Transformers HD DVD vs. Upsampled DVD Comparison
Would it be hearsay to claim that with Transformers
, Michael Bay has begun to challenge James Cameron’s Michael Jordan-like legacy of the 90's -- the man behind Terminator 2, one of the most popular action movies of all time, and Titanic, the highest grossing movie of all time?
It’s tempting to dismiss Transformers
as a “simple popcorn flick” without any sophisticated dialogue, characters or narrative structure, relying solely on visual wizardry. Study it a bit closer and the narrative structure of Transformers
is revealed to be nearly flawless. When moviegoers feel the adrenaline rush of Barricade chasing after Bumblebee, it’s not just the visual effects and editing that makes the energy flow. It’s the result of the previous battles in Qatar, and tracking simultaneous stories in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. The movie is entertainment, and a wonderfully engineered
And that is where Transformers
and Michael Bay get maligned. Critics feel guilty
saying anything positive about a movie like this. You won’t leave the movie a changed person, or even inspired, but you’ll leave with a smile. If you actually look at some of the negative reviews of Transformers
complaining about a poor emotional connection with the characters, you’ll see that the same critics were complaining about Titanic’s
love story being unbelievable and unmoving. Tell that to the millions of teenage girls for whom Titanic’s
love story was written. Ask a commercially successful screenwriter what he thinks about Titanic
, and he’ll say that the love story is as good as or better than Casablanca’s
Transformers may have a lower rating on Rotten Tomatoes than Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but there’s a reason why Transformers
grossed $700M worldwide. There’s a reason why Spielberg hand-picked Bay to helm the movie. We give it FiringSquad’s Editor’s Choice.
Transformers is distributed by Paramount. This means that the movie is only offered in HD DVD and conventional DVD. The HD DVD is encoded using AVC which provides a superb image. There are no glaring artifacts or encoding errors that I could appreciate on my first viewing. As a film shot on Super35 with Kodak VISION2 500T 5218 stock, some of the evening shots have considerable grain (think ISO 500 film). Still, the HD DVD encoding captures essentially all of the detail of the 2K digital intermediate and we applaud Paramount for bringing a HD DVD digital transfer that is as authentic to the original master as is possible. The warm hues and crisp image come across beautifully on a 1080p display.
From an audio standpoint, the HD DVD features a high-bitrate Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack. Although a lossless soundtrack would have been a great addition from the perspective of having the best possible quality, the HD DVD format would not have allowed the same quality visual encode with a lossless audio track. As always, we continue to stand by our opinion that lossless audio is less important than having a high-quality audio setup. Remember, most movie theaters are still showing movies in low-bitrate Dolby Digital AC-3.
The Transformers HD DVD also has a superb set of extras. In addition to the superb video print and excellent sound mix, the 2-disc set features several behind-the-scenes features in full HD. On the main disc, Paramount takes advantage of the HD DVD format with picture-in-picture commentary. The web-enabled features were not active with our press copy of the movie.
Display: Sony VPL-VW50 Projector (1080p24@96Hz 3-chip SXRD front projector)
Room: 2000+ cubic ft, ~115” screen size, 45 degree horizontal angle of view
Receiver: JVC RX-DP20VBK THX Ultra2 Receiver (5.1)
Front Speakers: Polk Audio LSi9, Bi-amplified, modified with internal Dynamat reinforcement
Center Channel: Polk Audio LSiC
Rear Speakers: Insignia NS-B2111
Video Cables: Monster Cable M1000 HDMI
Audio cables: Two pairs Monster Cable Z2 (Biamplified L/R), Monster Cable Z2 Biwire (C), Monster Cable Superflat Mini (Rear), Monster Cable LightSpeed 100, Line Conditioner: Monster Power HTS1000 MKII,
Sources: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Elite, HTPC