The Transformers: The Movie is an animated feature film based on the original Transformers toyline and the animated series. It was released in the United States on August 8, 1986.
Often referred to by fans simply as "the movie" or "TFTM", this film opens with characters who had been featured in the first two years of the toyline and associated media (cartoons, comic books, etc.), but quickly introduces new characters and kills many of the old ones to make room. In particular, Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Starscream are all destroyed during the course of the film (each one comes back later).
The movie was a step up in almost every area from the television series, with a more sophisticated plot, more serious treatment of war and violence, a hugely ambitious scope and a greatly increased animation budget with well-known celebrities providing voice work. For these reasons the film remains very popular with children of the 1980s.
Primary characters and cast
- Optimus Prime - Peter Cullen
- Ultra Magnus - Robert Stack
- Perceptor - Paul Eiding
- Hot Rod - Judd Nelson
- Kup - Lionel Stander
- Blurr - John Moschitta
- Springer - Neil Ross
- Arcee - Susan Blu
- Wreck-Gar - Eric Idle
- Daniel Witwicky - David Mendenhall
- Megatron, Laserbeak, Rumble, Frenzy, Soundwave, Wheelie, Junkion - Frank Welker,
- Starscream - Chris Latta
- Galvatron - Leonard Nimoy
- Unicron - Orson Welles
- Shockwave, Spike Witwicky - Corey Burton
A planet-sized Transformer called Unicron who eats other planets is approaching Cybertron. As part of their continuing wars, the Autobots and Decepticons have a fierce battle on Earth which sees both Optimus Prime and Megatron mortally wounded. Prime passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus and dies, and Megatron is transformed by Unicron into Galvatron. Starscream (briefly) assumes leadership of the Decepticons, but is killed when Galvatron arrives at Cybertron. Galvatron then chases the surviving Autobots on Earth across space, splitting them up and taking the Matrix. The Autobots find their way back to each other, and follow Galvatron to Cybertron just as Unicron transforms into robot mode and begins to eat their world. Travelling inside Unicron, Hot Rod recovers the Matrix, transforms into Rodimus Prime, and uses the Matrix to destroy Unicron.
In the first sequence of the film, a mechanical planet called Unicron is shown travelling through the depths of space, then approaching and destroying another metal planet which has robotic inhabitants, much like Cybertron. During the attack, robots, vehicles, buildings, and even large chunks of rock float off the surface of the planet and spiral into the large "mouth" on Unicron.
The scene then transitions to Cybertron, and the narrator explains that it is the year 2005, and that the Decepticons are now in control of the planet. The Autobots are preparing to launch an assault to retake the planet from hidden bases on two of Cybertron's moons. The Autobots launch a shuttle to pick up a final shipment of energon from Earth before they strike.
Plans for the attack are overheard by Laserbeak, who reports back to Megatron. The Decepticons attack the Autobot shuttle en route to Earth, wiping out its crew (including Ironhide, Prowl, Ratchet and the guy in the picture over there). Using the Autobots' own shuttle, the Decepticons are able to get very close to the Autobots' base on Earth, Autobot City, before they are detected, and begin a devastating surprise attack on the unprepared city.
During the battle at Autobot City, both Optimus Prime and Megatron suffer mortal injuries, and a number of other characters are also killed. Eventually the Decepticons retreat, but the damage suffered by the Autobots has been severe.
For an extensive synopsis of the battle, see Battle of Autobot City.
Shortly after the battle, Prime lies on his deathbed. He passes the reins of leadership to Ultra Magnus and gives him the Matrix of Leadership. (Though Hot Rod actually touches the Matrix before Magnus does.) Prime relates a prophecy: "One day, an Autobot shall rise from our ranks, and use the power of the Matrix to light our darkest hour." He then gives the oath, "'Til all are one", and dies. This sequence of events is observed remotely by Unicron, who appears unusually concerned by the survival of the Matrix.
