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Transformers: DVD vs. HD-DVD

Transformers the movie. The tale of the struggle between the valiant Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the treacherous Decepticons led by Megatron … but you already knew this. The story of the Autobots and Decepticons is now well know with Michael Bay’s interpretation of the struggle, an interpretation that pay homage to the original 80′s cartoon series and the animated movie from 1985. As a life long Transformers fan who remembers sitting in the theater and watching the epic struggle as Optimus and Megatron clashed and having read and owned the entire 80 issue US comic series I was the biggest skeptic for the new movie, and the character design. My fears were unfounded as the movie I soaked in on July 3rd was every bit as magical as the original series, thanks in large part to Peter Cullen voicing Optimus. I could not wait till the day I could take home this movie and put it up on a nice HDTV, to see the struggle renewed anew in the comfort of my home. That day has passed with the release of Transformers not only on DVD but also HD-DVD. Which ones the best, well that’s what I’m about to spout off on.

First up is the regular edition DVD I picked up at Wal-mart. The movie itself is region 1, anamorphic widescreen with the usual audio trimmings, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround with English, French and Spanish options and subtitles in the same languages. The movie itself left me wanting more, even in HD. It looked good, just not great. It was a DVD on an HDTV, and it was very apparent. I was also very bummed that there were no special features, no trailers nada. I get this is a basic DVD, but you gotta give the fans something, not everyone can do HD-DVD. Now there may be no extras on the main DVD there is a bonus disc, “Transformers Beginnings.” This 19 minute feature is a live action comic. It’s narrated by Peter Cullen and tells the prequel story as seen in IDW Publishing’s comic adaptation of the movie. This extra is very nice, and makes the bare-bones DVD it’s packaged with well worth the purchase. HD or not, the secondary DVD is good, the comic it’s pulled form even better. Overall I was pleased with my purchase. The main movie I’ll watch over and over, the secondary DVD, while great, I only needed to see once.

Second to the plate, the 2-disc HD-DVD. Now this, this is a good looking movie. While I got goose-bumps watching the regular DVD on an HDTV the HD-DVD really froze me with excitement. See, until I watched this movie in HD I never really grasped what it was all about. The picture clarity, the sharp details, the sound, everything is so much better. Back in July when I started thinking ahead to watching this movie in HD, this is how I dreamed it would be. Yes, it’s that good. This is to be expected when comparing the HD experience versus what we’re used too. In addition to the higher quality there are the bonuses we’ve come to expect from a blockbuster film like Transformers. First up, the audio commentary from Michael Bay, best absorbed in small doses as it gets very annoying watching a movie with some talking. I suggest checking out the scenes you want more info on. This is just the tip of the burg as viewers are treated to nine more features. These are cleverly divided up into ‘Our World,’ ‘Their War’ and ‘More than Meets the Eye.’ In a nutshell, get inside both Spielberg and Bay’s head; learn about the making of the movie, toy influence, Chevy’s involvement and a close-up look at the Skorponok attack. Lot of features, all good stuff.

So where does that leave us? Go get an HD-DVD player. The entire HD package is well worth the purchase, especially when you add in all the bonus content. The movie looks great, sounds great and with all the features leaves any Transformers fan feeling fat and happy. If you do not have an HDTV get the regular DVD. You’ll get the same movie experience and while you won’t get all the bonus features the beginnings DVD is nice. It’s sad to see that the regular DVD is so bare, but I guess that’s where we’re going in the new age of HD. I love Transformers, and just had to share these thoughts with you as I was able to experience the best of both worlds and share it with you.

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