[REVIEW] Dave's TF Movie Rant: Target Exclusive Case
- From: Dave Van Domelen <dvandom@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 23:43:39 -0500
Dave's Transforming Transformers DVD Rant
Target Special Edition 2007 Transformers Movie DVD Set
Well, there's a bewildering array of store exclusives accompanying the
release of the 2007 TF movie DVD, but I ended up settling on the Target one.
I may add to this review if I get my hands on some of the other exclusives
separate from the DVD, but I'm not buying extra copies just to get the extras
(a friend who shops at Best Buy graciously picked up their exclusive and is
sending me the Robot Heroes for the price difference, I'll probably give them
their own review with the rest of the RH stuff).
I've been informed by people paying more attention at the store that the
Target exclusive comic is also shrinkwrapped onto the other versions sold at
Target, it's not exclusive to the $25 transforming box version.
Note, I'm told that the HD-DVD version has extras beyond just being in
HD, including online interactive content. There will also probably be either
a super-duper extended release in a few months, or maybe a "Transformers 1.5"
release leading up to the sequel like they did with X-Men 1.5 or Spider-Man
Target Transformers 2007 DVD Exclusive: Yes, the transforming case is
lame and tacky, but in a way I like. Decent pack-in comic, although there's
continuity issues with the official prequel comic's fourth issue. Decent
amount of extras, although I'm annoyed that the deleted scenes are all spread
out in other features rather than in a separate menu. Recommended. $24.99 on
sale first week at Target.
Packaging: This is all boxed in a shrinkwrapped oversized clear plastic
box 5.5" (14cm) wide, 7.5" (19cm) tall and 1.25" (3.5cm) thick. A sticker on
the shrinkwrap shows a three-step transformation, but the back of the
packaging shows a slightly more detailed five step transformation.
A 6" (15cm) tall cardstock sleeve inside the box has the "Prime face"
and logo on white seen on the regular 2-disc packaging on the front, the logo
on white on the spine, and various ad copy and indicia on the back. There's
also a warning that the DVDs are copy-protected, so they might not even work
in all players. A card with the anti-theft sticker on it is inside, so it's
easy to remove that.
Also inside are a digest-sized exclusive comic and the transforming case
itself. Odds are good I'll just repackage the DVDs in a regular two-disc
case for easier storage. :)
Comic: A sort of alternate version of #4 of official prequel comic. Don
Figueroa draws pages 1-9 and Andrew Wildman draws pages 10-22. A RoboVision
decoder is gummed onto the title page, and the back page is an ad for the
"Evolution of a Hero" Bumblebee two-pack.
Now, I've heard some complaints about Wildman's art already, but it's
not the suckfest some would have you believe it is. Still, while Wildman was
one of the better Marvel artists on the book, it wasn't exactly a tough field
to rise to the top of, and the fact that printing processes improved
dramatically over the time of the comic's run makes his stuff look better
than the output of the early good artists. Plus he hasn't really improved a
lot since then, and his style (humans in armor, more or less) is particularly
ill-suited to the movie designs. Nor does it help tht he follows Don
Figueroa. Still, the visual storytelling is decent, and the art in general
is good, if nothing special.
As far as the story goes, it contradicts Prequel #4, which has the
Decepticons touching down separately in 2003 and then running into a Sector 7
trap. However, the trap segues directly into the start of the movie with no
indication where the 4 years have passed. In this comic, Figueroa shows the
Decepticon side of the battle of Tyger Pax, and then Wildman has the
Decepticons touching down as a group in Khyber Pass in 2007. However, if you
take the first couple pages of #4 as incorrect and ignore Blackout's parting
line about Qatar, you can fit most of #4 in after the end of this comic.
And, frankly, it works better. Everyone lands, has a brief battle, then
splits up and hides for a few years until Sector 7 tries luring Bumblebee out
into the open and draws out the Decepticons. Also, since the battle here is
presumably where the 4500X chopper that Blackout impersonates was destroyed,
that gives three months between the end of this issue and the start of the
movie, enough time for the "fake AllSpark" trap to be laid and sprung in
Given that Ryall is credited with writing on both Prequel #4 (with
Furman) and on this book (with Michael Ritchie and Michael Verrecchia), you'd
think he might've caught the contradictions, though.
There's a number of RoboVision codes hidden in various viewscreens and
other places. http://www.target.com/transformers is still active. I needed
a flashlight to make most of these readable, they're kinda faint. No page
numbers in the actual comic, sadly.
"GEN1" - Inside front cover. This is an old known code, it unlocks G1
skins for Prime, Jazz and Starscream in the Activision game.
"More Than Meets The Eye" - Title page. Not an actual code.
"Protect" - Page 1. Screensaver of Ultimate Bumblebee. This is an .exe
file, dunno if it'll work on a Mac.
"Destroy" - Page 3. Screensaver of "Decepticon comic images", another
"UltimateBB" - Page 12. A video ad for Ultimate Bumblebee, a flash file
and not easily downloadable.
