(WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE ACTUAL MOVIE, DON'T READ THIS REVIEW)
After going through so much trouble, Galvatron finally returns to Unicron, and threatens him with the Matrix, saying ”Unicron! Unicron! Answer me! See this? The Matrix! I now possess that which you most fear!” However, Unicron doesn’t take kindly to Galvatron rebelling against him, and utters a loud roar. Galvatron threatens “You’ll do my bidding! Or taste my wrath!” And like Ultra-Magnus before him, he struggles to get the Matrix open, but his efforts are to no avail. Unicron says “You underestimate me, Galvatron.” And it is here were we get what is undoubtedly one of the best moments in the entire film; Unicron’s transformation. Yes, people, this is the big secret this planet devouring monster has kept from us since the beginning! It just so happens he’s a transformer himself! Now as a kid, I didn’t see this coming the first time I watched this movie. But since this movie was made to support a line of toys, I guess it’s to be expected that Unicron is a Transformer himself. And up until this point, Transformers usually turned into cars, jets, construction vehicles, or military vehicles. And then as the series progressed we had even crazier ideas like them turning into animals and so forth. Then we had combiners and stuff. But the idea of a planet that is a transformer is an absolutely INSANE IDEA! But they managed to pull it off well! And once again we get a perfect demonstration of how well the animation was pulled off here, as we witness Unicron’s transformation from planet mode to robot mode. As I said in my past review, Unicron’s transformation was different because it was slower, and it was more dramatic with how the hands and feet form along with the head and the rest of the body. All the while some suspenseful music plays in the background. And it’s pulled off so well that even to this day, it’s just breath taking. And when Unicron had finished transforming, I was with my eyes and mouth wide open in shock. I had the exact same expression that Galvatron had. I was shocked beyond words. And let me tell you, no animated film in the history of mankind has ever surprised me the way this movie did! Well, except Akira of course. But that’s another story. So anyway, as soon as Unicron finishes his transformation, Galvatron is understandably shocked and horrified (I had the same reaction). Unicron then declares “For a time… I considered sparing your wretched little planet Cybertron. But now… You shall witness… IT’S DISMEMBERMENT!” to this, Galvatron exclaims “NOOOOO!!!” as Unicron approaches Cybertron, and proceeds to tear it apart with his bare hands. Shockwave (who was barely even in the movie at all), exclaims “Decepticons! We’re under attack! Scramble!” And so the Decepticons try their best to fight off Unicron despite their otherwise futile attempts to do so, especially considering they’re all microscopic compared to Unicron, and he easily makes short work of anybody and anything that comes his way, crushing cities, crushing attack ships, and literally eating any Decepticon planes that get caught in his mouth. Galvatron tries to put up resistance by transforming into cannon mode, and shooting at Unicron. But his blasts don’t even faze him. And then he grabs him between his massive fingers, and swallows him like a pill. Galvatron falls down Unicron’s throat. Although I’m not sure how Galvatron could fall into Unicron’s mouth considering there’s no gravity in space. But whatever. Confrontation:
Our focus is then directed back to the Autobots inside the corkscrew ship. And upon seeing Unicron attacking planet Cybertron, Springer says “I don’t believe it.” Hotrod asks Kup “Doesn’t this remind you of anything Kup?” to which Kup replies “Nope… Never seen anything like this before…” Daniel asks “What happened to Moon Base 2? Where’s my dad?” to which Hotrod replies with determination “That’s what we’re gonna find out!” And it is here where we get a reprise of the song “Dare” by Stan Bush. As they approach Unicron, the latter spews blue fire out of his mouth like a dragon, and does some damage to the corkscrew ship. Wreck-Gar utters some more random gibberish, ending it with “Satisfaction, guaranteed!” and the other Junkions add “Or your money back!” Unicron then breathes fire onto the corkscrew ship, inflicting heavy damage to it. But Hotrod grabs the controls, and rams the ship into Unicron’s eye. The Autobots jump out of the ship as it gets lost somewhere inside Unicron’s body, falling down this vat of sorts, and Hotrod gets caught on one of the spikes on the wall. The rest of the Autobots land on the ground (which somehow doesn’t kill Daniel). But everybody’s okay. Daniel realizes that Hotrod is missing, and asks “Where’s Hotrod?” to which