Transformers: The Movie (1986)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, essentially, this is a commercial tie-in with a line of Hasbro action-figure toys. While this has a certain cult following (what bad movie doesn't?), it's a confusing, jumbled, and chaotic viewing experience for anyone who couldn't tell the Dinobots from the Insecticons. It also forms more or less the last episode of the original Transformers TV series, so if you feel like you've walked in late and missed something, that's why.
What's the story?
Essentially a wrap-up to the TV show, TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE is set in the "future" year 2005. The good Autobots and their friends the Dinobots are in an ongoing war against evil Decepticons. When their planet fell to the Decepticons, the Autobots befriended humans and set up a base on Earth. Here the Decepticon warlord Megatron launches a sneak attack on Earth's Autobot city and longstanding Autobot hero Optimus Prime is killed. Before dying, he passes on to his successor a glittery doo-dad called the Matrix that's supposed to be really important. Meanwhile, a new menace comes along, a robot called Unicron, a planet-sized machine that destroys and eats other planets. The only thing posing a threat to Unicron is the Matrix, so the monstrous robot gives the damaged Megatron an upgrade to capture it.
Is it any good?
If Transformers: The Movie teaches us anything, it's that in all the cleverly conceived, gimmicky buy-them-all robots Hasbro foisted on toy shelves, one was sorely forgotten: Script-itron. A confusing, jumbled, and chaotic narrative moves through chases and fights with barely any breathing space and introduces so many weird characters and things that only a kid who owns all the toy tie-ins could tell them apart.
The soundtrack is obnoxious, nonstop '80s rock music and the animation is TV-grade. Except for the Dinobots, it's pretty difficult to tell one unfolded Transformer from another. The vocal cast is a curious mix of prolific cartoon-voiceover specialists and veteran character actors, who attempt to imbue their characters with stereotypical personalities that the impersonal drawings don't convey. Most notoriously, Orson Welles logged his final screen credit as the unenthused, whispered voice of Unicron, and Leonard Nimoy is the voice of Megatron.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the idea of making movies or cartoons as platforms for peddling playthings. Worthy films like Star Wars and Toy Story have shamelessly marketed toys based on themselves, and there were toys inspired by likes of Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse long ago. What do you think about movies, TV shows, and video games based solely on toys? Can you think of any other plaything-oriented movies that were better/worse than this one? How much more expensive is the movie after you buy the ticket and the merchandise? If you like the toys, do you think you'd like them as much if another movie wasn't coming out?