Until today, I had yet to see an HD-DVD presentation of any kind. I wasn't really interested in the upgrade of software, mainly because I have a garage full of DVDs that will soon be obsolete. I was invited down to Paramount Studios today to check out their latest disc for Transformers. The representatives on hand were quick to point out that this was the "Most robust, fully realized version of an HD disc ever released."
I yawned. Of course it was. Right? I've been disappointed in just about every technical advance in home entertainment since the Star Wars DVDs came out. I don't know why, but with those discs, I thought shit was going to come flying out of my screen. That I was going to be magically transported directly into those mythical worlds I'd known since I was a kid. Sadly, that didn't happen. It was just like watching Star Wars on any regular old TV. And, in fact, the picture looked better coming off my tube television. I was disappointed to say the least. So, when I heard they were going to be showing Transformers to me on HD-DVD, I tossed the thought off as another choir.
Then they showed me that scene where the Scorponock, or whatever the Hell its called, comes out of the sand and hassles Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson. It wasn't biblical, by any means. But damn, it was gorgeous. The colors were sharp, the infinite detail of the picture sent me into a euphoric state. Best of all, you could see the extreme amount of detail that went into every single piece of that robot. They also showed us other scenes, and that's all I could focus on. How well each working part of these robots fit together. It was all accounted for in extreme authenticity. My AOD (attention overcompensation disorder) kicked in, and I had this horrible urge to crawl up into the screen and wipe the dust from Optimus Prime's helmet.
But it was a ruse. A trick. A mean little game of consumer extortion. Why? Because this thing looked so awesome, I just have to have it right now! And that' an impossibility. To get the kind of clarity I was being shown, I'd have to purchase an HD TV, and an HD-DVD player, a theater-worthy sound system, and a concession stand for all of my friends who'd surely be at my house every evening to watch this incredible thing over an over again. I don't have that kind of money.
Maybe, hopefully, the robot army is planning an up rise. If I keep thinking that way, it will urge my hand into my wallet. Black plastic. That will fuel this sudden fire that Paramount has ignited in my heart. Credit is something I won't have to pay back if Megatron destroys most of the planet. Maybe I can convince the big lug to leave my apartment alone. I'll just sit in my half-destroyed hovel, watching the film over and over again.
The crazy thing about the two-disc set is the amount of DVD features it contains. This is a twenty-four hour ordeal wrapped in a shell of plastic. There are so many special and interactive features crammed into this HD-DVD, you won't be coming out of your room for a good week or two. The first disc alone has over eight hours of information on it. You have the entire movie itself. Which I wasn't a huge fan of. I thought it was all right. Fun. Exciting. But the second time I watched it, it just seemed like a lot of noise. Seeing it here, in HD-DVD, I'm going to have to rethink my critique of the film. It is a marvelous wonder of technology. And the High Definition really shows that off. I literally could sit and stare at this movie in complete amazement for a good seven days straight.
The disc contains a very intense, funny, and informative commentary by Michael Bay, the director of the film. The scene we watched had Shai LaBeouf being chased by real trained police dogs. Bay goes into this exciting story about how the dogs got away from their trainer, and actually almost killed LaBeouf. His way with words boosts the intensity of this scene as it is being shown on screen. There's a function that allows a little box to appear in the far left corner, and it shows Shia doing his own stunts. Falling and hurting himself. Jumping on these two barrels to keep from getting mauled to death. The look of fear on Shia's face is authentic, were are told, "This was the first night of shooting, and we almost lost our lead. He almost died that night. No joke. We knew something bad was up when the dog trainer said, "Uh-oh". Luckily for us, Shia is a fast runner."
One of the coolest features on the first disc is a grid function that has a GPS screen on it. It shows you were the characters are in terms of geographical location. It's this little map of the world, and we learn that the characters are in Los Angeles. Off to the side of this robotic looking piece of software is a character grid that has energy level bars for each Autobot or Deception being shown on screen. When they get hit or injured during the course of the film, the bar gets dimmer and dimmer. If they die, their character picture goes black. Its extinguished.
They are also working with a lot of Wed-based special features that will download themselves once you are logged into the Transformers database. When this disc streets on Tuesday, you will be able to download a new special feature every day for the next six days. There are also five Easter eggs hidden on the disc. One of them is an HD trailer for John Favreau's Iron Man. Another is an incredibly funny blooper featuring Michael Bay. The representatives on hand refused to clue us in as to where these Easter eggs could be found.
The second disc was your standard issue extra features disc, albeit with a High Def twist. The specials are split into three camps: Our World, Their War, and then a set of extras that are web based. We get an extensive look at the creators behind the film, the fandom that ensued, a look at Botcon, and an extensive biography on the Hasbro cartoon and toy line. Sadly, there are no bloopers. But if you are a true Transformers fan, you can't go wrong with this package. Everything you could possibly want to know about the franchise is accounted for here. And if its not, it will be downloaded to the disc soon enough.
You can register your disc and receive up-dates as to any new news on the Transformers 2 front. The cool thing about this is, even if you register your disc, they will not be able to tell that you stole it. So, seeing as how most of my readers don't have the cash to delve too deeply into this gorgeous looking Transformers package, they won't be able to track you down if you steal it and all of the expensive equipment that goes along with it. Trust me, I asked. With all of this web-enabled server equipment, I found it interesting that the government could possible track you with the use of this DVD. But Paramount assured me the disc wouldn't be used for individual profiling. And that all of the information is volunteered by the consumer.
After the presentation, I got to sit down with Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, and have some Prime Rib. As it was an informal setting, I didn't record the conversation. But about a Transformers 2, he says he has signed on to it and a possible third entry. But that he can't offer any other information than that. He also said that he didn't record any new voice-overs for the DVD itself. Everything you hear on the menu and the grids is taken from the movie. He then started telling me about the motor home he just bought, and how he has decked it out with an HD-DVD system and TV screen. I asked him if he ever makes up voices for his vehicles, especially this new RV. He laughed, assuring everyone at the table that it was the best question he'd gotten in a long time, "Yeah, I guess I do that. I did give my new RV a voice."
"Do you ever have private conversations with it?"
"Yeah, I do. That is so funny." And he laughed. Then we continued eating Prime Rib. After lunch they gave me a life-sized Allspark box. I had to drive it home on my Vespa, and suddenly, I felt like I was in the movie itself. It was then, zipping through Hollywood traffic, that I decided not to waist the money on an HD-DVD player and plasma screen just yet. Whenever I feel that Transformers Jones coming over me, all I have to do is grab my Allspark and jump on the back of my scooter.
Then I opened the box. Inside was an HD-DVD of "Transformer". Damn, now I will be spending the rest of the evening looking for a High Def bargain. Those suckabitches got me!
If you have the means, indulge in this disc. You wont be disappointed. And that's the B. Alan guarantee.
Dont't forget to also check out: Transformers [HD]