‘The Transformers: The Movie’ [35th Anniversary Limited Edition]

❉ Shout! Factory’s brand new 4K Blu-ray remastering of this classic title leaves nothing to be desired.

Long before Michael Bay turned his unparalleled visual eye loose on this franchise, there was 1986’s Transformers: The Movie, which was a direct continuation of the beloved children’s television series, which was in full-swing at the time. My mother, bless her heart, took my best friend and I to see this film on the big screen when we were six years old. The impact that events like these make on your young life cannot be underestimated, and while she likely dozed off, my buddy and I got lost in the energetic insanity that unfolded before our eyes.

Directed by original series producer Nelson Chin from a screenplay by Ron Friedman (creator of The Bionic Six), the film features the eclectic voice talents of Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Casey Kasem, Robert Stack, Lionel Stander, John Moschitta Jr., Peter Cullen, and Frank Welker, and saw the final film roles for Orson Welles and Scatman Crothers before their deaths.

The action is set in the year 2005 (ha!), with the writers accounting for the 20 year discrepancy between the TV series’ second season and the feature film. After a Decepticon assault devastates Autobot City, Optimus Prime wins a deadly one-on-one showdown with arch nemesis Megatron, but ultimately sustains fatal injuries in during the battle. With Megatron gravely injured, the Decepticons are forced to retreat, saving the Autobots. Then, the Autobots become hunted across the galaxy by the immense Unicron, a planet-sized transformer bent on consuming Cybertron, and who transfigures Megatron to become the enslaved Galvatron. The soundtrack (now an ’80s cult artefact in its own right) features electronic music composed by Vince DiCola, and songs from rock and heavy metal artists including Stan Bush and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

The film’s development and release history are wild and kind of hysterical. Toy-maker Hasbro’s cash-driven agenda demanded that the property be seen as fresh and new to consumers, which included the on-screen deaths of starring characters, at the protest of some of the creators of the original property. The slaughter of characters, especially Optimus Prime, inadvertently upset younger audience members, and the film became a box-office failure when it was released during the crowded summer movie season.

It didn’t help that distributor, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, was having financial issues and couldn’t commit to as big of a release as their competitor’s efforts. Critics at the time were unimpressed, but over the years, the film has rightfully gained a rabid cult following. The daring sense of violence is rather profound when all is considered, and the overall level of animated artistry cannot be denied.

Shout! Factory’s brand new 4K Blu-ray remastering of this classic title leaves nothing to be desired. Simply put, this is the best that this movie has ever likely looked, with excellent digital refinement being employed to clean up the image with sparkling clarity and gloss. Special features include new Feature-Length Storyboards, including deleted, alternate, and extended sequences, and a new Fathom Events 30th Anniversary Featurette, including Stan Bush’s acoustic performances of The Touch and Dare. Also included is ‘Til All Are One – a comprehensive documentary looking back at the making of the film, with members of the cast and crew. There’s also an audio commentary track with director Nelson Shin and Story Consultant Flint Dille, as well as various theatrical trailers and TV spots.

Bonus Features

❉ NEW 4K Transfer Of Original Film Elements
❉ NEW Feature-Length Storyboards, Including Deleted, Alternate And Extended Sequences
❉ NEW Fathom Events 30th Anniversary Featurette, Including Stan Bush’s Acoustic Performances Of “The Touch” And “Dare”
❉ ‘Til All Are One – A Comprehensive Documentary Looking Back At The Transformers: The Movie With Members Of The Cast And Crew, Including Story Consultant Flint Dille, Cast Members Gregg Berger, Susan Blu, Neil Ross, Dan Gilvezan, Singer/Songwriter Stan Bush, Composer Vince DiCola And Others!
❉ Audio Commentary With Director Nelson Shin, Story Consultant Flint Dille And Star Susan Blu
❉ Archival Featurettes – “The Death Of Optimus Prime,” “The Cast & Characters,” And “Transformers Q&A”
❉ Animated Storyboards
❉ Original Theatrical Trailers
❉ TV Spots

❉ ‘The Transformers: The Movie [35th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook]’ released August 3, 2021 in US & Canada by Shout! Factory. Product SKU: 826663218602. RRP $28.43. List Price: $29.98 USD. Click here to order (US & Canada only)

 Nick Clement is a journalist for Variety Magazine and motion picture screenplay consultant, as well as a critic for websites We Are Cult and Back to the Movies. He wrote the introduction to the book Double Features: Big Ideas in Film, which was published by The Great Books Foundation, and is currently working on a book about the life and work of filmmaker Tony Scott. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

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