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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

retro trailer: ‘Transformers: The Movie’

Take a look back at an old trailer…


I dunno about you, but I could probably come up with a few other films that are more incredible rock ’n’ roll adventures than this one.

Holy shit: Orson Welles was in a Transformers movie. That’s beautiful.

Oh, man: the rainbow flare on the titles… the power-rock score… the Judd Nelson. The 80s, it burns.

The Japanese title is so totally awesome, I can’t even begin to unpack how totally awesome it is: Transformers the Movie: Apocalypse! Matrix Forever.

Transformers: The Movie is out of print on DVD, but used copies are available in Region 1 and Region 2.



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posted in:
dvd buzz | trailers
  • amanohyo

    I’m too frightened to go back and watch this again. Laugh all you want; other than The Dark Crystal, this was truly the most awesome movie going experience of my childhood (my dad fell asleep almost immediately in the chair beside me). True, those were the only two movies I ever watched in the theater as a small child (wait…I watched Crocodile Dundee also), but it was the most incredible rock ‘n’ roll adventure I had ever seen. Almost every person who ever watched this movie as a child has told me that they cried when Prime died (I did too). Orson Welles may have been slumming it, but he did an amazing job. I can still hear him saying “Proceed into oblivion.”

    Did you notice that the humans are the side characters Michael Bay? That the movie is actually about the Transformers as the title suggests and that the Transformers have personalities? Gaaaah! Now I’m grumpy. It’s not like this movie set the bar impossibly high, but Bay’s rubbish still manages to make “Me Grimlock kick butt,” sound like Macbeth in comparison. How could you possilby screw up Transformers?! Twice!!!? *deep breaths* okay… it’s just a movie… he just took one of your most treaured childhood memories and violated it… no big deal, calm down, calm down.

    Anyway, I love this movie and I’ll never watch it again because I know it will be horrible and corny, and my heart just couldn’t stand the shock. I learned my lesson when I went back and rewatched The Last Unicorn.

  • JoshDM

    Unavailable?

    WHAT???

  • JoshDM
  • JSW

    JoshDM: Did you not notice the lack of an “add to cart” button? Amazon still has a page up for the movie since it’s still available used from their sellers (and “new” from some retailers’ overstock.) If it were still in print you’d be able to buy it directly from Amazon, and you can’t.

    Makes me glad I picked up my own copy a couple of years ago. By most objective measures, it’s a flawed movie enjoyable mostly for it nostalgia value, but compared to the Bay movies it’s a frikin’ masterpiece.

  • Bluejay

    Amazon still offers the movie soundtrack, though: http://tinyurl.com/yjv9orl

    “Escape,” “Dare,” “The Death of Optimus Prime” and “The Touch” powered me through many, many elementary school days.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Anyway, I love this movie and I’ll never watch it again because I know it will be horrible and corny, and my heart just couldn’t stand the shock. I learned my lesson when I went back and rewatched The Last Unicorn.

    Yup. I felt the same pain watching Thundercats again as an adult. MAN what a pile of shite. But I loved it more than anything as a little girl. Except maybe Transformers, which I loved too.

    Also: Unico movies. A few years ago I finally found a good copy of Unico. I remembered these movies as thrilling and touching, dangerous and disturbing, a combination I love in my movies even now.

    I should never have rewatched it. I should have left well enough alone. It was gratingly unbearable. My poor mother watched all this stuff with me and I feel a newfound sympathy for her. :)

  • Thank you so much for sharing trailer of Transformers. Transformers is a rollicking, rousing experience, and the action scenes are too chaotic to be exciting. I hope we’ll have a pretty fun time checking out both the robotic and human eye candy.

  • My poor mother watched all this stuff with me and I feel a newfound sympathy for her. :)

    Tell me about it.

    I never realized how much my mother loved me and the rest of my siblings until I hit my 20’s and started re-watching some of the movies my siblings and I had watched with her when I was a kid.

    Ay, Dios, she must have had a lot of patience…

  • markyd

    My brothers and I were total Transformers fans, but I don’t recall seeing the movie in theaters. Regardless, when we finally did see it, it became one of the defining movies of my childhood. See amanohyos comments above, as I feel very similar.
    The death of Prime was heart-wrenching. The music was great and I still hum the tunes to this day. I actually re-watched it a couple years ago with my son, and it wasn’t THAT horrible. Crappy dialogue. The whole planet of Junk. A lot of it still works for me, though. Unicron is awesome. Galvatrons introduction. Devestator. Plus Prime kicking ass.
    SO much better than Bays crappy movies.

  • Jason

    I saw it in the theatre, and dozens of times on tape/dvd. I was a huge TF fan as a kid.

    As corny as it is, this TF is an oscar winner compared to the drek Bay would feed us.

  • Bluejay

    Why are we all apologizing for liking this thing? Sure, it’s not Shakespeare, and some of it may suffer in comparison to our memories of it (I guess I’m apologizing too – aargh), but like markyd, I think a lot of it is still pretty damn cool and holds up well.

    Rewatching Prime and Megatron’s fight – http://tinyurl.com/pmzlv – I was struck by how well-planned the mayhem actually was. Look at how the fighting tells the story. Prime rolling off to his heroic doom, with the emotional equivalent of the “Rocky” theme in the background. Then the high-noon showdown, complete with “one-shall-stand-one-shall-fall” dialogue (lamely shoehorned into the first Bay movie) and the characters standing in foreboding shadow. There’s the way the fighting styles match the characters: Prime is straightforward, takes the damage, and just keeps on coming; Megatron cheats. Plus the fact that the animation is several notches above the TV show: look at the detail on Megatron’s close-up when he says “It’s over, Prime.”

