Transformers (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Since purchasing the two-disc Special Edition DVD for Transformers, I've found myself obsessively singing the theme song from the original cartoon: “Transformers, More than meets the eye! Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. Transformers, robots in disguise. Transformers, more than meets the eye. Transformers!” Even though people on the street give me odd looks, I still give the obligatory fist pump after the final verse, and stand in one place, frozen in time, with my hand raised in the air. If you’re looking for a film that will take best picture award at next years Academy Award, then Transformers is not the movie for you. However, if you’re looking for a kick ass, action-packed ride with enormous robots destroying cities, army bases, or the backyard of a suburban home, then this is the movie to watch.

Shia LaBeouf stars as Sam Witwicky, a dorky high school kid who has worked and saved enough money to buy his first car. Even though he pictures himself driving a brand new ride to impress the girl of his dreams, Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), all he can afford is a beat up yellow and black Camaro named Bumble Bee, which turns out to be one of the Autobots, a group of shape-shifting automobiles. Sam develops a sort of friendship with the car, which drives on its own and communicates through music.

The story of Sam and his car tie together the beginning of the film, where an army base in Qatar is attacked by a giant robot and tries to steal classified military information. The giant robot that attacked the base is one of the Decepticons, a group of robots trying to locate a cube known as the AllSpark and bring it to their leader, Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving), so they can destroy the human race and control the world. The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen), are trying to prevent that from happening and need Sam’s help. The Autobots protect Sam because he holds the only clue that has brought all the mayhem to Earth – the location of the All Spark.

Director Michael Bay, who has also helmed big budget flicks like Armageddon and The Rock, brings Transformers to life with second-to-none special effects. Bay gives each robot its own personality and makes them members of his cast rather than a distraction from a simple, yet thin story that needs help. Fans of the cartoon, however, will not be disappointed. The special effects are not only impressive when the robots transform in the middle of a major highway, but they are impressive when interacting with humans. They have a great sense of humor - cracking jokes when dogs urinate on their legs, essentially playing hide-and-seek when humans besides Sam and his buddies are close to finding them, or when they want to show off their cannons and other abilities. They are lively, dopey, and fun to watch at all times.

The real reason to see this movie, obviously, is the action sequences. They are big, loud, and absolutely flawless. There are moments in this film that will blow your mind, like when Bonecrusher starts skating down a major highway after Optimus Prime, or Megatron chases Sam through the city streets. The action will keep you on edge, cheering for the Autobots as they protect the human race. The surprising thing is that while the effects are incredible and the robots will command most of your attention, the script does remain focused on Sam and his relationship with his car.

While Transformers is possibly the greatest adaptation of any cartoon series or comic book ever made, there are some problems - mainly the movies running time. While it is very much worth spending more than two hours watching, it is hard to deny that it is very, very long. This could have been cut down by eliminating the screen time of Anthony Anderson’s hapless hacker, and Jon Voight’s dull and boring defense secretary part. Jon Turturro, while absolutely hysterical and slimey as a secret agent from a mysterious government group called Sector 7, also wears thin, as his character becomes slightly annoying on screen. This is nit-picky stuff, because the main thing you have to realize is that Bay has more fun with bringing his CGI toys than he does with humans – the actors are only there because the script needs something besides digital characters to carry out the story that keeps the movie together.

Transformers may, at times be corny and a bit over-the-top, but it’s fun – just like it was in the 1980s. This movie has something for everyone of any age. If you enjoy watching shape-shifting cars, trucks and planes, this in the movie for you. If you enjoy movies with incredible special effects that create some of the greatest CGI battle scenes you will ever see, you should not miss this movie. If you enjoy watching Megan Fox, well, that makes two of us. When buying the two-disc Special Edition of Transformers, one thing you should not expect is the packaging to transform into something else. It is simply a good looking box that has two discs inside. Just because it says special on the box does not mean it’s going to do tricks – it’s not a dog.

The bonus materials begin on disc one with commentary from director Michael Bay. The option to watch the movie with commentary is located in the “Set Up” menu, since all of the other features are on the second disc. It might seem a little tedious to sit through more than two hours of Michael Bay jabbering away like a high school girl with a crush, but his passion to make Transformers “cool,” and look good is front and center throughout the commentary. It is a great track, but I recommend breaking it up since it is a long movie and hearing all the noise is better than listening to the director.

Skipping over to disc two, the special features are broken down into three sections: “Our World,” “Their War,” and “More Than Meets the Eye.” Each of those sections are broken down into subsections, so you really have an incredible amount of features that get more and more in depth about the making of the film. They put a lot of effort into this edition and it shows.

“Our World,” is broken down into four different features. “The Story Sparks” focuses on interviews with executive producers Steven Spielberg and Brian Goldner, who works for Hasbro, and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kutzman, who talk about how the cartoon (with footage from the cartoons) and action figures inspired the movie. “Human Allies,” has in-depth interviews with Bay, LaBeouf, Fox, casting directors, stunt coordinators, and everyone else imaginable, who talk about how the human characters in the movie were brought to life. It is similar to a making of feature, but it incorporates deleted scenes, bloopers, and general behind-the-scenes footage that make the feature a lot of fun to watch. “I Fight Giant Robots,” has more behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast, crew, and military personnel discussing the influence of the military and what it was like to fight, and train to fight, the robots in the film. “Battleground” is the final feature in the “Our World” chapter, and it has crew members and actors talking about the locations where the movie was shot.

One of the neat things I accidentally came across on the DVD is what happens when trying to get back to the main menu from the “Our World” chapter. If the Transformers icon is on the left hand side of the main menu button, you are suddenly treated to a Hasbro action figure commercial featuring the theme song for the cartoon and a “new” toy called the “All New Bay Bot.” It’s actually really funny, and will bring you back in time to the old-school commercials for Hasbro's toys.

“Their War” starts with a feature called “Rise of the Robots,” which talks about how Hasbro officials decided to bring a transforming toy back to the United State from Japan and give it a story. That is how the Autobots and Decepticons came to life, and become an animated series. The feature also discusses which characters the filmmakers wanted to include in the movie, along with what kind of make and model vehicles they would transform from. The next three features are self-explanatory. One is called “Autobots Roll Out,” which features commentary on Optimus Prime and the good guys, while the other is called, “Decepticons Strike,” which focuses on Megatron and the bad guys. The final feature in the chapter is called “Inside the AllSpark,” and talks about the various special effects wizards who brought the robots to life. It's amazing to watch these people work with absolutely nothing and suddenly make these incredible creatures pop onto the screen and blend them perfectly with everything going on in the scene.

“More Than Meets the Eye” is the final chapter, and it has three more subsections. The first is called “From Script to Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack,” which features interviews, storyboard stills and set designs of one of the more exciting battle scenes in the movie. The filmmakers discuss how they were able to bring this gigantic metallic scorpion to life through special effects, and what inspired the creature in the first place. “Concepts” is a feature that contains intricate and colorful drawings of scenes and characters you see in the movie. There are no voiceovers or interviews, just drawings that are rather impressive. The final feature is called “Trailers,” which contains the teaser and theatrical trailers for Transformers.

A ton of time and effort went into this DVD release, and it shows. Not only does it tell you more about the movie itself, but it pays tribute to the originality of these intergalactic shape-shifting beings. Not only will the movie and special features satisfy the biggest Transformers fan, it will introduce and transform a whole new generation of kids, and adults, into lifelong fans.