Seems like not too long ago I had just reviewed Shout Factory’s The Transformers: The Movie 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray, but it’s already been five years. So now the company is celebrating this famed classic again with the power of 4K HDR with The Transformers: The Movie – 35th Anniversary Edition release with a Limited Edition Steelbook case. While only the widescreen version is 4K and it recycles much of the extras from the previous release, this version is currently the best way to experience this animated masterpiece.
This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed the film, and for the parts that haven’t changed I’ll be reusing some of my previous review while sprinkling in some of the newer changes and details of this 4K release. Taking in place in the future of 2005 (wait, didn’t that come and go already?) and some years after the original series ended, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) is still leading the fight with his Autobot allies against Megatron (Frank Welker) and his Decepticons to keep Earth safe while also getting their home planet of Cybertron back on track.
But just when it things look their darkest, a new threat appears in the form of the planet sized and planet eating Unicron (the final performance of the late and great Orson Welles of Citizen Kane fame) who has his sights set on Earth and Cybertron.
It’s up to the Autobots and their search for who can use the Matrix of Leadership, as it is the only power that stop the planet-munching Unicron. But with struggles on both their side and on the Decepticons, it may take both factions to put aside their differences and fight together or perish in oblivion.
Even after thirty-five years and multiple upon multiple viewings, this movie still holds up and remains one of the best animated features I’ve seen. Sure it has its fair share of cheese and weirdness (Monty Python’s Eric Idle as Wreck-Gar and his theme music of “Dare to Be Stupid” by Weird Al Yankovic comes to mind…) but it’s still a fun time that can be had and viewed by anyone.
The all-star cast is spot on with their roles, with Welles’ Unicron being one of my all-time favorite voices ever as it paved the way (along with David Warner’s Master Control voice from 1982’s Tron) for future ominous voices of giant villains. It’s beyond iconic and a fitting swansong for the Hollywood legend.
Seeing that the 30th anniversary release was assembled from a retouched and remastered 4K source, I’m pretty sure this version also pulls from it. But Shout Factory appears to have tinkered with it a little more to give even better, brighter, and cleaner visuals. The film looks absolutely stunning as you can see the painstaking details of love Shout Factory put into making the colors and the original hand-drawn details stand out.
The addition of HDR not only makes colors not only pop off the screen, but enhances the numerous lighting effects throughout the film, such as the glowing circuitry in Autobot City and all of the bits glowing inside and out of Unicron. Some of the lighting and colors are so intense that I had to squint or shield my eyes at times, but that’s all part of the fun and makes it feel like you’re really in the movie. On the audio side of things, the DTS-HD 2.0 and 5.1 tracks from the previous Blu-ray release return here and still sound great, but it would’ve been nice to have a remastered Dolby Atmos track.
Also some may be disappointed that only the widescreen version of the film is in 4K with HDR and not the original full frame cut of the film. You would think they would’ve remastered both versions for the ultimate release of the movie, but sadly that’s not the case as the full frame cut is only in 1080p on the Blu-ray disc included with the special features, though it does look a bit better and fixed up than the 2016 release.
Speaking of the special features, most of them are recycled from the 2016 edition, but thankfully there are two new ones added which are pretty cool. The first being “Feature-Length Storyboards” which has the original storyboards shown on screen as the film’s audio plays along with them. There’s also some deleted, alternate and extended sequences to go over as well.
Next there’s the “Fathom Events 30th Anniversary Featurette” that has our good friend Stan Bush giving acoustic performances of “The Touch” and “Dare” which is always a fun treat to watch. The rest of the extras are from the previous release such as audio commentary, cast and crew interviews, TV spots and trailers, and more.
It might miss the mark on not having a 4K full frame version, a Dolby Atmos track, and mostly recycled extras, but The Transformers: The Movie – 35th Anniversary Edition is still the best way to experience this classic animated masterpiece. Here’s hoping when either the inevitable 40th or 45th anniversary release comes along that we’ll finally get a fully remastered everything that will truly be more than meets the eye. Until that day, when all are one…ba weep granna weep ninny bong!