18 July 2024

Bluray Review – The Transformers Movie (1986)


I have exactly zero knowledge of the Transformers cartoon show or toy line.

The perfect sentence to hear out of the mouth of someone who is about to review The Transformers Movie.

I think that a big part of enjoying this is down to if you watched the movie when you were younger (I wasn’t even born when this was released). I’ve heard a lot of people wax lyrical about this movie and how it made them feel like it was an event, a culmination of what came before it. Not to say the whole appeal would be down to nostalgia because there is still a HELL of a lot to enjoy for newcomers. The manga type animation looks really cool, the script is actually very funny (Grimlock is my favourite character) and the action is exciting.

Of course, I can’t talk about the film without talking about the death of Optimus Prime. As I’ve said, I’ve never watched the show or really cared about the toys but I still felt something. It was just the music, the fact that it was like someone on their deathbed, it was handled very sensitively. Sure, he comes back a while later in the show but for the time it was a big deal.

The cast do a really good job in bringing the robots to life and give them specific characters. Leonard Nimoy, Judd Nelson, Eric Idle and the great (and I mean GREAT) Orson Welles but also the voice actors from the show brilliantly bring them to life and make each Transformer stand out from each other. I mean Orson Welles voices a frigging PLANET for god sake, In fact it was his final role before his death.

It is THE most 80’s film I have seen in many a year. There is hardly any time where there is not a pulse pumping, head banging piece of 80’s hair-metal rocking out in the background. Just the overall feel of the film is a capsule of the time. This type of film could not be made today, there just isn’t a way to replicate it.

The plot is, at times, kind of hard to follow, I put that mainly down to the fact that I don’t know any of the characters. There really isn’t anything else negative to say about it.

The transfer of the film is pretty damn good for an animation from the mid 80’s (bar a few seconds of serious ghosting early on in the film). The special features are plentiful, starting with a 45-minute retrospective. They have interviews with the story consultant, various voice actors, composers, animators, all interesting views from different viewpoints. They talk about what it was like to work on the film, voice recordings, how they were directed, working with Orson Welles, the lasting legacy and what a phenomena it was, and still is. An audio commentary, taken from the 20th anniversary DVD is here and to be honest, the director Nelson Shin is so hard to understand, it was quite hard to concentrate on. A few archival featurettes, again, taken from the DVD, are still really interesting, even 10 years on. Sure there is information overlap between the featurettes but that’s to be expected, still, a plethora of stuff to get stuck in. A bunch of trailers and TV spots round out the package.

Peter Fletcher

Animation, Adventure | USA, 1986 | PG|Manga Entertainment | 12th December 2016 (UK) | Dir.Nelson Shin | Orson Welles, Robert Stack, Leonard Nimoy | Buy:The Transformers: The Movie 

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