I consider myself a decent fan of Generation 1 era Transformers, but truthfully it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I started watching the series (in the form of the so-called “Generation 2” updated repeats). Most kids born in the 80’s that claim to have watched Transformers as kids are fibbing a little. I was born in 1982, but Transformers was more of my brother’s thing as I was too young to remember it. My series were more Real Ghostbusters and TMNT.
But there was one bit of the early Transformers that was cemented in memory due to a well-used VHS copy of Transformers: The Movie, complete with the bad ass image of the brand new Autobots shooting their guns into the sky, though for whatever reason, the main character of the movie is stuck in a tiny image in the back right corner, which is something of a spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie.
Anyway, once the show was gone from the cartoon rotation that lone VHS tape was the only Transformers left in the Dunman household, save for my brother’s toys that I demolished many of. Don’t give me that look – he got me back by torching nearly all of my GI Joes (including Crazy Legs!). My point is that not often did much time go by before the epic tunes of Stan Bush filled our living room as we once again saw the Autobots light their darkest hour. My mom, heavens bless her, hated the movie with a passion, mainly because she found the musical score to be unbearable. Later, once my adult years crept up and I became familiar with the source, I realized the other reason she despised our insistence on repeated viewings.
It’s not good. At all. And that’s the thing I’ve come to realize. Granted, the movie still holds a spot in my heart, but I find it difficult to believe that any G1 fan can actually enjoy it.
Like many children’s cartoons, Transformers existed as a 22 minute commercial for the toy line, and there were a lot of Transformers to sell. Keep in mind that original lineup of Autobots featured 18 characters. That’s Legion of Super-Heroes big right there, and it got steadily bigger as the show went on. By the second season, the originals had been joined by so many new Autobots that the lineup had more than doubled. And there was never any reason for new characters to show up – they were just there. New toys had appeared, so the show had to feature them, right?
The movie was a huge event for both fans and those profiting alike. For the fans, they got a full-length feature film on the big screen. For Hasbro, they not only had a grand stage to roll-out another line of toys, but to also get rid of those who weren’t sold anymore. And so, out with the old and in with the new. A new status quo was established, and a new cast of heroes and villains were brought in to fill it. And quality or fan opinion be damned.
I’ve spent nearly three decades becoming more familiar with this movie than anyone not interested in attending a Bot Con should, but there it is. It’s hard to sum up my thoughts and opinions on this movie, so I’m going to do it in the best way I can – pick it apart in a plot synopsis and make snarky comments. If site traffic is any indication, I’m pretty good at doing that.
So here we are – an in-depth look at Transformers: The Movie. Get comfortable – it’s going to be a long one. I suppose I should throw out a SPOILER alert for anyone who would be angered at reading an in-depth look at a 30 year old movie and being shocked that I gave away the name of who died. It’s everyone.