Transformers: The Movie (Blu-ray) (1986)

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Released 24-Jun-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew
Interviews-Cast
Trailer
Bonus Episode-Beast Wars
Bonus Episode-Scramble City
DVD-ROM Extras-Script
TV Spots
Deleted Scenes
Storyboards
Gallery
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary
Additional Footage-Alternate US/International scenes
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 87:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nelson Shin
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Norman Alden
Jack Angel
Michael Bell
Gregg Berger
Susan Blu
Arthur Burghardt
Corey Burton
Roger C. Carmel
Victor Caroli
Regis Cordic
Scatman Crothers
Peter Cullen
Case Amaray Variant
RPI ? Music Vince DiCola


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, The whole movie is one big product placement!
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Transformers: The Movie was simultaneously one of the most enjoyable and traumatic events of my childhood, and that of many boys who grew up in the 1980s. Before I had even seen the movie it had traumatised me, when the cool-kids that saw it on opening weekend and had all the latest toys told me that my Transformers couldn't play with their Transformers. Why? Because they were dead. In one of the single most callous marketing moves of the modern age, Hasbro brutally killed off nearly every character they had endeared to children over the course of the previous few years and introduced a whole new set of characters for kids to harass their parents into buying. Gordon Gekko would have been proud.

    Despite its origin as an insipid marketing tool for a multi-national toy manufacturer, the film itself was a cracker in its day and holds up remarkably well today (far better than the TV series it stems from). The film moves at a brisk pace, allowing just enough time for each scene to flesh out the story and relevant characters, then moving on before any plot holes show become evident. The characters, new and old, are all cut from straight-forward archetypes, but they archetypes have been well chosen and the characters are dressed up with enough personality to hide their lack of depth. What really helps the film endure is its solid plot, which neatly interleaves the tale of a Faustian bargain with classical themes of persecution, revolution and old enemies uniting against a common foe, all the while harpooning the very marketing culture that spawned the film (particularly through some rather blunt use of Eric Idle's comedic talents). The end product is one that works equally well a chest-beating actioner for babysitting kids, and an absurdly ponderous black comedy.

    Leaving aside all this academic overthinking, the plot (as spoiler free as can reasonably be given): Transformers: The Movie opens with the ominous Unicron, a sentient robotic planet (voiced by Orson Welles!) that cruises through space, devouring an innocent world. Meanwhile, a battle force of Autobots are stationed at one of their home planet Cybertron's moons preparing for a final battle to reclaim their home world from the evil Decepticons. Knowing full well what is coming their way, the Decepticons launch a brutal first-strike against the Autobots base of supply, Earth.

    The Autobots arise victorious, but not without significant casualties, and are forced to head to their Cybertron moonbase both for repairs and to defend it from retaliation. Alas, in their state of repair they are forced to split up into two parties, one led by a reluctant new leader, Ultra Magnus (voiced by Robert Stack), and another led by old war hero Kup and newcomer Hot Rod (voiced by Judd Nelson). Each group finds all manner of difficulties en-route.

    The fleeing, power-depleted, Decepticons are forced to jettison their wounded into deep space in order for the rest to safely make it back to Cybertron. With great glee, second-in-command Starscream hurls his master Megatron out with the trash and declares himself leader of the Decepticons amidst the ensuing chaos.

    The great battle causes Unicron to detect the activation of the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, the one thing that can truly destroy him. Knowing it needs to be stopped, Unicron intercepts the barely-functioning Megatron and offers him a Faustian bargain - his life restored at the cost of the ownership of his soul. Unicron turns Megatron into the all-new Galvatron (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) and creates a new fighting force to serve under him. Galvatron sets about reclaiming control of the Decepticons and leading them towards the final destruction of the Autobots, only to find his new master to be a greater enemy to his cause than the Autobots.

    As detailed as that summary sounds, it barely touches on the intricacy of the plot, all of which is packed into under 90 minutes. Transformers: The Movie does not waste a single minute and is all the much better for it. Comparing it to the fare served to kids nowadays, it is astounding how much things are dumbed down by most of today's family flicks.

    Transformers: The Movie is a genuine classic, by any measure.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL). More information can be found here.

    The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p. The packaging states that both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 versions are included, however I have been unable to find a way on the disc to play the film in 1.33:1. As to what is the correct ratio is a matter of debate. The film was designed with both theatrical projection and home viewing in mind, thus a full-frame 1.33:1 version was animated, but the image was designed to be theatrically matted to 1.85:1. Most of the DVD and home video releases to date have featured the full-frame 1.33:1 version. The 1.85:1 version does not at all look cropped, and in some cases gives a better look at things than a full frame version would. That said, it would have been nice to have both versions, as advertised.

    The video generally looks excellent. The image is relatively clean and generally free from film artefacts (save for a few flecks of dust). For the most part the image is razor sharp, however there are one or two individual shots that are poorly focussed (which appears to be a problem with the source material as these same shots have been problematic on other releases of the film).

    The colouring looks to be quite accurate to the source. Like most budget animation of its era, much of the foreground animation is relatively basic and occasionally features shots with slightly off-colour panels - which is not a fault of the transfer and were it to be digitally fixed there would likely be as many dissenters as approvers. The colouring of the backgrounds is generally excellent.

    There is no sign of any compression artefacts or transfer issues.

    There are no subtitles are available for the film.

