Blu-ray Review: The Transformers: The Movie

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It’s been thirty years since The Transformers: The Movie was released into cinemas within the UK; so can this new Blu-ray release of the film offer something different? Well let’s find out!

Synopsis:

The Autobots, led by the heroic Optimus Prime, prepare 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 is heading their way – Unicron, a planet that devours everything in its path. The only hope of stopping Unicron lies within the Matrix of Leadership and the Autobot who can rise up and use its power to light their darkest hour. Will the Autobots be able to save their homeworld from destruction or will the Decepticons reign supreme?

Our View:

Nostalgia can play an important role in making a product that was mediocre several decades ago look amazing today; but with The Transformers: The Movie, otherwise referred to as simply Transformers: The Movie, it’s not an issue. Despite being thirty years old, and having received numerous re-releases in the form of restorations and High Definition up scales, the film manages to deliver the same impact it did in 1986 and now, courtesy of Shout Factory!, a new generation of Transformer fans will be able to experience a brand new High Definition transfer that has been mastered in 4K from the original film.

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As illustrated in our comparison article Transformers: The Movie has received various releases, some of which were direct to VHS/DVD releases while others underwent a restoration (Reconstructed) or Remaster (Ultimate Edition) of some kind; but none have undergone the process that Shout Factory! did to create the most true-to-life version of the film. As explained in one of the featurettes on the Blu-ray; the restoration done in this 4K Transfer saw individual film cells scanned into a machine and digitally corrected to remove any damage to the cell; furthermore with thanks to the 4K and HDR technology the films colours were corrected to replicate those found in original artwork. The result is, when compared to the previous Metrodome Blu-ray, a more natural-like colour exposure while at the same time presenting the best quality version of the film. With this being said don’t expect crystal-clear-animation, like anime that is released nowadays, as some grain is still present on screen (just like with the Pokemon Movie Trilogy Collection) but alas this is unavoidable due to the age of the film.

Potential technical boredom aside Transformers: The Movie is the feature-length-movie instalment of the 1980’s Transformers TV series which saw the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, in a war with the Decepticons, led by Megatron, for control over Earth and its natural resources. Each episode of the TV Series would see the Decepticons trying to use earth’s natural resources in order to create Energon (which is energy or food for these Transformers) and the Autobots would stop them while protecting the humans that were in danger. This movie instalment however completely changes this ‘good vs evil’ outlook and creates an entirely different scenario; a scenario which sees all out war between the autobots and decepticons with massive causalities on both sides; something which was unheard of for a children’s show – even by today’s standards. That’s not all; as while the Autobots and Decepticons continued their ‘bloodly’ battle across the galaxy a new foe, in the form of a giant planet munching robot known as Unicron, slowly begins to make his way through the galaxy destroying any planet in its path; including Cybertron – the home planet of the transformers.

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It’s a great story; one that sees both Autobots and Decepticons initially battle it out for supremacy to be then forced to work together in order to defeat the planet-sized-transformer known as Unicron. Of course a lot more happens in between these two ‘key factors’ of the film, such as the arrival on the Planet Junkion, the creation of Galvatron and the unfair court-room of the quintessons but all of this is expanded upon, and made more entertaining, by the immersive soundtrack. It’s not just the films story, and it’s ever-loved-characters, that make the film stand the test of time but the soundtrack, with songs produced by Vince Dicola, Stan Bush, Weird Al and Lion, make the film not only an explosive experience but one hell of a rock anthem. As one of the featurettes explained; the Transformers movie perfectly symbolises the period of the 1980’s; but to me it’s just one brilliant film made better thanks to this High Definition release by Shout Factory! And Manga UK. The film may have been intended to promote the next wave of toys; but for me it’s highly entertaining action packed movie that literally does not stop until the credits have finished.

