Dare to be stupid, Galvatron.
It had been a while since I saw Transformers: The Movie. My lingering memories had been: 1) Weird Al’s Dare to Be Stupid was featured in the soundtrack and 2) they f—— killed Optimus Prime. In the brand new making-of documentary that accompanies this disc, the filmmakers remark that they had heard a shocking outcry over the death of Prime and that young fans of the show were legit traumatized by the decision to off the guy.
Yeah, count me in with the consensus there. Granted Hasbro had only one goal with this movie and that was to nuke the old toy line and hype up the incoming collection of Transformers, but in their haste to jump-start their stock options, the corporate executives failed to realize a simple truth: for many, myself included, Optimus Prime was in the top three of influential male role models in our young lives.
And what did we get for investing such emotional capital in the battle-cries of Peter Cullen? A horrifying drawn out deathbed scene where Optimus flatlines before turning in a blackened, lifeless husk.
The pain probably could have been dulled if Hasbro didn’t replace our beloved Autobots (and Decepticons!) with such lame-ass scabs like Rodimus Prime and Galvatron.
Re-watching the film now, it’s actually fairly amusing at the slash-and-burn approach the toy execs took to cleaving our sentimental attachment to these robots in disguise. There’s no better way to thin the herd—and introduce some new heroes and villains—than launch a full-on battle to open the film.
That’s where it all starts with Transformers: The Movie. The Decepticons wage an all-out assault on the Autobots. Sustained laser blasts, cold-blooded executions and a body count to rival Commando—you get it all within the first twenty minutes. Meanwhile there’s a planet-eating robot space monster and a resurrected Megatron to contend with.
The remainder of the movie is a straightforward hero’s journey (buy the toy, kid! He went on a hero’s journey!) with some jarring guest voice acting from the likes of Eric Idle and Orson Welles (!). Oh, and the hair metal. The hair metal.
It all wraps up with another battle, some Dinobot action and an abiding sense of regret for everyone involved. Killing Optimus! As terrible a creative idea as Saved by the Bell: The New Class.
Of course, the suits at Hasbro would ultimately realize the error of their ways and bring back the Big Guy to big screen, handing the keys over to Michael Bay to pulverize a generation’s worth of medullah oblongatas. If only Optimus had been treated better in 1986, we might have been spared the sight of Constructicon balls.
This is the film’s Blu-ray debut, but, truthfully, there’s only so much you can do with full-frame janky hand-drawn art from the mid-80s. The full-frame, 1080p transfer is suitable enough and the 2.0 stereo gives that retro audio feel, but if we’re being honest, this is not reference disc. Extras are solid: an all-new documentary/retrospective called “‘Til All Are One,” audio commentary with the director and story consultants, featurettes, storyboards and TV spots.
Lots of noise and robot death and a few S-words add up to
a so-so relic of my childhood.