Transformers: The Movie (1986)

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Released 12-Mar-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Menu Animation & Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Music Video-Touch-Stan Bush
TV Spots-Pre Movie Toy Lines; Post Movie Toy Lines
TV Spots-Toy Promos; Movie TVCs
Gallery-Creation of the Cover Art; Transformers: The War Within
Gallery-Promotional Artwork
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Biographies-Character
Trailer-DBZ Movie #7 Super Android 13; Spirited Away; Robotech
Trailer-Gundam Wing; Gasaraki
DVD Credits
Easter Egg-Alternate Main Menu
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 84:37 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (33:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nelson Shin
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Leonard Nimoy
Eric Idle
Orson Welles
Judd Nelson
Robert Stack
Peter Cullen
Peter Welker
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Vince DiCola


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, to some the whole film would classify!
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    If you thought Pokemon was a shockingly commercial excuse for a cartoon, then check this out. In the early 80s, toy manufacturer Hasbro has a successful TV series with a matching product line, but sales start to drop away. You could gracefully end a series and move on to something new, but that's too much hard work. How is this overcome? Simply kill off most of the main characters in a feature film, introduce some new ones and start a whole new line of merchandise that every kid will want to own. Millions of parents are left paying off their credit cards, while the wheels of corporate greed turn forever. Of course, as a young kid rapt with the TV series, I saw this movie in a very different light.

    The Decepticons and Autobots have been at war for a millennia, but now they have a common adversary in Unicron, a giant planet-sized robot that eats moons and space stations for breakfast (a role very suitable for Orson Welles). The only thing Unicron fears is the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, a mysterious device handed down from leader to leader and prophesised to help the Autobots in their darkest hour. Unicron recruits some Decepticon manpower to try and capture the Matrix, thereby ensuring his own survival. The mission is a success until a new Autobot leader steps up to the plate, wielding their ultimate weapon.

    Featuring the vocal talents of Leonard Nimoy as the evil Galvatron and Judd Nelson as Hot Rod, it is Eric Idle who stands out as Wreck-Gar, the leader of a motorcycle gang from a junk planet, who befriends the Autobots and fights Unicron alongside them. Sadly, this was to be one of Orson Welles' last performances on film.

    I recall seeing this at my local theatre back in the 80s when this was a major event among my friends, highly anticipated and tied in with the TV series. I especially loved getting to see the action on a big screen, and it had a profound effect on my future taste in cinema.

    Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights will be intrigued to see the hilarious original music video of the cheesy 80s song Touch by Stan Bush, which was discovered by Anderson on the soundtrack CD for this movie.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer can only be described as sub-standard, and disappointed me greatly. Granted, this film is seventeen years old - but it is clear that the best possible transfer for this DVD release has not been secured.

    We have been given a 1.33:1, pan & scan transfer of this film, and it would not surprise me if this is the same transfer that was released on VHS many years ago. The original theatrical aspect ratio of this film is 1.85:1, made even more obvious by some action being awkwardly cut by the pan & scan process. There is also a minor error in the DVD packaging, which incorrectly lists the aspect as "Full Frame Pan & Scan".

    I've been watching quite a bit of recently produced anime of late, and sadly this feature looks more than double its age. Sharpness is considerably lacking, the entire transfer being dominated by a blurry, undefined appearance. Much of the movie is overly darkened, making it difficult to recognise characters and even follow the action on screen at times. There is no low level noise.

    Colours were not as bold as I remember them at the cinema and looked considerably washed out. I am interested to know where the screen captures on the cover are from, because their colours are beautifully vibrant. A bit misleading, don't you think?

    There were no MPEG artefacts present, and aliasing was nowhere to be seen. Some telecine wobble exists during the film and in the closing credits, but is not overly dominating. A large number of film artefacts appeared, in the form of very obvious white specs, and considering most of the film is set in outer space, these stick out like you wouldn't believe. Similarly, during lighter scenes many black specs were also evident and quite distracting.

