Bluray: Transformers The Movie (1986)
I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of returning to somewhere we’d visited as a child and have the uncontrollable impulse to express how much larger the place had become while existing only in our memories. In reality buildings don’t expand or contract (at least not to the degree that our memory distorts them). What we’ve all figured out by now, is that over time our minds distort events and experiences, making them grander than they actually were. Lately I’ve been suffering from something similar to this sensation, particularly when it comes to classic Saturday morning cartoons. Mostly because I’ve been watching a lot of them!
It isn’t that I remember things I watch as being better — or bigger — than they actually were, it’s that I think that I remember things that I never actually watched. For example, I thought I’d seen the Transformers as a kid. Boy, was I wrong! I remember nothing of TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE, but having seen it now, for what I assume is the first time, I can’t believe I haven’t seen it before… erm, if that makes sense?
It’s no secret that shows like Transformers, He-man, and G.I. Joe were produced by toy companies with the purpose of selling toys. Something strange happened with Transformers though and what’s interesting (at least to me) is that being tied to a toy line actually gave the writers of the series, and this movie, some opportunities that may not have been afforded to the creative minds of other such animated shows.
As a ploy to sell action figures, the Transformers series worked. It worked extremely well actually. And while it was seen to be doing its job, the powers that be at Hasbro (the makers of the Transformers toys) pretty much let the series creatives do whatever the hell they liked. The result was that the writers/directors of the series started making a show that appealed to them, and it became more adult science-fiction… well as adult as it could given the early morning time slot.
Another inadvertent bonus that came from being a series designed to sell toys, was that, in an effort to sell more toys, Hasbro informed the series creators that a new range of characters were to be introduced in the third season of the show. Which also meant that many — almost all, actually — of the established characters — and their toys — were to be discontinued. This announcement came along with the news that this movie was to be made.
The movie takes place between the second and third seasons of the television series. The Autobots are scrambled to action when a massive, planet-eating, artificial, planetoid threatens to destroy their home world. No Transformer is safe. Not Autobot or Decepticon. The massive upheaval — which we’d now-day’s refer to as a reboot — means that Transformers are mercilessly slaughtered during this 80’s power-rock infused space saga.
As if the hair-band rock and destruction of childhood heroes weren’t enough to make this movie a must see (or a must re-visit) it also features the voice acting talents of Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem and Leonard *F&%king* Nimoy!
I don’t want to over sell this movie too much, but after the disappointment of the recent live action offering, I was pleasantly surprised by this effort from twenty-two years ago. Sure, it reeks of the eighties, but even that is like air freshener compared to the flatulence Michael Bay served us up in Revenge of the Fallen (For the record, I really enjoyed Bay’s first Transformers movie).
Ironically, it is the age of the movie that lets the Bluray down with this release. It’s the best transfer you can hope for, of a two decade old animated movie. But the disc is packed so full of extra features it’s very hard to stay snippy about the visual imperfections of the main feature for too long. There are simply too many [extras] to list here, but suffice to say that all the usuals are there (commentary, deleted scenes, etc) and there’s even a film clip for some of that 80’s hair-band rock that I mentioned earlier. The commentary is worth a mention too: it’s a master class in how to be an insane nerd for all things Transformers…. Well worth a listen!
In my flakey, distorted memory I was sure I’d watched Transformers as a kid, but having seen the movie now, I can only assume that I blocked it out because of all the carnage in this film… or perhaps it was because during most of the power-cord driven soundtrack, you can almost hear the codpiece being thrust at you! [source]