Sep 3, 2010

[Movies] Transformers: The Movie (1986)

When I started the Geeky Guide, I decided that I'd do my best to review every single movie, book and TV show that I'd work my way through starting from that point. Over the years, I'd like to think I've done a decent job of this, but the challenge of a "going forward" system is that I don't always get to go back and review things that I had seen longer before the Geeky Guide existed.

Sometimes I just get caught up in the rush of all the geeky things that my partner and I get to involve ourselves with, that I end up missing opportunities to revisit classics of my youth (or daresay my childhood). And then I get these "slow" days when no recent movies immediately come to mind and so I start digging through my past to find something to write about.

So I have to admit that it was a surprise to me that I had yet to post a formal review for this movie despite how much I proclaim that I'm a Transformers G1 fan (till all are won!). It's weird to think that not only is this movie now over 20 years old, but even the setting of the movie is already in our past.

Don't you just hate it when the future becomes the past?

Transformers: The Movie was a feature-length animated film based on the original TV cartoon series.

As the opening scrawl text reads, the movie is set in 2005. The Decepticons have conquered the Transformer home planet of Cybertron while the Autobots are scattered across two of Cybertron's moons and Autobot City on Earth. While the two forces continue their age-old struggle, the distant plant of Lithone is consumed by a giant robotic planet called Unicron (Orson Welles). Megatron (Frank Welker) comes up with a daring plan to seize control of an Autobot shuttle on its way back to Earth in order to slip past their defenses. The plan initially succeeds and the limited Autobots on Earth are left to fend for themselves against the overwhelming Decepticon forces. Among the combatants is Daniel (David Mendenhall), son of Spike Witwicky (Corey Burton) from the original series.

Transformers: The Movie (1986)Despite attempts by Soundwave (Frank Welker) to stop him, Blaster (Buster Jones) is able to send out one last distress call to Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and he manages to come to the rescue of the Autobots together with the Dinobots. The battle ultimately gets resolved by a one-on-one showdown between Megatron and Optimus Prime. Optimus manages to defeat Megatron, but both are badly injured and are left near death. All this time, Unicron realizes that the Autobot Matrix of Leadership is the only thing that can defeat him and he sets about his own plans to prevent this from happening.

As a major fan of the Transformers, this movie was both amazingly wonderful and yet horribly traumatic. Let's face it, this wasn't exactly a children's movie. Sure, it was based on a cartoon, but the people behind it decided to take on a significantly darker and more serious tone. And this gave the movie a different kind of edge that was unheard of in cartoons at the time. Other animated movies released around this period didn't have deaths like this one did, although I may be wrong about the My Little Pony movie. That slime monster seemed pretty dangerous if you ask me.

This movie had it all - epic battles, a child in danger and Arcee (Susan Blu), the first female robot in the series ever since Elita One. Plus a whole host of new Transformers, although mainly Autobots now that I think about it. Oh, and did I forget to mention the planet-eating super robot? Yeah, that's the good stuff.

But one can't lose sight of the fact that a lot of good Transformers died in the process. After two seasons of back-and-forth battles without anyone getting significantly damaged, suddenly we have at least 7 Autobots dead on-screen and a bunch of other Decepticons of little significance gone, but not for long. And the biggest death of all, well, let's just say that I cried the first time I watched this and I still get a tad teary-eyed whenever I re-watch the movie.

The plot factored in time to feature the Dinobots, enough time to show off all the new Transformers and of course a lot of fights left and right. We even had Decepticons fighting Decepticons and Starscream crowning himself leader of the Decepticons. There were Insecticons, Constructicons, triple-changes and did I mention Unicron? He's a fucking planet!

The movie changed a lot of lives when it came out. Everyone who watched it walked away with strong emotions whether good or bad, but I think we all agree that it's definitely one of the best animated movies of its period. And this is factoring in the fact that this was a story that was trying to free itself of the confines of Saturday morning programming. Thus its a shame that the more recent live-action movies never managed to come even close to the quality of the writing involved in this first big movie for the franchise.

Transformers: The Movie is a landmark film, at least for Transformers enthusiasts everywhere. It gets 5 ways Soundwave demonstrates his superiority out of possible 5.

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