The Transformers The Movie (1986)
Director: Nelson Shin
Judd Nelson/Hot Rod
Robert Stack/Ultra Magnus
Eric Idle/Wreck Gar
The war between the Autobots and the Decepticons continues. With the Decepticons having taken control of Cybotron (the bots home planet), it doesn’t look good for our Autobot heroes. To make matters worse, a new player steps up to the plate in the guise of Unicron (Wells). A Transformer so big that he’s able to swallow whole planets…dare I say…HAVE A TRANSFORMING BLAST!
When this animated film was initially released in theaters back in 1986, it didn't do much at the box-office. Today, it's a cult classic. Most men in their early-to-mid 20s look back at this movie with fond memories and yes, I am one of them. “Transformers” used to be a big part of my life. I had the toys (Galvatron was my fav), followed the TV show and when the flick came out, you bet I saw it twice in the theatres. The good news is that the movie still holds up today like a Decepticon at a war party..
What I really dug about this flick is that in contrast to the TV show; robots die here. Many Autobots (even some series regulars) buy the big one in this feature and considering that this is supposed to be a “children’s” comic, they die pretty harshly (Megatron’s shuttle rampage comes to mind). Good shite! I also loved that most of my favorite characters show up. Optimus Prime, Megatron, The Insecticons, Soundwave, The Dinobots (yes, they’re still idiots), the Constructicons…name them and they’re probably in the film. My only disappointment in terms of bots not showing up was the absence of the “Stunticons” who were some my favorite baddies (they weren’t there because the script of the film was written before their appearance on the TV show). But you gotta let shit like that go. The flick also introduces a slew of new groovy characters: bad ass Galvatron (Nimoy), wise Ultra Magnus (Stack), daring Hot Rod (Nelson), Arcee the female Autobot (Susan Blu) and even some tiny annoying Autobot that goes by the name of Wheelie. Yep, this is one crowded movie (did they want to sell some toys or what?).
In my opinion, the film is at its strongest during its first forty minutes. We’re introduced to the sinister Unicron in a spectacular way (nothing funny about this villain), Megatron gets to kick some major ass, an exciting mano-a-mano battle between Prime and Megatron is slapped our way, the birth of Galvatron via Unicron is awesome and let's not forget, the event that I'd been waiting for quite some time: The death of StarScream (I was so happy to see that pretentious fucker go). What follows is still very exhilarating, but for me, the very tight first 40 minutes are pure gold.
The movie only lost my attention during one scene: The “Junk Planet” thang. Some“Fu Man Chu”-like junk robots are introduced and they bored the hell out of me. The fact that I couldn’t understand a word that they were saying really didn’t help (they blur TV commercials real fast…don’t ask) and neither did the Weird Al Yankovic song “Dare To Be Stupid" that played during the main fight sequence on the planet. I wasn’t too hip to that.
Another minor thing that bothered me throughout the flick was the presence of Daniel (David Mendenhall), Spike’s son. Yes, I know that he was there so all of the kiddies could relate to him, but wouldn’t it have been groovy if Galvatron ripped his fucking head off? At least Spike (who was pretty nerve-testing himself; like father, like son) spends most of his time in Unicron's belly (thank you).
But overall, "Transformers: The Movie" kicks some serious bot ass. The film moves at a relentless pace, it is after all a WAR film filled to the brim with exciting fight sequences. The film also has some humor (the Sharkticon scene made me laugh and the Dinobots are funny half the time), has way kool robots (Unicron and Galvatron rock!), has many great lines, way too many to mention them here (two of my favs: “Nobody would follow an uncharismatic bore like you” –Hook to Soundwave “Excuse me”- Slag as he stomps a bad guy under the knocked down door…lol) and had one death scene that actually pulled at my heart strings (you know the one). Couple all of that with some impressive animation for the time (who’s Disney?) and a way engaging soundtrack and you’ve got a film that never lets you up for air. It's action all the way, baby! Autobots, transform and roll out!
Some messy robot destruction (StarScream gets it good) and some groovy robot sharks chomping on other bots.
