There is one franchise I love more than any other. More than Dr Who.
Transformers for me was the series I grew up with.
Repeats were being shown while I grew up and I always remember my Grimlock toy ( which I never got over losing). So for the final of my fun reviews I will be looking at the time the series did a movie right. Long before Bay tainted the notion of Transformers movies. To look at a film that is honestly much better than it has any right to be. So lets all get our air guitars and hankies out (you will find out why) cause its 1986.
The film opens up very well, from out of a star comes a strange mechanical planet as an eerie theme plays. This alien machine is drawn very well as we see its strange mechanical innards processing the planet and its residents it just ate before then flying back out into dark space.
Yes the prologue starts with a planet eating another planet while playing is a ROCK MUSIC VERSION OF THE TRANSFORMERS THEME! ( I do so love the music in this film).
The film starts proper in the year 2005 (what didn’t you remember the giant planet eating robot planet over a decade ago ? what were you doing?)
and leads to the big controversy of the film, and why though it succeeded it also failed.
The first half hour… kills off A LOT of the old cast. Not even Optimus Prime is safe, which is where the problem comes. They had done such a good job of making people like Prime (which the new films fail to do completely). Then they have him dying (because his toys weren’t selling anymore) and they make a film which was basically about the rise of his replacement. (Shot in the foot. Many people felt he died because Hot Rod interfered).
They weren’t as keen on the new guy, and it is a shame because the film does a good heroes journey for Hot Rod showing his rise to becoming Rodimus Prime. But people loved Optimus so much that… yeah we don’t see as many Rodimus toys ( shame as you could do a good new series without Prime, like they tried to do with Bumble Bee, but use Rodimus instead… but morons…..)
Anyway on the way back to Cybertron, Starscream sees his chance and ejects the wounded Megatron into space on the excuse of lightening the load . This leads into one of the films oh so famous confusing continuity issues. Megatron now encounters Unicron voiced by Orson Welles (in his final performance) and his voice really works. A powerful deep voice that even talks down the tyrant Megatron, not in anger because that is so below it.
Megatron is then turned into Galvatron (voiced by Leonard Nimoy – this film has a great cast). Thundercraker and two of the Insecticons become Scourge and The Sweeps. Then BOTH Skywarp and Bombshell become two Cyclonuses, though for the rest of the movie there is only one, leading to a long debate on who became Cyclonus (personally I prefer to think it was Skywarp).
The cast goes through some very well done set pieces: cities transforming, a planet of junk all leading up to the epic transformation of Unicron from planet into giant robot (and given it was a planet that’s a REALLY big robot) before Hot Rod opens up the Matrix. The touch plays and Unicron is destroyed.
It’s not a complicated film but it’s an enjoyable one. The art is actually damn impressive and because all the Transformers are not the same dull shades, you can easily tell who’s firing at whom.
The main purpose of the film was to sell the new guys and though it failed in some respects to do that, it did make them notable characters in the lore when they appeared in future series:
- the habit of Megatron becoming Galvatron
- Ultra Magnus
- Arcee being the main female Autobot
- and who could forget the lovable old grump Kup
(though in recent series Ratchet took his role).
Well ok Kup doesn’t appear as much as the others which is a shame. It should be noted that the Dinobots remain prominent throughout the movie, none of them dying (though Snarl disappears part way through) even literally kicking the butt of Unicron… because until Bay came around it was impossible not to do something awesome with robot dinosaurs.
While I love this film, I do recognize that if you’re not a Transformers fan you will not get the full experience. But the fact this is the story of a new up and comer (with a fair few nods to Star Wars) that doesn’t hold you back as much as many of the newer (and far worse) movies. You can sit down and cry when Prime dies (a scene that traumatized children and made them hurriedly edit the GI Joe movie) and rock out to all the kick ass music.
Rating: if you like transformers if not