In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a live action Transformers movie hitting theaters in just under a month. Directed by Michael Bay, early opinions are… mixed as to whether it’ll be cool or really bite the big one. Nonetheless, to help drum up interest for the new film, the original animated movie was just re-released in a two-disc 20th anniversary edition packed with extras. And since I can never pass up an opportunity to mock the cartoons of my youth while proving what an ungodly nerd I am, today we’re taking a look at Transformers: The Movie… or as I like to call it, “Star Wars with robots.” So without further ado, transform and roll out!
0:30: Hey, that didn’t take long! Screw buildup, things kick off with a bang as uber-villain Unicron (the Transformer who’s just like Galactus except… uh, not) shows up to munch on Random Robot Planet VIII. Mmm-mmm good!
True story: the first time I watched this as an adult was my senior year in college, after a solid decade of zero Transformers exposure. The movie begins, Unicron starts eating these stock throwaway robots, and I think to myself, “Man, it has been a while… I don’t remember any of these guys!” Yeah. Good, Drew.
2:55: Ah, the classic Transformers theme. But wait… they didn’t… is that a rock version? OH YES THEY DID!!
6:27: Megatron really can’t go 10 seconds without insulting Starscream, can he? It’s a mystery why his troops betray him every other episode…
7:13: Slaughter time! The Decepticons bust into the shuttle and a firefight begins. The Autobots get these hilarious looks on their faces like “What the f-… guns actually hurt now?!” Sadly that realization comes too late, as Starscream pwns Brawn, Ratchet and Ironhide in short order. The fight over, Megatron demonstrates why he’s #1 with a bullet (har) among ’80s cartoon villains by blowing Ironhide’s face clean off. And with that, the most traumatic kids’ movie ever is underway!
12:30: In case you were wondering about Blurr’s voice- yes, it’s the Micro Machines guy.
14:37: Remember when Jazz was the only African-American Autobot? Oh well. This part’s like a bad 80s teen movie: cool, rhyming black guy saves science geek from violent bullies. Who just happen to be cassette tapes.
16:42: More blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em deaths, as Arcee drags away two original Autobot carcasses. Nobody cared about Windcharger, but kooky mad scientist Wheeljack was pretty popular. And with he and Ratchet gone, who was supposed to patch everyone else up? No wonder Prime can’t be fixed, all the smart guys were already dead.
17:46: Springer claims he has better things to do tonight than die. Since all the Transformers ever do is fight and they presumably can’t have sex, I’m not sure I agree.
20:11: For a cartoon, Prime and Megatron get some pretty good smack-talk going on. “One shall stand; one shall fall.” And the sheer hatred conveyed in that one raspy word – “Prime” – is enough to remind you that for all the big names they got for this movie, the regular voice actors were mighty talented too.
20:31: Hot Rod tries to help, but Kup warns him away because it’s Prime’s fight. Good call — since Optimus has won his other 863 fights against Megatron, he probably doesn’t want some punk walking around bragging about how he really helped out that 864th time.
26:18: Every single person born between the years of 1977-1982 just started crying. Seriously.
28:21: No disassemble, Stephanie! (And to the two guys who got the Short Circuit reference – congrats, you’re who I wrote that joke for.)
31:16: Unicron recreates Megs as his new herald Galvatron, but somehow forgets to coat him in liquid silver and give him a surfboard. Gyp.
33:25: Exeunt Starscream. I know killing him is supposed to emphasize how much of a badass Galvatron is, but I think it hurt the show in the long run, since the new lackeys (Scourge and Cyclonus) have as much personality between them as a can of paint.
36:12: There’s some irony to the fact that Spike just used a word in a cartoon that I’m not even allowed to use on this site. Between the swearing and the deaths, I’m surprised they didn’t show the Decepticons taking energon hits from a bong.
(Speaking of which, remember that episode of the cartoon where the Decepticons actually got drunk on energon? How awesome was that?)
37:06: Fun fact – there are actually 5 Dinobots, but the stegosaurus, Snarl, is inexplicably absent for almost the entire movie. If you were watching closely, you just saw his entire half-second appearance.
41:25: Aaaand here we have Hot Rod using a light sword against a training robot. Remember, this film is absolutely nothing like Star Wars.
46:30: So Transformers can’t drown, but as we’ll see later, they can be choked? I’m so confused by this movie.
54:00: I always forget that Grimlock’s an idiot on the cartoon, since he was actually pretty smart in the comics.
57:39: According to storyboards, Ultra Magnus was originally supposed to get drawn and quartered here, but it was changed to just being blown up, I guess to keep kids from getting even more screwed up than they already were by this movie.
60:23: I’m not sure I’d want to admit to getting rescued by the one Transformer so small, even Spike could kick his ass.
61:05: How bad do the odds have to be stacked against you when you’re a fat robot? Jenny Craig is probably not an option.
62:45: When you can turn into a motorcycle and your buddy is riding on you… well, isn’t that a little… I mean… y’know? No one is judging, I’m just sayin’ – lends new importance to keeping your hands at ten and two.
64:45: The first time I saw this ungodly bizarre dance number, I knew I must be high. Then I remembered I don’t do drugs. At which point I just wished I were.
65:57: If all you have to do to resurrect a Transformer is put the pieces back together, why don’t they just shoot each other all day for fun? Oh, right… because only the bad guys ever hit anyone.
68:25: Okay… turning into a giant robot would be the one thing that’d make the Death Star even cooler.
71:20: Separated from his friends, Hot Rod stumbles across Galvatron sitting in the dark, trying to see how long the Matrix will glow after you hold it up to a flourescent light. Speaking of which, Galvy remarks that the damn thing’s about as useful as points on Whose Line Is It Anyway? because it can’t be opened, causing Hot Rod to scoff “Not by a Decepticon!” I dunno, HR… aren’t Autobots and Decepticons basically just political/military affiliations? I’m pretty sure Democrats can still shoot guns and Republicans can cash welfare checks.
72:37: For a robot god, Unicron’s kind of a puss. All the Transformers need are, like, 500 more Dinobots and they’re set.
76:01: Here it is, the movie’s money shot. Rapidly losing the precious air his robot lungs need to function, Hot Rod grabs the Matrix and tears it away from Galvatron. Rising, he holds it aloft and magically grows three sizes too large while the ghost of Opti-Mus Primobi murmurs “Arise, Rodimus Prime,” a line begging to be taken out of context if ever there was one. Galvatron tries to intervene but can’t do crap, so Rodimus proclaims it the “end of the road” (because he’s a car, get it?) and tosses Galvy into space through Unicron’s crotch or whatever.
78:05: Kup now claims he knew Hot Rod had potential, despite having spent the entire movie berating him? I smell bull%^#.
79:18: Okay, I know this is the big happy ending and all, but I feel bad for the old guys like Bumblebee and Jazz. “Oh, hey, remember all those other robots who used to star in this show with you? Yeah, they’re dead. But we’re the cast now. Yay!”
And that’ll about wrap things up for us, folks. Thanks for reading – I’m still entirely on the fence about the live action film coming out this summer, but whether it succeeds or tanks, at least we’ll always have this little animated number to look back on fondly. Just remember: You’ve got the Touch. And you should probably see a counselor about that.