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Transformers Special Edition Extras Review

The DVD has arrived and the question isn't to buy or not to buy but which to buy, the 1 disc standard edition or the 2-disc Special Collector's Edition. Then its if buy the 2-disc edition, what exclusive to go for. I went with the steel case. I can't afford to buy all the exclusives so instead will just review the extras on the DVDs (not the HD-DVD).

The first disc for both versions are identical with commentary from Michael Bay. The second disc is the extra disc that gets into the details on how the movie was made and is what costs the extra $8-9 you may have to spend to get it. The question is one of worth. Is it worth that extra bit of money? That's subjective but it depends on how much you like about the process of filmmaker and the behind the scenes stuff. If you don't care then probably not worth the extra money. If you do though, it becomes a question of how good is the extras. After all, most of the time the extras are just recycled press material that was already but out on HBO, Extra, and so forth with everyone breaking an arm patting themselves and each other on the back for making such a great move with some deleted scenes thrown in. That's the normal scenario. The best behind the scenes material ever assembled was for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy but that sadly didn't become the model for extras that is should have been. So the question is where does Transformers fall in this scale?

Disc One
Michael Bay Commentary
Informative commentary that covers some ground the disc two covers but most of it is new stories and behind the scenes information. Tells stories on the animators and how their styles helped with the Transformers, stories about the actors and working with ILM and Digital Domain to pull off the effects. There are silences during the commentary that had me wondering if it had cut off but they where mostly brief. Mostly didn't like the silences because get feeling their was gobs of information that could have been conveyed about the scene or what have you during that silence. Overall good director commentary.

Disc Two
Our World (49:20)
The Story Sparks (8:33)
Covers the origins of the storyline idea of the film with interviews from those involved in the movies production. Some of the information is repeat of the usual press stories told during the movie promotion such as why Bay decided to do the movie. This section is interspersed with Transformers images, input from Hasbro, and fantastic concept artwork for the film and from Hasbro. Lots of interviews, lots of set footage. The term "Bay-hem" gets coined. Bit about the intensity of Bay but apparently it effects the set in a good way not bad.

Human Allies (13:11)
Covers the actors in the human roles of the movies with interviews, set footage, and so forth. Also gets into the details of why some people where cast in various roles with audition footage. Don't know why but Megan Fox in the audition looked much better then post movie Megan Fox. Love Rachael Taylor's accent. Also shows some bits of the Air Force training that Josh Dumahel did to prepare for the role. Back patting occurred (contractually obligated I think when involves actors), but the deleted scenes, outtakes, and so forth work so not to bad.

I Fight Giant Robots (14:00)
The military's involvement in the film is covered here. Shows some of the military training the actors went through, equipment, and behind scenes footage when filming the military related scenes. Could call this the "Boys and their Toys" section of the extras. Also covers some of the practical shooting done for the Los Angeles sequence with the actors and things going boom from to be inserted later Transformers. Pretty informative and lots of booms and toys are on display.

Battleground (13:36)
Covers the locations chosen for the film, the logistics involved in on location shooting, and the work involved in prepping the sites for filming. Some of the set construction and use is also covered in this section. An element of danger is involved, especially when it comes to "man-piss". Another good section, dry at times, but to be expected.

Their War (65:11)
Rise of the Robots (13:40)
This section covers a lot of territory. Its a Transformers history 101, bit about the Transfans, screen tests for the Transformers, explanations on why changes where made from G1 to the movie design including voice casting decisions with Optimus and Megatron. The argument for why not Frank Welker is covered here (comes down the voice didn't fit with the design and tone). As a Transfan, this was a little walk down nostalgia lane, but this section can be appreciated by both new and old fans.

Autobots Roll Out (20:00)
The whys, whats, and hows of the Autobots for the movie. A profile on each car used for each character and the customizations (some extreme) that was done to each. This is the section that explains why the changes where made from the G1 model to the movie model, many of which made since from a technical perspective. Also get to see other vehicles built (and destroyed) for the film and the various vehicle related stunts that were performed. One of the better sections on this disc.

Decepticons Strike (14:33)
Like the previous section, this one covers all the Decepticons. Goes over each of the military vehicles used for the film, be it as Transformers or for other scenes. Also covers the filming of them and the technical details of shooting with the military. Nothing about shooting on the USS Shoup though (the navel vessel at the end). Decent but not as much information as would have liked.

Inside The Allspark (16:58)
This section is about inserting the Transformers in the film from the filming of them with pole place holders to building them in the computer, animating them and inserting them into the film photo-realistically. All this is covered with interviews, test footage and CGI work. This was my geek out section. I find it fascinating to see how the imagination is made real.

More Than Meets The Eye
From Script To Sand: The Skorponok Desert Attack (8:52)
The title says it all. Takes the attack sequence and covers all aspects of the sequence from Skorponoks design, to locations, filming, CGI, and so forth. Its a good breakdown of a scene from concept to finished product.

Concepts (2:12)
A montage of images, concept designs, artwork, and ideas that where created for the film put together with the score for the film. This section is frankly genius. Most of the time this section is the picture section where you have to keep pumping the next button on your controller. Usually, because its such a pain, its a section I skip over. Here though, especially with nice edition of the score, makes for a short but enjoyable viewing of some excellent artwork. Other DVD creators need to copy this and make it a standard.

Its the three theatrical trailers for the film, not the TV trailers.

The sections all do have a "Play All" option, something you don't appreciate until watch a DVD extras that don't have it. Why its not an automatic standard on all DVDs is beyond me. Also should mention that the menu animations are excellent.

Overall, the extra are entertaining and provide some decent information. The editing is good, the information conveyed clearly and well. Its a pretty much a by the books behind the scenes guide like most others seen on DVDs over the years. I would only spin the extra money if you are genuinely curious about the behind the scenes stuff. If you are looking for a film school detailed "how they do that" knowledge, your not going to find that here as just a surface skim on how Transformers was made. If it hadn't been Transformers I would have passed as rarely the extras provided worth the extra $10 or so the studios are now demanding (but use not to). As a Transfan though, the two hours of Transformers goodness made it worth the extra cost.
Source: Transformerslive.blogspot.com
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