I saw the life ebb away from Optimus Prime when I was just seven years old. I remember turning to my mom and asking what had happened as I was a bit confused.
“He died,” she whispered.
I was puzzled, even at that age, as to why the main character (one of my favourites to boot) could die in the middle of the movie. If there’s one thing my Saturday morning cartoons has taught me, it’s that no one dies, and definitely not the hero of an entire series.
If any of you millenials aren’t able to relate, this was the equivalent of Ned Stark getting his head lobbed off at the end of Game of Thrones Season 1. George RR Martin would have been friggin’ proud.
Released on August 8, 1986, Transformers: The Movie dared to be different when everyone else was just toeing the line. It was one of the first toy lines to get its own theatrical movie. It featured an invigorating rock soundtrack (YOU GOT THE TOUCH/YOU GOT THE POWER) for a movie whose target audience just hit puberty). The animation was top notch (by Toei Animation) and would still put a lot of the current selection of cartoon movies to shame.
And of course, it didn’t just kill off their main guy, but a host of other memorable characters. According to producer Nelson Shin, he had no hand in the choice of who to kill off. It was completely Hasbro’s decision, based on which toys they wanted to market next. How’s that for a life lesson for ya?
But while the movie did not make enough bank at the box office, Transformers: The Movie didn’t die there. In fact, it gained a cult following over the years, which is why we can celebrate the 30th anniversary of this genre-defying animated movie.
It is also that cult status that gave director Michael Bay the bright idea to piss all over our collective childhoods with his version of robots in disguise in his movie series. When asked why he didn’t adapt the original designs of the cartoon, he had this to say:
“They are so boxy. I would love to do that for the fans, show a 35 foot tall robot, put it in a real environment in a movie and show how lame it would look.”
Well Michael, someone actually did, and it doesn’t look half bad. Mind you, this was done by two guys on their home computer. Imagine what they could do with a full effects team behind them.
But there is one positive thing that came out of the Bayformers movies: It has clearly cemented Transformers: The Movie as the definitive film about our beloved Autobots and Decepticons.
Now, if only we could have Michael Bay’s career roll over and die instead of Optimus Prime in this 30th Anniversary 4K remastered edition.
What are your memories of Transformers: The Movie? Tell us!