Transformers: The Movie Rewind Review
Director: Nelson Shin.
Watching this animated movie in remastered glory brings me right back to my childhood, though it does make me feel a little old this being a 30th Anniversary steelbook edition. The Transformers, were by far, my favourite cartoon, comic and toy franchise during my childhood but I say this without bias, this is the best movie adaption of any of the cartoon programs of the 80s.
It all started in 1983 when American toy manufacturer Hasbro sent a team of representatives to the Tokyo Toy Show and they secure the rights to produce transforming toys from the Japanese firm, Takara, releasing the toys under a single brand name, Transformers. In order to promote sales, Marvel comics were enlisted to create the backstory, as they did for Hasbro's other line, G.I. Joe. It was an international success with comics, toys and an animated series which lead to this feature length film.
It's a simple story of good versus evil, the heroic Autobots led by Optimus Prime fighting against the evil Decepticons, controlled by Megatron; with humans and the Earth caught up in the middle. But, there's a new, even bigger threat to one and all, a mighty force that's devouring everything in the universe with Earth and Cybertron on the menu. Unicron is a perfect creation. A gigantic, monstrous entity that destroys everything in it's path, a planet-sized transformer that feeds on planets and moons alike, quite possibly being the ultimate villain in transformer history.
The animation is beautifully vivid in typical transformer style but with elaborated, stunning action sequences which would give any fan goosebumps. Optimus' grand battle entry with Stan Bush's iconic "The Touch" playing on the soundtrack, Hot Rod and Daniel's climb up Look Out Mountain and the evolution of Galvatron and his minions are just a few examples. It's typically very 80's with stunning, vibrant and almost surreal artwork. Shin understanding and use of colour and shadow is exceptional and is only subconsciously noticed, but you get a higher appreciation for the art when it's pointed out to you.
Being feature length at 84mins, the story quickly throws the audience into dismay, killing off some of the favourite characters of the first generation as if they were extras. Not that it lacked any heart, the death of Ironhide and of course Optimus Prime is very emotional and upsetting for any hardcore fan. For a childhood movie, it hosts one of the most brutal and emotional scenes in children's cartoons. For a pre-ten year old to see his favourite heroes killed off and die was shockingly scarring, much like what Games of Thrones does today. Kids cried and parents wrote angry letters to the producers for upsetting their children.
To the producers, the toy makers, they saw this as a great vehicle to launch their new line of transformers, so the old characters had to move aside, and thus the decision to kill off certain favourites. They saw this simply as good business marketing and never imagined or expected the response they received from the fandom, even still to this day. It wasn't until then, did they realise how iconic and loved Optimus Prime and company was. Though it does form a great foundation for the new characters that come to light, like Kup, Hot Rod, Arcee and Springer. This is certainly the bridge that connects the two generations and is a brilliant evolution for the series.
The voice casting is a grand testament to the transformer legacy, with recognisable favourites of Cullen, Welker and Crothers, but it's boosted up with names like Nimoy, Stack, Idle and of course, Orson Welles as Unicron. How on Cybertron did they manage to get both Nimoy and Welles on board? Welles was perfect for Unicron who was so happy to play the killer planet, but he sadly passed away a few months after filming had finished.
It's poorly scripted but it wouldn't be Transformers without the cliches and weak plot-lines like the origin of Wheelie and the Junkions bearing the autobot symbol. And there's a slight curse being snuck in at around 36mins in that could easily be missed. There was plenty of rewrites during the storyboard process, but the final story is a daring, heroic and energising adventure.
The hair metal rich soundtrack was one of the best soundtracks of the eighties. Stan Bush's "The Touch" is the perfect example of what 80's music stood for. It was totally fitting to the film and story. Other artists like N.R.G., Spectre General and even 'Weird Al' Yankovic provided amazing tracks with Lion reworking the iconic Transformer's Theme Song. Rocky IV composer, Vince DiCola's was brought in to do the score and he did grand job, mixing synths, effects and classic thematic music. The somber tone of The Death of Prime to the action music of the battle scenes. This is one of my favourite soundtrack/scores of all time, actually owning this physical copy on CD which I purchased while visiting Maryland, US.
This was a serious children's film. The perfect, impactful, cartoon movie that triggered a phenomenal response across the globe that is still strong today. This will always remain one of my all-time, favourite animated movies and I don't think any other toy/movie adaptation has best it yet. RIP Optimus Prime.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being the ultimate cartoon movie adaptation that still stands the test of time.