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Review: Transformers The Movie Special Collectors Edition (R1 USA) DVD

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on September 9, 2001 | Reviews |

INFO PAGE | REVIEW

For those of us with DVD players there are a number of major releases that bring tingles down the spine when thought of, outbreaks of cold sweating at the mention of, and a small damp patch in the front of the trouser department when we finally lay our hands on their lean, feature packed forms. Releases such as Terminator 2, Ghostbusters, The Star Wars Trilogy and now, dare I say it… I dare, I dare. Transformers: The Movie. Excuse me while I look for some tissues.

The DVD menu screen, it Transforms!

This is not just another DVD release, it’s not even a significant release, nay, this is the singularly most important occurrence in the history of mankind. The wheel? Bah! The microchip? Duh! Transformers, oh yeah baby, light my darkest hour. For those of you with no culture, life or any kind of meaningful existence here’s a brief recap on who the Transformers are…

Hailing from the tiny planet of Cybertron the warring Transformers were divided into two codes: The heroic Autobots lead by Optimus Prime and the evil Decepticons led by the maniacal Megatron. Crash landing on Earth four million years ago they were rendered inactive until revived by a volcanic explosion. Their war naturally began again much to the enjoyment of children in the mid to late Eighties, watching their cartoon antics and playing with their plastic effigies. These Transformers remained on the small screen until 1986 when the greatest movie of all time in the history of the cosmos was released… Transformers: The Movie.

I’m telling you kid, it was this big.

Now you’re up to date, let battle commence.

The movie concerns a young Autobot named Hot Rod who must realise his potential in order to save the Autobots and Decepticons from the evil monster planet devourer Unicron. That’s putting it briefly because of course there’s far more to it than that. Most dramatically we see the final battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron. Optimus was the biggest role model to children in the Eighties, he was brave, heroic, strong, fair and most importantly of all, he turned into a shiny red truck.

That curry’s gone right through me.

This battle left many a child traumatised as the undefeatable Optimus Prime was ‘crushed by Megatron’s bare hands’. Exaggeration or not he was dead, and with him all hope. This is just one of the powerful memories the film leaves you with, don’t forget Starscream’s treatment of Megatron, Galvatron’s retribution on the newly crowned Decepticon leader and the devastation laid upon Cybertron by the all powerful Unicron.

I’m taking Hot Rod to the prom, not you Prime!

Me bash brains!
Now we should warn you that if you haven’t seen Transformers: The Movie and you’re expecting a nice little good verses evil kiddies cartoon with cutesy robots, boy are you in for a shock. Transformers is violent, very very violent. The old school Autobots such as Ironhide, Wheeljack, Ratchet, Prowl and many others are mercilessly slaughtered to make way for the new characters. No Transformer is safe, even Prime and Megatron are at risk!

Arise Rodimus Prime.

If Rodimus Prime’s ascension to Autobot leader, as Optimus’ words wring out doesn’t move you to tears then you’re already dead. ‘Arise Rodimus Prime’ should be in every nations national anthem, it’s also a powerful aphrodisiac!

Return of the Jedi?
The plot is classic sci-fi fantasy in the traditions of Return of the Jedi. Hot Rod (Luke) must face up to the loss of his mentor Optimus (Obi-Wan) and fight the Evil Galvatron (Vader) in order to destroy Unicron (Emperor and Death Star in one) and save the universe. Once successful he can truly call himself a Jedi… I mean Rodimus Prime.

What was that stuff called again? Oil of Ulay?

You’ve got the touch, you’ve got the power.
When all hell’s breakin’ loose you’ll be riding the eye of the storm!

Lyrics don’t come cheesier than that, nor do they root themselves so deeply into Eighties soft rock culture as those present in Transformers: The Movie. The soundtrack has been criticised, it’s been lauded, whatever your belief it can’t detract from the fact that it is Transformers. ‘Dare’ is as much a part of the movie as the creation matrix itself and deserves its place in Cybertronian history. The music of this film is unlike any other animated feature, scored by Vince DiCola, the man who brought us the ‘Rocky’ soundtrack, and featuring such classic performers as NRG, Stan Bush, Spectre General and Weird Al Yankovic. It’s rock n’ roll with robots in disguise! (cool eh? I made that up myself)

If you want a piece of the Eighties then this soundtrack is all the piece you will need, and probably more than you can handle! Unashamedly cheesy, and undeniably enjoyable.

This looks like a little Unicron… interesting.

Me Grimlock know all about music, when me hear about DVD?
Alright, get your noodle outta my face.

The Region 2 edition details are unclear at this time, but if the Region 1 version is anything to go by we’re in for a treat. If you’re used to watching Transformers on an old worn out VHS copy, distortion lines affecting your enjoyment, get ready for perfection. Animation always transfers well to DVD, and Transformers is no exception. It’s crisp, vibrant and even with the technically inferior NTSC Region 1 version it looks as though it were drawn only yesterday. (Note: Region 2 will be PAL which is a superior colour format to NTSC)

Alas poor Ironhide, I knew him well.

The sound is amazing, the music is, well, we’ve covered that enough, and the overall experience of this disc could only be topped by watching in the cinema. (Or being stuck in a sordid love triangle with Cindy Crawford and Elle Mcpherson, obviously!)

Features Kup, tell Swoop about Features!
OK, well the dust was really thick. This disc contains animated menus with the scene index featuring Transformers doing what they do best: Transforming. It’s particularly exciting as it shows the beginnings of each scene in little windows, including one scene entitled ‘You got the power’. That damp patch is starting to reoccur in my trousers.

Check out the scene index.

Of course the main aspect of these special features is a ten minute interview with the cheese maestro himself: Vince DiCola. Any man that can score a Rocky movie and be proud clearly isn’t picky on his work ethic. This interview is a very hurriedly thrown together film shot with two cameras in what appears to be a small recording studio. There’s a Transformers: The Movie poster on the wall in a kind of ‘let’s dress this set quickly so we can make it in time for lunch’ sort of way, and not much else. Vince waffles on about Transformers conventions, The Touch appearing in Boogie Nights, and clears his throat regularly, loudly, into the microphone. The fact that this wasn’t removed in post production suggests the speed with which it was bashed out, very very fast indeed.

Vince DiCola: Get that man a hanky.

Vince did have some interesting things to say, I just can’t quite put my finger on them right now. Oh for an interview with Leonard Nimoy. The other special feature is considerably more interesting, for me at least having studied Animation. We’re treated to storyboards for deleted scenes. Let me hear you say WOW! Of course as with all deleted film scenes you can see why they were deleted, but their inclusion gives an insight into the story making process of the film that you would otherwise be without.

Prowl is dazed by a comet, then slaughtered by Megatron.
Just one of those days.

The best of these deleted gems features Optimus Prime’s one robot demolition of the Decepticons. He actually catches Blitzwing and… well I’m not going to spoil that one!

Me Grimlock no kisser, me king!
The disc has some notable omissions, which we can only hope will appear in the Region 2 version. The biggest of those is the original widescreen version. There has been some disagreement, nay argument with name calling, in the fan community as to whether the film was originally shot in widescreen or not. I can tell you now that it was. The original television trailer clearly states ‘Spectacular Widescreen Action!’ Download it here for proof.

The trailers themselves could also do with being included, more interviews, this time with the cast or the animators. The original promo video with extra footage, also available here. TV toy commercials, DVD ROM features such as screenplays, screensavers, games and web links… now I really do need a tissue, oh my god I’m starting to get very excited.

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