Tuesday, January 23, 2007

TBG on DVD: Transformers – The Movie 20th Anniversary Special Edition

And, so begins the blitz of marketing for the July 4th release of the new live-action Transformers movie.

Growing up on the syndicated Transformers cartoon of the mid-80s, I was naively blind to the fact the show was nothing more than a 30-minute commercial for the toy line. A few years ago, I received the first season on DVD and barely made it through a few episodes before the extreme cheesiness of bad dialogue and comically awful plots overwhelmed my Transformers memories.

Still, the 1986 movie remains an interesting enough niche piece of pop culture, that it's maintained a home in my movie collection from clamshell VHS to bare-bones rushed DVD to this…a double-disc five-star treatment for a movie that didn't even gross six million dollars during its original theatrical run.

Both the wide and full-screen adaptations are included here and the "re-mastering" treatment is obvious as the colors are back to their original '80s garishness. Lots of purples and oranges that I really don't remember wearing back then, but whatever.

And, let's be honest…the film's only entertaining sequence is in the first 20 minutes. The planet-eating menace Unicron is established, a bunch of Autobots get gunned downed as all those laser beams that miss their targets on the TV show actually can kill here and a handful of icons from the syndicated series die a few gruesome deaths.

By the time the sissified Starscream is blasted to ashes, all the central characters to the original series are gone and we're left with a new generation of toys to push for the remainder of the movie. And, it's a movie that's full of plot holes and incredulous twists, even grading on the "it's just a cartoon" sliding scale of acceptance.

Anyways (spoiler alert) the good guys win and the bad guys are vanquished.

The fun on this DVD is in the assload of extras.

For those of you who normally shy away from the "commentary" tracks, find time to give these a listen. There's one here that includes director Nelson Shin which is off the charts of unintentional comedy. Try to imagine an addled Asian grandfather who spits out the obvious ("Look! He's changing to a truck!") in English so bad it's actually subtitled when he appears in other features on this DVD.

There's another commentary track done by "fans" in what is the very definition of "guilty pleasure". Three or four hardcore TF fans (each with their own TF website, natch) provide a near-infinite amount of insight into the movie and some of its more infamous urban myths. But, the sound of grown men meticulously detailing each scene with a child's enthusiasm is more than a little…unsettling.

The rest of the extras range from "passable" to "pedestrian". There are about a half-dozen trailers of varying length and picture quality and a sneak peak at the 2007 TF movie. All you need to know is that Michael Bay tells us he's re-made this movie in the style of 1998's Armageddon.

I look forward to the shitty single from the shitty soundtrack of, what I fear, will be a shitty movie.

The only other extras of note are some original commercials for the toy line (in terrible quality) from both America and Japan, as well as a "never before seen" Japanese episode that ties the series to the movie. There's no dialogue, though, and most of it's cobbled together from old episodes.

This one's for the most hardcore fans only, kids. Maybe worth adding to the Netflix queue if you only want to catch the commentaries, but save your $20 if you already have the movie, as the extras aren't that special.


eric c. said...

Nice review. Now do one for the third season of GI Joe a/k/a "The Serpentor Years".

ryan said...

If there is a more overrated movie from the '80s that everyone points to as "one of THE movies from the '80s" it's this one. Loud, stupid and loud. Personally, i can't wait for michael bay's "unique and different take" on this. Oy.