There probably has not been a Blu-ray release I’ve been anticipating more this year than The TRANSFORMERS: The Movie – 30th Anniversary Edition from Shout! Factory. For a kid born in the early 70’s, the 1986 movie version of the popular animated TV show came out at the start of my teenage years. It was a movie that I didn’t anticipate, but impacted me for the rest of my life. Now it’s your chance to experience, if not for the first time, then hopefully once again, this enormously popular animated feature.
The film has been meticulously restored and remastered from a spectacular brand-new 4K transfer of the original 35mm film elements. Fans now can immerse themselves in this thrilling animated adventure with stunning picture quality for optimal home entertainment experience.
Featuring All-Star Voice Cast of Peter Cullen, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Frank Welker and Orson Welles as UNICRON, the renowned classic animated movie adventure has been remastered from a brand-new, 4K transfer of the original film elements and debuts for the First Time on Blu-ray this week, from Shout! Factory.
Read ahead to learn more about whats contained in it’s 30th Anniversary release, as well as my Blu-ray review! Roll Out…
I still whole-hardheartedly believe that the 1980’s were probably one of the BEST era’s to be a part of, especially as a kid. The variety of TV shows, Cartoons, Toys and Movies were unlike any that had ever been, or really unmatched in what followed in decades to come.
It was 1986 and for my then 13 year old self, TV was my life. Some of my all-time favorite live-Action and animated shows that year ranged from A.L.F., Miami Vice, Thundercats, Diff’rent Strokes, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Gummi Bears, A-Team, Silver Hawks, Inspector Gadget, Knight Rider, Fraggle Rock, G.I. Joe and Tales from the Darkside. These were shows that required dedicated watching and usually were VCR recorded in my house. One of the top contenders of that list of course, were none other than the Transformers animated cartoon series. I don’t know what an obsessed Transformer fan is called, but I knew I was one of them. Not only did I have practically every Autobot & Decepticon of every shape and size, but was glued to my television set each day after school to follow along in the adventures of these amazing warrior-like, alien robots who sought refuge on Earth and raging an intergalactic war between each other, right here on our planet.
When The Transformers: The Movie came out in 1986, I thought nothing of the fact that it was an expensive way to promote the new 1987 Hasbro toy-line with new characters and phase out new ones…why would I? Who the hell knew about strategic marketing ploys like that at 13? I just was thrilled to see Optimus Prime, Megatron and all the characters I’d grown to love, ON THE BIG SCREEN!
I remember that Saturday afternoon of the weekend’s release. My mom took myself and my friend Billy to the local AMC to watch the movie. We were fueled by what the PG trailers sold us; that as the Autobots, led by the heroic Optimus Prime, prepared to make a daring attempt to retake their planet from the evil forces of Megatron and the Decepticons, unknown to both sides, a menacing force was heading their way – Unicron! What the hell was a Unicron!?!? For the next 90 minutes my world was rocked in so many different ways and I would never be the same again.
Mesmerizing was what I seemed to recall thinking as I watched the stunning Anime’esque style of animation of Unicron’s robot genocide, as it gobbled up a planet at the start of the film. The details of not just the innards of Unicron himself, but of the obliteration of the planet he consumed and the debris swirling around was incredible. Yes, there was something hugely different in the similar universe I was used to…differences in color, light, nuance and music. My mind was blown!
Oh, about the music, being a TV/Movie soundtrack lover at that early age Vince Dicola’s score was refreshing and different, charged with energy and bite. Then there were the songs. Having been a huge ‘Weird Al Yankovic’ fan, I was thrilled to hear ‘Dare to be Stupid” included in the movie, and Al was in his prime then, it made sense. But then there was that 80’s headbanging synthesizer arena rock sound any teen trying to find his place and wanting to be cool was latching onto in this era. With songs like Stan Bush’s “Dare” and lyrics like “Dare to believe you can survive. / You hold the future in your hand. Dare to keep all your dreams alive. / It’s time to take a stand. You can win if you dare.” I felt like I could walk out of that theater and take on the world.
