As we strive to preserve the greatest films in cinematic history, we here at the Criterion Collection have to ask ourselves a lot of difficult questions. Would Kurosawa have removed that conspicuous hair from the lens in THE SEVEN SAMURAI, had he been able? What is the proper framing of the final battle in SPARTACUS? Is ARMAGEDDON and THE ROCK director Michael Bay functionally retarded?
In the end, we have to trust our instincts. Just like when it came time to select one film deserving of the Criterion treatment from all of the great releases of the late 1980s. Although the early 70s gets so much of the attention and praise, the late 80s actually gives that time a run for its money as one of the most daring and interesting periods of 20th century cinema. Just listen to some of the top-grossing movies of this era, and try to pick one that isn’t a bona fide classic: PLATOON. ALIENS. FATAL ATTRACTION. TOP GUN. Moviegoers at the time could pick from any of dozens of brilliant films like THE LAST EMPEROR, THE COLOR OF MONEY, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THE KARATE KID PART II, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, MEATBALLS III, SHANGHAI SURPRISE, PETER PORN, PSYCHO III, THROBBIN’ HOOD, DEATH NURSE, and, of course, Jon Cryer’s magnum opus HIDING OUT.
But those films, each a great success in their own way, don’t quite fit the Criterion bill. It takes a truly special film to warrant one of our definitive edition DVDs. We prefer to focus our attention on overlooked or neglected masterpieces, which is how we came to our latest release. This film was unjustly overlooked during its initial release, perhaps because it was a small, foreign-produced character piece up against blockbusters like Demi Moore’s ONE CRAZY SUMMER and the Blake Edwards-Ted Danson combo, A FINE MESS. The film, MOKUSHIROKU: MATRIX YO EIEN NI, tells the story of a lone soldier who inadvertently causes the brutal death of his army’s leader, which leads to a massive slaughter by enemy forces. Then, this soldier, in spite of being a whiny jackass with no practical leadership experience, somehow manages to guide his army to victory. He largely achieves this by opening a futuristic Chinese puzzle box.
Also, it stars robots who can turn into cars.
Released in the United States as TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE, this film never achieved the widespread success that a work of this caliber deserves, perhaps because it was so far ahead of its time that audiences mistook it for an incomprehensible piece of crap masquerading as a 90-minute toy commercial. But that meant viewers missed career-defining performances by the “Unsolved Mysteries” guy, the BREAKFAST CLUB guy, and that one guy who talks really fast. And who could forget Orson Welles, in his final role, as a giant talking anus? Certainly not us, and we’ve tried.
The Criterion edition finally gives this visionary film the treatment it deserves. The three-disc set contains three versions of the film: the theatrical release with a new transfer personally overseen by a crack-smoking hobo, a rare director’s cut that features .5 seconds of extra footage, and a new, never-before-seen “tolerable” cut consisting of ten seconds of TRANSFORMERS followed by the entirety of John Huston’s THE MALTESE FALCON.
That’s not all! All-new special features include:
- “Some Robots Have Breasts: The Arcee Story.”
- Commentary by renowned film critic Rex Reed, who repeatedly begs the audio engineer to kill him.
- An interview with legendary Internet personality “Wierd Al” Yankovich, who denies any involvement with the film.
- Long-lost alternate takes of the infamous “S word” scene, featuring the “F word,” the “MF word,” the “HMFS” words, the “Q word,” and a particularly blue take featuring a five-minute string of obscenities that would make Lenny Bruce blush.
- A behind-the-scenes documentary that dares to ask composer Vince DiCola why every single minute of the film is plastered with obnoxious, intrusive music.
- Excerpts from the “60 Minutes” investigative report, “TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE - Why?”
- A coupon for aspirin, to treat movie-related headaches.
And much, much more!
Yes, now you can experience the movie the way that director Nelson Shin intended it: alone, bored, and shunned by your friends. So get yours now… because you should never put off ruining another fond childhood memory until tomorrow.
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