – especially the epic hour-long siege of Chicago.

However, it would be a push to actually call this a good film. The plot is insultingly stupid and makes absolutely no sense. The pacing is all over the place. The acting is diabolical - especially new female lead, who appears to only exist to convince you how much better Megan Fox was in the first two films. And Michael Bay still insists on shooting a film that’s primary audience is little kids (it’s based on a line of toys, remember) like a Playboy shoot, his camera leering over Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s body like an sexually-frustrated 15 year-old at ever opportunity, even going for a blatant up-skirt shot at one point. That’s real class right there.

Picture: Like Avatar before it, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is another native 3D blockbuster that is only being released at retail in a flat 2D form on Blu-ray for the immediate future. Plans are currently in place for a feature-packed 3D Ultimate Edition Blu-ray, but at the time of going to press Paramount has yet to provide any concrete information as to when it will be available. An educated guess would place it at some point in the first half of 2012.

While the lack of a 3D version of the film is disappointing, it’s made up for by the decision to give the film a barebones release and max-out the bitrate for the picture and sound quality. This means that, despite a butt-numbing 154min running time, this BD-50 release has all the space it needs to deliver one of the most incredibly detailed and robustly coloured AVC 2.40:1 1080p encodes I’ve ever seen. The clarity and detailing is so strong that you can actually make out all of the intricate mechanisms in the slow-motion shots of the Transformers during action scenes like Chapter 10’s freeway chase.

No matter how hard I looked I couldn’t find a single flaw in the image – no crushed blacks, no edge enhancement and definitely no artefacting – just a sensationally solid, vibrant and textured hi-def transfer. Quite simply, it’s reference quality demo material from start to finish.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: From the moment you click Play and the ‘transforming’ sound effect whooshes around the soundfield accompanying the flying stars in the Paramount logo, you know that Transformers: Dark of the Moon’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix is going to be something special.

Then comes the film itself and the mix reaches beyond even those expectations, the opening space battle accompanied by some of the most precise directional effects, most resonant bass and clear separation ever experienced in a home cinema environment. And from that point on the mix simply never lets up, with even quieter scenes impressing with the richness of the dialogue and music presentation. But it’s the action scenes that really wow and there’s a surfeit to choose from – be it Shockwave’s first appearance tearing through the ground in Ch 3 or pretty much anything between Ch 14-22 during the siege of Chicago.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: This initial Blu-ray release of the film is entirely devoted to optimal AV performance, and as such comes with no disc-based features. The only extra content included is the usual Triple Play offering of a DVD and Digital Copy of the movie.
Extras rating: 1/5

We say: Blu-ray transforms this so-so blockbuster into one of the best demo discs money can buy.

Paramount, All-region BD/R2 DVD, £25 approx, On sale November 28