Then to be wowed with “The Touch” and encouraging words of “You’re a winner! / Break the rules, take the heat! / You’re nobody’s fool! / You’re at your best, when the going gets rough! You’ve been put to the test, but it’s never enough! / You got the touch, you got the power! /When all hell’s breakin’ loose, you’ll be right in the eye of the storm! / You got the heart, you got the motion! You know that when things get too tough, you got the Touch! / You never bend, you never break! You seem to know just what it takes. You’re a fighter!” YEAH!!! I was a fighter, I wasn’t going to bend or break, “I HAD THE HEART, I HAD THE MOTION!!!” To this day when I need that sense of encouragement, those songs echo thru my house and point me in the right direction!
That being said, the music fueled the film in it’s own way, but it didn’t initially take the edge off the fact I was sitting in shock and partially in tears during most of the movie itself. For this film, this cinematic piece of cotton-candy that was going to give me the further adventures of my favorite robotic heroes, all of which were scattered on the floor of my room back home, did the unthinkable, it killed off many…and I mean MANY beloved Transformers characters. Much like in the GI Joe TV series, you never actually saw a member of Cobra or the Joe team die, and Transformers always may have been beaten down at times, but they were repaired and refueled on Energon cubes by the next episode and rearing to go. But not this time…
When Megatron and the Decepticons hijack an Autobot shuttle en-route to Autobot city, you knew a fight between them and the Autobots on board would take place. It wasn’t until some of the core original beloved Autobots like Brawn, Prowl, Ratchet and Iron-hide were being blasted apart, and smoke was billowing from their mouths, and ones barely alive on the floor were taken out execution style, unmercifully at point blank range, did I realize, this was no daily after school version of my favorite animated show, these suddenly were cold-blooded killing robots. This was devastating. Mouth agape in utter shock, this phenomenon on the silver screen was some impactful grown-up shit, not to mention hearing my favorite Cybertronian warriors cursing on the big screen!
To this day, 2 scenes from this film stand out the most. Optimus Prime and Megatrons battle in Autobot city and the Optimus’ death scene. Prime’s main crew are getting their asses handed to them or obliterated by the Decepticons and then the heroic leader swoops in and cleans up the mess. When Optimus rolls in, smashes Decepticons with full speed and range, then rockets up, transforms from his Semi-Truck form and while in mid-air transformation is shooting and killing beloved Decepticon characters in his wake. WOW. What an entrance!!! Peter Cullens deliver of “Megatron MUST be Stopped, No Matter the Cost!” still brings a chill to me even 30 years later.
The epic fight between Megatron and Optimus Prime was one every kid imagined in their backyard but now witnessed coming to life in front of them on the big screen. Damaged, worn down, frustrated, these two behemoths didn’t hold back at making this one count. When Optimus promises that “One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall”, you knew Prime would be victorious…until of course Megatron, beaten and barely functioning, begs for mercy, only long enough for Optimus to lower his guard and then in-turn be sucker punched (or in this case, sucker-blasted, by Megatron in a nearly fatal blow).
What happened next I think changed the animated world forever, the death of Optimus Prime. Up until he muttered his dying words of “Till All Are One”, turned grey and his lifeless head turned to the side, there was still the hope that MAYBE, just MAYBE, he’d heal, or be re-built, or something. But you just don’t kill off the star of the biggest animation and toy franchise, you can’t, can you? Yeah. You can. With an anticipation and sadness of a human death scene, we lost the biggest, bravest most heroic cartoon character of the TV and now Movies, and left this 13 year old kid wiping the tears streaming down his face with a napkin already soaked with greasy popcorn.
I was a mess.
