Back in 1986 I was 8 years old when I saw Transformers : The Movie in the theater. 30 years later, it remains etched into my childhood. Partially because I was such a huge Transformers fan as a child, and partially because of how they notably killed off a good chunk of the G1 cast within the first 15 minutes, thus traumatizing young fans everywhere. But even though that decision hurt the movie at the box office, things like (30 year old spoiler alert) the death of Optimus Prime are part of the reason that this movie is still remembered many years later while other animated cartoon movies from the same era have faded. So let’s take a good look at what Shout! Factory has done with this classic.
First off, I have to say that this release looks fantastic. They really did a great job with the restoration here, fixing both color and clarity in several cases. Hot Rod looks his proper magenta hue (and yes, he was supposed to look that way in the movie). Autobot consoles have been changed from yellow to orange, and the fine lines on the scene where Unicron changes Megatron into Galvatron are very distinct and do not bleed together into a mess, thus showing the fantastic fine detail work that went into that scene. Some animation errors still remain (2 Frenzies anyone?) but for the most part they have done a good job at fixing the things that mattered. It also helped greatly that they found a high quality print of the film to begin with, allowing the time spent working on the film to be spent on things like proper coloration rather than simply restoration. Also worth mentioning is that you get two versions of the film included, both the theatrical widescreen and a 4:3 full frame version. In the particular case of this movie the 4:3 version is considered the “true version” by many fans since it includes more of the actual animation frame (thus the name “full frame version”) due to the preparation that was made during its development for the film’s long future life on the TV screens of the time.
As for the sound, you have two main options. You have the original 2 channel stereo audio for the purists and a 5.1 mix that isn’t much different from past releases. (Both are DTS-HD). Many people will opt for the original audio, but I found myself using the 5.1 track so that I could hear the dialogue more clearly. Both tracks are decent, but this isn’t exactly demo level home theater material here.
Simply put, the movie has never looked this good. It easily beats out the previous U.K. blu ray release. In fact the movie probably looks as good now, if not better than, when it released in the theater many years ago. This is a restoration worth your money if you are a fan of the cartoon at all, and I can personally say that I am very happy with the blu ray I bought.