- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Director Michael Bay’s latest noisy and explosive sequel celebrating Hasbro’s famed transforming robotic toy line tempts hard-core fans for a return visit in Transformers: The Last Knight (Paramount Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 155 minutes, 1.90:1 to 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $37.99), now available in the ultra high-definition format.

Audiences can relive a bloated plot that featured famed inventor and mechanic Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) in possession of a talisman from the Arthurian era that can stop the destruction of Earth.

Mr. Yeager must band together with a sexy descendent of Merlin, Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock), an elderly Transformers historian Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and, of course a whole bunch of dazzling, transforming Autobots.

The group’s goals are to obtain a mysterious staff, defeat the Decepticons, outwit the U.S. government and stop the fusion of the planet with the Transformers home world of Cybertron.

Despite headache-inducing subplots, Mr. Bay still manages to offers viewers some stunning action scenes both above and underwater (a submarine battle really shines) as well as create plenty of fodder to build upon the Transformers canon covering their existence from 484 A.D. to today.

Ignore the critics’ skewering of the theatrical effort, “Transformers: The Last Knight” is a perfect fit for families looking for a night of popcorn-munching, home entertainment.

4K UHD in action: The high dynamic range enhancements and the movie’s 2160p digital transfer unleash the clarity and color saturation of Mr. Bay and cinematographer Jonathan Sela’s digitally shot source material.

Suffice it to report, young fans smitten by the live-action version of their favorite toys will be gushing over the detail afforded to stars such as Optimus Prime, Bumble Bee, Hound, Drift, Megatron and Barricade.

In addition to the familiar bots showcased, viewers can appreciate a three-headed metallic dragon made up of smaller Transformer knights and the stunning Quintessa (a sorceress of the Decepticons). She hovers around with rippling metal tendrils making up her lower torso and tiny tracks of metal making up her spinal column.

Also impressive is my favorite creation for the movie, a humanoid-sized robotic butler named Cogman. Sir Burton’s loyal servant takes its cue from a steampunk universe and Ralph McQuarrie’s C-3PO design.

The butler features an intricate collection of spinning and clicking gears beneath its polished, gold-imprinted design metal torso and even shoots a missile out of its mouth when required.

Now, the rest of the Transformers also all benefit from the 4K polish that reveals the tiniest of scratches, dents, rust spots and paint flaking from years of abuse as well as their impeccably spotlighted alter egos, often sports and muscle cars.

Take the case of Hot Rod turning into a 2017 Lamborghini Centenario LP770-4 and drool at the vehicle’s slick design.

However, the greatest visual magic trick in the movie is the shifting aspect ratios that fill the screen up more as the action increases, and often when the Transformers appear in battle.

Viewers may find it distracting or embrace the largess of the moments going from large black bars in wide-screen size (2.39:1) to an eye-popping (roughly 1.90:1) size that really fills the screen space to show off the best of the ultra high-definition format.

It’s also worth noting that all of the action leads up to the final, excessively loud and explosive battle scene that, when combined with the rumbling Dolby Atmos soundtrack, may induce headaches or at least head shaking at the aural and vibrant color assault.

Best extras: Owners get six featurettes clocking at almost 90 minutes in total that cover the creation of the film.

Best of the bunch is “Motors and Magic” that looks at the practical and digital effects used to bring Transformers’ Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Hound, Hot Rod, Crosshairs, Drift, Cogman, Sqweeks, Day Trader, Mohawk, Megatron and Barricade to life.

Interviews with key personnel from famed effects house Industrial Light and Magic as well as production designer Jeffrey Beecroft touch on magic such as Hog Rod’s time bubble, Bumble Bee’s ability to reassemble and Mohawk’s chain-link braces.

I also liked the “Merging Mythologies” featurette that covered the epic battle between King Arthur’s forces and the Saxons at the beginning of the movie, requiring hundreds of warrior actors on the battlefield.

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