-- The DVD
Thousands of screaming female fans can't
be wrong. At least, that's one lesson you should take away
from the success of Transformers; star Shia LaBeouf
has a heartthrob charm that almost nobody seems to understand.
In commentary, even Michael Bay hints that he didn't get
it - at first.
But Transformers played cannily
to LaBeouf's abilities, and threw in Megan Fox for the side
that ostensibly would have come anyway. Because let's face
it - the guys came for the giant robots, and in the extras
on the second disc of this week's release, it's clear that
so did Bay.
it took a trip to Hasbro to convince him, no matter that
Steven Spielberg gushes that Bay was born to direct this
one that needed to be convinced, you can follow along on
Bay's journey quite easily with all the featurettes. More
than many such discs, this one really lays out the intense
fandom that took many by surprise, an intensity that might
only be rivaled by Hasbro's next film project, G.I. Joe.
According to one featurette, 75% of men
have had some sort of Transformers experience, a statistic
that sounds disturbing on a couple of different levels.
But as had been reported elsewhere, Spielberg's enthusiasm
legitimately came from playing with the toys as his sons
got them for Christmas. In a lot of ways, this posits Transformers
as a great equalizer. Everybody loves them.
executives quickly remind viewers that this shouldn't be
a surprise. Though it's had its ups and downs, the brand
never really went away. (Transformers fanatic Mish'al Samman
may be able to counter this, but I'll go with the studio
hype for now.)
featurettes do a good job of explaining the terms of fandom
- you might not know what they mean by "G1," for example,
though both Bay and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex
Kurtzman bring it up time and time again. You might not
want to know.
the extras go a long way to provide insight from outside
fandom, should you choose to get it. They also provide insight
that the director's commentary by Bay can't - such as the
opinions of other actors.
Bay might not have understood LaBeouf's appeal, La Beouf
praises his director with this faintly strange yet appropriate
comment - "He's not Elia Kazan, and he knows it."
Note for our older readers: When LaBeouf
calls Bay "…the sickest action director around," that's
a good thing.
Bay also makes it clear that he's a red,
white and blue American, maintaining a great relationship
with the military. Though he follows Spielberg's vision
of "a boy and his car," his heart really goes out to the
men with their heavy artillery. (So I'd beg to differ with
Spielberg - Bay might have really been born to direct G.I.
In addition to a documentary about the
military's cooperation, the disc follows the initial Skorponok
Desert Attack from conception to execution. A bit of fetishizing,
perhaps, but with some (including myself) having been looking
for some sort of political commentary in the movie, it's
good to have it clarified and remind us that some people
can play army men just because it's cool.
Podcast pundit Ric Bretschneider has already
emailed bragging that the HD version is what HD-DVD was
made for - interesting to note after Bay's brief protest
against the format. I can't speak to it, but let me include
his brief enthusiasm:
This is what HD video is all about - extended experience.
Pop-up data is optional on the screen, but the real
neat stuff you download to your player/pc/xbox. The
web enabled stuff is pretty cool, puts a HUD up on
the screen over the movie with data about the transformers,
the original toys they came from (Scorpius was the
2nd most popular toy next to... Had three transform
modes, base, robot, scorpion... Etc. ) Very cool.
GPS on the scenes, robot status alerts, coolness.
maybe you do want to upgrade for this movie. Or maybe you
want to ask Santa Claus. I stand by my
initial review - if this is the movie you've been waiting
for, this is the movie you've been waiting for. But after
watching it a second time, my enthusiasm grows. They may
be more than meets the eye, or they may be exactly what
everybody's been trying to tell me they are: just damned
you missed it, also check out this interview with the voice
of Bumblebee, Mark Ryan...
(Two-Disc Special Edition)