To many, Michael Bay’s big screen cinematic Transformers franchise is merely a shell of what so many of us have ingrained in our memories. You see, there’s a whole generation who grew up on a Transformers property that was fun, engaging, vibrant, easy to digest, and without gratuitous explosions or needless shots of Megan Fox’s behind. And in amongst that beloved property was a 1986 movie that blew our fragile little minds. Now, Manga Entertainment has put together a new HD release of The Transformers: The Movie to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary. The question here, though, is whether this new release of an old favourite is worth your time.
For those unfamiliar with the ’86 effort, the action initially centres on the seemingly never-ending battle between the Optimus Prime-led Autobots and the Megatron-fronted Decepticons. Taking place after the second season of the Transformers cartoon series - and bringing in plenty of new characters to join our familiar faces - a brutal assault on Autobot City from the Decepticons leaves casualties on both sides, but it’s the new threat of the planet-devouring Unicron (voiced by the legendary Orson Welles in his last ever role) that brings an even bigger problem for our Robots-in-Disguise. To veer any further into story details would head towards spoiler territory for anybody who’s yet to see The Transformers: The Movie, so we’ll leave it there on that front. Safe to say, there’s plenty of action, warmth, heartbreak, and some true acts of utter villainy as the tale unravels.
Whilst the film itself is as fantastic as ever, a true time capsule of its period, the real nitty gritty on this release revolves around things other than the frenetic, pulsating and emotional story itself. To celebrate the movie’s 30th anniversary, we’re given a cleaned-up, crisp remaster of the film, and it never looks anything less than stunning. At the time of its release, The Transformers: The Movie was groundbreaking with so much of its animation work, and here we get to see this already-impressive animated affair looking truly awe-inspiring. Added to that, the hair metal-driven soundtrack and score from the likes of Vince DiCola and Stan Bush never sounded better, with the musical beats perfectly capturing the emotion of the action, be it delivering a sense of dread and sorrow, or simply making the viewer feel as pumped up as a kid full of too many Skittles.
Where the bonus material is concerned, most notable about this new release is the ‘Til All Are One documentary. Just shy of an hour in length, this retrospective is a must-see for fans of the Transformers, and we get to see input from some of the key cast and crew involved in the film. The audio commentary included is one that also accompanied the 20th anniversary release, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Similarly, some of the featurettes have been seen before, although there are also a couple of nice new additions that look at the process of restoring this classic for its 2016 release.
Yes, it was initially used as a tool to introduce a new range of Transformers toys, but The Transformers: The Movie is a breathtaking, brilliant, at times brutal, balls-to-the-wall animated movie that perfectly captures the fist-pumping adrenalin and heart of its time. And with this new release from Manga Entertainment, fans have finally been given the release that their inner child has always yearned for. Brimming with extras and being exemplary in its restoration work, The Transformers: The Movie – 30th Anniversary Edition is an extraordinary release that’s nothing short of being a must-have for anybody who’s ever tried to mimic the noise of a robot transforming into a vehicle during their younger days and beyond. If you thought these modern times of Michael Bay basterdising your childhood memories made for some bleak viewing experiences, prepare to light your darkest hour.
Special Features: ‘Til All Are One retrospective documentary / Audio commentary / Five featurettes / Animated storyboards / Original theatrical trailers / TV spots
THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE – 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: NELSON SHIN / SCREENPLAY: RON FRIEDMAN / STARRING: PETER CULLEN, JUDD NELSON, LEONARD NIMOY, FRANK WELKER, ORSON WELLES / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 12TH