Nothing beats the original Transformers film and that never changes no matter how many times I see it. It’s easily the definitive robot film and I actually don’t believe that any will ever be able to pass it. Nonstop action and a solid cast of characters keep this classic afloat and after Transformers 4, it was time to relive the good ole days. Get ready for an emotional war as the Autobots and Decepticons have their climatic clash!
The plot starts after most of the TV show events have already occurred. The Decepticons have a huge advantage thanks to the fact that they have already conquered Cybertron and the Autobots seem to be very weakened. The heroes are low on energon and they only have a city on Earth as well as a pair of moons. The Decepticons decide to destroy this resistance once and for all and a climatic battle ensues. Meanwhile, the legendary Unicron is on his way to Cybertron and he’s already conquered several planets. Defeating him is basically out of the question at this point. Can the Autobots even afford to worry about him with all of the Decepticons who are around? Only time will tell!
The film is really fast paced and so many plots develop throughout the course of the film. This is considering that the film isn’t even a full 90 minutes! The first half hour is easily the best part of the film as we witness a big Decepticon invasion and the heroes heroically try to fend them off. It’s emotional and the fight scenes are just intense. The film doesn’t really slow down until we get to the planet of Junk where the film gives the audience a brief rest. After that, it’s time for the climax against the planet eater.
Ironically enough, the climax is one of the least exciting parts. After the first 50-60 minutes of nonstop action and battles between the two sides of Transformers, the final half hour is a little uneventful. We have a water planet, the junk planet, and then a quick battle against Unicron. It’s still solid of course, but nothing beats the first chunk of the film. All of the classic fighters get their chance to show what they’re made of.
Optimus Prime is still the fearless leader of the Autobots and this continuity was easily his best portrayal. Prime means business and he effortlessly takes out quite a few Decepticon warriors. His climatic battle against Megatron is still famous and the battle was very well done. Prime is essentially the perfect main character and he really had no flaws in the film. I doubt we’ll ever see him look quite this good again, but he’s consistently been a solid character across the multiverse anyway. His shotgun/cannon also looks impressive and it’s definitely one of the stronger weapons in the film. He may not have gotten a very large role, but it was definitely a critical one.
Megatron is also an excellent villain. He is a great leader for the Decepticons and his plan is a solid one. Infiltrating Autobot city nearly ended the war in an instant. He took out quite a few Autobots and he seems to have a lot of energon since he was fighting all day. I will admit that I was always surprised with the fact that Megatron begs for his life at one point. I suppose that he doesn’t care what he has to do in order to defeat Optimus Prime, but as Prime said “I thought you were made of sterner stuff.” Megatron is able to get past this thanks to the fact that he’s an awesome villain and the film wouldn’t have been the same without him.
It was good to see Grimlock since I really didn’t like his portrayal in TF 4. This is the Dinobot that I remember and he’s acknowledged as one of the strongest Autobots. There’s a reason why Prime sent the Dinobots to take out Devastator! Few other robots could have been challenged with such a task. Grimlock may not have crushed Devastator, but he did pretty well with the other Dinobots. (The other Dinobots are cool as well and I believe that Slag may have done more damage than Grimlock, but their roles were a lot smaller so I won’t really be talking about them) Grimlock even humors Wheelie for a while and then takes command of a huge army of Sharkticons. That’s what I’m talking about!
Hot Rod is essentially the main character of the film and this is how I became a big fan of the character. He may have gotten a little watered down in the comics that came out after this, but he still looks pretty good in the film. He shoots at the Decepticons upon seeing them and then he embarks on a dangerous journey with the others so that they can mount a counter attack. When he finds out that the Matrix has been stolen, Hot Rod immediately says that they should attack and get it back.
Now, his only sad moment is when Megatron is able to easily overpower him and shoot Prime. It’s a controversial move since it can be said that Prime would have won otherwise. I am confident that Megatron would have still shot him, but maybe it would have only been once instead of several times. It’s definitely a debate, but Hot Rod’s intentions were sound and he really did try to help. It just turns out that his power was feeble compared to Megatron’s and he never stood a chance. He still pulls through when it counts and that’s what ultimately matters. He officially ended the wars and changed history!
Bumblebee gets a very small role in the film and he only gets a line or maybe a few more. His design is definitely interesting and it’s one of the only ones from G1 that didn’t really become mainstream. I will always prefer this version since he can talk to most of the others, but he definitely wasn’t a star in this film. He doesn’t even say thanks at the end when Daniel saves his life. It was still good to see him get a cameo though.
Unicron is the big bad villain of the film and he makes for a solid threat. Instead of talking tough and doing something gritty to call attention to himself, Unicron just destroys the planet in one fell swoop. After that, he sets his sights on Cybertron and it’s a pretty epic journey. He takes out two moons for fun as he gets closer and closer to his goal. His attack on Cybertron is also one of the few times where we actually get to see Shockwave mobilize the troops so that was cool. (Although the Decepticons did not last for very long) Unicron’s decision to transform into robot mode was his big mistake. The enemies quickly took advantage of this and Unicron is essentially defenseless in this form. It’s why I am opposed to villains being too large. It just makes them vulnerable in the end. Ignoring that, he was still a pretty solid opponent for the Autobots and his voice was nice and menacing. Not even Megatron was able to stand up to his tricks.
Galvatron is the new villain who was introduced for the film. He’s not as new as you may think, but that’s another story and you’ll realize this as you watch the film. His arsenal is impressive and taking on Starscream is a pretty good feat. The scene should be pretty cool if you’re a fan of Galvatron or if you’ve just wanted to see this happen to Starscream for a while now. Galvatron talks tough throughout the film and he can back it up with his high amounts of power. You have to respect the fact that he never gives up and keeps on trying to make his plans succeed. He’s just in a very difficult position to make this actually happen. He is a very good villain for the film.