    And of course, Prime dies (and *stays* dead, at least in the film) – maybe the first time I ever watched a cartoon that dared show me that war has consequences, and some of my heroes might not make it. No G.I. Joe parachutes or A-Team-style crawling out of overturned vehicles in *this* movie. As a kid I found this pretty stirring stuff. I still think it’s solid, and way more coherent and story-driven than Bay’s bash-em-smash-em version.

  • JoshDM

    In the theatre version, Spike curses. When it was first released on VHS, they cut that out. It was later put back in for additional releases.

  • CB

    Yeah I rewatched this many years later, and while parts of it were terrible (planet of junk, yes — Dare to be Stupid and the micromachines guy so annoying even when I was a kid), some stood the test of time. I still think the first 15 minutes are some of the best cinema to ever grace the silver screen.

    Also funny thing about Orson Wells. He totally didn’t give a crap about this movie. He had no idea what it was about, and didn’t care at all. When asked about it he said something like “it’s a movie where some toys fight other toys.”

    So despite not caring at all and being totally half-assed, he gave one of the most memorable villain voice performances ever. What an awesome dude. :)

  • JSW

    Hey, the Planet of Junk scenes had Eric Idle dancing to Weird Al Yankovic. What more could you want in a movie?

  • CB

    Hey, the Planet of Junk scenes had Eric Idle dancing to Weird Al Yankovic. What more could you want in a movie?

    That concept not being wasted on such a terrible scene. ;)

  • Paul

    Autobots! Roll out!

    That was the line, wasn’t it? I ate up those cartoons as a kid. Then, I think six years ago, a second run theater showed the cartoon movie (one night only) and the only time the audience laughed was at the date the movie supposedly took place: 2005 or 2010. That struck people as funny. The theater was packed by the way. I think it’s interesting that they had to bring back Optimus because of popular demand; they took a risk and the fans revolted.

    I groved on the music, too. Years later I would play it on my mixed tape while weight lifting, along with songs lifted from Rocky movies (Rocky III and IV, mostly), the Heavy Metal cartoon, and some other stuff.

    And I’m often freaked out by rewatching old sitcoms. I know they are “situation comedies,” but if the situation was the source of humor, such as Hogan’s Heroes or The Addams Family, they didn’t wear so well (despite the great Addams Family movies) when I rewatched them as an adult, but the character driven shows like WKRP or M*A*S*H are still worth watching.

  • CB

    I think it’s interesting that they had to bring back Optimus because of popular demand; they took a risk and the fans revolted.

    It wasn’t a risk. They always intended to bring him back. The movie ends with a teaser for the next season of the TV show (emphasis added): “The battle is over, but the galaxy spanning adventures of the Transformers will continue and the greatest Autobot of them all – Optimus Prime – will return.

    As cool as the movie was, you can’t forget that ultimately both it and the TV show were extended toy commercials (though they tv show and movie were designed to make money, so consider them all tied together).

    They killed off a bunch of the old guard at the start of the movie (quite shocking as a kid who was used to cartoons where nobody ever died) to clear the way for a bunch of new characters and thus toys.

    I thought I recalled that the death of Prime was to prime (heh) the way for the white Optimus toy, but google tells me that was actually the Ultra Magwuss toy. It was still probably a wise decision to reassure kids that Prime would be back so they’d keep watching the cartoon.

  • JSW

    It wasn’t a risk. They always intended to bring him back. The movie ends with a teaser for the next season of the TV show (emphasis added): “The battle is over, but the galaxy spanning adventures of the Transformers will continue and the greatest Autobot of them all – Optimus Prime – will return.”

    Only in the European edit of the film, which was released a fair bit later than the original US version after the backlash had become apparent. That line wasn’t in the original US edit of the film. There was no plan to bring Optimus back when the movie was first released (at least, not for good – the episode Dark Awaking in which Optimus temporarily returns then dies again was already on the drawing board when the movie was released, but the Return of Optimus Prime two-parter was made entirely because of the backlash.)

    Essentially, Hasbro considered the various robots in the series to simply be means to advertise the toys and didn’t realise that some of the audience had become attached to them as actual characters, so when the original lineup of figures was discontinued and replaced with newer products they saw no reason not to simply kill their animated counterparts off to make way for a new cast.

  • CB

    Only in the European edit of the film, which was released a fair bit later than the original US version after the backlash had become apparent. That line wasn’t in the original US edit of the film.

    Are you sure? Because I saw the movie in a U.S. theater shortly after release, and I could have sworn that line was there. Well, okay.

    Essentially, Hasbro considered the various robots in the series to simply be means to advertise the toys and didn’t realise that some of the audience had become attached to them as actual characters, so when the original lineup of figures was discontinued and replaced with newer products they saw no reason not to simply kill their animated counterparts off to make way for a new cast.

    Yes, in any case, that was essentially my point. Killing off the characters was all about hocking merchandise, not taking dramatic risks. If they weren’t planning on bringing Optimus back all along, then they simply didn’t understand that there would be backlash, and had nothing to do with conscious risk-taking.

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