It's kind of hard for me to judge "voice acting" but I will say that everybody did a spot-on job here (I especially liked Lionel Stander as Kup…he stood out for me). Here are some interesting facts on some of the actors behind the bots. Judd Nelson (Hot Rod) is best known for his nostrils and his work on The Breakfast Club. Leonard Nimoy (Galvatron) played the famous Mr. Spock on Star Trek. Robert Stack (Ultra Magnus) …"Unsolved Mysteries", anyone? Eric Idle (Wreck Gar) was part of the Monty Python team. Orson Wells (Unicron) pulled the "War Of The Worlds" radio prank and directed a little film called “Citizen Kane”. Scatman Crothers (Jazz) played the black dude in Kubrick’s "The Shining". Casey Kasem (Cliffjumper) is known for Casey’s Top 40 on the radio, but he also voiced the character of Shaggy in the animated Scoobie-Doo TV show. Chris Latta (StarScream) also did the voice for another famous villain: Cobra Commander on GI-JOE. David Mendenhall (Daniel) also played Sylvester Stallone’s whiny son in “Over The Top. John Moshitta (Blur) has held the record of “World’s Fastest Talker”. Clive Revill (Kickback) also did the voice of The Emperor in "The Empire Strikes Back". Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave, Rumble, Frenzy and Wheelie) provided the screams for Spock in "Star Trek 3".
T & A
Arcee should model, she's got a body that don’t quit! How come she’s the only female bot in the house though? She must be exhausted! The ladies get Megatron’s impressive chest, I wonder what gym he goes to…
The flick moves at a fast pace and offers some gnarly looking shots (Shin keeps the best panels for Megatron, Galvatron and Unicron). I will say that some of the more chaotic fight sequences did look a little too messy at times. “All over the place” is the expression.
We’re treated with a good cheesy electric guitar version of The Transformers Theme (by Lion…nice name). My fav song is: Instrument Of Destruction (by NRG), which accompanied Megatron’s carnage perfectly. I also dug Hunger and Nothing’s Going To Stand In Our Way (by Specter General). They do overplay the Touch (by Stan Bush) big time and Weird Al Yankovic should have never shown up (Dare To Be Stupid).
As for the score by Vince D.Cola. Well, it kicks some serious tush when Unicron is involved and during Prime’s tear jerking scene. But it tends to sound like a “workout video” tune when it accompanies the action. NOTE: Vince DiCola also did the score for "Rocky 4", which explains why the Unicron theme sounds so much like the intro of the Apollo/Drago fight from that film!
If you were, or still are into "The Transformers", than you must have seen this film already. Therefore you don’t need me to tell you to see it again because you own a copy and have probably already seen it 10,000 times. If you like anime films and haven’t seen this one, I do suggest you check it out. Even for non-Transformers junkies, this is should be a fun ride. But I think the people that grew up with "The Transformers" will get the biggest kick out of this. This one was made for the fans (so we could buy more toys…but who cares) and only the fans will be able to appreciate it to its fullest. There’s more than meets the eye here, baby! YEAH !!!!!!
If you want to download the kickass soundtrack of this flick go here: http://tfarchive.com/sound.html
This always annoyed me: How the fuck can a few Decepticons fit inside of “Astrotrain”? And how the motherfucking fuck can gigantic DEVASTATOR fit into “Astrotrain”? I know, I know….kids won't care, let it go. But even as a kid, that always bothered me. Had to get it off my chest.
Little known facts:
As Sludge is being pounded by Devastator, you can see his eyeballs pop out and then go back inside his head. Inside joke by the animators?
The movie was written in 1984 so many of the characters that were introduced later in the series (Aerialbots, the Stunticons, the Combaticons…) but before the movie, don’t show up. They should’ve done a re-write of the script and given me my Stunticons!
In the original PG-rated theatrical release of the film, Spike says: "Oh shit, what are we gonna do now?" just before being sucked into Unicron. The negative feedback to that line caused the studio to release an edited version for video, with the line cut down to just "What are we gonna do now?" Ultra Magnus does say, "Open, dammit, open!" while trying to open the Matrix in both versions.
This was Orson Wells' last project. He died during production. There was a rumor that Leonard Nimoy had to finish up some of his lines but that rumor was destroyed by Susan Blu (Arcee) who said that he, in fact, did all of his Unicron lines before passing away.