Transformers: Age of Extinction

I guess people really like to watch robots breaking stuff. Transformers: Age of Extinction was another worldwide hit for the franchise, repeating more of the same paranoid nonsense (and lame dialogue and unfunny jokes) as its three predecessors. This time, a couple of suits decide they can build and control their own Transformers, using technology stolen from the evil Decepticons. How do you think that works out? The human ally this time is an underdog inventor (Mark Wahlberg) with a cutie-patootie daughter, in a mildly disturbing riff on Beauty and the Beast.

Discs like this certainly provide prime A/V fodder for the home theater, though, and here Extinction excels. The movie exudes vibrant, amped-up colors balanced by natural-looking blacks, while virtually every scene displays an almost dizzying level of precision. There are rare instances of noticeable video strobing in fast action, and while the special effects are generally terrific, a few moments look fake. 3D version seeks to approximate the summer’s IMAX theatrical presentation, and the shift from 2.4:1 to 16:9 aspect ratios for the more visually ambitious sequences can be somewhat conspicuous. Director Michael Bay is at the top of his class in big-budget native 3D, and a great many shots have been thoughtfully composed to highlight the stereoscopic illusion, dazzling viewers by enhancing the sense of scale. Generous foreground eye candy like flitting mini-drones ensure our 3D glasses are not worn in vain.

The default audio option is Dolby TrueHD 7.1, although if you delve into the settings, it’s actually called English Dolby Atmos. This is the very first disc to support this new format. Even in plain ol’ surround, I soon noted a strong surround-channel presence that extended to the calm scenes, rendering a credible 360-degree environment. Those mini-drones also swoop seamlessly from speaker to speaker, while the low end continues to help sell the reality of these massive machines. And when the action heats up, the very foundations of your dwelling will rattle from the epic bass. (For more on this soundtrack, see "Atmos, Here: Sound & Vision's First Foray Into Object-Based Sound" and my interview with Greg P. Russell, the film’s re-recording mixer).

Paramount’s four-platter set includes a bonus Blu-ray of video extras. The high- light is a two-hour making-of, which is joined by assorted featurettes, some whim- sical and others pseudo-educational. This is of course in addition to the 2D Blu-ray and DVD, as well as an unlockable UltraViolet/iTunes Digital Copy.

Blu-Ray 3D
Studio: Paramount, 2014
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1/1.78:1
Audio Format: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 with Dolby Atmos
Length: 165 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer