Bumblebee 4K Blu-Ray Review
Upon a second viewing, Bumblebee is just as effective as it was the first time around. Before the film’s release, there was a certain cloud of negativity around the Transformers film franchise as a whole. While Michael Bay’s 2007 film successfully launched the cinematic franchise, each subsequent entry felt increasingly stale. In retrospect, Bay never truly had an affinity for the Transformers lore like Travis Knight. With Bumblebee, Knight was able to make the Transformers movie that fans have been waiting for.
Knight brought some much needed heart and tact that the franchise has always deserved. However, it’s intuitive script by Christina Hodson that stands out the most on the second viewing. Even though the movie is essentially a soft reboot of the franchise, it also pays homage to what’s come before. By making the film a prequel, Bumblebee is able to re-establish a baseline for these characters and the world they inhabit. Amazingly, the movie almost fixes everything wrong with the franchise. It also creates an experience that actually makes the journeys of these characters compelling
Bumblebee is able to re-establish a baseline for these characters and the world they inhabit. After feeling like the franchise had ran out of inspiration, Bumblebee has proven that there are still plenty of great Transformers stories to tell. There’s still plenty of gas in the tank.
The 4K UHD presentation of Bumblebee’s home video release is unsurprisingly dazzling. Although the film featured an original 1.85:1 aspect ratio for it’s theatrical run, this disc utilizes a 1.78:1 ratio. While this is a close representation of the theatrical presentation, the latter provides a slightly less information in terms of image width. The film was finished using a 2K digital intermediate. Meaning that this transfer is a 4K upscale and therefore not true 4K, but rather 2160p native resolution. Despite this, the detail in this transfer is stunning. Skin tones are naturalistic (albeit intentionally warm), and facial details in the close-ups are of particular distinction here. Similarly, the computer-generated elements also fare well on this transfer.
Dolby Vision really pushes things over the top in terms of the detail in Bumblebee and all of the other robots, revealing textures that are stunningly realistic. HDR 10 also provides a boost in overall color saturation, adding to the already subtle use of the color spectrum. The Cybertron scenes are understandably notable here, but the rest of this transfer enhances a nice array of bright colors. Contrast is also ridiculous throughout, although there’s some subtle yet visible digital noise. Aside from this, there’s so sign of banding or artifacting, making for a pretty slick viewing experience overall. While this transfer from Paramount Home Media is impressive overall, the slight noise issues and lack of a true 4K image hold this disc back from being particularly noteworthy.
The included Dolby Atmos track is perhaps the highlight of the entire release. While the 4K UHD disc also contains a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track, the former is easily the more immersive option if you have the setup. The track is mostly focused through the front facing channels, which is actually used fairly effectively on this release. The low end of the track is also distinguished here, offering nice moments of bombastic subwoofer use that never overpowers. Dialogue remains crips and clear throughout with no apparent sync issues. Dario Marianelli’s score is also well utilized here, offering nice involvement in the mix – especially juxtaposed with the 80’s soundtrack.
The one disappointing thing about this track is the apparent lack of distinct channel separation. Although this element is certainly existent in some form on this track, it often feels as if a two channel stereo track is being pumped through all of the different surround channels simultaneously. This isn’t to say that this mix is bad, because it’s actually very nuanced. It’s just that there’s a certain lack of diversity in the surround elements when compared to the front facing channels. Despite this, the Atmos soundtrack provided on this 4K UHD release of Bumblebee mostly gets the proper treatment.
The Special Features
Although the 4K UHD disc itself only contains the movie, the accompanying supplemental material comes on the included blu-ray disc. While there’s a lot of diversity in terms of the bonus content on Bumblebee’s release, it’s slight letdown that there’s no commentary track from Knight.
Sector 7 Archive: Included are two supplements. The first is a quick introduction to Sector Seven in this “training video” from John Cena’s Agent Burns himself. The second is a motion comic that takes place two years after the events of the film.
- Agent Burns: Welcome to Sector 7(0:50; 1080p)
- Sector 7 Adventures: The Battle at Half Dome (9:19; 1080p)
Deleted and Extended Scenes (19:05; 1080p): These are entertaining, and yet it’s easy to see why they were cut. There are some interesting subplots in the material here, but they would have ultimately dragged down the pacing. The original opening of Bumblebee is of particular note here, because it would have been far less impactful.
- Original Opening
- Drive to Karate Class
- Birthday Present
- Car Wash and Beetle Breakdown
- Charlie Drops Off Mona and Conan
- Decepticons Inspect the Armory
- Drive to Cliff
- Sector 7
- Appliance War
Outtakes (9:32; 1080p): Included are this movie’s versions of a gag reel mixed with something like a line-o-rama. In this series of alternate takes, we see a bunch of improv from the cast, especially John Cena. While the wrestler-turned actor’s on-set shenanigans are fun, there’s naturally not much meat to these bones.
- Burns Meets Bee
- War Room
- There’s a Door in My Way
- Charlie in Trash
- Saved the World
Bee Vision: The Transformers Robots of Cybertron (3:56; 1080p): Serves as a handy guide for those who are uninitiated to the various Transformers characters. Using the full Cybertron Sequence as a means for this, the quick featurette highlights the name of each character, along with their affiliations and various abilities.
Bringing Bumblebee to the Big Screen: A set of five featurettes that delve into various aspects of making the film. The lack of a play all function makes this feel like less of a documentary than a series of vignettes that are loosely connected. Feature length documentaries have become a staple of previous Transformers releases, so it’s disappointing that there isn’t one here.
RELATED: John Cena May Join The Suicide Squad
- The Story of Bumblebee(3:54; 1080p): Takes a quick look at how the film attempts to course correct the franchise. The featurette also quickly looks at how the movie successfully redefines the personality and characterization of the eponymous character.
- The Stars Align(7:04; 1080p): Focuses mostly on the acting talents of Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena in the film. Starting with casting, the featurette also delves into the difficulties of acting against a GC creation. Additionally, it also gives some insight into Cena’s presence in the film, along with how brought dimensionality to his character.
- BumblebeeGoes Back to G1 (10:02; 1080p): Digs into the design choices helped to differentiate itself visually from its predecessors. The featurette takes a look at the inspiration for the design choices, focusing on the simplicity of the designs. We also get some quick insight on the creation of the Cybertron Sequence, including the big redesign of Optimus Prime.
- Back to the Beetle(6:20; 1080p): Further explores the characterization of Bumblebee in the movie. We also get a quick history of the character in his various forms in animation and live action. As the title implies, the majority of this featurette focuses on returning to the original look of the character.
- California Cruisin’ Down Memory Lane(19:57; 1080p): Details some of the filmmaking elements that make the film stand out. Focusing on some of the practical sets and locations that were built for the film, this featurette does a good job of showcasing how they added specificity to each of the characters through the eighties aesthetic. Overall, this is easily the best and most revealing featurette of the lot, with tons of b-roll footage throughout.
As a whole, this 4K UHD release of Bumblebee is impressive. The film itself is definitely the reason to purchase this disc, although the technical specifications are solid as well. The supplemental material is a bit disappointing, but there’s enough to appease. Despite it’s fairly underwhelming performance at the box office, this release will surely appease those who are catching it for the first time on home video. Whether you’re a die-hard Transformers fan or completely new to the franchise, Bumblebee comes recommended on 4K UHD regardless.