Extras:

The positive aspects of this film don’t just end with the high-quality 4K master or it’s engaging storyline; as thankfully Shout Factory!, along with Manga Entertainment UK, have managed to provide an extensive list of bonus materials – some of which are brand new to this release of the film.

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Previous releases of Transformers: The Movie, until the Ultimate Edition, only featured the original trailer – which is also included on this Blu-ray release – however on this new Blu-ray fans will find new bonus features such as a 45-minute documentary that explores the film in greater detail,  a look at how the new cover was created and a 10 minute feature detailing how this 4K HD Transfer of the film was created. All three pieces of content are exclusive to this new release and provide some much sought-after-information; both on how the film was accepted by the public all those years ago and on how this new transfer was created.

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Of course the bonus materials do not just end there; as you will also find a selection of featurettes and animated storyboards which explore various production aspects of the film. For instance the animated storyboards take a closer look at scenes in the film and compares them with original drafts while the featurettes include a Q&A with cast of the film as well as closer look at ‘key moments’ in the film. The final selection of bonus features include a selection of trailers and TV spots; including the Japanese trailer which featured scenes that were later cut, or edited, from the final film.

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To wrap it up is audio commentary from the director (Nelson Shin) who, along with other cast members, provide informative insights into the film during its playback. It’s an extensive amount of bonus content but unfortunately more could have been added as the Madman Entertainment Blu-ray release of the film saw a selection of bonus content (such as the Japanese Scramble City episode which was used to help bridge the gap between Season 2 and Season 3 of the TV Series in Japan) that isn’t present here on this blu-ray release. Generally speaking though the important bonus features are included; and it’s nice to see fresh bonus features (such as the documentary) being produced for this new release as it brings extra life into an ever aging release.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x2
Region: B
Running Time:  1:24:50 (Disc 1 & Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 (English), DTS-HD 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 & 4:3
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Thirty years on The Transformers: The Movie continues to be entertaining and enjoyable to the highest degree and thanks to this newest 4K transfer from Shout Factory! we get to re-experience it to the highest standard. Issues apparent in previous releases of the film, such as audio-drop-outs or brightness effects, have been resolved and with new bonus features available you will find yourself continuing to watch the product even after the film has ended.

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The film itself however sees the Autobots and Decepticons once again do battle in an attempt to become the victor and rule the galaxy; however during this climatic battle on earth a new evil force known as Unicron surfaces to destroy everything that stands in his way. Now both Autobots and Decepticons must join forces –so to speak- in order to put a stop this new foe. Along the way of this action-packed-story we see new characters introduced and endless lines of enjoyment delivered that will continue to live on in our memories. A great story, great detail and an immersive soundtrack awaits in one of the greatest films of all time.

In regards to this release by Manga Entertainment, with assets produced by Shout Factory! In America, then everything works as expected and as you would originally hope. This release is presented across two Blu-ray discs with one disc featuring the 4:3 version of the film while the other presented in the 16:9 ratio; both of which have undergone the 4K transfer process. Each version of the film looks identical, both in sound and quality, however minor differences can be seen due to the way they were produced. For instance the 16:9 version features extensive amounts of cropping – something which I never noticed until comparing it with the 4:3 version. Whichever disc you decide to watch each disc features the same amount of bonus content; so you’ll never have to worry about missing out on a piece of content. It’s a shame we couldn’t get all of the bonus features, like those released on the Australian Madman Blu-ray several years ago, but the improved picture quality and ‘new’ bonus features more than makes up for this.

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Overall this Blu-ray release of Transformers: The Movie is everything I expected it to be and much more; we have the original film, in both aspect ratio formats on their own discs, remastered to the highest degree with a selection of bonus content that is both common and new. Transformers: The Movie may be considered an American product, and one long product placement for selling toys; but in my eyes it was a great TV series that was expanded upon with this great movie. Simply put; you should own this film.

Score: review-stars-5

The Transformers: The Movie will be released on the 12th December 2016 as a Limited Edition Steelbook.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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