Directed by Matt Youngberg et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 66 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English, Spanish
MSRP: $ 16.99
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Review Date: June 12, 2008
You had to know that after the smashing success of the live-action film Transformers in 2007, Paramount was going to milk every ounce out of the franchise that they could. So, here are three episodes from the animated Transformers television show edited together to make a “movie.” The episodes do feature all of the favorite autobots from the tales in an adventure set both on Cybertron and on Earth, and for fans of the stories, this is a barely adequate substitute. All others look for animated fun elsewhere (and the Pixar and Dreamworks aisles are both jammed with worthier efforts that are real movies and not pasted together attempts to trade off of a franchise’s name.)
Our five autobot heroes Prime (David Kaye), Ratchet (Corey Burton), Bumblebee (Bumper Robinson), Bulkhead (Bill Fagerbakke), and Prowl (Jeff Glen Bennett) are doing bridge repair on Cybertron when they stumble on the Allspark. In an all-out effort to protect it, they’re hurled to Earth into Lake Erie where they remain in a kind of suspended animation (called stasis) and aren’t awakened until fifty years later when Detroit of the 22nd century is under attack by evil, destroying Decepticons fighting viciously to uncover the Allspark. The leader Starscream (Tom Kenny) doesn’t mind wiping out the entire planet to achieve his aims, but the Autobots have a secret weapon, a young organic life form named Sari (Tar Strong) who is eager to help wage war on the Cybertrons to save her father and the planet.
It’s typical TV animation which means there are lots of primary colors and strong lines in the drawing without any of the density and detail that distinguish superb 2-D animation. The voice work is strong, however, and I did enjoy the performances. The voice actors wring every bit of humor from some of the dry wit in the writing. The stories in the three segments are all simply plotted: good versus evil, and the outcome is never in doubt. However, the “film” does end with a somewhat ominous statement by Sari’s father. Do I smell sequel?
The 1.33:1 aspect ratio of the original broadcasts is replicated faithfully in this DVD transfer. Colors are bright and fully saturated while lines are thick and strong. However, without anamorphic enhancement, there are some jaggies on occasion, and it seems the image loses focus on more than one occasion. There is no banding, however, which is admirable for a low budget compilation such as this. The film is divided into 9 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack is surprisingly strong and full-bodied. Dolby Prologic IIx did an admirable job separating the music and effects and fashioning a pseudo-surround experience, and I was quite impressed with the sound mix here.
The DVD offers 2 Transformer short subjects. The first, where Prime participates in a question and answer session at an elementary school, lasts 2 minutes. The second, where Prowl and Bumblebee have a difference of opinion about what makes something funny, runs 1 minute.
Fans of Transformers can have some fun with this compilation effort from the animated series. (Coincidentally, new action figures by Hasbro go on sale the same day as this DVD becomes available.) I’m sure youngsters will love the action and color. However, give me The Incredibles any day.