Dollface Reviews "Transformers: The Movie" (1986)

My lovely wife Heather, aka Dollface, has long been an enabler of my Transformers addiction, supporting my purchases, lending an ear when I babble about them, helping me dust and clean them, and more. I've long wanted her to do a guest-post here, offering a spouse's-eye view on the topic. After all, she's a writer! For instance, she recently started a horror movie review site, Movies In The Dark. Unbelievably, despite having watched nearly 700 horror movies, she'd never seen Transformers: The Movie, the bone-chilling 1986 animated feature. Eager to correct this oversight, and unwilling to pass up such an elegant synergistic opportunity, I happily present to you Dollface's sensational review...

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The Introduction

When Adam and I started dating back in 1999 I thought he was the coolest guy I'd ever met. He was handsome, intelligent, funny, and he was a fucking rock star. And then he introduced me to his Transformers collection. At first I didn't know what to make of it. Sure, I grew up in the '80s and was aware that Transformers existed. But when I went to the toy store I was in the Barbie aisle. When I bought comic books at the drug store I was reaching for Archie. And when I was watching cartoons my channel was fixed to Scooby-Doo. I didn't have brothers and what male cousins I did have were playing with He-Man. I myself owned the Crystal Castle. Transformers were just that "boy's show" that I had to channel surf through to get to Duck Tales.

Not in my wildest imagination would I have anticipated that when I grew up and started dating boys (ewww, yuck!) that I would eventually meet one who, as an adult, collected these transforming robots. But there I stood, 21 years old in Astoria, Queens, in some boy's bedroom staring at a bookcase full of Transformers and thinking to myself, "huh."

Of course, that was 13 years ago and I've since had to share my life with hundreds of those transforming little robots, learning about them, hearing about them, talking about them, cleaning them, transforming them, and looking at them… every… single… day.

They're now as much a part of my life as anything else and as such I harbor certain bonds with their imagery and story. Like Cosmos, who flies around the universe of our apartment, investigating new worlds on top of bookcases or above doorways. He always pops up somewhere new and he's always a welcome, familiar sight to behold. And Seaspray, whose propeller has been broken for most of his life and yet he remains upbeat and undefeated by his damage. This flaw sets him apart from the others and his character is stronger for it. There was a time when Sky Lynx was trapped in a box for over a month. He begged me to release him but Adam was all, "delayed gratification," and so there he sat. I would keep him company by telling him knock-knock jokes through his cardboard prison and he would grow hungry from the delicious scent of cats.

Despite his massive (and growing) collection of toys, his love for the comic books, his appreciation for the cartoons, and his dedication to his website, Adam maintains a reserved enthusiasm about his love for Transformers. "I don't like to broadcast it," he is wont to say. So it is somewhat unsurprising to me that I had never before seen The Transformers: The Movie.

Apparently this was news to him.

Adam has been asking me to be a guest blogger on his site for years. But never having any clear topic aside from – So, Transformers, eh? it's never really come into fruition. Watching and reviewing the Transformers animated movie was now the perfect opportunity for substance, and so we threw a small gathering with our ten closest friends and had a little The Transformers: The Movie viewing party.

The Review

I honestly had no idea what to expect. I don't think I'd ever seen a trailer for the movie or heard the soundtrack or even knew what it was about. So when the movie opens to some crazy metal music and flashing lights and whining guitar, I suddenly felt like I was a 13-year-old boy, eyes wide, mouth agape, my heart racing from too many Pixy Stix and Pepsi.

The movie maintains this breakneck speed with a constant deluge of metal songs, guitar riffs, non-stop gunfire and explosions, flashing lights, and action, Action, ACTION! And just when I thought things couldn't get any more chaotic, Unicron penetrates Lithone and consumes the planet like a Rockbiter from The Neverending Story. It was pretty terrifying.

All that stimulation was kind of stressing me out.

And just when I was thinking to myself, What this movie needs is a girl…

She shows up.

I'm still confused as to how a robot can be damaged beyond repair and "die" but die Optimus Prime did. I was a little shocked that they took this most beloved character and killed him 30 minutes into the movie. It was certainly a ballsy move and I respect that. I'm not sure why he turned completely gray when he died, but if you notice his life monitor as he's dying it's monitoring colors. "His red is dangerously low. Oh no, we just lost his blue. His green is fading fast!" And then, he's colorless.

Yeah, it was sad. Color death is always sad.

Which brings me to the point – man, this movie was dark. Insecticons eating through hulls, robots dying left and right, Megatron being thrown into space as he yells, "Wait! I still function!" That was harsh.

