Action Adventure

'Transformers: The Last Knight' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: Dark of the franchise

September 26, 2017Ben MK

Directed once again by series veteran Michael Bay, Transformers: The Last Knight picks up after the events of 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction, but the narrative stretches all the way back to the Dark Ages, where we learn that the giant alien robots' presence on Earth isn't a recent development. In fact, Sir Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table were able to defeat their foes not with the aid of Merlin's magic — as told by Arthurian legend — but with some help from a powerful Cybertronian staff and a three-headed, fire-breathing robot dragon.

Fast forward 1,600 years, and the world is a much different place. Transformers are now public enemy number one (except in Cuba — why not), and as the ensuing war between humans and their former protectors rages on, any and all Autobots and Decepticons that remain have gone into hiding. Meanwhile, new Transformers are crashing to Earth on a regular basis, only to be hunted down by the TRF, a newly-formed, elite military outfit who patrol the rubble-filled streets of decimated cities with their own giant robots, mech-like tanks called Sentinels.

Not everyone has turned on the Transformers, though. Inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg, reprising his role from the last film), a spunky 14-year-old orphan named Izabella (Isabela Moner), and a British Lord by the name of Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) represent the humans who fight on the side of the Autobots. Then there's Oxford professor Viviane Wembley (Laura Haddock), the last descendant of Merlin, and hence the one person who can wield his legendary weapon, an artifact that plays an integral role in the increasingly convoluted storyline.

Suffice to say, trying to decipher the plot of The Last Knight — a joint effort on the part of screenwriters Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan that owes as much to Bay's Armageddon as it does to previous Transformers installments — starts out as a seemingly achievable proposition. However, by the time the film reaches its chaotic and drawn-out third act, most viewers will have likely already given up, pummeled into submission by the non-stop barrage of bad jokes, cringeworthy dialogue and over-the-top action along the way.

Transformers: The Last Knight rolls out onto 4K Ultra HD packing a visual and sonic assault for the senses, and, despite any misgivings about the film itself, it's difficult to take issue with this technical presentation. From the chrome-plated armor and mud-caked battlefields of Medieval England to the steel and mortar remnants of a war-ravaged, modern day Chicago, this image is bursting with corner-to-corner detail throughout, bolstered by an HDR color scheme that makes the Autobots' vibrant paint jobs all the more eye-popping. That said, it's worth mentioning that the film does feature a constantly shifting aspect ratio, which may not have been that noticeable on the big screen, but on smaller screens, it can become a distraction. Otherwise, the accompanying Dolby Atmos soundtrack completes the package nicely, enabling viewers to feel the impact of every fireball, every explosion, and every jet fighter that comes roaring into frame, especially during the movie's prolonged and chaotic climax.

Paramount's three-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/Ultraviolet digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found on disc three of this set:

  • Merging Mythologies (19:53) - A look at how the filmmakers incorporated Arthurian legend into Transformers mythology, including the characters and the actors who portray them, the production and costume design, the stunt choreography and the visual effects.
  • Climbing the Ranks (8:48) - A piece about the role the TRF — the Transformer Reaction Force — plays in the film, and the continuing collaboration between the franchise's filmmakers and the U.S. military.
  • The Royal Treatment: Transformers in the UK (27:04) - A look at taking the Transformers franchise to England, from the logistics of filming a car chase through the streets of London, to shooting at Rievaulx Abbey, Alnwick Castle, Blenheim Palace, Stonehenge, Oxford and 10 Downing Street.
  • Motors and Magic (14:47) - A piece focusing on Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Hot Rod, Hound, Crosshairs, Drift, Cogman, Sqweeks, Day Trader, Megatron, Barricade, Mohawk and their visual designs.
  • Alien Landscape: Cybertron (7:15) - A look at how the filmmakers used visual effects, combined with footage shot in Wales and Iceland, to bring Cybertron to life this time around.
  • One More Giant Effin' Movie (6:45) - A tongue-in-cheek compilation of behind-the-scenes clips capturing the scope of the production.

Transformers: The Last Knight is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of September 26th, 2017. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, Discrete Dolby Digital 5.1 and Discrete Dolby Digital 2.0, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 29 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on June 20th, 2017.

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