Wheelie is definitely the worst Transformers robot. His voice is definitely tough to understand and you stop trying after a while. The rhymes were a little over the top. I do applaud the fact that the film tried to make the voices unique, but it just didn’t work this time. Wheelie ends up sticking around through the next TV show, but I can’t say that it was a good thing. He doesn’t really bring down the film a whole lot, but he’s still unnecessary.
Wreck Gar is from the Planet Junk and he talks in radio signals mixed in with TV. It’s very hard to understand him and I can’t say that I liked him as a character. It helps that the whole Planet of Junk was a little uneventful and I didn’t like the Piranha world that much either. Wreck Gar just doesn’t really add much to the plot and I’m a little skeptical on how that junk would be so sturdy. He must know something that I do not.
Kup is one of the major players in this film, but he’s never been one of my favorite Autobots. He can fight and he has a lot of experience, but it just wasn’t enough to win me over. He’s not a bad character, but he’s really not the type of guy that I tend to find likable. He’s just too old and he doesn’t fight all that much. He talks a good game, but he typically can’t back it up. Still, he did pretty well when he took out the tank so I give him props for that.
Ultra Magnus is one of the major Autobots and I used to think that he was a powerful fighter based on the name. I’m sure that he’s tough, but there’s nothing to really suggest that he’s tougher than the other Autobots in this film. I’m definitely a fan of his, but the film really tried to show why he wasn’t a terrific leader. He didn’t have time to worry about his comrades and his one on two fight didn’t go over so well. Dropping the Matrix of Leadership was likely his biggest mistake. It would have been great if Ultra Magnus could have went down putting up more of a fight. He may not be the next Prime, but he’s still a likable Autobot.
Daniel is the new human companion to the Autobots, but he isn’t a great character. He means well and he helped the Autobots to become aware of the Decepticon threat, which likely saved many bots. However, he just wasn’t much of an asset to the team and he didn’t figure out how to use his energy gun until the climax of the film. Also, asking the Autobots what happened to Spike during such a dangerous situation was a little on the dicey side and he even broke the great air board from the intro of the film. He’s still a step up from the protagonist of the Transformers Trilogy.
Spike was one of the main characters from the TV show, but he doesn’t get a huge role in the movie. He decides to leave Unicron a little present in the form of a bomb, but he took too long admiring his craftsmanship to make enough time to escape. I can’t say that he was very likable, but he wasn’t a bad character either. He was just pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things and he definitely panicked a lot when Daniel hesitated to save his life. I suppose that it was understandable though….
Arcee doesn’t look very good in this film and it was before the big social wave that helped to make female characters much stronger in today’s media. This is before Arcee became the pro fighter that we see in Transformers Prime. She helps Daniel out through the tough times, but she never gets a chance to fight back. I would have liked to see her fight some Decepticons and the closest that she comes to this is when she breaks one of the tires on an enemy car when the Junk bots attack. So, she definitely couldn’t look as good as the other Transformers without any fight scenes, but she was all right I suppose. Definitely needed some action though.
Starscream really steals the show for the Decepticons. He’s the one Decepticon in the film that I prefer to Megatron. His shreeky voice is iconic at this point and some would even say that it is more memorable than Prime’s or Megatron’s. That may go a little far, but it’s definitely one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Transformers. This is Starscream as he was meant to be portrayed and the fact that he directly insults Megatron instead of beating around the bush is intense. “How do you feel mighty Megatron!” as Starscream kicks him while he’s down. His lines to Megatron as he throws him out of the starship are great as well and he even got to wear a crown. It’s hard to find any character that’s as good as Starscream.
Soundwave gets a pretty small role in the film, but he is the only Decepticon to show any loyalty to Megatron. He may not have stopped the others from throwing him off of the ship, but he did save him from the being left at the Autobot base. Soundwave’s definitely one of the more useful Decepticons and I’ve always liked him as a character. Letting the constructicons know who was superior was definitely a nice line as well.
The film’s soundtrack is dynamite and just about all of the songs are catchy. The only one that I didn’t care for played during the planet of Junk as they all held hands and danced around. It really wasn’t my type of film and I definitely could have gone without it. Aside from that, it’s hard to even know where to begin. It really makes you feel like you’re watching a theatrical film. The music is loud and it’s energetic. You really get into the fight scenes and they’re well played. The main Transformers theme is easily my favorite tune and I’ve listened to it many times. It ends up making the opening credits really exciting and you know that you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
The animation is also excellent. This film came out in the 80’s and yet, it looks so much better than some 2014 shows like Pac Man and Teen Titans Go. (Still airing in 2014 anyway) This film always helps to reinforce the fact that animation has been on the decline in America. We need to get away from Flash and CGI so that we can go back to traditional hand drawn shows/films. I’ve viewed this film on dvd many times and it’s finally starting to show some wear and tear. The final 20-30 minutes saw a drop in quality, but it wasn’t the film, just the disk. This film definitely deserves the blu ray treatment and then more people can see the epicness from which Transformers was born. The animation definitely holds up very well to this day and I can say with confidence that it is timeless.
Overall, this is not just the definitive Transformers film, but it is the best robot film out there. The cast of characters is excellent and the soundtrack is top notch. The animation pulls no punches and there is action throughout the film. The fight scenes are very well done and the robots focus on winning instead of tearing each other to shreds for a while. This results in accurate shots that take the robot down in an instant. There were only a few characters that I didn’t really care for and things slowed down towards the end, but that’s not a major concern. I highly recommend this film to Transformers fans and to anyone that wants to relive the good ole theater experience. The film is nearly perfect and I doubt that it shall ever be surpassed by another Transformers film. I recommend watching this one whenever you are about to watch the Michael Bay version.