Transformers: The Movie (1986)

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Transformers: The Movie (1986) Movie Poster Image
An awful toy commercial in disguise.
  • NR
  • 1986
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 19 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Simplistic ideas of good and evil, and promotes that fighting and warring are the inevitable route to peace.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though they all look alike physically, the Tranformers have different, uh, ethnicities, so to speak, via voiceover actors of different races and backgrounds. Only one (maybe) female robot.

Violence & Scariness

Much sci-fi mass destruction of machine and machine-life forms. Even sympathetic and heroic characters die.

Sexy Stuff

One use of "s--t."


This movie is basically a toy commercial.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Transformers: The Movie is a 1986 commercial tie-in with a line of Hasbro action-figure toys. While this movie 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. One use of "s--t." Much sci-fi mass destruction of machine and machine-life forms. Even sympathetic and heroic characters die.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGmac02 May 4, 2019

Don’t listen to them

This movie is not a toy commercial, it’s a tie in to the animated series made back in the 80’s. It’s gotten a lot of criticism for being too violent, but it’s n... Continue reading
Parent of a 8-year-old Written bySpyraker June 7, 2019

1980s Arena Rock Animated Film

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, every children’s movie or show exists to sell merchandise.
However, a few of these shows outdid the others with some ve... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 23, 2020

Higher the rating, it is more than one star

This is a good movie, and while Optimus Prime still dies, the Autobots have to work together to defeat Unicron and Galvatron (Megatron). Daniel saves his dad an... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAnongonk April 15, 2021

Who wrote this?

Although a glorified toy commercial, it is still one of the if not the best movies from the era, just my opinion. The animation is stellar, the voice acting is... Continue reading

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?

Even fans of the toys will be disappointed by this mess of a movie. 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • 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 Transformers: The Movie

  • Who is the movie's intended audience? How can you tell?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love robots and action

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