It has come to my attention that there’s a Transformers movie out in theaters. Nonsense! The only Transformers movie ever was back in 1986, aptly titled Transformers: The Movie. I mean, come on; a live-action motion picture of transforming robots? I believe comic book live action, sure, but that had (somewhat) elements of reality…by that I mean, human driven. The Transformers storylines are almost entirely all about the robots, and a good vs. evil ideology that beats you over the head.
Let’s be honest with each other – Optimus Prime is a quintessential good-guy! His M.O. is obvious; your word is your bond, don’t give any command you aren’t willing to give yourself, prudence and wisdom above action and impulse, etc. Megatron was a big bad for its own sake; no one commands Megatron, enter into any action with boldness, attack at the shepard and the sheep will scatter, reward the strong while punishing weakness.
If the Primes in the comic universe did not relent in drawing the line against Megatron, the latter would not hesitate to wipe out all forms of existence that would even hint at not serving him.
Megatron was always this interesting character by construct. If your construction only has you either in robot or gun form, it is logical that one would trend evil. Here’s the best part though – Megatron’s most potent offensive capabilities are when he’s in gun form, but that requires someone else to use him. Megatron could never fire on his lonesome when transformed. Don’t discount this, though – Megatron’s cannon in robot form packed a bigger whallop than most other entities in the Transformers franchise. However, I digress, I was talking about the potential for a live-action movie here. What really strikes me was the relationship between Megatron and Soundwave; through the series, Soundwave is exceptionally loyal, but at times one could draw similarities to a master/slave relationship. But that’s one person’s perspective.
Any live-action motion picture along Transformers lines can’t be very good. It would have to be special-effects focused, so a good majority of decent directors are right out of the picture. Someone might even try to humanize the experience, which ultimately would make any Transformers movie into overblown explosion festivals. It would just be humans talking about preposterous superstition until giant robots bashed the ever-living daylights out of each other.
Who would act in such a monstrosity? Certainly no one with any skill or talent in acting. It would have to be produced, directed, and acted in by folks with either tremendous egos who think that they could handle such a task, OR people who are willing to do anything (and I mean anything) in order to be in a major motion picture. I mean, you’re either going to cater mostly to the fanbase – and veer a little off course in hopes of getting mainstream appeal, or you make a movie that only appeals to those who like bright, shiny objects and simple plots. The former can be a work of art, as you have a limited construct to work with, and ambitious teams will make the most of it. The latter is frankly base, will have almost every character swearing, bound to exploit some ethnic group, and will leave said egotists with an elated feeling of having done something good, when they really just trashed a beloved franchise.
We don’t want that, do we? So since so many people seem to be talking about a Transformers movie, TRR presents a Retro Revue: Transformer: The Movie.
We start off in space, where a mechanical sphere makes its way toward a planet of robots. Everything seems in order. Regrettably, that giant sphere turns out to be Unicron, and in a Galactus kind of way, it begins feeding on this planet and almost no one escapes the attack. The audience sees Unicron’s inside to be a simple factory that destroys the captured to produce energy. We are then introduced to the movie, and a small cast, including Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, and Robert Stack…that’s right, Robert Stack. In addition to new cast members, Orson Welles is here to class up the movie by playing Unicron.
So apparently, it’s 2005, and the Decepticons – evil transformers – have taken control of Cybertron. Optimus Prime deploys Ironhide and Jazz to Earth to get more energy for an assault to retake their homeworld. In this scene, we meet the grown up Spike, son of Sparkplug. Spike was just a kid in the original series, and now he’s a fully grown, square-jawed man in an exo-suit – neat! Spike was even nice enough to give his kid a regular name – how awesome is that?!
This is a film about falling and rising again. As Hot Rod and Ultra Magnus travel through space, both of them learn valuable lessons after an important character dies. It falls onto Hot Rod – an Autobot that no one takes too seriously – to find a way to save Cybertron.
Megatron swallows a hard pill and learns that there are, in fact, more ruthless people in the universe. He ends up paying the price for his immense hubris. Even when wounded beyond repair, he tries to negotiate with Unicron, who really won’t hesitate in killing him.
The music is a blend between 80s power metal, songs by Stan Bush, and Weird Al Yankovic (“Dare to be Stupid,” specifically). One would think that might be gaudy, but it’s done rather well.
The end of the movie is quite rewarding. The big bad gets their just reward, the good guys have a new hero to rally behind, and there’s a new villain to stand in for Megatron – who doesn’t quite die…and that’s no spoiler. At around 90 minutes, I wish there was a return to brief action movies.
FINAL GRADE: B+
TRR Retro Revue by Geoffrey Beebe