If you’re a longtime Laser Time / TalkRadar listener or viewer, you know how much I love the 1986 Transformers movie. I talked about it in 2010 when it played in a real-deal theater in SF, I just spent 30 minutes gushing about it on Thirty Twenty Ten and yes, we even have a full movie commentary track on Bandcamp (which Patrons have already!). And yes, all of this sets the table wonderfully for that 30th Anniversary Transformers: The Movie Blu-ray.
So if in all that time I haven’t convinced you to watch it, I don’t know what else I can do. I’ve tried to put it in Citizen Kane-esque context (“Look at other animated cash-ins of the day! It blows all its contemporaries away!”), I’ve positioned the stunning score and soundtrack as reasons alone for sitting through the film, and I’ve stated how you do not need to know a single thing about the characters or cartoon to watch it.
And if none of those did the trick… maybe I’ll just share some pretty GIFs of the movie’s generally top-notch animation? It’s no Nausicaa or Akira by any means, but again, there was no reason at all for the director, producer, writer etc to give a single shit about this as “a film” – why increase the sense of scale, why set the stakes higher than anything in the show, why do anything more than introduce new toys and make them look as cool as possible? Why not just cash in and move on?
Because somewhere inside this cynical project, there was a semblance of care and craft. The opening, with Unicron (new character, voiced by a dying Orson Welles – seriously he died mere days after finishing his sessions) ominously hovering through deep space on his way to devour a planet, is simply a great piece of animation. The movie opens with this serene, psychadelic imagery, immediately suggesting how tonally different the movie will be from the TV show.
When Unicron approaches the planet and digs his pincers inside, you get your first taste of how detailed and gritty the animation will be. I love it so!
We’re then SMASHED into the credits, which stitch together wacky late ’70s/early 80s effect with a hard rockin’ version of the TV show theme song. Simply stated, this movie is high energy af and neverrrr lets up. You are traveling at 500mph at all times, do not slow down, do not take a breath. Whether that’s a good thing or not is subjective, but you at least cannot say the movie – like so many of its toy-selling counterparts – is boring.
AGAIN – the amount of shit-giving the production team had to do to make this instead of something like the My Little Pony, Go-Bots or He-Man movies is astounding. I don’t believe for a second anyone felt this movie was their calling or their destiny, but to bother assembling not-cheap ’80s voice talent, hiring an accomplished composer for the OST and compiling a rockin’ soundtrack to essentially narrate the whole film is above and beyond anything else in this time period.
GIFs don’t quite get the smoothness and detail across, but you get the general idea. It looks beautiful, it’s stacked with reasonably good voice acting and exceptional music, and if someone at LT has been begging you to watch it for this long C’MONNN already!
Look. I know this isn’t the best movie ever. I get it. But it’s so fun and unreasonably competent that it must be rewarded. If this made a shit ton of money back in 1986, it might’ve sent a signal that western audiences would totally show up to detailed, non-Disney animated films.
It doesn’t really talk down to kids nor does it beat you over the head with its admittedly overt commercialism – most of the “new toys” introduced in the movie didn’t even become toys and of those that did receive ’80s toy counterparts, several of them eat shit hard in the movie.
So even though Galvatron (Leonard Nimoy!) takes over as the main villain, he still gets handily beaten by the new hero and punked out to Unicron repeatedly. And Ultra Magnus (Robert Stack!) gets nothing done ever, while Springer, Arcee and Unicron weren’t even options to play with back in 1986.
I guess all my whining boils down to: this is OK to like. Don’t let easy arguments like “but I’ve never seen the show before” and “hurrrr this is just to sell you toys” deter you from enjoying something. Everything in this pig disgusting society exists to sell you something, so don’t let THIS, of all crass shrines to capitalism, be the line you refuse to cross.
But if after all that, y’just can’t bring yourself to watch it – or enjoy it even after giving it a fair shake – that’s OK too! We’ll just have to agree that you’re wrong and find a topic that I’m wildly off base about. Everyone wins AND loses!
Luckily enough, there’s a brand new Blu-ray coming out in September that you can pre-order through our Amazon links below and not only get a gorgeous copy for yourself, but also toss a few cents our way in the process. So for those who’re ready to take the plunge, pick up that new disc and get ready!
Click here to pre-order Shout Factory’s upcoming 30th Anniversary Transformers: The Movie Blu-ray on Amazon!
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OR SHOP ERRYDAY ON AMAZON AND USE THOSE LINKS!!