28 June 2007

Transformers the Movie 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD Review

The movie poster
How I came to own this Special Edition DVD is one of life's pleasant surprises. A Marketing firm from the US came across my blog and wrote me asking if I would be interested in doing a review of the 20th Anniversary Transformers DVD. Do I ever! So a DVD was sent over to me. [Actually, I nearly failed to receive a copy because one was sent to me last year (2006 was the 20th anniversary) but not having received their package after about 3 months, they decided to send me another. Whew! Post office people... where's the first DVD!?!]

Anyways, that weekend I watched the movie in both widescreen and full screen versions including the special feature where snippets of trivia are displayed while the movie is playing (called easter eggs). And then I watched the bonus features. Is it obvious that I was hyped when I got hold of the DVD? I hope not. haha.

First off, the packaging is cool. The front design was a "holographic" (I don't know how to call it) photo. View it from an angle and you see Optimus Prime and allies; from another angle you see Rodimus Prime and friends. See the difference between the cover below and the one at the left? The cover is actually a small poster you can display anwhere else. Nice bonus item.

It is essentially, a representation of what the movie is all about: a transition from Gen 1 to the new characters.

The restoration done on the movie is awesome. The colors are brilliant, the picture sharp. It's like seeing the movie in a new light, versus the VHS copy (which I have, but I suspect molds have gotten to it already). The death of Optimus Prime is still as heartbreaking today as it was when my younger self first saw this movie.

“…one day, an Autobot shall rise from our ranks, and use the power of the matrix to light our darkest hour.” - Optimus Prime

It was Transformers that broke the unwritten rule that nobody dies in American cartoons. Or is it a reflection of its Japanese heritage, where death is not uncommon in anime? At any rate, its effect on the 80s generation is recounted a number of times in this DVD. Many kids cried in the cinemas, others left without finishing the movie, the publisher got a barrage of complaints and letters of outrage from kids and parents alike. It was indeed a very daring move for the famous Transformers series at that time.

I learned later on in the bonus section that this public reaction affected the way the G.I. Joe movie ended, where a leading character was also supposed to die.

Speaking of the bonus section... it's a treasure trove for Transformers enthusiasts on facts, interview, and fun trivia. It was, for example, interesting t0 learn that Mr. Orson Welles (the voice behind Unicron) died a few months after he lent his voice to the movie. His role as a planet-eating planet was ultimately going to be his last role for the movies before moving on. Another interesting trivia I learned was that G.I. Joe and Transformers, two of the high-ranking cartoons at that time, shared talents. For example, StarScream and Cobra Commander of G.I. Joe had the same voice actor. An episode aired only in Japan also showed a transition of sorts from the TV series to the movie, something that was never aired on American soil, but is now included in the DVD.

Lots, lots more to discover in the bonus section, including toy commercials and TV spots for the movie.

The advertisements for the toys really brought back a lot of childhood memories. Saturday Fun Machine would not be complete without the American kids playing with these action figures and it would make you really, really want to own one.

Overall, the Transformers 20th Anniversary DVD is a must-have for Transformers enthusiasts, for people from the 80s, for toy collectors, for kids today who appreciate their cartoon history, for those who will watch the Michael Bay film starting today, for those who want to own a piece of animation history, for the kid at heart. It's one adventurous ride!

Get your DVD from Amazon.com
Movie poster photo credit: Soundtrack Collector
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