The Transformers: The Movie is a 1986 animated feature film based on the animated series of the same name. It was released in North America on August 8, 1986.
The film was directed by Nelson Shin, who produced the original Transformers television series, and features the voices of Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Casey Kasem, Robert Stack, John Moschitta, Jr., Peter Cullen and Frank Welker. It was also the final role for both Orson Welles and Scatman Crothers.
The story takes place in 2005, 20 years after the events of the TV series' second season and serves to bridge into the third season. Set to a hard-driving metal music soundtrack, the movie has a decidedly darker tone than the television series, with detailed visuals in Toei Animation's typical animated feature film styling, and Decepticon villains that are more menacing, killing without hesitation. The film features several grand battles in which a handful of major characters meet their end. The film’s tagline was: "Beyond Good. Beyond Evil. Beyond Your Wildest Imagination."
It is revealed that the evil Decepticons have gained control of the Transformers' homeworld, Cybertron. The heroic Autobots are readying themselves on two of Cybertron's moons for a strike against the Decepticons, preparing a supply shuttle for launch to Autobot City on Earth. Their transmission is intercepted by the Decepticons, who ambush the shuttle and kill its crew, consisting of Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl, and Brawn. The Decepticons then attempt to use the ship to infiltrate Autobot City on Earth without being detected.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Daniel Witwicky and Hot Rod race to greet the shuttle. They notice its damaged exterior and spot Decepticons aboard the damaged shuttle, upon which Hot Rod fires at the stowaways. After a brief battle pitting Hot Rod and Kup against the Decepticons Blitzwing and Shrapnel, the Decepticons begin their attack on Autobot City. The outnumbered Autobots, including Autobot City Commander Ultra Magnus, Blurr, Springer, Perceptor, and female Autobot Arcee, fare poorly. Ultra Magnus sends orders to alert Blaster to radio for assistance from their commander and leader Optimus Prime. An attempt to thwart the transmission by Decepticon Soundwave fails, and the broadcast reaches Moon Base One where Optimus is stationed. Optimus Prime and the Dinobots arrive to successfully repel the Decepticon invaders, including the here far-more-menacing Devastator.
Here too, Optimus Prime, almost single-handedly takes down many Decepticon warriors. In an epic clash of the titans, Optimus Prime and Megatron engage in a memorable final battle that leaves Prime mortally wounded (due to the untimely intervention of Hot Rod) and Megatron severely damaged and near-death as well. Prime manages to turn the tide of battle however and defeats Megatron. The Decepticons retreat with their fallen leader and other war-wounded loaded aboard Astrotrain for transport back to Cybertron, on the orders of Starscream.
Inside Autobot City's walls, Perceptor alerts the other Autobots that the wounds that Optimus Prime has suffered during his battle with Megatron are fatal. The dying Optimus Prime calls on Ultra Magnus to assume command of the Autobots and bestows him with the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, which Optimus extracts from his chest. Optimus asserts that the Matrix one day will light the Autobots' darkest hour, right before he dies. Back in space, Astrotrain's shortage of fuel prompts the Decepticons to eject the dead weight of their injured — including the protesting Megatron. This leaves the remaining Decepticons to bicker among themselves for leadership.
Drifting aimlessly, the Decepticon castoffs encounter Unicron, who offers to give Megatron and the others new bodies on the condition that they destroy the Autobot Matrix, which, Unicron says, is the only thing that can stand in his way. Megatron reluctantly agrees, and Unicron uses his power to reformat him into a new form: the powerful Decepticon warrior christened "Galvatron". His damaged underlings were also reformatted into Cyclonus, Scourge, and the Sweeps. Unicron provides them with a craft on which they travel to Cybertron, where Galvatron confronts and obliterates the treacherous Starscream and takes command of the Decepticons, as his alter-ego Megatron did before him.
Back on Earth, the Autobots are alerted as Unicron consumes Cybertron's two moons, along with Autobots Jazz, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper and Daniel's father Spike (who are ultimately rescued). Galvatron leads the Decepticons in another assault on Autobot City. The Autobots board a pair of shuttles and flee toward their threatened planet of Cybertron. Hot Rod, Kup and the Dinobots are shot down over the planet Quintessa, while Ultra Magnus and company evade their pursuers and set down on the planet of Junk for repairs.
Captured by Quintessa guardsmen, Hot Rod and Kup witness the sentencing and execution of Orbilus and are then subjected to a trial by Quintesson executioners. Before the trial, they see Kranix, now Lithone's last survivor, who then tells them about Unicron, before he's taken away by the Quintessa guardsmen to be fed to the Sharkticons. At the trial, Hot Rod and Kup battle the Sharkticons with difficulty, but luckily, they are rescued only by the arrival of the Dinobots. Grimlock intimidates the Sharkticons to rebel against the Quintessons with ease, while the Autobots escape. With help from the Dinobots' new ally, Wheelie, the group locate a ship and depart for the planet to join the other Autobots.
Meanwhile, Galvatron finds and hunts down the Autobots on Junk. Ultra Magnus tries but fails to awaken the Matrix's powers, and then is destroyed by the Sweeps. Galvatron steals the Matrix, stating that he intends to use it to make Unicron his slave. The remaining Autobots are harassed by hostile Junkion natives, led by Wreck-Gar, until Hot Rod's party touches down to befriend them. The Junkion allies repair Ultra Magnus and volunteer a vessel to help the Autobots fight against Unicron.
Back in space, Galvatron attempts to subjugate Unicron using the Matrix but is unable to unleash its power. Unicron, seeing that Galvatron is underestimating him, transforms into a huge planet-sized robot and attacks Cybertron. As protest against this, Galvatron opens fire on Unicron, but Unicron simply swallows him up. Decepticon defenders scramble to counter Unicron's attack, to no avail. As the Autobots reach the scene, Hot Rod crashes his ship into through the giant's eye and finding themselves separated within Unicron's body. At that time, Wreck-Gar and his Junkions fight back against Unicron, but Unicron crushes their only ship, however they survive.
Inside, Hot Rod fights the recently consumed Galvatron. Hot Rod secures his grip on the Matrix, and the power of The Matrix is unleashed, transforming him into Rodimus Prime. Rodimus unleashes its power to destroy Unicron from within, but not before he throws Galvatron deep into space. Rodimus leads the other Autobots out of Unicron's body before it explodes, sprawling parts of the giant across the galaxy. Reclaiming Cybertron, the victorious Autobots declare the beginning of a new age of peace and happiness. The movie ends with Unicron's monstrous head circling Cybertron, a dark replacement for the two moons that once existed.
Aside from Starscream and several Sweeps, there are virtually no Decepticon deaths in the movie. Several of the injured Decepticons were reformatted by Unicron, and while it is clear that Galvatron has Megatron's memories, it is less so with Cyclonus, Scourge, meaning that one might be able to consider Thundercracker, Skywarp and the Insecticons among the "dead". Shockwave's death was scripted but cut from the finished film; it was reinstated for IDW Publishing's adaptation of the feature, printed in 2006. Jets resembling Dirge, Thrust and Ramjet are all shown being crushed between Unicron's jaws, but all three characters would reappear in the third season, repeatedly, all with speaking lines, suggesting that they were not intended to perish in the film.
One of the intentions of the movie was to rid the Transformers cartoon universe of the majority of characters from Seasons 1 and 2. Story consultant Flint Dille elaborated:
In the next season (3), we were going to have all these new characters, and people are going to be wondering what happened to the old characters that they liked so much. What we knew, in a business sense, is that they had been discontinued, because they were the 1984/1985 (toy)line – but, we needed to tie them off. So, we had this one scene where the Autobots basically had to run through a gauntlet of Decepticons. Which basically wiped out the entire '84 product line in one massive "charge of the light brigade". So, whoever wasn't discontinued, stumbled to the end. That scene didn’t make it into the finished movie. But if you think kids were locking themselves in the bedroom over Optimus Prime, basically in that scene they would've seen their entire toy collection wiped out.