Then we have Unicron. Whose voice sounds like James Earl Jones infused with the darkest evil known to man (or robot). Now, whenever I hear "big scary voice" in my head, it will forever be Unicron. Don't fuck with Unicron. He will penetrate you with his talons and chew on your innards. That is, until he gets decapitated, but that's later.

Aside from munching on moons, Unicron has some other cool tricks up his sleeve. Turning Megatron into Galvatron with some crazy Tron-like styles of light and um, graphs, and um, technology! And then we're introduced to Cyclonus! One of my favorite G1 toys because he's got an awesome crown and reminds me of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. And his army, The Sweeps, were pretty awesome looking too.

Then Galvatron gets his revenge on. Starscream's death was amazing. I love it when things get disintegrated and I have to say, I did not see that coming. This is just another example of how dark and menacing the tone of this movie was. And we haven't even gotten to Quintessa yet, when shit really starts to get real.

At this point in the movie I started to hear rumblings of our guests wishing for some short intermissions of Megan Fox appearing on screen to entertain us with some jumping jacks or naked roller-skating. Would that we could go back in time and make that happen… we would have improved the lives of many.

See? Your life feels a little more improved already, doesn't it?

Much of the dialog in the movie was hard to hear, in part because of the constant gunfire and explosions, also in part because of the ever-present guitar riffs playing under every scene. But I still was able to grab some gems from the movie and one of my favorites was when Galvatron yells, "Take me Unicron, take me now!" To which I replied, "Awwww yeahhhh"

It's not until Hot Rod and Kup crash their shuttle on Quintessa that things really start to get interesting. Here we're introduced to the most awesome Transformers that I've ever seen, and I was shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that they never made a toy for The Allicons!!!!

Now, that's entertainment.

The conditions on Quintessa are less than hospitable. There's Allicons, Sharkticons and Quintisons Oh My! And they all want to eat you. Luckily our Autobots escape somehow, but I don't remember how because by this point I'd had three glasses of wine and my attention span was waning. But! They escape! Somehow! I'm pretty sure!

Also, Wheelie is an ass.

And since this is an '80s kids movie there has to be a dance scene, right? Um. What the hell was that all about? I expected David Bowie with his massive codpiece to show up and start throwing bots in the air as he sings, "I saw my baby, trying hard as babes could try, what could I dooooo?"

And things just go from weird to weirder now as we're reaching the climax of the movie and the final battle with Unicron. First off, a planet transforms into a giant fucking robot. Did not see that coming. Then, the smaller robots enter through the eye of the giant robot so they can gain access to his insides. And what's inside of a giant fucking robot, you wonder? Well, giant pits of acid that melts all who fall into it, of course! And tidal waves of… water? Coolant? I dunno, but it's not good. There's battle, battle, battle, and then Hotrod gets the Matrix as "You've got the touch, you've got the power" starts to play, and Hotrod begins to turn into RODimus as suddenly he's growing and getting larger and larger as he gently begins to coax the Matrix open so its smooth light can burst out and fill … are you as turned on as I am right now? I mean, wow. Methinks Hot Rod's cherry was just popped. And now that he's a man, he turns into a Winnebago? Like ya do.

As Daniel (the young human boy) gets inside Rodimus my best friend Nat says, "I feel weird when they get inside each other." Me too, Nat. Meeee tooo.

The movie of course ends with Unicron exploding, his head flying off through space and then coming to orbit around the planet of Cyberton. Whoa. Can you imagine if this wasn't an animated movie and they weren't robots (in disguise!) and some action flick that you were watching ends with the bad guy's decapitated head orbiting a planet? Yeah. They call that a horror movie.

All in all, I did not see that coming. Any of it. It was kind of intense, unpredictable, and a little horrific. I didn't hear much of the talking parts but considering that I felt like one of those chimps from 28 Days Later strapped to a chair and being forced to watch scene after scene of Bad! Things! Happening! I didn't really feel like dialog was all too important.

I look forward to watching it again in a non-group setting. The animation was pretty superb and I think that I have a newfound respect for the Transformers world now, because any movie that has disintegration, crocodile and shark creatures, pits of acid, cannibals, and decapitation, has got my vote.

4 out of 5 stars

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There you have it! I love my wife. If you want to read more of her writings, check out the following:


Dollface's horror movie reviews

Dollface's blog


serialized post-apocalyptic diary

... and more!

