STUDIO: Sony Wonder
MSRP: $21.98
RUNNING TIME: 300 hours
• Sneak Peek at the 2007 live action movie including trailer and Spielberg/Bay Interviews
• Multiple Audio Commentaries
• All-new, exclusive interviews with key creative talent
• Original toy commercials, deleted Footage, test footage, storyboards, and trailers
• Episode from the original series with commentary
• DVD-Rom Interactive Game

The Pitch

Autobots. Decepticons. A planet-eating planet. Cheesy ’80s rock. Awesomeness.

The Autobots

Optimus Prime, Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, the Dinobots, Kup, Arcee, Blur, Springer.

The Decepticons

Megatron/Galvatron, Starscream, Devastator, Soundwave, Cyclonus, Scourge.

…and as Rosie O’Donnell prepares for dinner…

The Nutshell

The never-ending war between the Autobots and Decepticons continues to rage in the year 2005. But a bigger threat to the universe arises in the gigantic world-eating planet, Unicron, who seeks to destroy everything in his path. When Megatron and the other Decepticons launch a sneak attack on Autobot City, Optimus Prime and the Autobots mount a desperate counteroffensive. During the battle, Megatron and Prime engage in one final battle to the death during which Prime is mortally wounded and Megatron is a quart of oil away from the scrap heap himself. A dying Prime bequeaths the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, the source of all knowledge and wisdom from all former great Autobot leaders, to his Lieutenant, Ultra Magnus. He tells him that one day an Autobot will arise to take possession of the Matrix and lead the Autobots into a new age. Meanwhile, Megatron and several of the more battered Decepticons are set adrift by Starscream as they travel back to Cybertron. They float in space until they encounter Unicron, who strikes a bargain with them: in exchange for giving Megatron a new body, Megatron will destroy the Matrix, which is the only threat to Unicron. Megatron agrees and is transformed into Galvatron, and his soldiers into other new Decepticons.

"I believe the humans call this, ‘bustin’ a cap’, homey…"

The Autobots, including young hotshot sports car Hot Rod, get word that Unicron has destroyed one of the moons of the Transformers’ home world of Cybertron and set off to find a way to stop him. Along the way, they’re hounded by the Decepticons, who will stop at nothing to destroy the Matrix. When Galvatron succeeds in obtaining it, he seeks to use it against Galvatron, but finds out that only an Autobot can use it. Unicron then transforms into a planet-sized robot and seeks to destroy Cybertron and all of the Transformers. The Autobots, led by Hot Rod, crash into Unicron and seek to stop him from the inside. Hot Rod encounters Galvatron in one-on-one battle and unleashes the power of the Matrix, which transforms him into the new Autobot leader, Rodimus Prime, and destroys Unicron.

"Jeez, is Optimus supposed to smell like that?"

The Lowdown

Normally I wouldn’t bother to go into so much detail to (over)describe the plot of a cartoon, but this is an exception as I was (and still am to a degree) a total geek over The Transformers. This was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid and I walked damn near two miles (one way mind you) to see the movie, for which I had to save up my pennies. The movie was quite a bit more adult than the cartoon, as robots on both sides died and entire planets were wiped out, mostly to introduce the new line of toys. Needless to say, I was devastated that Prime became one with the Matrix, but was nevertheless into the film big time as a much bigger story was being laid out before me than I got with the television show. One thing was for sure, Megatron beefed up his cannon several notches than from the TV show.

Megatron’s initial makeover in hot pink was a bit much…

Looking back on it now, as a so-called adult, I can still appreciate the movie, which features a fairly solid story, and animation several levels above the sometimes piss-poorly-drawn TV series. And what really distinguishes (and also hopelessly dates) the film is the ’80s rock soundtrack featuring the immortally awesome/hideously bad “The Touch”, by Stan Bush. An entirely new crop of Transformers were introduced in the movie, including Hot rod, Ultra Magnus, Kup, Blur, Galvatron, Cyclonus, Scourge, the Junkions, the Quintessons and others. Personally, I wasn’t feeling many of them, even back then, save for Ultra Magnus. And of course it was criminal that Starscream got turned into iron mulch, but what could you do? Also, Spike, who was the useless human kid during the TV series, now is a man and has a useless human kid of his own in Daniel.

In addition to being the ultimate knowledge repository, the Matrix was also a pretty bitchin’ disco ball.

You could look at the new crop of Transformers in two ways: that many of the Autobots and Decepticons had been killed during the long years of fighting, or they were axed to make way for the new toy line (not much mystery here as it’s freely admitted by the producers in one of the special features). I wouldn’t know because one of the bitter truths of my childhood was that I couldn’t afford Transformers. I was relegated to Gobots. Anyway, getting back to the flick, several hot names of the then-present and past voiced characters in the film, including Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, John Moschitta, Scatman Crothers, Eric Idle, Robert Stack, Lionel Stander, and Orson Welles, who by that time was damn near as big as Unicron. Voice actress Susan Blu came on to voice the first female Autobot, Arcee as well.

Caption A: "Wanna see my joystick?"
Caption B: "WTF do you mean you’re a Mac?!"
Caption C: "Let’s go RAM."
Caption D: "Let’s go defrag."
Caption E: "
Let’s go interface."
Caption F: "Do you take it up the USB?"
Caption G: "I got 500 Gigs and it’s all for you, baby."

The Transformers have had seemingly a million incarnations in the last 20 years, including Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Energon, etc. Most of them have infinitely better animation than the original, including computer animation, but none of them measure up – by far. I’m looking forward to the live action version next year, but this version will always be the version at its best.

The Package

First of all, the movie looks fantastic. The transfer is excellent and the best I’ve seen it since that first time way back in the theatre. The sound is available in Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo and with French and Spanish captions. The film is available in both widescreen on one disc and full screen on the other. There’s two commentaries, one by director Nelson Shin, story consultant Flint Dille and Susan Blu, the other by fans who run websites, write books, etc. Both are pretty much a snooze. On one you can hear anecdotes about the production that are meaningful to pretty much only anyone who worked on said production, and the other is geeks geeking out. There’s the Autobot Matrix of Knowledge feature which shows little factoids as the movie plays.

"So Daniel, you ever seen a grown robot naked?"

There’s also a video gallery of ’80s TV spots, the original theatrical trailer, a photo gallery, an unusual Cinex and credit test, and an episode of Scamble City with commentary. There are the following featurettes: Death of Optimus Prime, Cast and Characters, and Transformers Q&A. Collectively these three total about 28 minutes and are pretty fun, with contributions by Flint Dille, Nelson Shin, Susan Blu, and producers Joe Bacal, and Tom Griffin. There’s also Scamble City commercials, US and Japanese toy commercials, and deleted/test/alternative footage, as well as animated storyboards, which kept crashing my player for some reason. There’s also Activate Autobot City, which unlocks other DVD-ROM content. The packaging itself is pretty cool, with new cover artwork and Unicron on one disc and the Matrix on the other. There’s also a lenticular version of the cover art which switches between Optimus and Rodimus, but it has to be kept separate because because it won’t fit back into the case. All in all though, a pretty satisfying offering.

7.7 out of 10