"Buzz Buzz" - Page 14. PDF of images of Bumblebee's evolution. A mix
of toy pics, Dreamwave and IDW art (including Hearts of Steel) in no
particular order, 12 pages. (By the way, the "Bargam Airbase" tag on this
page is probably a typo for Bagram. Bargam and Bagram are both locations in
Afghanistan, but Bagram is the one with a notable U.S. airbase. The only
Google hits for Bargam Airbase look to be typos themselves.)
"TFgamer" - Page 16. Unlockable stills of G1 Prime from the game. 3
page PDF showing the stills (two vehicle mode, one robot mode).
"Animated" - Page 19. Short flash animation of the DVD case
And since I normally give awards in my comic reviews, here's one:
"Flaming Wreckage" Award to Transformers Movie Prequel Mini-Comic
DVD Case: The DVDs are held in a sort of round backpack, this is
otherwise just an oversized gift card equivalent. Closed, it just fits
inside the outer box, so you have the dimensions above.
It's almost entirely a brittle medium gray plastic, but the fold-down
disc holder backpack is brick red. The "alt mode" looks like Prime got
trapped in a trash compacter, and oddly the face is molded on both sides of
the head (probably to make assembly easier...less worries about defectives
with backwards heads, especially if they painted the head after it was
To transform, flip up the head, pull the lower legs out from the sides
and lock down, followed by pulling the arms out to the sides. Then fold the
feet down and push them back...and while you may not need to pour piss out of
'em, the instructions ARE written on the bottom of the boots.
The robot mode is essentially a bas-relief version of Prime, meant only
to be viewed from the front (the back is mostly hollow and entirely
unpainted). It's "Run Over By A Steamroller" Optimus Prime! He must've
annoyed the Japanese-exclusive GoBots (specifically, Randy). Decent paint
job in metalflake dark blue, medium red, white and light gray, plus some
black on the thigh tires and light blue on the windows and headlights. A red
outline Autobot symbol is on the center of the torso. No poseability to
speak of (the head can nod and the arms go closer to the sides), and he looks
like he's getting ready to say "MY...BRAIN...HURTS!" a la Monty Python. And,
while the packaging says he's 15" tall in this mode, he's actually 14" (36cm)
tall. Maybe the person measuring pointed the toes all the way down.
It's not really going to fit on a DVD shelf, but the slender front-to-
back profile means he can stand in the back of a regular toy display and be
seen over anything but some of the Supreme Class toys.
DVD: Two discs, with simple gray labels and unprinted silver lettering.
Disc 1 is the main movie, disc 2 is the features. There's only a widescreen
version for this exclusive, no fullscreen. Not that I would have wanted a
fullscreen. A disclaimer, I rarely watch all the featurettes on a DVD, so I
can't really say how well these compare to the usual.
Disc 1: "Play Movie", "Scene Selection" and "Set Up". Pretty standard
scene select menus, movie's split into 23 scenes (including the end credits).
Setup allows audio in English, French, Spanish, or the commentary track with
Bay. You can also have subtitles of any of those three languages, but no
commentary track subtitle (that'd be a cool idea, IMO, for people who want
commentary but also want to hear the actual movie).
I did slow-mo a lot of the fight scenes, it's a little clearer, but a
lot of the action is deliberately blurred even at slow speeds. I was amused,
upon double-checking, to find that Frenzy's last line in the movie (after he
accidentally decaptitates himself) is in English. "Oh $#!+" (albeit not
If you watch to the end of the credits, you will get an easter egg menu,
with the Iron Man movie trailer, the TF teaser trailer, and "Rise of the
Autobots". That last one is about a minute long, essentially another
trailer, ending with a plug for autobotsrollout.com. The menu goes back to
main if you let it sit too long, though.
Disc 2: Three featurette directories. "Our World," "Their War" and
"More Than Meets The Eye". The first two have featurettes broken into
chapters, the last has a process piece on developing the Scorponok scene in
the desert from script to screen, plus trailers (Teaser Trailer 1, Theatrical
Trailers 2 and 4) and a concept art gallery. There is no "Deleted scenes"
directory, although there's some stuff tucked into the featurettes and easter
eggs. Given that deleted scenes are a major reason I get DVDs, it's kinda
annoying that I have to sift through all the other features to get them.
"Our World" leads off with "Story Sparks" about the various
brainstorming sessions that went into translating the cartoon into a new
movie. Aaron Archer gets some screen time, about how he taught Spielberg and
Bay about Transformers. There's also some early animatics and various
making-of shots in this part. Then "Human Allies" is, as you'd expect, about
the human characters and their actors (and has a bunch of short deleted
scenes). Shia almost got mauled by the junkyard dogs on his first day of
shooting, heh. "I Fight Giant Robots" is the third featurettes, which is
about the involvement of the U.S. military. Mostly pretty boring Discovery
Channel sort of stuff about How The Military Works In The Desert. The last
few minutes cover the final battle scene, mostly with Shia running around and
pretending to be attacked. "Battleground" is the last part of the "Our
World" featurette, and is about the locations: scouting, prep, etc. Heh,
prepping around White Sands (for the desert combat shots) requires hiring an
unexploded ordinance company to make sure all the cold war era mines were
gone. Hoover Dam was a tricky shoot, since the previous movie to shoot there
had been a bit of a pain, buzzing the dam with helicopters and stuff, so the
crew had to take some remedial classes in behaving themselves around a major
hydroelectric plant. Heh. Amusingly, the lower half of popsicle Megatron
was built physically, but not the upper half.
