Transformers the Movie (1986)
More Than Meets The Eye
Based off the popular cartoon series and toy line, it's no secret that "Transformers" is arguably one of the world's most successful franchises; ranging anywhere from comic books, toys, video games, cartoons, and movies. Next to "G.I. Joe" and "Barbie", you'd be hard pressed to find another toy franchise that has managed remain consistently popular throughout the years. However, before Michael Bay made his infamous live action movies of the franchise, there was this film, "Transformers: The Movie." A animated film that was released to not only capitalize on the success of the franchise, at the time, it was also used as a means to introduce new transformer characters while killing off some of the old ones. To call this film a giant toy commercial would be stating the ridiculously obvious.
As even Hasbro admitted in various interviews, they wanted to use the movie as a means to market the brand and sell more toys, while capitalizing on the success of the franchise. Does it work? Well, lets just say when I was six years old, this used to be my all time favorite film. Don't laugh, as I'm being quite serious. In fact, until I turned thirteen, this movie ranked as one of my all time favorite movies. That is until I reached the age of reason to know better. However, that's not to say that I currently hate the film. But, I would say that I don't hold the same love for it, as I did when I was a child.
The movie is based off the popular "Transformers" franchise of the first generation. In the year 2005, the war between the autobots and the decepticons has escalated well into the future and into the depths of space. Earth is no longer the main battle ground for our characters to fight in, as their battle has escalated into the space; taking place on all sorts of planets including Cybertron (The Transformers' home world). The humans seemingly siding with the autobots, but the decepticons are prepared to win the war at any cost; even at the expense of their own.
With all hope seemingly lost as the autobot leader, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), has been killed by Megatron (Frank Welker), their last hope resides in one of them stepping up to take his place. As the decepticons are the least of their worries, a new threat named Unicron (Orson Welles), who's big enough to eat and destroy other planets, poses possibly the biggest threat the universe has ever known. Can our protagonists stop this enormous threat? Or will it destroy them just as easily as it has countless of other worlds?
As I said before, there was a time I would've said this was the greatest movie of all time. Of course, I was kid when I thought this, and who could blame me? After all, the film still has quite possibly one of the best movie soundtracks ever conceived; even when compared to some of Hollywood's more recognizable and prestigious films. Plus, the immense detail in the animation and action sequences far exceeds most of today's animated movies.
As far as story goes, I would have to say it's a fairly decent one for what it is. Sure, the movie is obviously a giant drawn out toy commercial, or a very long animated special at best. However, it's a fairly decent one. One that certainly lives up to the "Transformers" name brand, and it's a helluva a lot better than last two pieces of crap by Michael Bay. Unfortunately, this is where the positives for this movie end.
Granted, I know some of you will say why criticize a animated film that was obviously made out to sell a toy line, but I have to be fair here. After all, why should I be any less harsh on this film than I would a movie like "Forest Gump?" It just wouldn't be fair. Therefore, as a film critic, I make it a point to never ignore the obvious. You don't have to necessarily agree with my opinion, but it's my job to analyze each film fairly in an unbiased way.
The story, like I said, is fairly decent for what it is, but it contains way too many plot holes. One being the connection to the autobot, Matrix of Leadership, and the new giant monster planet, Unicron. Both play an intricate role in the movie, but the connection between them is never explained. Sure, many die hard "Transformer" fans could probably make that connection but since it's never explained in the actual film itself, then it just comes off alienating a lot of casual fans and newcomers to the franchise. Another plot hole was the connection of Wheelie (Frank Welker) popping up out of nowhere to help Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime (Judd Nelson) and Kup (Lionel Stander). Seriously, where did he come from? When Hot Rod and Kup get stranded on a strange new planet, while escaping the decepticons, they find themselves greeted by this new transformer, who bears the autobot logo as well. Gee, how convenient, right? These are just some of the many examples that I'm talking about, as the film often sacrifices story content in favor of action sequences, and inserting as many new transformers as humanly possible.
Another thing worth noting here, it's highly predictable throughout the entire film. In fact, you'd have to be a complete imbecile not to pick up on the foreshadowing of the events coming throughout the movie, as the film makes it too freaking obvious to figure out. Unfortunately, my gripes don't end there, as I do have another problem with this movie. One that I can't simply ignore. That would be it's amazingly dark tone. Granted, this film didn't faze me as a child, as I was accustomed to watching films like "Heavy Metal", "Terminator" and "Predator" as a kid. Trust me, after you've seen those movies, "Transformers: The Movie" is tamed by comparison. However, I can't speak for all children or parents. Although I think it's fair to warn everyone, the movie contains a lot of violent deaths and a few curse words, throughout the film. Many of which might be too disturbing to the toy line's original target audience, which happen to be kids.
Therefore, if you happen to be one of those parents that likes to censor what your children watch, then I'd stay away from this one altogether. However, if your a die hard fan of this franchise, or you don't mind letting your kids watch anyway, then you might come to enjoy the film. Overall, I'd have to give this movie a two and a half out of four. It's not a great movie, but it could be worse. It could be almost as bad as Michael Bay's versions. (cringes)