The movie was produced by Sunbow/Marvel simultaneous to G.I. Joe: The Movie. The writers of the G.I. Joe film asked for permission from Hasbro to kill a character, Duke. Hasbro not only approved the request but "insisted" that the writers of Transformers: The Movie adopt the same fate for Optimus Prime. However, Optimus Prime's death sparked much controversy and incurred so much backlash that it caused the writers to make changes so that Duke simply ended up in a coma (and eventually woke up from the coma).
|Role||English voice actor||Japanese seiyū|
|Optimus Prime||Peter Cullen||Tesshō Genda|
|Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime||Judd Nelson||Hiroya Ishimaru|
|Ultra Magnus||Robert Stack||Shō Hayami|
|Springer||Neil Ross||Kenyū Horiuchi|
|Arcee||Susan Blu||Masako Katsuki|
|Kup||Lionel Stander||Osamu Saka|
|Wheelie||Frank Welker||Kazue Komiya|
|Blurr||John Moschitta, Jr.||Ken Yamaguchi|
|Blaster||Buster Jones||Keiichi Nanba|
|Perceptor||Paul Eiding||Ken Shiroyama|
|Grimlock||Gregg Berger||Takurō Kitagawa|
|Slag||Neil Ross||Ken Yamaguchi|
|Swoop||Michael Bell||Yoku Shioya|
|Jazz||Scatman Crothers||Minoru Inaba|
|Cliffjumper||Casey Kasem||Takurō Kitagawa|
|Bumblebee||Dan Gilvezan||Yoku Shioya|
|Ironhide||Peter Cullen||Shō Hayami|
|Brawn||Corey Burton||Minoru Inaba|
|Megatron||Frank Welker||Seizō Katō|
|Galvatron||Leonard Nimoy||Seizō Katō|
|Cyclonus||Roger C. Carmel||Minoru Inaba|
|Scourge||Stan Jones||Yū Shimaka|
|Starscream||Chris Latta||Hirotaka Suzuoki|
|Soundwave||Frank Welker||Issei Masamune|
|Frenzy||Frank Welker||Ken Shiroyama|
|Rumble||Frank Welker||Ken Yamaguchi|
|Devastator||Arthur Burghardt||Yū Shimaka|
|Bonecrusher||Neil Ross||Toshirō Ishii|
|Hook||Neil Ross||Masashi Ebara|
|Scavenger||Don Messick||Keiichi Nanba|
|Scrapper||Michael Bell||Keiichi Nanba|
|Astrotrain||Jack Angel||Takurō Kitagawa|
|Blitzwing||Ed Gilbert||Masashi Ebara|
|Shockwave||Corey Burton||Yū Shimaka|
|Kickback||Clive Revill||Yoku Shioya|
|Shrapnel||Hal Rayle||Toshirō Ishii|
|Unicron||Orson Welles||Mizuho Suzuki|
|Quintesson Leader||Roger C. Carmel||Masashi Ebara|
|Wreck-Gar||Eric Idle||Toshirō Ishii|
|Spike Witwicky||Corey Burton||Masashi Ebara|
|Daniel Witwicky||David Mendenhall||Mayumi Tanaka|
|Kranix||Norman Alden||Toshirō Ishii|
|Narrator||Victor Caroli||Issei Masamune|
In addition to the above-listed characters, many additional Transformers appear throughout the film in non-speaking roles.
The Transformers: The Movie was Orson Welles' final film. He was in declining health during production. Shortly before he died, he told his biographer, Barbara Leaming, that he had spent the day "playing a toy in a movie about toys who "do horrible things to each other." Film historian Joseph McBride quotes Welles saying of his participation: "I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed." Welles' voice was apparently so weak by the time he made his recording that technicians needed to run it through a synthesizer to salvage it. The voicework for Transformers: The Movie was the last movie project he worked on; his voice session was on October 5, 1985, and five days later on October 10, 1985, Welles died of a heart attack.
The credits list several characters that either do not appear or do not speak in the finished film. Bell is also credited as Prowl, who does not speak. Messick is credited for Gears, who doesn't speak, instead of Scavenger, who does. The credits include Bud Davis as Dirge, who had lines cut from the film's original script, and Walker Edmiston as Inferno, who does not appear in either the film or script.
Peter Cullen is credited above Scatman Crothers, even though the cast members are usually listed in alphabetical order.
