"Bumblebee" Movie Blu-Ray/DVD Boxed Set Review
On April 2, 2019 the "Bumblebee" Movie was released on DVD, Blu-Ray, 4K and 3D. The kind folks at Paramount Pictures were kind enough to provide Ben's World of Transformers with the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital release for review. This set includes two discs: a DVD with just the movie and a Blu-Ray including the movie and special features. An additional add on is a comic book titled "The Battle at Half Dome" published by Avalanche Comics Entertainment. A piece of paper inside includes a code to download a digital version of the film.
When reviewing the Blu-Ray disc, I watched it via my PS4 on a 55" screen with an HDMI connection. The previous Transformers film "The Last Knight" had a beautiful transfer so I expected the same of this film and I was not disappointed. The opening sequence on Cybertron is both sharp and vivid. The colors on certain characters such as Optimus Prime and Arcee really pop off the screen.
Since the entire opening sequence takes place on Cybertron and is completely CG, the color palette changes heavily once the action changes to Earth. At that point not everything is razor sharp or super bright, but that is not because the movie looks bad. It is simply due to the reality of being in environments where sun drenches the scenes or dust is kicked up during battles and chases. The movie looks no less vibrant on Earth, it is just a different set of colors and textures. The film looks great.
The DVD is of course a slightly lower quality, but it is still a very enjoyable experience. I had no issues with artifacts or the sound.
One of my favorite parts of any home release nowadays are the extras. Since I was a kid I have always treasured a peek behind the curtain via "behind the scenes" documentaries, so the modern day extras are a joy for me. In that respect, this disc set offers a lot. Sadly, there is no director's commentary. However what you do get are a bunch of extras in the form of deleted scenes, interviews and even a motion comic book!
I think many fans would agree the two sequences on Cybertron are among the most memorable in the film. The blend of G1 designs and full on Transformers combat had fans at most of my theater viewings cheering and clapping. However, the scenes moved fast and fans only managed to get brief looks at their heroes, and in some cases not even the entire CG model. With that in mind, the "Bee Vision" extra is bound to be a fan favorite. "Bee Vision" blends the Cybertron scenes with a look at the individual CG models for characters such as Brawn and Soundwave. You can pause and get a better look at the G1-based designs and truly appreciate how they combined aesthetics from G1 and the live action movies together into new forms. You can see "Bee Vision" in action in the clip below (via Paramount Pictures).
There are several deleted scenes included on this disc. In some cases they show bits of scenes that were kept in the movie, but shot with some lines revised. For instance, when Charlie receives her birthday gifts, there are some extra lines worked into the scene that did not make it into the final cut. In another couple of deleted parts, we learn that earlier versions of the film introduced two of Charlie's former friends Betsy and Liz, who wind up ditching her because she has changed too much since the death of her father. Other scenes give us a look at some more Dropkick and Shatter conversations, but these were never fully finished, with rough CG of the characters set against real backdrops.
My favorite deleted scene is the "Appliance War". In the final film, when Charlie comes home to find Bumblebee has trashed the house, there is some berating and then a vain attempt to clean up the house. However, in "Appliance War", we learn that Bumblebee's Energon surge actually caused several electronic devices in the house to come to life! This scene goes on for quite a bit as Charlie and Memo defeat the machines before her mother gets home. I was surprised just how extensive this scene was, complete with finished effects and (I believe) animatronic models. The final scene is downright tame compared to the earlier version. It also calls back to the 2007 movie where several electronic devices come to life because of the Allspark including the infamous Dispensor! You can see a clip from this scene below (via Paramount Pictures):
Behind the Scenes
There is a lot of behind-the-scenes type material on this disc. Long time fans will enjoy "Bumblebee Goes Back to G1" where everyone from Director, Travis Knight to Hasbro Design Manager John Warden talk about Generation One and its roots in the 80's. Artists also talk about their work on moving away from the "Bayverse" aesthetic and more towards a more plain G1 aesthetic with less exposed machinery and more solid, recognizable panels on the robots. This extra also contains scenes with several G1 toys on display and clips from the G1 cartoon. It is great to see just how much G1 was at the forefront of the minds of those behind the film.
Another behind-the-scenes video I really enjoyed was "Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen". This was a more traditional look at the making of a film. Several key players including producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Hailee Steinfeld and writer Christina Hodson all make appearances (along with a lot of the crew that worked on the film behind the camera). Among my favorite parts was seeing Steinfeld acting against a partial Bumblebee model or sometimes nothing at all. The interaction between Charlie and Bumblebee in the film is fairly seamless most of the time, so seeing this really helped drive home the work that went into planning and executing such scenes. You can see a part of this below (via MovieFone):
Usually when you hear "outtakes" you think of bloopers. A flubbed line, a prop doing something it is not supposed to, actors laughing too much during a serious scene and so on. However, for this set the folks behind "Bumblebee" did something a bit different. Relying on John Cena and his ability to make fun of his own persona, several extra scenes were apparently shot and then blended into existing scenes. One such scene is the meeting between General Whalen (played by Glynn Turman) and his staff when S7 is trying to decide whether or not to work with Dropkick and Shatter. Instead of the straight forward scene from the movie, we have Cena and Turman doing some serious ad-libbing back and forth in the middle of the meeting that got a few chuckles from me. None of it is hilarious, but it is very good-natured and fun. You can see one of the other outtakes in the clip below from the disc (via Coming Soon):
The Battle at Half Dome
Some versions of this disc set will include a mini-comic book. In this comic, a Sector 7 convoy is ambushed by Decepticons and it is up to a young Agent Simmons to save the day. Bumblebee and another Autobot I won't spoil join the battle as well. Bumblebee has his Camaro alt-mode at this point, and Simmons is still a very young agent so this seems to occur very soon after the events of "Bumblebee". However, the print comic ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, and you need to watch the motion comic to see the rest.
In all honesty, I have never been a huge fan of motion comics. Something about the forced way characters are "moved" in the scenes just strikes me as very odd. Also, the voice work is not the best (but it does the job). However, this is a fun extra and I have to say I really like the artwork in the comic book, and at least one character appeared that made me cheer inside (hint, he's an Autobot and tough!). You can see artwork from the comic attached at the bottom of this review.
There is a lot packed into this set. For fans of the movie, you get it in three forms (Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital) and if you are into extras there is enough to keep you busy for a couple hours. The emphasis on the retro setting of the film and the G1 influences was really a joy to see emphasized in the extras and of course, the film itself is super fun. If you are a Transformers fan, this is definitely worth adding to your collection!
"Bumblebee" is out now in 4K, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital formats. You can purchase your copy on Amazon today and help support BWTF!
Special thanks again to Paramount Pictures for providing BWTF with a review copy of "Bumblebee".