Springer replies “I don’t know. But I hope THEY didn’t get him!” The Autobots then find themselves on the run from a series of deadly claws attached to cables which chase them down the corridors. Hotrod tries to get himself free, but slips off the spike, and falls down a different vat (which I don’t think was there before), and lands on his back. Lost and alone, Hotrod walks his way down the dark corridors of Unicron’s body while suspenseful music plays in the background. And as he reaches the darkest areas, he sees a light shining in the darkness. Hotrod exclaims “The Matrix!” Then, Galvatron’s voice is heard, saying “It will do you no good, Autobot! It cannot be opened!” Hotrod replies “Not by a Decepticon!” Galvatron tells him that they’re allies against a common foe. And that is most definitely true now that I think about it. I mean think about this for a moment; planet Cybertron is the home world of the Autobots and Decepticons. And even though they hate each other SO MUCH, they are caught in a desperate situation in which the Transformer equivalent of Satan threatens to destroy their home planet. So it makes sense that Galvatron would seek to rebel against Unicron. But before he could go any further, Unicron inflicts the “Red Pain” on Galvatron, and as he screams out in agony, Unicron orders “Destroy him Galvatron, now! Or you yourself shall be obliterated!” Galvatron obeys his orders, and attacks Hotrod, who seeks refuge in the darkness of the room, all the while suspenseful organ music plays in the background (which kind of sounds like it belongs to a vampire movie). Galvatron then says “Puny Autobot! You lack even Prime’s courage!” One thing though, they are inside Unicron’s body. So why aren’t the backgrounds moving around? And wouldn’t they be experiencing earthquake like vibes? Eh, I’m thinking too deep into it.
Meanwhile, Unicron continues his rampage. But he is attacked by the Dinobots, who seem to put up quite a bit of resistance despite how small they are compared to him. Unicron uses his eye beam and tries to hit Grimlock, who dodges the blast, and returns fire. The Dinobots fly upwards, and over the annoyed Unicron’s head. Then they proceed to attack his rear end, and literally tear him a new ass. Grimlock transforms into T-Rex mode, and claws at him. The rest of the Dinobots transform into their dinosaur modes, and bombard Unicron’s butt as best as they can. Sludge slams at him with his tail, Swoop fires a barrage of missiles, and Slag breathes fire on him, and burns a hole through the wall. But this only further annoys Unicron, who tries to grab them in his hand, but they somehow dodge, transforming into robot mode before flying away, with Grimlock saying “Me Grimlock need new strategy!” Suddenly, Unicron’s stomach growls (the guy must be starving). Meanwhile, back inside the body of the said character, Springer, Arcee, Kup, Blurr, and Daniel are still running from the claws that were chasing them earlier (although I don’t know why they don’t just change into vehicle mode as it would be faster). Suddenly, Daniel trips and falls on his stomach. As he screams for help, the Autobots hear him, and race straight for him. As the claws catch up with them, the Autobots open fire to fight them off. Arcee accidently ruptures the sealing, which releases a tidal wave of… I’m not sure what kind of fluid that’s supposed to be. But I’m guessing its Unicron’s blood or something. But anyway, the Autobots get caught in it, and the current carries them away. Daniel gets separated from the group and is dragged by the liquid through the corridors, and down some vat, where he finds what appears to be Unicron’s digestive system (or one of them at least), where robots are being dropped into a pool of acid that dissolves them. And needless to say this part is rather disturbing as the robots scream as they are dropped in, and as they are dissolved in the acid. Daniel races up to the site to see that his father Spike is still alive along with Jazz, Bumble Bee and Cliffjumper, but they are about to be dropped into the acid as well. Daniel asks “Dad! What can I do?” Spike tells him to knock down the doors to the acid pool. Daniel asks “How?” to which Spike replies “Blast it, son!” Daniel says that he doesn’t have a gun, and Spike tells him to use his exo suit. Daniel fiddles with the buttons on his suit, and the rocket on his arm goes off. Spike tells Daniel to hurry, and the latter presses the right button which transforms his arms into blasters, which then shoot down one of the doors as Spike and the others are dropped. The sound of the door is heard banging. Daniel, thinking that he was too late to save them, begins to weep. But then he hears the sound of his father’s voice thanking him, saying “Daniel! You did it!” Satisfied, Daniel replies “Yes! I did it!” Before I move onto the last part of this review, I want to get one thing out of the way. As we all know, most of the cast from the cartoon show was killed off in favor of the new characters who debuted in this movie. While some of them like Hound, Huffer, Sunstreaker and Jetfire (or Skyfire as he was called in the show) just disappear and are never seen or heard from again. But while Jazz and Bumble Bee continued to appear in this show through the course of season 3, Cliffjumper just disappeared. And whatever happened to him is a mystery in itself. But I’m glad that they didn’t kill Jazz, Bumble Bee, and Cliffjumper. Lighting Our Darkest Hour:
And now we are down to the last scene of this movie, where our focus is now on Galvatron, who is stalking Hotrod through the dark corridors of Unicron’s body. Galvatron says “Come out, Autobot! We all must die sometime!” (which is a true fact of life BTW). But then Hotrod comes out of hiding, and says “Not today, Galvatron!” before elbowing him in the face and knocking him down. Then he transforms to race car mode, drives away from him, and then runs him over. Galvatron fires a few blasts, but misses him. Galvatron then transforms into cannon mode, and fires a few more rounds. The last one barely hits Hotrod, who converts back to robot mode, and returns fire. The blasts hit Galvatron, who also converts back to robot mode. Hotrod races at him, fires a blast, and turns back into race car mode in the attempt to ram him. But Galvatron grabs him as they clash, and pins him down. As he once again converts to robot mode, Galvatron grabs at Hotrod’s neck, echoing “I will crush you with my bare hands!” Now, this is the part where a lot of viewers scratched their heads at. Because one would ask, why is Galvatron trying to strangle Hotrod? He’s a robot! He doesn’t need to breathe! And well, that’s true. Because if you remember from certain episodes of the cartoon, the Autobots and Decepticons can go out into space without space suits. That’s one advantage to being a robot. Though, I don’t think Galvatron was trying to strangle him so much as he was trying to pull his head off. Besides, I don’t think there’s any oxygen inside Unicron’s body anyway. Not that Hotrod would need any oxygen considering he’s a robot like everybody else in this movie. I mean if you think about it, it makes more sense that Galvatron would try to decapitate him rather than strangle him. As he’s doing this, Galvatron exclaims “Die, Autobot!” Meanwhile, the battle with Unicron is taking a turn for the worse. As the Junkions battle him, Unicron grabs their ship, proceeds to crush it with his hand, and then throws the remains of the ship out into the void of space (although Wreck-Gar somehow survives this. Don’t ask me how.) Our focus is once again on Galvatron who’s killing Hotrod, all the while monologuing “First Prime! Then Ultra-Magnus! And now… You! It’s a pity you Autobots die so easily! Or I might have a sense of satisfaction now!” You know, hearing him say that made me reflect on the deaths of Ironhide, Ratchet, Brawn, Windcharger, Wheeljack, and of course, Optimus Prime, since they were the causalities of this movie. But just when it seemed that all hope was lost and Galvatron was about to win the day, the Matrix activates, and strange light shoots out of it. Hotrod grabs the Matrix, and yanks it from Galvatron, breaking the chain. Then he stands up while holding it in his hands, and Optimus Prime’s voice is heard, saying “Arise, Rodimus Prime.” (Which is kind of like Obi-Wan talking to Luke as a ghost). Hotrod grows in size, and becomes the next Prime. And it is here were we get a reprise of the kick ass song “The Touch by Stan Bush”. You know, I always noticed how “Dare” and “The Touch” are the two songs that are used twice in the entire movie. Galvatron doesn’t believe what he sees, and fires a few blasts at Rodimus, which don’t seem to faze him. But when he knocks the Matrix out of his hands, Rodimus points with one finger, and says “This is the end of the road, Galvatron!” And then he races at Galvatron, grabs him, and throws him through the wall, and out into the void of space. Don’t worry, this isn’t the last we see of Galvatron, we do see him again in season 3. Although from here on out, he is no longer voiced by Leonard Nimoy, but rather by Frank Welker. And so Rodimus Prime grabs the Matrix, places his fingers into the holes in the handles, and slowly opens it, releasing its power, all the while saying “Now… Light our darkest hour!” As the power is unleashed, a psychedelic display of blue lights flashes all around him, and scatters about the scenery, causing Unicron’s body to rupture. And as Unicron begins to experience painful symptoms, he thrashes around and yanks off one of his legs. Meanwhile, the