The original Tranformers series had nothing spectacular to its name, but I still enjoyed it in my youth.
I had the toys. I rented the videos.
When I found the original Transformer movie I thought I was in heaven … until the hero of the entire series, on a show that had lasted for several seasons, died. Optimus Prime was always the true hero of the series, my favorite character, but the leader of the Autobots died.
If there is anything important about this movie it is that it doesn’t shy away from killing the good guys, something young adults would not expect from a cartoon.
The cartoons were juvenile, the stories to simple to win awards, and all of it was based on a toy line, not much artistic creativity available there. Yet Transformers went on to be one of the more popular TV series in the 1980s.
The movie had much more happening than just Optimus Prime’s demise. It was an epic story that would have never reached Television; good guys aren’t supposed to die, and if they do, bring them back. This movie can be watched on tubidy.
If you are not familiar with all the goings on of the Transformer series, all that is really essential in understanding the movie is the fact that two forces, the good Autobots and the evil Decipticons fighting over their home world of Cybertron. The leader of the Autobots is Optimus Prime; Megatron is the leader of the Decepticons
The fight spilled over into Earth, and set the stage for countless battles between these forces of good and evil. The main intent of the cartoon was to sell toys; the movie was a means to rejuvenate the line by killing off many central characters, thereby creating a new generation of Transformers toys.
In the movie, the main villain isn’t the Decepticon leader Megatron, but a world destroying planet called Unicron.
Yet there still is the question of the final battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron, which has the most distinct and epic touch of any battle in the movie. Both Prime and Megatron fall, and Prime hands over the key to Autobot hope, the Matrix, to Ultra Magnus, another Autobot.
Unicron enlists the help of Megatron to destroy the Matrix, which Prime said would light the Autobots darkest hour.
A new hero rises in Hot Rod, whose adventures much of the movie chronicles. He is an upstart Autobot who doesn’t think he’s worthy to lead, but finds destiny does not care what he thinks.
So the story goes. It’s a simple adventure tale, with enough surprises to make it the best of the Transformers stories.
The movie achieves what the TV series could not: It creates real characters that do not always succeed, or act as expected, instead calling upon heroics to answer the forces of evil.
The film still has a campish feel to it that can be seen in the space battles. It does not take itself to seriously – there is plenty of humor added in with the characters, even in times of crisis.
It can also be odd, with foreign robots and the fact that Orson Welles voices Unicron (which was his last role).
It impacted the Transformer world when it originally came out, spawned countless other series in Japan like Headmasters, but none could live up to what this film did.
In the end, the movie is a must for animated series fans, even if they didn’t like the original series it deserves to be watched.
I’m not sure about the new live action film, but I have my hopes up.