In the documentary on the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release of Transformers: The Movie, story consultant Flint Dille expresses amazement about the films' longevity because, as he puts it, "This was ephemeral stuff." Yet, somehow, a film intended to introduce a new line of Transformers toys created a bond which now transcends generations. And with its Blu-ray release, the film has never looked better.
Shout! Factory's Transformers: The Movie 30th Anniversary Edition boasts a new 4K transfer of the film that is just remarkable. Thanks to a restoration process, the fine details and colors have been reproduced with staggering clarity. Hot Rod is his proper magenta hue and Unicron's introduction is just staggering to behold. Of course, the film is not without its flaws and the increased picture quality makes it is harder to hide the occasional off-model character or inelegant edit. But even those mistakes reflect the hand-made nature of the film.
But I've waxed philosophical about the film before, so let's take a look at the special features.
The marquee bonus feature is the forty-five minute documentary, 'Til All Are One: Looking Back at Transformers: The Movie featuring Dille and voice actors Neil Ross (Springer), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), Susan Blu (Arcee) and Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee). The group recall voice director Wally Burr and working with key Transformer voice actors like Chris Latta — "a raw force of energy" according to Dille — and guest actors like Orson Welles (Unicron) and Lionel Stander (Kup).
Dille in particular recalls a certain trepidation on Ultra Magnus voice actor Robert Stack's part, which he considers ironic considering how Stack's voice would be key to the success of NBC's Unsolved Mysteries a short time later.
A decent chunk of the documentary's runtime focuses in on the film's soundtrack with "The Touch" singer/songerwriter Stan Bush and composer Vince DiCola recalling their contributions. DiCola remembers writing and recording the score under a strict deadline, but considers the finished product better for the rush. Both continue to be marveled by the way fans embraced their work in the film.
Overall, the documentary is well made and interesting thanks to the participants who were not involved in the 20th Anniversary DVD documentaries. But I imagine some fans will recognize a lot of the stories told if they go to BotCon or own that previous DVD release.
But for those of us who don't own the DVD, Shout has included the commentary track by Dille, Blu and director Nelson Shin from the 2006 release. It's an interesting listen, particularly for Shin's insights into the filmmaking process.
Other holdovers from the previous release include a trio of vintage featurettes — featuring Dille, Shin, Blu and producers Tom Griffin and Joe Bacal — animated storyboards and a package of trailers and TV spots. The featurettes take a closer look at the reaction to the death of Optimus Prime and voice actors Frank Welker and Peter Cullen than the new documentary. And one of the trailers is notable for its use of early test animation and a different color scheme for Ultra Magnus.
Other new features include a look at the restoration process and the creation of the new release's cover art.
Sadly, the "Scramble City" material did not make it to the new release, nor the text commentary, fan commentary, the Steven Spielberg/Michael Bay interview or the slightly creepy toy commercial package.
But what the new release does offer is a truly great presentation of the movie itself and some fond recollections for a film that somehow overcame its more cynical beginnings and transformed into a cultural touchstone for Transformers fans.
Transformers: The Movie 30th Anniversary Edition is available now.