other Autobots are still battling the claws. One of the claws grabs Springer, but then explodes. The Autobots are confused, as they don’t know what’s causing the place to crumble. But they are soon met with Spike, Daniel, and the three surviving Autobots. Spike is like “Springer! What’s going on?” (how does Spike know who Springer is?) Springer says “No time to answer that now! Let’s get out of here!” Suddenly, they see Unicron’s hands breaking through the walls… Okay, was he opening himself up? And in the next shot (which seems to jump from one point to another), the Autobots and their human allies are fleeing. Just then, Daniel spots something, and says “Look!” while pointing in one direction. Rodimus is seen racing through the halls from a large plasma wave that’s just behind him. He stops in his tracks, utters Optimus Prime’s one line “Autobots! Transform and roll out!” and converts into what appears to be a hybrid between a race car and an 18-wheeler truck (as it has a trailer). Spike and Daniel climb inside him, and he rides away. Satisfied, Kup says “I knew you had potential, lad!” (I feel the same way about him although sadly others don’t have the same idea). And then he and the other Autobots transform into their respective vehicle modes, and follow Rodimus, who leads them out of Unicron’s body by breaking through his other eye. And as Unicron finally succumbs to his symptoms, he floats away into space, thrashing uncontrollably while saying “Destiny… You cannot… Destroy… My… DESTINAAAUUUGHHH!!!” Then his head blows off his body, and his body explodes into a fiery blaze.Epilogue:
Back on planet Cybertron, Rodimus Prime announces that the Cybertronian wars have ended, saying that they will march forward to a new age of peace and happiness, ending his speech with “Till all are one!” The rest of the Autobots repeatedly chant “Till all are one!” and celebrate their victory with the defeat of Unicron and the Decepticons. But little does Rodimus realize that the war between the Autobots and Decepticons is FAR from over. Because as we all know, this movie was followed by season 3, which acts as the sequel. And so the film ends with Unicron’s severed head floating around in space, orbiting around Cybertron like a satellite. The image freezes in place. As the credits roll, we get a reprise of Lion’s rendition of the Transformers theme song playing in the background. And that’s the end of the movie. Now, one last thing. In the US theatrical version, there is no narration before the closing credits. But in the UK version of this film, the narrator concludes the story, and assures the audience that Optimus Prime would return. And I already went over this in my review of the TV show. But Optimus Prime DID eventually come back from the dead in season 3. Once in “The Dark Awakening”, and again in the two-part finale “Return of Optimus Prime”. Final Word:
And so ends my LONG “revisiting” of the 1986 Transformers movie. And looking back on this movie now, I’m surprised at how well it holds up today. Back then as a kid, this movie TOTALLY blew me away. Because like I said before, it was different from your typical Saturday morning cartoon episode. No, this movie was larger than life, and it was definitely something special. The animation is awesome (for the most part), the storytelling is dark, engaging, and dramatic (if a bit heartbreaking with some of the deaths that occur in it), the action scenes are well done, and the music really fits the atmosphere and brings out the excitement. For me, this is one of the best movies I saw in my childhood, and the influences that it’s left me with are still felt to this day, 30 years after its release in theaters. Now, is the movie perfect? Well… No, it’s not. It does have some problems here and there. The new characters are basically just crammed into the movie with little to no explanation as to what they’re doing here in the first place, the animation tends to drop in quality in several scenes (as I mentioned already), there are errors with logic, (Devastator forming inside Astrotrain) and there are some scenes that don’t really drive the plot forward (Wheelie’s introduction, and the dance scene with the Junkions). Believe me, even though I still hold this movie dear to my heart after so many years have gone by, I’m not blinded by nostalgia. I do see how the movie could have been done better. But though this movie has its issues, that doesn’t stop it from being a classic. A cult-classic, but a classic nevertheless. And even though this movie still meets with mixed reviews, there is no denying that this movie made a HUGE impact on the fans and on the Transformers franchise. Ever since the night I first saw this movie, the world around me had changed, and I never saw cartoons in the same way again.
