Transformers: The Movie (1986)
It has been 25 years since Transformers first hit the big screen and I bet most of you don’t even know it. Michael Bay’s 2007 entry was the first live-action attempt (thank god they didn’t try that in the 80′s) but back in 1986 my 7 year-old butt was plastered in a seat at the local theater and my eyes received the animated gift of love that only Optimus Prime could deliver. And then, when the movie wasn’t even half was over, he was dead.
Yes, I personally witnessed my favorite childhood animated hero get murdered in front of me onscreen and it still haunts me to this day. I remember hearing my mom mutter “This is NOT for kids” in the seat behind me, as she was just as shocked and saddened as I was. How could this happen? What kind of mother takes her child to a snuff film? How would I ever grow up and lead a normal life after witnessing such a traumatic event? Only the Autobots could save me, and they did.
True, Optimus Prime was killed in this film but they did bring him back to life in the TV series’ continuation of events. But the damage was not forgotten. In fact, Prime was only one of many Autobots and Decepticons that met their demise in the theater that day. Later in life I grew to understand that this was Hasbro’s way of introducing new characters to the masses (sick and twisted, I still believe) and sell more toys. Well, it worked. I fell in love with the new characters even as they stood around Optimus Prime’s lifeless corpse and continued to flee the destruction of Autobot city for the pursuit of the Matrix of Power.
The combination of an 80′s hair band metal soundtrack (Weird Al & Stan Bush, thank you) with action scenes and characters that far surpassed the television series gave me, and many others, a reason to celebrate this film as a modern masterpiece. Incredible animation, A-list voice talents (Leonard Nimoy, Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Robert Stack and many others) and a storyline that was far from conventional children’s fare catapulted this film into my heart forever. Even now, at 32 years old, I cherish this film and proudly share it with my own kids and other fans alike. If you are a Transformers fan, old or new, you owe it to yourself to own this movie and experience an emotional roller-coaster ride like nothing you have ever seen. This film truly is “more than meets the eye.”
Pop Quiz, Hotshot: Did you know that screen legend Orson Welles (Unicron) died during the making of this film, and none other than Leonard “Spock” Nimoy (who was already voicing Galvatron) finished the unrecorded lines of dialogue in his place? It’s true, and don’t forget the unmistakeable voice of John “Micro Machines fast talking guy” Moschitta as Blurr. Transformers: The Movie also has the dubious distinction of attaining a rating of “PG” by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) on purpose, by a certain infamous line of dialogue by Spike and Bumblebee during a tense moment. The producers of the film wanted to ensure that the rating properly reflected the serious tone of the film, and set it apart from the television series. That particular questionable line has been omitted from various incarnations of the movie on both the VHS and DVD format over the years.
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