The Transformers: The Movie – 35th Anniversary Edition Limited Edition Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

To think its been 35 years since, like other little boys my age, I felt the despair and sadness of losing a hand drawn hero in his own big movie. One of the more fascinating bits of children’s entertainment in film history has been The Transformers: The Movie. Its a case of toys driving decisions, wanting only to make the best you can but not fully understanding what you have and what your audience was looking for. And with time, there have been newer ways of taking in the appreciation of this relic of 1980s children’s entertainment. As an adult, I actually think I appreciate, enjoy and admire this film more than I even did in my youth. And Shout! Factory is giving me yet another new way to look back on it and enjoy once again. Their 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray edition, with a brand new transfer, audio and bonus features will be arriving August 3rd. Feel free to pre-order yourself a copy of it by using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review.


Originally published 8/23/2016

The Autobots, led by the heroic Optimus Prime, prepare to make a daring attempt to retake their planet from the evil forces of Megatron and the Decepticons.  Unknown to both sides, a menacing force is heading their way – Unicron. The only hope of stopping Unicron lies within the Matrix of Leadership and the Autobot who can rise up and use its power to light their darkest hour. Will the Autobots be able to save their native planet from destruction or will the Decepticons reign supreme?

Regardless of your thoughts on the quality of the finished product, The Transformers: The Movie was a deeply impacting film for the youth of the 1980s who were fans of the show; present company definitely not excluded.  There are few films that I have actually shed tears while watching, this is one of them.  If you’ve been living under a rock for 30 years in the geek-o-sphere, the film kills off Optimus Prime at the end of the first act.  Optimus Prime, one of the most popular characters on children’s television and toys of the previous year.  It was a shock, totally unexpected and something us children weren’t ready to be dealing with at the time of arrival.  The bold decision is also probably why we are still here talking about this film today and why its getting such a grand release from Shout! Factory.

Optimus Prime was my main man…er machine back when this film came out and I’m not alone.  He and all the other popular Transformers were killed off right away in this film.  The other ones were done away with so coldly and watching now its just shocking to think how brutal a decision this was.  Creators pretty much thought “Eh, they’re just robots” but to kids they were more than that and when you look at the film, what they intended to do overall maybe wasn’t so brutal and ruthless but the animators made it so. When it came to Optimus Prime, however, it wound up being a very gripping, emotion and all-to-real death.  For a robot in disguise, his death was very much human and in the open.  Its treated with such a real world sense of watching a loved one die in a hospital that it could hit home with people or live out some deep fear in people. Even to this day for me its a hard watch.  I’m not someone who hold Transformers nostalgia tight to the chest, but damn, this scene is still ever so effective.  You really feel gross and at a loss following it.

This deeply moving moment in childhood/cartoon/geek history has such simply motivation behind it; SELL NEW TOYS!  The entire purpose behind the film was to wipe out last year’s line of toys and introduce the current year’s new make and model.  That’s it, pure and simple.  Things were done so much differently back then.  Transformers (and others) sole drive was a toy commercial first, cartoon later.  Luckily, there were people involved in scripting and animation that did care more than that and that’s why certain properties have lasted much longer and had people clinging on to them for so many years.  Plus, the decision to get rid of them wasn’t one to jump a shark or made just to shock audiences; the people involved really didn’t know what they had back then.  They figured kids would jump onto the idea of fresh, new toys.  The new Transformers leader would be a bit more of a youthful spirit and fun with a cooler vehicle, a little more wildly color and voiced by a hot young actor of the time.  While Optimus Prime had great toy sales, they felt it had its run and everyone had him already.  Little did they know Peter Cullen had crafted something so special that kids weren’t willing to part and were emotionally attached to the character,  But, in the defense of the creators, if they don’t make that bold move to the story; I’m not writing this piece about the movie today.  Its what seriously defines the entire thing and makes it a piece of history rather than just a little note or completely forgotten altogether.

The Transformers: The Movie is a film I have loosely revisited over the years.  And every time I’ve seen it, its evoked a completely different reaction from me, with this most recent viewing being the most positive and eye opening of them all.  I had the childhood emotional viewing and the kinda revisit to revisit.  I’ve also had the nostalgic viewing and then the “ha ha” super 80s cheesey kinda viewing as well.  However, this viewing proved to be the intriguing one of all and will have me reaching for this one more frequently than ever before.  I’m currently fascinated with this movie as I sort of see it as a piece of art now.  In this viewing, there was something more interesting, more intoxicating and more hypnotic about the animation in the film. There is stuff here that would be considered amazing sci-fi if it was done in the 1970s.  Beyond being associated with Transformers, a lot of the spacecraft, Unicron, the outer space sequences, weapons and such look like some wondrous piece of mind blowing science fiction fare that challenges, pushes things to limits and is completely abstract.  The way it also harmoniously blends with the film’s score and music is another perfect symphony.  There is a synth score to the film that also drives home that interesting science fiction feel to it.  And the 1980s arena rock soundtrack is something so specific of a place and time that it feels so strongly fused to this film that while its sorta cheese at times, its also evokes the most unique and perfect feeling for the film.