"Their War" is split into "Rise of the Robots," "Autobots Roll Out,"
"Decepticons Strike" and "Inside the AllSpark". I ramble a bit more about
these, so splitting then out into their own paragraphs. ;)
The first segment starts with bits of the G1 cartoon and the G1 toy ads,
tracking the development of the line from pre-Transformers to the movie.
There's also shots from BotCon 2007, and I recognized a few of the attendees.
:) I don't know the guy with the Transformers bodysuit tattoo, though. Bay
responds to the "kill Bay" stuff online, too. They also discuss some of the
negotiation between movie designers and toy designers to make sure the toys
could at least get kinda close. And I am not surprised that Megan Fox is a
In the Autobots segment (one of the longer featurettes at 20 minutes),
they go into shopping for Autobot altmodes and sponsorships. Each car gets a
mini-feature of its own, in the order Bumblebee, Jazz (blink and you miss his
segment, in line with his movie role), Ratchet (the H2 mod was
purpose-designed for Ratchet, it has no real world equivalent), Ironhide
(another short one), Prime (they bought some beater old Freightliners and
totally pimped 'em...never say in the feature what model was used as a base,
though). GM also donated all the cars that got blown up (flood damaged
dealership returns, etc)...200 or so. This segues nicely into the second
half, which is about the car chases, and ends on the infamous "Bonecrusher
hates public transit" stunt.
The Decepticon segment focuses on how they tried to keep all the
Decepticons as military vehicles, or at least authority figure types.
Selling the military on all their vehicles being badguys was a bit tricky,
mind you, but Bay has good relations with the boys in uniform. Again,
there's mini-features on each character plus several of the non-character
vehicles: Starscream (cutting edge air superiority as a spiritual descendant
of the F-15), Blackout (picked for bulk rather than firepower), Ospreys (the
poor things need all the good press they can get), A-10 Warthogs, Spooky
gunships, F-117s (which they weren't allowed to film from certain angles), a
trip to the "tank graveyard" to pick stuff for blowing up, Devastator (which
was modified already by another show...and they don't mention the Brawl
name), Bonecrusher (whose fork is much smaller in real life, so they made an
attachment to better fit the foreshortened publicity photos), Barricade
(explicitly connecting from military to authority figures), Frenzy (as
connection to Soundwave, they had a full sized mechanical muppet for
interaction scenes and to help the animators envision stuff) and finally
Megatron ("no mass shifting for the main villain!").
"Inside the AllSpark" rounds out the "Their War" section, and is about
the nuts and bolts of the CG effects. Optimus has 10,801 pieces in the
digital model, heh. Not everyone's so complex, there's about 60,000 total
among all the Transformers. There was no mocap, but a lot of reference
filming for the animators to work from, especially in the fighting. And they
put an awful lot of effort in making all the vehicle parts go somewhere in
robot mode without being morphy-cheating...too bad it ended up going so
quickly that it looked like morphy-cheating anyway on screen most of the
Finally, the "More Than Meets The Eye" is dominated by the process piece
mentioned up top. It's not really a linear "here's the storyboards, now
here's the animatics, etc" progress, more like taking the various sorts of
things seen in other featurettes (character origins, design process, location
work, effects, etc) and just covering every aspect of the Scorponok fight.
Then there's the 2 minute slideshow concept gallery collecting all the
concept art seen in other featurettes and maybe a few other pieces, and a
trio of trailers.
Disc 1 - Just the end-of-credits one mentioned earlier.
Disc 2 - On the main screen go left from "Set Up" to get the DVD
On "Our World" featurette page, going down from "Battleground" shows a
short pan across a customized "Baybot" that looks to be a Battle Ravage
Alternator with a Michael Bay head and Autobot symbol, flanked by his dogs,
done up as an 80s style TV ad.
On "Their War", going left from "Inside the AllSpark" shows a brief
making-of featurette about Michael Bay's cameo scene as Megatron plucks him
out of a car. The scene got cut from the final movie, though, so I guess
that's ONE deleted scene. :)
In "More Than Meets The Eye", going up from "From Script to Sand" has a
featurette on casting the dog who would pay Mojo (not all were chihuahuas).
If you go to Trailers in
the MTMTE directory, you get a sub-directory. Going right from "Theatrical
Trailer 4" gives the making of a scene where the X-Box robot tears a woman's
dress off. ("Unfortunately, we have to go again." "YAY!") The scene itself
was deleted, but they show it put together with some realy rudimentary
Dave Van Domelen, thinks of the case as more of a wall-hanging or
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