The Decepticons are making their escape aboard Astrotrain, but are too heavy for him to get them all home under his own power. After putting the matter to a fair vote, the Decepticons decide to throw their injured members off the ship to better the chance of survival for the rest. One of the most severely injured Decepticons is Megatron. Starscream tosses him out and, after a brawl amongst the others, claims leadership of the Decepticon army.
Megatron and the other adrift Decepticons then encounter Unicron in interstellar space. Unicron offers to rebuild Megatron and his minions in exchange for their service. Megatron agrees, and is reformatted into Galvatron. The other Decepticons are turned into Cyclonus, Scourge, and the Sweeps. Unicron provides them with a ship, and sends them to kill Ultra Magnus and destroy the Matrix, stating that the Matrix is the only thing which can stand in his way.
Galvatron first stops at Cybertron to take his revenge by killing Starscream and reclaiming leadership of the Decepticons. Almost immediately afterwards, Unicron arrives in Cybertron's vicinity and devours at least two moons—both of the Autobots' moon bases are destroyed. Under coercion by Unicron, Galvatron finally heads to Earth to kill Ultra Magnus, but Magnus and the other surviving Autobots flee in a pair of shuttles. Eventually Galvatron manages to cause one shuttle to crash on yet another metal planet (Quintessa), and detonates the other with a volley of missiles. However, the Autobots in the second shuttle escape unnoticed by separating the front portion of their shuttle just before impact.
The Autobots in the crashed shuttle, Hot Rod, Kup, and the Dinobots, find themselves separated and in a hostile environment. Hot Rod and Kup are captured by a squad of Allicons and taken before a Quintesson judge and his court. While being held there, they learn the name and nature of Unicron from Kranix, a survivor of the planet destroyed in the opening of the film, which he calls Lithone. Meanwhile, the Dinobots encounter and befriend a young, wild Autobot named Wheelie who has been living alone on Quintessa. Together, they crash the trial just as Hot Rod and Kup are fighting losing odds against the Quintessons' Sharkticons. The tide is turned, and the Autobots commandeer a Quintesson ship.
The other group of Autobots has landed on the planet Junkion to make repairs, but are attacked yet again by Galvatron, who was tipped off to their survival by Unicron. During the battle, Ultra Magnus tries to open the Matrix to use its power, but is unable to do so, and instead is killed. Galvatron absconds with the Matrix, taking it away to Unicron. The remaining Autobots—Perceptor, Springer, Arcee, and Spike's son Daniel—are then ambushed by Junkions, the eponymous natives of Junkion, who are also giant transforming robots. This battle is cut short, however, by the arrival of Hot Rod's group in their Quintesson ship. After exchanging the universal greeting they all make friends, and the Junkions restore Ultra Magnus to life. Together, the whole group travels to Cybertron to try to recover the Matrix.
Galvatron attempts to open the Matrix to use its power against Unicron, but is also unable to get it open. Unicron, not pleased with this attempted treachery, shocks Galvatron by transforming from a planet into a planet-sized robot. Unicron plucks Galvatron off his chest and swallows him, Matrix and all, and then begins attacking Cybertron itself. Shockwave scrambles the Decepticon forces to defend the planet, but they are ineffective against so large an enemy. Shortly the Autobots arrive from Junkion, and fly the Quintesson ship straight through Unicron's eye. This impact destroys the ship, and the Autobots fall out inside Unicron. Hot Rod, separated from the others, eventually runs into Galvatron. During their fight, Hot Rod gets his hands on the Matrix and hears Optimus's voice speak the words, "Arise, Rodimus Prime." Hot Rod grows in stature, adopts a much sterner demeanor, and quickly dispatches Galvatron by tossing him through Unicron's hull out into space. He then opens the Matrix, which fills Unicron with light and begins destroying him.
In the meantime, the other Autobots inside Unicron have located some of their comrades from the moon bases who had been presumed dead, including Bumblebee and Daniel's father, Spike. The Autobots, including Rodimus, escape through Unicron's remaining eye just as he begins to fall apart and explode. The scene then immediately shifts to the surface of Cybertron, where—for unclear reasons—the Autobots seem to be in charge again. Rodimus predicts an era of peace and prosperity, and the film closes with a shot of Unicron's severed head still floating in orbit around Cybertron.