I really hope I’m not selling a rewatch (or first for some) of this film too hard, but then again maybe its an angle people need to see for themselves.  Currently, I’m finding myself fascinated with just looking at this film.  What would have been a great bonus feature on here would have been an isolated score/soundtrack.  Because I think this film would work without any dialogue as well.  It has both that same feel I had with watching animations/drawings of Jodorowsky’s Dune and Aeon Flux.  Plus, these animators really up their game and know how to epicly shoot this action and the characters (Highlighted by this amazing shot of Optimus Prime flying through the sky to attack Megatron).  Also, unlike its TV counterpart, damage is also represented on the robots as well.  No joke, I went back and forth on maybe giving this film a 4.  And its not nostalgia. My Transformers well never crossed to Beast Wars, I’ve never owned the original series on DVD and I’m not a fan of the Michael Bay films. While I have fond memories of the show and my toys as a child, I’ve left it all back there.  However, my thoughts now on how I view this film I think aren’t coming from that place of nostalgia, but as something who’s grown up and is seeing something that kid never saw, but maybe is getting to layers of figuring out why this has had a lasting impact. Its a little weird, but this time through, the film may have been more of a revelation than it was when I saw it back in 1986 when it should have been its most enlightening and impressionable.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, which is presented in 1.35:1.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, 1.33:1 (standard Blu-ray only)

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Transformers: The Movie debuts on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for its 35th anniversary with a brand new 4K transfer of original film elements.  And if you didn’t think they could make this thing any more spiffy than the Blu-ray 5 years ago, think again. This beauty showcases much more detail, depth and bold coloring than before. See the strokes of the hand art is very cool and this becomes even more of a living work of art with this 4K UHD release.

Depth: The disc features great space in…space. Seriously! The scenes of outer space garner such pushback and good floatiness that really has a dynamic depth of field. Goes to show with the space stations and Earth set scenes as well. Movement is smooth and has no issue with any sort of blur or jitter during rapid action moments.

Black Levels: Blacks deepen here, to more natural appearances. Great contrast, outlining and shading happening in this new image. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are much more striking, thick and better saturated in this new image. HDR is applied with lights, displays, laser blasts, the Matrix of Leadership and more with terrific effect that truly adds to the fullness of the image.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Both 5.1 and 2.0 tracks are loud and involved mixes.  This is a symphony of blasting onto the film’s score while pushing force with an excellent boost on the sound effects.  The gun blasts, explosions, transforming sounds and more all sound well defined, distinct and layered.  Songs in the film give the feeling of being at some sort of arena rock event.  Vocals play good into the mix two, but it is those two factors that really give the film its identity and flavor.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Bass and drum in the songs, explosions, stomping, power blasts and planet devouring all rumble the sub.

Surround Sound Presentation:  A more front-heavy track, rear speakers still get some ambiance and get to add a little to the score and songs in the film.  The 3 channel experience up front allows for accurate placement, movement and all around good innovation to make this a fun mix.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and clean.  Transformer voices have discernible and layered distortions.


Transformers: The Movie is a 2-Disc set that comes with the Blu-ray edition. While the commentary appears on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray disc, all other bonus material is found on the standard Blu-ray disc. This particular edition sent to me for review comes in the limited edition steelbook packaging. There have been some featurettes from the previous release that were removed, but mainly those were probably because they pertained to the standard Blu-ray restoration and cover art for that particular release.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Nelson Shin, Story Consultant Flint Dille and Star Susan Blu – This is the same commentary for the 20th anniversary DVD release ported over.

‘Til All Are One (HD, 46:32) – A retrospective documentary bringing back many principle players in the film’s production as the go over every aspect of the film from its inception to the production, casting, ideas for the new Transformers, the recording, animation, the score, the legacy and the fans.  Every bit of information really gets its due and fans should be very excited about the diligent effort and focus this gets.


  • 2016 Stan Bush Acoustic Performance (HD, 9:46) – Bush gives a history on his songs from the movie (“The Touch” originally written for Cobra) and performs them solo on his acoustic.
  • The Death of Optimus Prime (SD, 5:02) – Flint Dille, Tom Griffin, Joe Bacal and Susan Blu reflect on the death of the character and how it came about and what it was supposed to be.
  • Transformers Q&A (SD, 13:03) – Flint Dille, Tom Griffin, Joe Bacal and Susan Blu answer prompted questions.

Feature-Length Storyboards (HD, 1:19:45)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 11:32)

Original Theatrical Trailers (HD, 3:03) 

TV Spots (HD, 5:52) 

Brandon New Cover Art Gallery By Matt Ferguson (HD, 2:06)


Transformers: The Movie continues to grow in appreciation for me every time I return. I really just marvel at the impressive artwork and design in the animation and how it seamless blends with the music to be come one being. Shout Factory’s new 4K UHD release truly does have “The Touch” with its beautiful new transfer and strong set of extras. I was iffy going in about just how much of an upgrade this would be from the last one, but I’m sold that it is a very worthwhile step up!

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments