My Review of the Japanese "Transformers: The Movie" import LaserDisc
(HilCrane Home Video, 90 Min., CLV, 1 Disc with 2 sides)
Starring the voices of: Robert Stack, Leonard Nimoy, Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson
Being a Transformers fan ever since their introduction in 1984, you can imagine the impact that the movie made on me. It got bum reviews, bad box office gross, and was called a "giant marketing ploy". However, these negative opinions were all executed by people who had no respect (or even knowledge) of the Transformers. Therefore, what gives them the right to judge something of which they have no real interest in? If you don't like the Transformers then why would you go and see the movie?? This review is written by a true Transformers fan who thinks the movie deserves some respect!!
The story line follows that of the TV series but adds a little spice. Some of this spice includes a great cast doing the voices (see above), the excellent animation, and the awesome soundtrack (including a song by Weird Al). In the show....the good guys always win and a moral is sometimes learned because of it. In the movie, that format is twisted around and, within the first 20 minutes (which have to be the best beginning 20 minutes in any movie that I've ever seen in terms of action and excitement) about 50% of your favorite characters get killed off in a millisecond. Sure it's violent at times.....but you were warned that this movie wasn't just a sweet and cute animated film from the release when it was tagged with a rating of PG. So stop complaining. If you're too young to see PG then you shouldn't be seeing it (plain and simple)!!!
Okay....enough with the frustration. Here's the story....."It is the year 2005. The treacherous Decepticons (bad guys) have conquered the Autobots' (good guys) home planet of Cybertron. But, from secret staging grounds on two of Cybertron's moons, the valiant Autobots plan to retake their homeland", transcribed from the introduction scene. After this segment is when the movie really begins! The Decepticon leader Megatron finds out about the plan and makes a final push on Autobot City. It ends in a disaster when Autobot leader Optimus Prime dies (which still brings a tear to a true fan during that particular scene). But it also brought about a new story line when Prime hands over the matrix of leadership ending the excellent first awesome chunk of the movie.
Meanwhile, a giant planet-eating world named Unicorn (Orson Welles) is coming close to Cybertron destroying everything in its path. The only thing that can stop him is the Autobot matrix. Therefore, he rebuilds the fallen Megatron into the vicious Galvatron (Lenoard Nimoy) and commands that he destroy the matrix. In exchange, Galvatron may have Cybertron and all of its moons. Can the Autobots stop this menace?? Will the true power of the matrix be released? You'll have to find that out yourself. Remember if you don't want to....then don't...just don't poke fun at something that you really don't care about!!!
The LaserDisc does great justice to this movie. However, there are many reasons why this Disc is rare and tough to find. First of all, it was only printed in Japan so you have to buy it as an import. Second, it has been out of print since 1990. And third, there is a huge want list and demand for this one. I got lucky....I found one still sealed (of which I was on a waiting list with about 25 other people at this particular "import" Disc dealer) and in MINT condition. I cherish this Disc and it is definitely one of my top ten favorites in my collection!!
The picture is gorgeous. Seen a rental version lately?? It's chopped up, chewed up, and ripped up. The Disc....wonderful, bright, and beautiful. Always sharp and clear. They changed a couple minor things in this release: the credits aren't there at the beginning and are replaced with a "Star Wars"-like scrolling opening introducing the story so far. Plus, there are a few places in the movie when some Japanese subtitles appear briefly as a new character is introduced. However, the picture and action is so intense that you won't even notice and it never gets distracting!!!
What about the sound? I saw this movie in a MONO theater and rented a copy that was so ripped up the stereo was gone. Therefore; you can imagine the surprise I received when I heard how awesome the Dolby Surround was on this movie. The digital encoding of the surround is crisp and always consistent. The sounds appear from all around you and never quits. The music (with its rock-like tracks) explodes through the speakers. It's excellent. The digital channels contain the original English soundtrack (thank god) and the Analog channels contain the Japanese dubbed version.
To top it off, the Disc starts off with the original American theatrical trailer. It shows you the first introduction to the movie . You can also notice the difference in quality between the trailer and movie. The trailer is bland in color with MONO sound, while the movie is beautiful in every aspect!!
If you own this Disc, don't ever sell it!! Cherish it because you're one of the lucky ones!! I have a feeling that this movie won't be transferred again (not on Laser or DVD). It's one hell of a show and my most cherished Disc. While it's been almost 11 years since the release, Transformers:TM holds a special place in my heart! Spinning the Disc on any afternoon brings excitement to me as well as, fond memories that I will NEVER let go!!
Transformers: The Movie (1986)
Picture: ***** (out of five *)
Sound: ***** (out of five *)