"Welcome, Laserbeak. Unlike some of my other warriors, you never fail me.
- —Megatron making an obvious referrence to Starscream.
"Such heroic nonsense."
- —Megatron. Right before making Ironhide toy-accurate... The 'Cons always get the best lines.
"Turbo-revving young punk. I'll straighten you out yet!"
- —Kup, as Hotrod drives through the roadsign.
"Come on down, Auto-brat!"
- —Blitzwing, about to blast Daniel, until Kup interferes.
"I've got better things to do tonight than die!"
- —Springer, telling it like it is.
"Prepare for extermination!"
- —Devastator, giving his best yet only line.
"One shall stand. One shall fall."
- —Optimus Prime uttering the most quoted line of the Movie. An ass kicker cometh.
"Grant me mercy, I beg of you."
"You who are without mercy, now plead for it? I thought you were made of sterner stuff."
- —Megatron is about to make Optimus Prime wish he pulled the damn trigger.
"How do you feel, mighty Megatron?"
- —Starscream says this to Megatron before he kicks him.
"Don't leave me, Soundwave."
"As you command, Megatron."
- —Soundwave, proving his loyalty and awesomeness to Megatron.
"Do not grieve. Soon, I shall be one with the Matrix."
- —Optimus Prime on his deathbed. This is the bit that makes women weep - and nerds weep more.
"Oh, how it pains me to do this."
- —Starscream, fighting back the tears.
- —Megatron, who finally realizes that Starscream is an asshole.
"I have summoned you here for a purpose."
"Nobody summons Megatron!"
"Then it pleases me to be the first."
- —Unicron gives Megatron a nice tall glass of shut-the-Pit-up.
"Who disrupts my coronation?"
"Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy."
"Megatron? Is that you?"
"Here's a hint!"
- —Galvatron drops hints for Starscream like others drop anvils. But seriously, Starscream, who died and made you king?
"Oh SHIT, what are we gonna do now?"
- —Spike Witwicky naming a DVD chapter
Arcee: "Did we have to let them detonate three quarters of the ship?"
Springer: "Seeing as how they would have detonated four quarters, I think it was a good choice."
- —Springer plays the role of Captain Obvious.
"Me Grimlock no like you."
- —Grimlock to Wheelie, saying what we've been thinking since 1986.
"Me Grimlock no bozo, me king!"
- —Grimlock utters his most quoted line.
"I have nothing but contempt for this court!"
- —Hot Rod offering his opinions of the Quintessons' judicial skills.
"For a time... I considered sparing the wretched little planet, Cybertron. But now... you shall witness... its dismemberment!"
- —Unicron really needs to work on his anger management skills.
"Arise, Rodimus Prime."
- —Optimus Prime appoints Hot Rod, the guy
completelypartially responsible for his death, as Rodimus Prime.
"Now, light our darkest hour!"
- —Rodimus Prime prepares to give Unicron the worst case of indigestion he's ever had and fulfill his destiny. Surprisingly, he doesn't die mere minutes afterwards like everyone else after fulfilling their destiny.
"Let this mark the end of the Cybertronian Wars as we march forward into a new era of peace and enlightenment! 'Til all are one!"
- —Rodimus Prime announces the end of the Great War, but Hasbro had other plans.
"We gotta find a new travel agent."
- —Hot Rod giving advice what to do when you're not satisfied with the tourist treatment.
"First, Prime, then Ultra Magnus and now you. It's a pity you Autobots die so easily, or I might have a sense of satisfaction now."
- —Galvatron choking Hot Rod and dropping hints at the same time.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Significance in Transfandom
The Transformers: The Movie remains one of the most important elements of the entire Transformers brand, both within the fiction and from the perspective of the brand's popularity and "mindshare".
