Transformers: The Movie


Wikipedia: The Transformers: The Movie is a 1986 American animated feature film based on the animated TV series by the same name. It was released in North America on August 8, 1986 and in the UK on December 5, 1986.

The film was directed by Nelson Shin, who produced the original Transformers television series, and features the voices of Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Casey Kasem, Robert Stack, Lionel Stander, John Moschitta, Jr., Peter Cullen and Frank Welker. It also marked the final roles for both Orson Welles, who died the year before its release, and Scatman Crothers, who died months after its release. (...) The film's tagline was: "Beyond good. Beyond evil. Beyond your wildest imagination."


Long before Michael Bay butchered the series and somehow got Nimoy to voice Sentinel Prime, there was the 1986 movie. It’s perhaps best known for the death of Optimus Prime (I’m pretty sure I cried on that one), and the introduction of Galvatron, i.e., the uber-Megatron. Orson Welles got all the press, thanks to voicing the god-like, planet/Transformer Unicron, and Nimoy played the evil Galvatron. His naturally gravelly voice gave Galvatron an ominousness that the screechy Megatron just didn’t have. I don’t think any Transformer lover (and there was a lot of us back then) hasn’t seen this movie.




Despite three live-action movies (and an upcoming fourth film), “The Transformers: The Movie” is still the only Transformers film worth watching.

For about 60 of its 84 minute run time, it is a shockingly mature, thrillingly violent production that doesn’t pull any punches for its younger audience who had grown accustomed to somewhat incompetent villains and a laugh-filled happy ending. That’s not the case here and the film is all the more memorable and better off for it. If only the film’s final act were stronger, the likely casualty of one too many rewrites and changes in direction, this would doubtlessly be considered one of the best films of the 1980s, animated or otherwise.

There’s an actual sense of consequences that rarely were realized in the first two seasons of the mid 1980s TV series. Beloved characters get killed on both the Autobot and Decepticon sides.

The film starts in jarring fashion with the arrival of Unicron (Orson Welles in his last performance) — the Transformers’ answer to Marvel Comics planet eater Galactus — who proceeds to devour a planet en route to the Autobots/Decepticons home planet of Cybertron.

This kicks off an exhilarating hour with the best Transformers action we’ve seen so far. It’s nearly one big hour-long fight and it’s every bit as awesome as it sounds.

Megatron (Frank Welker) leads his Decepticons in an assault on Autobot City. The attack soon overwhelms the Autobots led by Ultra Magnus (Robert Stack), Kup (Lionel Stander), Arcee (Susan Blu), Springer (Neil Ross) and Hot Rod (Judd Nelson) leading to catastrophic losses before Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) arrives to save the day.

But this time, the conflict has serious repercussions for both factions. Prime is forced to name a successor and Megatron is rescued by Unicron and reborn into his servant, Galvatron (Leonard Nimoy, “Star Trek“), with the mission of destroying the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.

Before the days when Oscar winners voicing animated roles was commonplace, the voice talent assembled for this film was truly groundbreaking signaling that the property may be intended for children, but that big-names also saw the potential in appearing in them.



For me, the “Star Trek” phenom was a bit ahead of my time and I was firmly Team Star Wars. Nimoy’s biggest influence on my childhood was for his outstanding vocal performance as Galvatron, the upgraded version of Megatron in “Transformers: The Movie,” which remains the only Transformers movie that has my complete endorsement.

This was before it was a thing for notable actors to voice cartoons so Nimoy will always have a special place in my heart for voicing one of my all-time favorite movie characters.  And he completely nailed it. He was so perfect in the role I could barely watch post Transformers The Movie” episodes of the cartoon since Nimoy didn’t reprise the voice of Galvatron. 



The FCC Deserves a Share of the Blame for Transformers

by David Berry | July 2, 2014

Still, success does a funny thing to a show made to sell toys, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the original animated Transformers movie (Decepiticonly named Transformers: The Movie), a relic that is both infinitely more coherent (there are only, like, a couple really glaring animation errors, the likes of which the show never failed to include once or twice an episode) and more plainly bizarre than anything Bay has produced so far.

Hasbro genuinely thought it could make this a blockbuster of some kind, and ended up hiring a stable of character actors with some decent nerd pedigree to buttress the jobbers from the series, including Robert Stack, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson in his Brat Pack prime, former labour activist/blacklisted actor Lionel Stander, and Leonard Nimoy. The movie’s enduring contribution to film history, though, was hiring Orson Welles as the world-devouring planet/robot Unicron, in what turned out to be his last film role. (...)

The company’s oversight extended beyond the hiring. At a certain point, it came to regard the movie as a chance to launch a whole new line of Transformers action figures, which necessitated doing away with the old ones. Consequently, the movie is something of a massacre, and considerably darker than anything that a kids’ TV show would normally get away with (...). Fan favourites are shown with smoke burning through their eyes within the first few minutes; an original script called for two of them to be fused together and then blown up, and another to be drawn and quartered, though both those were slightly toned down for the final cut. And then Optimus Prime, the Autobot leader and very embodiment of virtue and good, dies on a hospital bed and shrivels into a black husk. But wait until you see his shiny new replacement, available in stores now!

Kids were traumatized, reportedly leaving theatres in tears mid-movie, the gaping finality of death remaining somewhat outside the purview of pre-teens with sincere dreams of growing up to be firetrucks. Hasbro had to scrap plans to kill Optimus’s equivalent in the G.I. Joe movie, and then ended up bringing Optimus back in the next season of the show anyway. Presumably, shredding the childhoods of your most devoted fans is not a great business model.

Source: Random House of Canada