Transformers: The Movie – from toys and cartoons to their first full-length outing, thirty years ago, they set this movie in that futuristic year of 2005!
There’s a battle which leaves both Optimus Prime and Megatron the worse for wear, and in the case of the latter, this results in a new leadership challenge which Starscream has his eye on, so it’s like Labour trying to unseat Jeremy Corbyn!!
Couple that with a major hassle of an entity called Unicron (voiced by Orson Welles in his final acting performance), who goes round eating planets. Yes, no governments of the world can continue to spin out the global warming nonsense, because at some point, the man from Citizen Kane will come along and eat the Earth, anyway!
There’s precious little in the way of any strong language, too. “When are we going to bust their Decepti-chops?”, asks one. Well, there’s one, mild, “Oh, shit!” and that’s not even when a planet’s being eaten!
But how did they defeat Unicron when he’s absolutely huge? (And I’m not fat-shaming – this one eats planets! He *IS* huge!!!) Okay, I could say that the way they bump him off is preposterous, but then this is robots fighting robots – and it doesn’t get any more completely hatstand than that.
With the good guys or the baddies get hold of The Matrix device that everyone’s after? And are you one of those kids who was completely besides themselves when they saw this in the cinema and a particular character bought the farm?
Overall, Transformers superfans will love it. For me, as an occasional viewer of the films, it has an amazing start, but then plods along a bit in the third act, so I was wishing it would just get on with things by that point.
(Click on the image for the full-size version)
The film is presented in both a 1.85:1 version and a 1.37:1 full-frame version, the latter with more movie top and bottom, so I watched this that way. The 1.85:1 print contains a slight amount extra at the sides, but not really enough to compensate for what you lose top and bottom (which is nothing essential to the plot, but still heavily detailed). That said, I expect the 1.85:1 widescreen alternative is what most people will now opt for, now that we’re in an age where 16:9 TVs are the dominant force. Both are in 1080p high definition, and there’s the occasional, early glitch on the print, but which I would put down to the original print and not a problem of the remastering process. Most people will not notice them, but then when you see how much trouble they went to in the featurette about the restoration, I’m still surprised there were any problems left.
However, like with the Highlander release, though, it’s a shame that while it’s mastered from a 4K transfer, they’ve not put out a 4K disc. Only certain studios are doing that at the moment, so that could be the reason why we don’t have one for Transformers: The Movie.
The DTS HD-MA 5.1 soundtrack gives frequent use of the rear speakers, whether for the electric soundtrack or the flying and shooting happening all around you.
The extras begin with a highly-engaging documentary:
- Till All Are One. Looking Back at Transformers: The Movie (46:32): There’s chat from so many involved with the movie including story consultant Flint Dille, cast members Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee) and Neil Ross (Springer), and the voice of director Nelson Shin.
There’s a lot of back-patting, especially for those who are no longer around, like Robert Stack and Orson Welles, the latter of whom died just five days after completing his voice recording. Ross talks about his experience at conventions, while Stan Bush talks about how he intended his song, The Touch (which I bought at the time!), to go into the Stallone movie Cobra, but the studio had other ideas. Composer Vince Dicola discusses the very ’80s power ballad soundtrack.
One interesting part of this for me is that, since I watched the film in its full-frame print, all the clips shown here are in 1.85:1, so it helps in checking out the comparisons.
It’s a shame there are no subtitles for this or the other extras, aside from when director Nelson Shin’s voice can be heard.
- Transformers: The Restoration (7:16): We see the careful handling of the print, scanning at 6K, which scans down to 4K, and all the work to bring it to life 30 years on. However, that still doesn’t explain the odd brief problem I saw early on, given how precise they were with the film.
- Rolling Out The New Cover (4:49): Comic book artist Livio Ramondelli talks about doing the cover for the movie.
- Featurettes: Three brief segments made for the 20th Anniversary DVD featuring a lot of the same people shown in the main new documentary (occasionally saying the same things!) – The Death of Optimus Prime (5:02), The Cast & Characters (10:02) and Transformers Q&A (13:03).
- Animated Storyboards: Three of them here – Fishing scene (2:09), Battle (4:31) and “One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall” with deleted sequences (5:27).
- Original theatrical trailers (3:05): Two of them on display, here, both in 1.85:1.
- TV Spots (5:52): Eight of them, ranging from 30-60 seconds apiece.
- Audio commentary: with story consultant Flint Dille, director Nelson Shin and actress Susan Blu.
The menu features animation of many of the characters flying onto the screen while the main theme plays. There’s a bog-standard 12 chapters and subtitles are in English only.
Transformers: The Movie is released today on Blu-ray Steelbook, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.
(Click on the image for the full-size version)
Running time: 85 mins
Released: December 12th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD 5.1, DTS 5.1
Widescreen: 1.37:1 and 1.85:1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Nelson Shin
Producers: Joe Bacal and Tom Griffin
Screenplay: Ron Friedman
Music: Vince DiCola
Optimus Prime/Ironhide: Peter Cullen
Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime: Judd Nelson
Megatron/Soundwave/Frenzy/Rumble: Frank Welker
Galvatron: Leonard Nimoy
Ultra Magnus: Robert Stack
Springer/Slag/Bonecrusher/Hook: Neil Ross
Bumblebee: Dan Gilvezan
Unicron: Orson Welles
Arcee: Susan Blu
Kup: Lionel Stander
Wheelie: Frank Welker
Wreck-Gar: Eric Idle
Blurr: John Moschitta Jr
Blaster: Buster Jones
Perceptor: Paul Eiding
Grimlock: Gregg Berger
Swoop/Scrapper: Michael Bell
Jazz: Scatman Crothers
Cliffjumper: Casey Kasem
Brawn/Spike Witwicky: Corey Burton
Cyclonus/Quintesson Leader: Roger C Carmel
Scourge: Stanley Jones
Starscream: Chris Latta
Devastator: Arthur Burghardt
Scavenger: Don Messick
Shockwave: Corey Burton
Astrotrain: Jack Angel
Blitzwing: Ed Gilbert
Kickback: Clive Revill
Shrapnel: Hal Rayle
Daniel Witwicky: David Mendenhall
Kranix: Norman Alden
Narrator: Victor Caroli
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.