Comments
Holy crap, that was amazing. I don't know if I fully grasped all of what happened in that movie, but I can say if I ever watch it again, I'll need Dramamine for sure, and this blog will shape most of what I think about while watching it. This is the only time I can think of that reading about being there has been better than being there, and that's saying something, since this blog didn't come with cupcakes.
In the end I say, YOU got the touch. Oh yeah, and the POWER! Rock on, Both and Dollface, you crazy kids, you.
» Posted 6.08.2012 21:42:38 by N@ [Website]
BOTCH! Botch and Dollface! I botched up typing Botch! Hahahahahaha.....fail. Sorry.
» Posted 6.08.2012 21:44:18 by N@ [Website]
I've been living with my girlfriend of two years for about... slightly under two years. She's been acutely aware of my Transformers obsession since the outset. I dragged her to DOTM in the theater and she took astute notice of my every groan (while she alternately clapped her hands with glee). What was my problem with these movies? In a very long car ride home, I explained to her that watching these new Michael Bay movies was just something that I had to do even though I didn't like them. She asked me why I hated them and I suddenly blurted out 30 years of obsessive lore. She was interested. Really??? The G1 marathon began.

While my significant other completely understands my devotion to the Marvel comics, she wasn't about to use her vacation days to read my US & UK Marvel comics in chronological order. So we watched the G1 episodes one by one. She noted that the earlier episodes seemed to have better animation. A good sign! We kept going. She grew attachments to characters. She'd reference them in offhanded conversation. Surely, I must be the luckiest man in the world.

A couple weeks later, the movie was approaching. I mentioned that she would hate it. We watched it. She cried. She cried! I remembered seeing the movie when it originally was being shown in the theater and the droves of crying children and their upset mothers grilling the poor teenaged theater staff for their money back. At the time, my little brother and I thought it was the coolest and most mature shit that we'd ever seen. But now, watching this movie again with my girlfriend for her first time as she cried about her dead new friends, I really understood what an impact this movie can have on people. For all of it's faults and rehashed ideas, The TFTM is a movie which really rises above the Turkey rating it's gotten.

While my girlfriend has commented on the better writing and dark humor of Season 3 episodes that take place after the movie, she easily points out the shortcomings of artistic/animation approach and prefers to appreciate the lighter tone of the first two seasons of the G1 cartoon. To this, I still harumph a bit; partially because I agree with her, but mostly because I feel that the Season 3 episodes are infinitely more mature and enjoyable to watch given the dark material of the movie that predates it. But at the end of the day, she will still cite the quality of the animation and enjoyability of the movie as the best. This is obvious to the average transnerd, but to BE a transnerd and have a girlfriend understanding these things is a gift. An awesome, nerdy fucking gift.

Dollface, remember... The only real codpiece in this life belongs to Larry Blackmon.

Awesome review. :D
» Posted 6.08.2012 21:58:17 by Carcass [Website]
The Matrix CAME inside Unicorn. My perception of reality just shifted a little.
» Posted 6.08.2012 22:22:08 by Ryan
Ahem. Ryan. Nothing ever came inside a Unicorn. That's why they're not around.
» Posted 6.08.2012 22:34:39 by N@ [Website]
You've been together for 13 years and just now have seen the movie?!?! I've been with my wife almost the exact same amount of time but I made sure we watched the movie on our second date. It was pretty much a "if you don't like this movie we're going to have a problem" kind of situation. Fortunately she liked it (or at least pretended she did) and we are happily married today :) I can't say we've watched it a lot since though, which has me wondering...

And I have a hard time believing you've been with a Transformer fan for this long and didn't know Unicron turned into a giant robot, you had to have known that was going to happen on some level. I mean, didn't Botch freak out (like the rest of us) back in 2003 when they finally made a Unicron toy? Although that was almost 10 years ago so I guess I could forgive that :D

Oh, and as a matter of odd coincidence, just last night I was pondering the need for a G1 inspired Allicon toy to go with Gnaw. There is absolutely no reason we shouldn't have that toy.
» Posted 6.09.2012 6:25:21 by Arkvander [Website]
The original TF movie is when the whole franchise started losing me, and I would argue it's as guilty of tarnishing the original characters and storyline as are the Michael Bay films.

