Blu-ray Review: Transformers: The Movie (30th Anniversary Edition)

Transformers truly did change transform landscape when they arrived at toy stores and afternoon TV in 1984. Thanks to the FCC changing its rules on kid shows being able to promote products, Transformers was a 30 minute animated catalog of action figures on the small screen. Kids were amazed that their versions of the cars could also transform into fighting robots. Hasbro had a hit on all levels for several years before they stepped into the theatrical game with Transformers: The Movie arriving in the summer of 1986. The producers went all out on the production including bringing on guest voices such as Scatman Crothers (Hong Kong Phooey), Eric Idle (Monty Python), Judd Nelson (Breakfast Club), Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek), Robert Stack (The Untouchables) and Orson Welles (Citizen Kane). For the soundtrack they locked down Weird Al’s “Dare to Be Stupid.” This was Transformers to an extreme.

While the universe has always seemed to be a place where Autobots and Decepticons have battled, it turns out there’s a greater force in the galaxy that answers to neither of side. Unicron (Welles) is a cyber-planet that eats other planets with a vacuum force. Unicron makes a deal with Megatron to get access to the powerful Matrix of Leadership. The Autobots are in a bit of trouble from battles with the Decepticons that led to the actual killing of beloved members. No one is safe in this movie. This is a stunning concept to swallow for a kids movie aimed to move the next line of Transformer toys. Basically toys are broken on the screen and Doc McStuffins isn’t going to patch them together. Can the Autobots find a way to defeat Unicron before he eats their planet?

There’s dozens of reasons why The Transformers: The Movie didn’t transform into a massive box office hit back in 1986. The PG rating was a red flag for parents who weren’t sure if they wanted to take their kids. When word got out about a star character getting shot to death, kids might have been hesitant to buy a ticket and cry in their popcorn. Was the non-stop action too intense for the younger fan base? Did the soundtrack make people think they were watching Heavy Metal? Strangely enough, the reasons why the film failed at the theater is why it’s had an amazing following on home video. The PG edge made fans not view the movie as kid stuff when they popped it in the VCR 10 years later like The Care Bears Movie. The movie’s tough attitude made it cool when Boogie Nights referenced the soundtrack. Now thirty years later, Transformers: The Movie gets a serious upgrade to 1080p on Blu-ray that allows fans to truly admire the artistry that went into the animated images. Transformers: The Movie is so much better than the Michael Bay CGI messes.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out how the animation was upgraded for the movie versus the average TV episode. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The mix allows the action and ’80s rock soundtrack to whip around the room. The original mix is 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. The movie is subtitled in English and Spanish.

Full Frame Edition is a separate Blu-ray that has all the bonus features.

Digital Version with instruction on how to download to your favorite device.

‘Til All Are One (46:32) is a documentary that includes interviews with story consultant Flint Dille, voices Gregg Berger, Susan Blu, Neil Ross, Dan Gilvezan, Singer/Songwriter Stan Bush, Composer Vince DiCola and more. Dille lets us in on how the ’85 Chicago Bears influenced the new characters. While they talk about

Transformers: The Restoration (7:16) really lets you understand what goes into making your favorite old film look new on the screen. You get to see the various scanning machines in operation and not just a cheap before and after image example.

Rolling Out The New Cover (4:49) allows the artist explain how he went from VHS renter as a kid to designing the new cover after drawing the comic books for the last few years.

Audio Commentary With Director Nelson Shin, Story Consultant Flint Dille And Star Susan Blu is from the 20th anniversary DVD. Flint ends up talking the most. Shin talks of having 400 people working on the film.

Archival Featurettes – “The Death Of Optimus Prime,” “The Cast & Characters,” and “Transformers Q&A” are from the 20th anniversary DVD. They have a couple clips from the toy commercials.

Animated Storyboards matches up the storyboards with the audio in a few scenes.

Original Theatrical Trailers (3:05) promises to transform the summer of 1986.

TV Spots (5:52) promises a story that will shock and surprise you. It was a shock for any kids who watched their toys get broken on the big screen.

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