Published on January 10th, 2016 | by Brando Quiring0
Transformers: The Movie
Brando looks back at one of his favourite nostalgia flicks / toy commercial, the animated Transformers: The Movie, to remember a time before Michael Bay.
Everyone has that one movie that they can replay, line by line, in their heads; for me, that movie is Transformers: The Movie. No not the Michael Bay military propaganda film, but the star-studded 1986 animated feature film that featured two film milestones. The first is it is the last credited work of the great Orson Welles, who voiced the moon-crunching colossus Unicron. It was also the only movie I can remember that ever made me cry, as I wept tears of pure, childhood sadness over the death of one of my childhood heroes, Optimus Prime.
The movie itself is significantly better than it is given credit for, it features a cast of big names from the day and a tremendous soundtrack and animation, both of which inspired a 2015 video game.
The cast features Transformers mainstays like Peter Cullen, Gregg Berger, Michael Bell and Frank Welker and they are joined by the afore mentioned Orson Welles, the late Leonard Nimoy and Robert Stack, brat pack member Judd Nelson and the multi-talented Eric Idle. While it is hard to gauge acting based solely on a voice it is not a stretch to say that the acting in Transformers: The Movie is like listening to your favourite song, in that every time you hear them you just like them more and more until you naturally come to the conclusion that you are listening to auditory perfection.
The soundtrack is provided by Vince DiCola and is spot on not only as stand alone music but as the background to the sweeping scenes of robot-on-robot combat or massive, planet encompassing space battles, Weird Al and a couple of no-name 80s rock bands also contribute music, rounding out one of the best albums I have ever owned. This, of course, included the oft-joked about song The Touch, which fans of Boogie Nights would remember.
The story in the movie is fairly loose and basic, mostly meant as a vehicle to move established characters out of the way (read: kill them) so that the new guys can take their place, thereby selling new toys to kids all around the world. There is an aeons-long war, with the two sides wanting to destroy each other. They add a giant, robotic planet that wants to consume the Transformers’ home world and there you have the plot. Following the mass destruction of our beloved childhood heroes about 20 minutes in, the story revolves around a group of new characters traveling through the galaxy, trying to make it home while they still have a home to go to. It is a planet jumping adventure that includes a world made entirely out of garbage and one that is inhabited by savage mechanical sea creatures and multi-faced aliens who love justice. I’m sure the nostalgia factor is why I think that it holds up so well, but I would hold it up next to Star Wars or Event Horizon any day.
Apart from being a perfectly executed and historic space adventure, Transformers: The Movie is also an interesting example of how far marketing could go. It is not every toy line that gets its own movie, fewer still that have their movie see a theatrical release. At its core this movie is an 84 minute toy commercial, but it is also a great movie, and while Hasbro may have started the day just planning on selling us some toys they ended up taking us on an imaginative adventure through cool new worlds with interesting new characters who would be with us each and every Saturday morning for the foreseeable future. They redefined that nostalgic time in the lives of a generation and did it in a way that left me with a load of cool memories that still make me smile and will always be more metal than Denver the Last Dinosaur.