Though Megatron was re-born as Galvatron by the way of Unicron, and some of Megatron’s minions became the Sweeps, there was a shift in the film from then on. It felt as if the Transformers we all knew and loved died along with Optimus on that Autobot hospital table. But it wasn’t a bad thing, that shift created the next phase of the new era of Transformers (Cup, Arcee, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus) and it was one of those first moments when I realized the bigger picture not just for the Transformers franchise, but life itself…that change can bring with it appreciation and satisfaction of the past, that the Generation One Transformers would always live with me forever, but making way for new and exciting adventures for the future, was just as fun and could lead to more amazing memories.
As the rest of the film continued on Land, Sea, Air and Space, I wiped the tears from my eyes and embraced the amazing all-star performances by Leonard Nimoy (the actor who played my favorite Vulcan), Orson Welles (who narrated the ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast that had listened to dozens of times over the years on vinyl record) and Casey Kasem (who’s American Top 40 radio show I listened to religiously each weekend).
After the roller coaster ride of action and emotion, in the end it was Hot Rod who was the only hope of stopping UNICRON. It was he, who was the Autobot whose destiny it was to rise up and use the Matrix of Leadership’s power to light their darkest hour, now as Rodimus Prime! Wow!!!
When the last of the movie credits ended, I was fueled…not just to go home and play with those toys still scattered on my bedroom floor, but to start collecting the new toys that followed (Yes, the full-length theatrical commercial did it’s job on that one for sure!). I remember from the time the lights came up in the theater, all-through the drive home and the time on my front yard waiting for Billy’s mom to come pick him up from my house, how we dissected that movie from start to finish. From the story, characters, cheers, tears, gasps, laughs and renewed anticipation of what was to come next. The Transformers: The Movie was one of the best movies of my childhood for sure!
With the latest release of the 30th Anniversary of The TRANSFORMERS: The Movie on Blu-ray, from Shout Factory, sitting back and watching my copy (Yes, Billy pre-ordered his on Amazon to own as well he texted me), that Saturday afternoon in 1986 came back to life again. This time around though, as now an entertainment professional, an adult (I use that term loosely), and as a father I could cherish more of the subtle things about this spectacular film that the HD widescreen digital restoration brought out. Unlike it’s DVD predecessor a decade before, this latest release of the film really delivered to the fans what we’d been waiting for. I was once again in awe over the amazing details I recalled seeing on the big screen the first time and the shading, the texture, the color-correction, it all had a nuance about it that made me not only re-appreciate this insanely dated 80’s movie, but allowed me once again feel like that 13 year old kid who was excited and going new into a familiar, yet blossoming new universe.
The Blu-ray includes both Widescreen (1.85:1) and Full Frame (1.33:1) Versions and the bonus-features allowed me to even further appreciate this meticulously restored and remastered brand-new 4K transfer of the original 35mm film elements. There’s Audio Commentary with Director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dille and star Susan Blu, some really cool Animated Storyboards, the original theatrical Trailers and TV Spots which hooked me as a kid to go see that life-changing movie, plus a brand-new Restoration Featurette, a cool segment about the creation of the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray cover art and finally a comprehensive documentary entitled ‘Til All Are One’ which takes a look back at TRANSFORMERS: The Movie with members of the cast and crew and others!
By the way, as cheesy as it is…I’ve used the phrase ‘Til All Are One’ for decades now at random times in the last line of letters to old friends, in sympathy cards, in farewell cards to co-workers, I LOVE that phrase, and not once has anyone ever called me out on it!
Beloved by legions of fans, there is a reason that this full-length animated adventure has captured a special place in the hearts of millions and has been a staple in the pop culture zeitgeist since 1986. Whether you’re watching it again or discovering this animated feature for the first time, The TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE 30th Anniversary Edition from Shout Factory is a must-own for fans and collectors, and makes the ultimate fan gift! Treat yourself and immerse your inner-child with this thrilling and enormously popular animated adventure with it’s stunning picture quality for optimal home entertainment experience (that’s something my 13 year old self would never had said by the way, but this 43 year old kid at heart will stand by).
Til All Are One, Autobots, Roll Out and Transform!