Fictionally, it established several story concepts that have been used repeatedly in the years since 1986, some of which—such as Unicron and the Matrix—are now central to the entire Transformers mythos. The movie is also the centerpiece of the most well-known Transformers continuity: the G1 animated universe. The G1 cartoon is split into "pre-movie" and "post-movie" sections which feature different characters and settings, and even somewhat different visual styles. (Most pre-movie episodes were animated by the studio Toei, while most post-movie episodes were animated by AKOM.)
On a practical note, it was widely available on videotape, and remained so long after the The Transformers cartoon had gone off the air. Only a handful of series episodes were available on video, making The Transformers: The Movie the logical choice for someone looking to pick up a Transformers cartoon; this made it far more well-known among fans than any particular cartoon episode.
To an entire generation of young fans, the movie was the most visually spectacular and narratively epic Transformers experience of their entire youth. Events such as the death of Optimus Prime are widely reported to have reduced many kids to tears. It is hardly a surprise that these emotional experiences embedded themselves deeply in many fans' memories.
All this is not all to say that the movie is a "masterpiece", exactly. The film met with extremely harsh critical reviews on its release, and some of those criticisms still ring true today.
The film displays an arguably cynical attitude towards itself as a vehicle for advertising toys, especially in the way beloved characters are killed—sometimes gratuitously—for sake of justifying the story's focus on a new group of toys. (Note that with the exception of Laserbeak and possibly Buzzsaw, the poster at the top of this article features only new characters.)
Also, there is an interesting point to be made. In both prior Cartoon seasons, the Decepticons display horrendously poor aim, and very little durability. In the movie, however, the "shuttle attack" scene displays them possessing superb marksmanship, easily killing the Autobots present with little more than one or two shots apiece. As for the question of durability, a series of rockets fired by Springer at Devastator, which in the prior seasons probably would have sent the massive Decepticon flying in pieces, are easily shrugged off even while the blast sends Insecticons and Seekers hurtling away.
Further, the two primary plot devices—Unicron and the Matrix—have no prior establishment in the fiction. Unicron is given no backstory or justification; he simply exists, is very dangerous, and is afraid of the Matrix, all for no adequately explained reason. The introduction of the Matrix itself is a heavy retcon. The story asks the audience to accept that this cosmically powerful artifact has been in Prime's possession all along (even though an X-ray of Optimus Prime's innards in the second season episode "A Prime Problem" show absolutely no signs of said Matrix), but has somehow never been relevant before. In fact, this lack of prior establishment is what led Simon Furman to develop the divinity backstory of Unicron and Primus in the UK comics run.
The movie bears many similarities to Star Wars: There are several character-parallels (Springer is a Han Solo-type and Arcee even has Princess Leia's hairdo!), the primary threat is similar (it's the Death Star... but it transforms!), and both feature a climactic battle where the young hero hears the voice of his wise mentor one last time before saving the day. Also, the sounds of lightsabers activating are used often throughout the film.
To be a bit more fair to The Transformers: The Movie, however, most of these similarities are either superficial (Arcee's Leia-hair; Megatron's "lightsaber" he briefly uses in his duel against Optimus Prime) or can be seen as elements common to thousands of years worth of epic storytelling through human history, not just common to Star Wars. As a simple example, the phenomenon of two charismatic leaders dealing each other mortal injuries in battle hearkens back to some versions of the "King Arthur" myth; in their final battle, Arthur and his arch-enemy Sir Mordred deal one another lethal injuries and both apparently expire -- though Arthur according to the legend will return when England's need is greatest.
Though most likely coincidental, the movie also bears many similarities to the Marvel Comics Fantastic Four story "The Galactus Trilogy":
- The presence of an enormous world-devouring cosmic entity that threatens to destroy the heroes' home planet (Galactus/Unicron).
- The presence of a single item that is the only thing that can stop said cosmic entity (Ultimate Nullifier/Matrix of Leadership).
- The presence of a herald of said cosmic entity, who ultimately betrays the entity (Silver Surfer/Galvatron).
Trivia and controversies
This film was one of the last professional performances by Orson Welles, if not the very last. According to production materials shown at BotCon 2000 by Tim Finn, the voice recording sessions for The Transformers: The Movie were done on September 10 and 11 of 1985. Welles died on October 10 of that same year. It has often been speculated that Unicron's last line ("Destiny... you cannot destroy my destiny...!") was recorded by another actor—possibly Nimoy—because it sounds different than the other lines. This speculation has been quashed by statements by Transformers voice director Wally Burr.
The Dinobot Snarl is mysteriously absent from almost the entire movie (maybe he was scared of getting killed off), even though the Dinobots as a group are featured prominently. It is unclear why this is the case, but one possible explanation is that copies of the script which have come into fans' hands repeatedly list the Dinobots but never make mention of Snarl by name. In fact, at one point the script refers to "the four Dinobots". Despite this, Snarl does appear in three very brief shots, although he has no lines and no action. Another theory claims that the animation model for Snarl had gone missing, hence he is only seen in static form.
Also curiously absent are the 1985 Autobot cars and Mini-Vehicles, such as Inferno, Smokescreen, Cosmos, Warpath, etc. It would seem that these characters were available at the time of the movie:
- Perceptor and Blaster both debuted at the same time in the cartoon as the 1985 cars, and both play prominent roles in the movie.
- Grapple is seen very briefly during the battle for Autobot City.
- The 1985 Decepticons (Astrotrain, Dirge, etc.) appear in the film.
- Tracks, Red Alert, Sideswipe, Mirage and Smokescreen all appeared in storyboards but not the finished film. Trailbreaker does as well, however he gets killed immediately.
With the exception of Starscream, Unicron, and possibly Shockwave, only the Autobots suffered casualties in the movie. All of the other "dead" Decepticons from the Autobot City battle were rebuilt into Galvatron's new troops, and although more Decepticons were shown taking heavy damage and suffering huge casualties while fighting Unicron, their identities and their condition are uncertain. Additionally, both Starscream and Unicron survived in the post-movie series in some form or another. Shockwave's death in the finished film is highly uncertain, although in the script it is fairly strongly implied. He does make some appearances in crowd shots in later cartoon episodes, but these may be examples of the fairly common animation errors in those episodes.
Originally, Ultra Magnus's "death sequence" on Junkion called for him to be lassoed and drawn and quartered by the Sweeps' energy beams, but this was deemed too graphic for audiences, hence the less disturbing "shot to death" sequence seen instead. There is evidence that the original sequence had been fully animated when the decision was made, however; the Sweeps still kept their solid energy lassos when they fire upon Magnus, and Magnus is seen visibly straining against what appears to be said lassos (edited out and replaced with laser fire) before exploding.
A number of other sequences were storyboarded but dropped, presumably without ever being animated. Most notable among these was a scene that would have shown the Autobots finally bringing down Devastator with a barrage of missiles (and the Constructicons subsequently shooting Red Alert in the back), and the Decepticons dogpiling Optimus Prime, explaining why he seems to be standing up just before his fight with Megatron.
Rumors have occasionally circulated in the fandom of additional animated footage that was dropped from the film, such as ultra-violent battle scenes. No evidence has ever surfaced to back these claims; the only known edits are those listed below.
Near the end of the movie, the Decepticons were not seen leaving Cybertron. We find out that they've relocated to the planet Charr in the season 3 premiere.
This is the last appearance of Shockwave. Or not.
There are a few notable animation errors in the movie:
- While saying "More than you imagine, Optimus Prime" and watching Laserbeak's recording, triangles on both sides of Megatrons insignia are connected to his insignia, not separated, which makes it kinda look, like the insignia is smiling.
- When the Decepticons are killing the Autobots inside the Autobot shuttle, there is one of the common Starscream/Skywarp/Thundercracker miscolors. Megatron transforms into gun mode and Starscream catches him and kills Brawn. When they cut back to the Decepticons, Starscream is in front of the Constructicons without Megatron and is firing one of his arm rifles (this probably should have been Skywarp or Thundercracker). When they cut back to the Decepticons for the third time, Starscream has Megatron again and is finishing off the rest of the Autobots.