First, it doesn't even attempt to hide the fact that it's just about selling new toys, as all the characters we as kids had been excited to see star in a feature-length adventure were cavalierly killed one after another in the opening scenes to make way for the new cast. Second, the new cast is a total fucking embarrassment. Kup the crotchety old man? Arcee the busty chick? Blurr the zany comic relief? C'mon. I'll put it this way: If that slate of characters had been launched as a separate line of toys with its own mythos, TF fans would consider them on a par with Go-Bots without thinking twice. Third, it commits precisely the same sin as Bay's first TF film: it takes an epic story full of heroes practically out of Greek mythology, and reduces it to typical "plucky good-hearted kid saves the world" garbage - though instead of Shia LaBeouf's Sam, who at least had some degree of genuine on-screen charm, it's Judd Nelson's sterile and underwhelming Hot Rod, who is probably one of the lamest heroes from any kid's flick of my generation. His ultimate transformation into Autobot leader, with the meaningless and unimaginative name Rodimus Prime (were they even trying?), not only fails to elevate Hot Rod to a character of interest, it somehow makes him even less so.

All in all, it really was a hugely unfortunate turn for the franchise to take, and I don't know about y'all, but after the film, when I played with Transformers, Optimus was still firmly installed as the Autobot C-in-C. As for production values, music, animation and so on, I give the original film much credit for all of that, and it's only by their merit that one can still sit through the thing. But as far as the content, it's an absolute stinker. Those who would argue that the Bay films were more of an affront to the original spirit of the TFs than this one are letting their nostalgia corrupt their objectivity.
» Posted 6.12.2012 9:27:37 by CharlieRabbit
When I first saw this movie it was on video, I think a year or two after it was out in cinemas. I missed the theatrical run, but it's just as well. The first thing my young mind latched onto was "why are they showing these new characters so much" "did they just kill off 'so and so', etc..." and yeah, the whole killing Optimus Prime thing too. Whoops.

I think Hasbro got greedy, but truthfully it was always a vehicle to sell toys. The movie wasn't written with fans of the show in mind, not really. Don't get me wrong here, I loved what the movie did well. The animation, character design: still considered one of the best animated movies ever made and I'm not saying that because it's Transformers. Some of the plot and concepts, Unicron is like the robot embodiment of evil, the devil and he's a freaking planet! The matrix, also a really neat idea (thank you Bob Budiansky).

The new characters? They were OK. It's true they were a bit stereotypical. Remember that they were trying to recreate Star-Wars (ugh) and these tropes begin to make more sense (heroes journey anyone?). That said, I actually didn't mind them so much. The biggest problem I've had was the casual way in which many of my favorite characters were dispensed, also having it happen 'in the future' was not too great either. Where was Sparkplug, Carly, and Chip? A missed opportunity. Also, having everything happen away from Earth on distant creatively barren worlds, a mistep if you ask me.

SO in essence, they stripped away many of the familiar elements that made Transformers what it was at the time, not unlike a certain other movie did in 2007. Still entertaining, albeit in a conflicted guilt ridden love-hate sort of way. Dollface, I'm not sure I ever noticed the uh- symbolic nature of the ending before. Interesting take and I wouldn't be surprised if the writers snuck that in on purpose.
» Posted 6.15.2012 14:35:24 by Some Dude [Website]
@CharlieRabbit and @Some Dude:
I gotta be honest, I feel like you're retroactively rewriting a lot of your sentiment toward the movie based on how you feel now, not how you felt back then.

The cartoon that preceded it? That, too, was all about selling toys. All the characters in that cartoon? One-dimensional.

For my own part, I was excited to see progress. In the first two cartoon seasons, the only progress in the war was the introduction of new characters (toys). At least the movie advanced the story.

And the episodes in the third season that focused on Rodimus Prime's perceived shortcomings in succeeding the great Optimus Prime were some of the best. :)
» Posted 6.16.2012 10:21:45 by Botch the Crab - WEBMASTER
For the most part, this is how I felt at the time I was watching it. I respectively disagree with you that the G1 characters were/are flat and one dimensional, though it was a cartoon fantasy to me they felt very real. I'm actually surprised to see you say that since you obviously enjoyed the show. I'll admit that some parts of a few stories called for personality changes among characters.

Your right, it was always about merchandising. Though I think that a little bit of art leaked its way into the process. I accepted the new characters but not to the same extent as the original ones. I felt cheated, that's the truth. Even though I do like the movie I have to admit it's flaws. I'm a tough sell because I'm a fan. I guess as Mr. Joss Whedon would say, I'm a classicist. The original is king to me.

The movie did advance the story, but the direction was not to my liking or maybe more accurately the execution was less then what I'd hoped for. It was really difficult for me to watch the show through the second season because none of the channels near me aired it, though I did my damnedest to catch as much as I could. As for the show after the movie, I lost interest. It could have been written well, but the direction the show took was so radically jarring that it lost me almost completely.

