Transformers: the Movie was one of two animated feature films that were released in 1986 by DEG/Marvel/Sunbow entertainment, the other being G.I. Joe: the Movie. Both films had very similar plots (both written by Ron Friedman a series writer for the G.I. Joe cartoon), both served as a re-launch of the cartoon franchises, and both featured controversial major character death scenes that caused a minor blip on the radar of concerned parents everywhere. They also both featured a fair amount of big named actors doing voice-work (Transformers has Judd Nelson, Eric Idle, Robert Stack, Leonard Nimoy, and freaking Orson Welles, whereas G.I. Joe has Don Johnson and Sgt. Slaughter.) What sets Transformers apart is that it was released first which meant that it actually got into theatres un-edited whereas G.I. Joe didn't fare so well (it was rushed to TV instead as a five part mini series with a new ending to 'fix' the original character death scene.)
I have to say, outside of not including the original cover art that I am pretty partial too, this is the best this film has ever looked (will probably ever look) and it's accompanied by the best set of extras that pretty much anyone could hope for. The cover art isn't all that bad. There are two separate covers for the flick that are printed on both sides of the insert so you can choose the version that you like the best, either with the original generation 1 characters or with the newer revamp characters that are introduced in the movie. When you consider that the original cover featured Ultra Magnus, it sort of makes a nice triptych of images with all the Autobot leaders featured. The DVD was also packaged with a special lenticular insert that lets you flip between the two images and is very reminiscent of the old Transformers sticker books. The other thing that I really like about the DVD is the artwork on the discs themselves and granted it's a bit superficial, but it does illustrate that whoever worked on the packaging had the fans at heart. The discs creatively display both Unicron and the Matrix, utilizing the hole in the center of the disc.
Anyway, the actual film has been cleaned-up and the brightness of the color in the animation restored for the first time since it was theatrically released. Sony has also provided two versions of the film, both widescreen and full screen, which for this film is particularly important as the widescreen version (that was seen in theatres) is actually a cropped version of the film to attain the widescreen ratio. The full screen version that has been previously released on home video actually has the complete image that was intended for view by the animators (there is a version of the film floating around that was restored from either a test copy of the film or the original animation that has an even larger visible image area, but it's all page runoff stuff that was never intended for view.) So for the first time in 20 years the film can be watched either as it was intended or as it was shown in theatres, which is pretty cool.
The DVD also features commentary by Nelson Shin, the director (which I haven't listened to yet, but could be interesting or it could be worse than Warwick Davis' commentary on Willow), as well as both a fan commentary and a 'pop-up video-esque' trivia feature, that probably has nothing new as far as info for hardcore fans, but is fun to have none the less. There's also a slew of promo material like trailers, TV spots, animatics, and test footage as well as a few toy commercials from both the US and Japan. There's also an episode from a Japan only Transformers spin-off, Scramble City with optional commentary.
Pretty much this DVD set has everything (outside of the music videos for a couple of the songs in the film) that a Transformers fan could every want out of a DVD release.
During the 1980s, one cartoon series ruled the airwaves...TheTransformers. This paragon of consumerism was created with a dual purpose--to entertain and to galvanize children to buy the toys. Somewhere along the line, the show became a cult favorite, so in 1986 they fashioned an epic tale of good versus evil specifically for the big screen. The result looked vaguely like an animated remake of Star Wars. Who are the Transformers? The good guys are the Autobots: Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ultra Magnus, and many more. Their mortal enemies are the evil Decepticons, led by Megatron and StarScream. The Autobots must save their home planet from an evil entity known as Unicron (voiced by Orson Welles). At the same time, they must defend themselves from an all-out attack from the Decepticons. Along the way, lives are lost, battles are fought, and a new Autobot leader is born. The story and action never stop in a thrilling ride that often makes you forget that you're watching an '80s cartoon with inferior graphics. The violence will also come as a mild shock to those who haven't seen this film for a while--definitely a movie for the 8 and over audience. For those who grew up on this series, this is a movie that must be watched. Unlike cartoon serials before and after,The Transformersrelied on solid stories and interesting characters, a manifesto the film itself upholds with gusto and grace while also being morally responsible. Don't underestimate this movie; there is definitely more to it ...