Thirty-five years ago, The Transformers took to the big screen in what is, arguably, still the best Transformers movie ever. The Transformers – The Movie did not set box office records by any means, but the film, which featured a star-studded cast including Leonard Nimoy, Judd Nelson, Robert Stack, and Orson Welles, among others, has since become a cult classic with the aid of home video releases, including multiple anniversary editions. Now the film is back for its 35th anniversary, newly restored from the original film elements, in a Limited Edition Steelbook.
The film is set in 2005, at that time, roughly 20 years into the future. While that date is now 16 years in the past, it is interesting that even as recently as the mid-1980s, the 2000s were considered some far off, advanced time, replete with flying cars and the like. The Decepticons have taken over the Autobots’ planet of Cybertron and though the Autobots have planned an attack on the Decepticons to retake their home, they are instead found out and attacked by the Decepticons. The fighting leads to much carnage and death among first-generation Transformers — a traumatic event for kids seeing the film in the theater, but a shrewd marketing move as the original Transformers are replaced with new, upgraded models (and more toys for parents to purchase).
Along the way, the Decepticons’ leader, Megatron, encounters the Transformers’ equivalent of Galactus in Unicron, a planet-sized, world eating Transformer who offers him a deal — destroy the Matrix of Leadership, a threat to Unicron currently residing with the Autobots’ Ultra Magnus, in return for a repaired body (and new toys to buy) and an army to command. From there, we see both the Decepticons and the Autobots take on not only each other, but also Unicron, to ensure their survival. For those worrying, the mild cursing in the film remains uncensored in this version. To be sure, this was heady stuff for an animated kids movie, but it is part of why the movie holds up to this day.
In a move certain to cause controversy among fans, the Widescreen (1.85:1) version of the film has received the 4K UHD treatment while the Full Frame (1.33:1) edition has not. Many fans first saw this movie on VHS in full frame and prefer it this way as certain elements of the film get cropped in Widescreen. That said, the Full Frame has been remastered, it is just not available as a 4K UHD disc. In both instances, the image is brighter and the colors better, though not “corrected”. Hot Rod is still pink, for instance. Audio options for both the 4K UHD and the Blu-ray are DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Stereo. The classic Vince DiCola score came through loud and clear in this version. Bonus features include some repeated from the 30th anniversary edition and some new, including feature-length storyboards, a private acoustic performance by Stan Bush from 2016, ‘Til All Are One — a documentary about the making of the movie, audio commentary, and trailers and TV spots, among others. The vast majority of these features are on the Blu-ray disc only. The Steel Book also includes four art cards featuring images from the film.
The Transformers – The Movie remains a cult classic among its original audience, those from Generation X. Those fans now have children who they can introduce the movie to, which is likely why the film continues to be popular long after anyone probably expected it to be. A good story and fine cast, along with a strong soundtrack does not hurt either. While it would have been nice to have the Full Screen version in 4K UHD, what has been presented in this 35th anniversary edition is well worth owning for fans of the film. Standalone 4K UHD and Blu-ray editions will be released on Sept 28.
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