Rodimus Prime was not Optimus and this is a good thing, the difference was a strength to his character. The fact that the movie actually addressed the war, albeit at the end, was to me another really cool aspect of it I must admit. I can't help wonder what might have been if Flint Dille and Ron Friedman had more control over the writing process rather then having an agenda to fulfill.

» Posted 6.16.2012 17:08:57 by Them guys over there [Website]
I had posted a long reply to CharlieRabbit, but it seems to have evaporated into the digital ether.
In short, I thought the animated movie worked on its own as a movie. I don't think it necessarily fit into the sequence of cartoon episodes...it was more like a Hollywood Makeover of the Transformers. For another example, consider the differences between the Japanese Macross series and its movie. The Macross movie rewrites plot points from across the series in order to retell them in the film genre/format.

So, as a stand-alone movie, I've always felt TF worked as a Saturday Matinee adventure...sure, a recreation of Star Wars...but Star Wars movies themselves have always been a parody (in the most sincere way) of adventure films. It's a formula that works.

My two gripes about the movie were 1) that the series writers subsequently overused the Matrix as Macguffin...often changing the very nature of the Matrix to the point where it no longer had a consistent role other than its Macguffiness, and 2) I never bought that not a single one of Earth's armies tried to aid the Autobots in defense of Autobot city. It would almost have been better not to suggest Autobot City was even on Earth. Even as a kid, Earth seemed conspicuously absent of humans.
» Posted 6.17.2012 8:50:31 by Tresob
After reading the review and most of the replies:
I still smile like a giddy 7 year old boy when I watch this movie. That's all that matters.
» Posted 6.25.2012 15:39:23 by Tom [Website]
"I was shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that they never made a toy for The Allicons!!!!"

BBTS just posted a pre-order for Impossible Toys' rendition...as if on cue.
» Posted 7.03.2012 20:42:35 by Tresob
Great review. My boyfriend and I have been together for seven years. He's endured G-1, Prime and even Animated in our home without really knowing the origin of it all. We slowly started watching the G1 toons and finally made it to the movie. It was exciting to see him actually connect with and know who the characters were and mourn their loss. But he was also excited for the new characters introduced. And now, even though he's never been a fan or enthusiast of TFs he has what we affectionately call RWB-Tron on his desk (RWBTron=Red white and blue tron - or Ultra Magnus) as well as Metroplex (my Fortress Maximus was just too big). TFTM - bringing families together almost 30 years later. LOL
» Posted 9.02.2012 16:19:33 by Johnne Tyson [Website]
@ Charlierabbit: As someone else stated, the Transformers themselves were a franchise built on selling toys. So where's the problem? Sure, after the movie the series became a tad dark, but characters never "died" before the movie and huge robots constantly at battle will eventually be slain in some manner. It's not like what Lucas shamelessly did with the prequels (of Star Wars).

@Tresob: Why would an Earth human army be involved in a war where they'd undoubtedly be slaughtered? We are talking about a movie that, other than a couple curse words, was aimed at kids. I don't think bloody bodies of humans would have sat well with parents.

I think this movie was better than all three combined of Michael Bay's travesties. As Galvatron once said, "This is bad comedy". The 1986 movie used as many as relevant characters as possible inside an 80 minute movie. Michael Bay used drones and characters who weren't even in the cartoons, as opposed to the Dinobots, Insecticons, Omega Supreme, and inserted ludicrous storylines and humor that reminds one of "American Pie" or "The Hangover".
» Posted 9.07.2012 23:48:03 by Mike
Wow, Dollface is awesome. i think where collector's are concerned, it's always so much better to have the other half being supportive and knowing above what we love - TFs. On many levels, collecting TFs is much better than spending money on gambling, booze and other women, ahem. So there you have it.

My wife watched TFTM for the first time... on our wedding night. Haha. We finished festivities early, was back home and I said 'do you feel like a movie?', she said 'yup', I said 'how about we watch Transformers: The Movie? On many levels, this defined my childhood and the person I am today'. She said 'sure!'.

I think she had the same reaction as Dollface when she said Unicron transformer... shock and bewilderment.

Since then, Soundwave has become her favourite character - she has a shelf of Soundwave toys, which includes Japanese box 17- Soundwave, USA box pre-rub Soundwave, D-101 Soundblaster and SCF, Robot Heroes, History collection Soundwaves (http://heroicdecepticon.blogspot.hk/2013/02/okc-part-2-in-which-we-look-closely-at_18.html).

She also knows the names of almost all the 1984 to 1986 characters and I smiled with pride (she didn't know this) when she showed guests my TF shelf and started telling them the names of robots one by one...
» Posted 5.12.2013 9:36:33 by heroic_decepticon [Website]



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