- When Hot Rod is attacking the shuttle, Starscream is there in front of the door getting hit, but he was with Megatron at the time, too which is odd because he got a wounded shin in the proccess he should have been thrown off but this scene is replaced by Skywarp which hasen't been hurt but thrown out which people are saying that there has been a miscoluring.
- During the Battle at Autobot City, Starscream gets his leg caught. He shoots downward and gets away while screaming "My foot!", but it's his shin that's smoking while his foot looks fine. Later he kicks Megatron with the same foot. Shouldn't that hurt, according to him?
- Swoop's lower leg appears for a brief second during the Autobot City battle, long before the rest of him gets there.
- When Devastator forms in Autobot City, his chest plate is the same green as the rest of him. In the next shot, it's the usual purple. However, it promptly turns green again in the next shot.
- Not so much an error, but if you watch Sludge when he's haymakered by Devastator, his eyes pop out of their sockets in Looney Tunes fashion.
- Sunstreaker and Hound appear with Huffer, Bluestreak and Kup when they observe Hot Rod firing on Ironhide's shuttle. Sunstreaker later appears as Optimus Prime's co-pilot when they arrive with the Dinobots, and both are seen disembarking the shuttle along with Optimus Prime.
- Hot Rod has at least two totally different transformation schemes during the course of the film.
- When Hot Rod tells the Junkions the universal greeting, the Autobot insignia on his chest is coloured black.
- Even after the Battle of Autobot City, characters who are supposedly dead continue to appear in crowd shots and battles. Shrapnel's role in the fight on Junk is the most noticeable, but Thundercracker and Skywarp can be seen at both Starscream's coronation and flying into Unicron's mouth in the RBFATE.
- Shockwave and Ironhide are present in one shot during the Battle of Autobot City.
- When the inside of Unicron is shown after he devours Lithone, the "blinking energy" effect of Unicron's innards was apparently achieved by recycling backgrounds from other animated TV shows or movies. If you go through the scene frame by frame, you will see what appear to be several images of post-apocalyptic buildings inside Unicron.
- There are a couple frames where you can see the inside of one of the Lithonian ships being devoured by Unicron. The pilot of the ship appears to be Kranix, even though he apparently screams out Kranix's name, and Kranix appears later in the Quintesson prison.
- When Optimus Prime takes the Matrix out of his chest to give to Ultra Magnus, there is another Matrix beneath it in his chest without a center. (On which note, see also Matrix of Leadership, Universe comic.)
- Not technically an error, but definitely an animator's easter egg; in the Quintesson jail cell, robot debris strongly resembling the RX-178 MK II and the MSZ-006 mobile suits from 1985's Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, can be seen.
- In the battle for Autobot City, when Prime drives up behind the Decepticons, Blitzwing turns his head and its color changes to purple for a split second. However, when he turns it back it's tan again.
- In the scene where Blaster ejects his tapes, he first ejects what looks like Eject. He stays blue up until he gets to the edge of the screen. He then turns black like Rewind. Then Blaster ejects another blue cassette, which after about a second turns black. This one gets through half his transformation colored black, then turns blue for a split second then turns black again. Then, when the cassettes are fighting each other, Eject runs in from the left and jumps over Perceptor. And then he runs in from the left again to shoot Ravage. Suddenly Brawl/Devastator doesn't look so bad does he?
- The first time we see Unicron's humanoid-mode head, he’s missing his beard. The next scene, it’s there. Rapid Aging?
- Why didn't anyone notice Unicron until he was within devouring distance of Cybertron's moons?
- Despite running out of energon goodies on Quintessa, Hot Rod has at least one to offer to the Junkions. Maybe he got some on the ship. It's also possible that, when he told the Allicons "No more," he meant that he wasn't going to feed them any more energon goodies, not that he didn't have anymore.