Now personally, I prefer this movie over the Michael Bay films. Not just out of nostalgia, but because this movie does one thing that the Michael Bay films all fail at; its more true to the spirit of the Transformers. It doesn't focus on the stupid human characters and all those unnecessary fillers that add no depth to the story, but instead, it FOCUSES ON THE TRANSFORMERS, who the live-action films SHOULD HAVE been focusing on to begin with and not just include them only as supporting characters. That’s how it’s SUPPOSED TO BE! Because the title says “TRANSFORMERS”, not “The Retarded Adventures of Sam Witwicky” (which no doubt would have been a more fitting title for the first three films). Some people will no doubt defend Michael Bay’s practices, saying things “I don’t give a shit about the Transformers! They’re just robots!” Well I say “Fuck that. They are NOT JUST ROBOTS. They are characters with their own personalities, goals, and depth! Not to mention, each of the Transformers have their own story to tell.” In other words, the Transformers are basically human but in robot form. So no, they are NOT JUST ROBOTS. Say what you will, but I stand by what I say. I mean if you think about it, there are PLENTY of other movies that revolve around humans. But there’s not many revolve around robots or anthropomorphic animals. I am aware the animated movie was received very negatively by biased critics, calling it a Star Wars rip off and all. And yes, it didn't do very well at the box office. But I say "screw the critics". So what if this movie wasn’t entirely successful? As long as the fans love it, who cares? Because in that regard, it was a success. Not to mention this movie was given a 30th anniversary Blu-Ray special edition just last year! And if this movie was a complete failure, I seriously doubt it would have been given a 20th or 30th anniversary home release! And even though some people may say that this movie is nothing more than a feature length toy commercial (which it kind of is to a degree), it has good storytelling, it has likable characters, and the story has depth and substance to it. It does have a few issues here and there, but that doesn't stop it from being a classic.
My brother and the critics can keep their bias. But the original Transformers movie still has a special place in my heart to this day, even decades later. Sure, Michael Bay can make all the crappy sequels he wants based off of this franchise. But at least we the fans (both longtime and newcomers alike) still have all the TV shows, comic-books, games, and the original movie to remind us what Transformers is SUPPOSED to be like. Because all this focusing on annoying human characters along with the inappropriate sexual humor and endless filler is NOT what Transformers is supposed to be about. The only thing that’s so great about the live-action movies are the CGI robots and the special effects. That’s it. And besides, if you think about it, the original movie has fewer problems than the live action movies do. And that’s definitely saying something. I wish there could be more Transformers movies like the 1986 film that focus more on the robots and their history and mythology. But sadly that’s not going to happen as long as Bay is calling the shots. At this point, I am convinced that there will NEVER be another good Transformers movie. Until the day comes when someone proves me wrong, we’re forced to deal with Bay’s ego and mediocrity. But that’s why I still hold the 1986 movie dear to my heart after all these years later. It’s the ONLY Transformers movie in existence that has anything to do with the sentient alien robots. And for as dated as it is now, it still has al lot of value and merit. Now, maybe this is just me talking out of nostalgia, or maybe I have a point to what I’m saying. It’s up to you to decide on that. But still, I think I raise a valid point when I say that if you make movies based on a particular series, then they should FOCUS on the characters from that series. So in conclusion, the original animated movie still has a special place in my heart to this day even in my adulthood. It made a huge impact on me, it has influenced me for so many years, and it really made a difference in my life. And I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.
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