The film was first released on DVD in 2000 by Sunbow Productions and distributed exclusively in Canada by Seville Pictures. This version restored Spike's "Oh, shit!" line. The film was later released on DVD by Rhino Entertainment in North America and Maverick in the UK, both in 2001. Metrodome later licensed the movie to Prism Leisure to release a budget version in June 2003.
On September 5, 2005, Metrodome Distribution released a remastered DVD entitled Transformers: The Movie Reconstructed. Returning to the original negative of the film, Metrodome reconstructed the picture image, adjusting and shrinking it to reveal additional footage hidden by overscan, as well as remastering the video quality. Some complaint arose from the fact that this exposed areas of unfinished animation as these parts of the frame were not intended to be seen. Magno Sound's Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound remix contains many sounds not in the original version, as with the remixes done for the Transformers season boxsets, and Magno subsequently claimed that they had always been present. The DVD also included the first subtitled episode of the Japanese-exclusive series, Transformers: The Headmasters, the entirety of which was released in a DVD boxset for the first time in the UK, and the west, on September 26, 2005.
Sony BMG released "The Transformers: The Movie 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD" in North America (Region 1) on November 7, 2006. It features both the 16x9 widescreen version seen in cinemas and the full-frame version of the film. This version also restores the DEG opening logo that was part of the original screened version but was cut from the Rhino DVD. The two-disc set contains the following features:Disc 1
Metrodome Distribution released an Ultimate Edition of The Transformers: The Movie DVD in June 2007 in the UK (Region 2). The extras include many of the extras that were contained on the "Remastered" edition of the film on the first disc, with fan commentary serving as the only addition besides a fan-made Transformers movie trailer. The second disc contains interviews with Peter Cullen and Flint Dille. Despite promises of the only episode of Transformers: Zone, only "Scramble City" is included. Later in 2007 Metrodome released the movie, in a "bare bones" form on Blu-Ray Disc; the Blu-Ray version is only available in the UK, but is free of region coding and thus can be played on Blu-Ray players from anywhere.
The film was also released on Universal Media Disc for the PlayStation Portable by Pink Entertainment and Metrodome in the UK. The UK cinema version (4:3 aspect ratio) of the film was used and the disc contains no extra features.
Although the cartoon and comic book stories by Marvel were normally kept unrelated, the movie linked the two in the UK comic series, where it is portrayed as the eventual future of the comic's timeline. The direction the comic took afterwards pertaining to the origin of Unicron once again diverged from events depicted in the cartoon: a disruption to the fabric of spacetime caused by actions of Galvatron was explained to have altered the timeline, with the "movie future" becoming an alternate potential chronology for the comics, while a story in the U.S. title saw Unicron attacking Cybertron and being destroyed in the present day.
Corresponding with the animated movie's 20th anniversary DVD release, IDW Publishing, the current Transformers publisher, released a four-issue adaptation of the animated movie entitled Transformers: The Animated Movie. It was written by Bob Budiansky and drawn by Don Figueroa. The trade paperback features three pages of scenes not featured in the movie, including the activities of Omega Supreme and the other Combiner Teams and why they were not present at the battle for Autobot City.
The soundtrack was re-released on May 29, 2007. This version includes all ten tracks from the original soundtrack, plus new bonus material provided by Vince DiCola, who composed and produced the film's score. The bonus material includes three additional score cues and an alternate version of the Transformers Theme.
In 1997, 3H Enterprises released an album titled 'Til All Are One that features the film's score on two CDs. In 2001, 3H also released Lighting Their Darkest Hour, featuring the instrumental score; The Protoform Sessions, featuring early demos, outtakes, and alternate themes linked with narration by Dicola; and Artistic Transformations, featuring ten instrumental themes from the movie interpreted for solo piano.
The universal greeting used by Kup and Hot Rod appears in the PC game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne: when clicking numerous times on the hero Illidan, he responds with "Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong! It's the universal greeting."
In the live action Transformers film, Optimus Prime says to Megatron, "...one shall stand, one shall fall," in a homage to their confrontation in the animated film. Also, the scene where Jazz attacks Devastator is a reference to a similar scene in the animated movie when Kup jumps on Blitzwing.