    Reel change marks (cigarette burns) are present in the transfer at 16:04, 33:43, 54:34 and 67:02. They are slightly cropped by the pan & scan process, but are obvious all the same.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer transition placed at 33:43 in a black, silent moment in the feature.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a surprisingly good audio transfer. It seems very strange to me that this release has received a remixed six channel soundtrack, but not an equally impressive video transfer.

    There is one audio track available, English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s).

    The dialogue is synthesized for Autobot and Decepticon voices, and is relatively easy to comprehend. Some characters are a little harder to understand than others. The Autobot character Blurr speaks so fast I usually only caught every second word of his sentences. Audio sync was consistently accurate.

    The film's synthesized score is credited to Vince DiCola and roots it firmly in the 80s. Many other contributions are made to the soundtrack from artists such as Stan Bush, N.R.G., Kick Axe and 'Weird Al' Yankovic. The well known More Than Meets The Eye theme is given a hard rock treatment by 80s glam metal band Lion with great results.

    Surround channels were aggressively used for everything from ambience and subtle sound effects to off screen voices and gunfire. I was particularly delighted to hear the transformation sound effect come from all directions during the battle scenes. Rear to front panning was used for passing cars and jet engines very effectively, I constantly felt as though I was in the midst of all the action.

    The subwoofer kicked in occasionally to lightly accent explosions and the voice of Unicron, but was not overly present in the soundtrack, possibly due to the age and limited fidelity of the source.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a lot of extras here for die-hard fans, but casual viewers will find some of these a bit tedious.

Menu

    Menus are animated, non-16x9 enhanced and accompanied by various audio clips from the film. There are two alternate menus that are chosen randomly when the disc is loaded, themed for Autobots or Decepticons. Apart from colouring and the logos, these menus are virtually identical.

Theatrical Trailer (1:31) 

    Presented in an aspect of 1.85:1, non-16x9 enhanced, a voiceover sells the film as being widescreen, leaving no doubt as to the film's intended aspect ratio. There are also some shots here that I don't recall seeing in the film.

Music Video - Stan Bush 'Touch' (3:58) 

    Very corny, very dated and very laughable. Presented in 1.33:1, full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

TV Spots - (24) 

    Highly repetitive and of nauseatingly bad quality, if you intentionally watch these more than once you qualify as an insane Transformers nut. Available with a play all function for your navigating ease.

Still Galleries 

Character Bios (23)

    This covers a selection of good and evil characters, reiterating details we already learned in the film.

Voice Actor Bios (7)

    Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Frank Welker and Peter Cullen.

Musician Bios (6)

    Vince DiCola, Stan Bush, N.R.G., Kick Axe, 'Weird Al' Yankovic and Lion.

Madman Propaganda

    Trailers for the brilliant adventure Spirited Away, Dragonball Z Movie #7, Robotech, Gundam Wing and Gasaraki.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Original VHS releases of this film had some profanity cut, but that is not an issue with this release. We have a different opening sequence from the American cut of the film; where our cut has a very cheesy Star Wars style scrolling prologue, the American cut has simple opening credits.

    The Region 2 release has a 1.85:1 non-16x9 transfer. According to some screen shots I have viewed, the transfer appears to have the top and bottom cropped, and it is unclear at this stage if this is the same print that was shown theatrically.

    Region 4 misses out on (from Region 1):

        ...and from Region 2:

    Although we have a lot more Bios and TV Spots than other regions, I'm going to leave this open. The Region 1 has a superior transfer, but we have a very active 5.1 audio track.

Summary

    Transformers: The Movie is an 80s animated classic that fans of modern anime will like and those that watched the series as kids will love.

    The video transfer is a big let down, being pan & scan and looking like somebody's dusty old VHS tape.

    The audio is a great, immersive 5.1 soundtrack.

    The extras are comprehensive, but contain some items that only the most mental fans will appreciate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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Comments (Add)
No widescreen, score or commentary for region 2 - John R REPLY POSTED
I too, have viewed the R1, the R2, and the R4. - Uncanny Antman
Apparently it was always 4x3. - Stuart
Question to Madman/AV Channel. - paulisdead (Read my bio...lies all lies!!!)