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

Audio

    The film features a remastered English 5.1 Dolby Digital track and the film's original Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Both sound excellent, though the remaster is certainly the more impressive of the two.

    The dialogue is clear and reasonably easy to understand throughout. It appears to be as well synchronised as you could expect for a relatively low budget cartoon from the 1980s that was designed to be dubbed into multiple languages.

    The movie features an awesomely 80s hair metal/hard rock soundtrack interleaved with familiar audio cues from the series, albeit instrumentally beefed up somewhat, that blares throughout like this is all one big music video. The soundtrack was primarily written by Vince DiCola and features performances from Stan Bush, Kick Axe (who had to go under the name Spectre General due to "contractual difficulties") and Weird Al Yankovic (who turns in a flawless Devo knock-off). The soundtrack has built a substantial following in its own right (enough so that Stan Bush and Vince DiCola have lived off the proceeds ever since, and churned out numerous "inspired by" follow-ups) and is all used very effectively in the movie itself.

    The remastered 5.1 soundtrack does an excellent job of splitting the cult music to the surrounds. In fact, the 5.1 remaster is by far one of the best 5.1 remasters to land on Blu-ray to date. It makes excellent use of the surrounds and subwoofer, particularly during battle sequences.

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

Extras

    This Blu-ray features an excellent array of bonus material that will appeal to hardcore and casual fans alike. All presented in standard definition.

Audio Commentry with Transformers fan/know-it-all Chris McFeely

    A reasonably informative, though overly geeky, commentary from Transformers "expert" Chris McFeeley. McFeeley goes all over the place with this one, but manages to squeeze a fair deal of strangely interesting facts and conjecture into the mix. Certainly worth a listen for fellow fans.

Scramble City movie tie-in bonus episode

    An episode of the Japanese Transformers show Scramble City that ties in to the movie, along with optional commentary from Transformers uber-fan Chris McFeely.

Transformers: Beast Wars Bonus Episode

    An episode of the much later Transformers: Beast Wars, a painfully early CGI cartoon attempt to revive the franchised, that ties in to the Autobot Matrix of Leadership and Optimus Prime-worship themes carried in the movie. The show rapidly wavers from being quite good, despite its painfully crap CGI animation, to frustratingly bad (more or less every time the writers feel it necessary to break from the flow of the story to throw in an out-of-place dumb gag in an attempt to pander to the kiddie audience, when in reality it does no more than condescend).

Interview with Story Consultant Flint Dille (24:26)

    A fascinating interview with "story consultant", AKA plotter/exec producer go-between, Flint Dille. Most notably he sheds light on Hasbro's motivations and desires from the movie and addresses the notorious character culling of the film (taking a "don't blame us, they wanted it to be much worse" stance). Essential viewing for fans.

Q&A with voice of Optimus, Peter Cullen (20:45)

    More essential viewing for fans, as Peter Cullen AKA Optimus Prime and Ironhide, jokingly discusses his involvement with the film, the series and the Transformers fan community at a fan event.

80's toy TVCs, TV spots (~8 mins)

    A stack of classic western and Japanese commercials for generation 1 and movie tie-in Transformers. A hilarious sign of times past and different cultures.

Theatrical Trailers (~8 mins)

    A series of TV and theatrical trailers for the film from both the USA and Japan. The Japanese one even features a few seconds of footage not in the film.

Music Video: The Touch by Stan Bush

    Sweet. Mid-80s music video, featuring a mulleted rocker rock in tight jeans dancing/guitar mashing floating around the screen as clips from the film run in the background. The song itself is only a hop, skip and jump different to Jump by Van Halen - enough so that when I get it stuck in my head I often get the two confused. Again, sweet!

Character, voice-actor and musician biographies

    A series of text biographies for that look suspiciously like they have come straight from a press-kit. The "Musician" bios are scanned straight from the liner notes of the most recent release of the film's soundtrack. Inessential, but a welcome addition.

Deleted Scenes and Animation Tests (5:09)

    The single deleted bit of a scene from the whole film follows a series of test animation bits. The test animation largely looks just like a slightly cruder version of the finished product with added reference markings - Undoubtedly fascinating for anyone interested in the animation process. This one features commentary explaining what is on show in fairly intricate detail.

Animated Storyboards (10:57)

    Voice-overs from the film play as a series of storyboard stills play for a couple of key sequences from the film. It is fairly surprising just how close to the finished product these storyboards are.

Photo Gallery

    A short slideshow of character images and related biographical artwork.

Blu-ray-Rom - Film Script

    A PDF copy of the script is included on the disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    Presently, the only other Blu-ray edition of Transformers: The Movie is available in the UK, however that edition is a bare bones disc that misses out on the many extras on the Australian edition.

    There have been numerous releases of the film on DVD all over the world. This Blu-ray edition pretty much pick up the best of the extras from several of those editions, the best of which would arguably be the out-of-print two disc UK "Ultimate Edition" (the one big improvement with that version is that it includes the both full frame and widescreen versions of the film), and throws in an extra Beast Wars episode.

Summary

    The only Transformers movie worth seeing. Transformers: The Movie is a genuine classic of the 1980s. Michael Bay could certainly have taken a few pointers form here.

    The disc features excellent video presentation, a first rate 5.1 audio remaster and a mightily impressive assortment of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Monday, September 07, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
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Audio - Downtown REPLY POSTED
1.33:1 - Eddie
Audio - Gav