- So Ultra Magnus just happens to have a ready-made Matrix chamber installed in his chest cavity? Is this standard issue for all Autobots? NOTE : If Ultra Magnus was created in the same style as Optimus Prime, then he would have the chest cavity.
- Before Unicron's arrival, what were the Autobots on Moonbase 2 planning on doing with a bomb powerful enough to destroy the entire moon?
- Astrotrain tells his fellow Decepticons to "jettison some weight" while flying through space, where there is no gravity, but since it takes less force to move less mass, Astrotrain may have just been trying to improve his gas mileage.
- Alternatively, Starscream may have lied to get rid of Megatron. Funny how Starscream has to tell everyone what Astrotrain said, as if the rest of them couldn't hear him.
- Daniel, who was just learning how to use his exo-suit, had to knock down the acid cover inside Unicron to save his loved ones. Why couldn't the more experienced Spike do the same with his suit from above? He had both of his arms free and a clear shot at the cover.
- Rodimus Prime is not shown putting the Matrix inside his own chest; he has it when he is destroying Unicron and is next seen running down the hallway with no sign of where it went. (Season 3 episodes such as "Dark Awakening" showed Rodimus/Hot Rod to have a flip-open panel on his chest in the shape of his flames - which somehow has a hinge on the side that's not visible.) Whether this was to be assumed to exist in the movie or not is questionable, as is whether Hot Rod had such a thing beforehand. However he changes into Rodimus before he puts the Matrix inside, so it's possible during his evolution he gained a Matrix chamber.
- One could also wonder just how Rodimus Prime (carrying two humans) and the other Autobots (except Springer, who could fly) survived their jump out of Unicron's eye and their plunge towards the surface of Cybertron.
- One could argue that Megatron won the fight against Optimus Prime, given Prime's statement of "one shall stand, one shall fall". Prime dies, whereas Megatron does not die, and would have even have remained as Megatron had he not been betrayed by Starscream. Even taking into consideration his reformatting into Galvatron, Megatron still survived! So Megatron stood, while Prime fell.
- Notice how Sludge said "Quiet" in Grimlock's voice, despite not having any lines in the movie. His name's not even in the end credits.
- The Junkions rebuild a destroyed, apparently dead Ultra Magnus, and he is revived within seconds. Why did none of the Autobots think of doing this with Optimus?
- If taking information from "Beast Wars" into consideration, the essence of Transformers' life is spark within and Optimus Prime's is supposed to be somehow united with the Matrix according to Rhinox's explanation. Magnus was just destroyed, just like many cases of characters from Beast Wars cartoon getting smashed to pieces (Waspinator most notably) and yet participating in later battles - not to mention the event in the episode City of Steel from Generation One cartoon.
- When Astrotrain is in robot form, he is exactly the same size as most other transformers - but when he transforms into shuttle mode, he can now curiously carry pretty much the entire Decepticon fleet including Devastator, who is many times larger than the average Decepticon.
- This also happens with Cyclonus. In space ship form, he's large enough for Galvatron to ride in, but when he transforms he shrinks down to the size of the rider.
- Grimlock says, "Me Grimlock" 16 times throughout the film.
- Blurr, Wheelie, Wreck-Gar and his fellow Junkions all apparently survive after Unicron crushes their ship and appear on Cybertron at the end of the movie.
- The Decepticons weren't seen evacuating Cybertron after Unicron attacked it.
Formatting and Edits
Although it was billed in some advertisements before its theatrical release as being "widescreen", the movie was in fact animated in a 4:3 (fullscreen) aspect ratio. For its theatrical screenings, the film was matted down in the projector by the projectionist to a 16:9 aspect ratio (widescreen), chopping the top and bottom off the picture, but all video transfers of the movie were done without mattes, meaning that there was actually more picture visible in the fullscreen video and DVD releases than there would have been in theaters. Across 2006 and 2007, new editions of the DVD of the film were released by Sony BMG and Metrodome which applied the mattes in order to replicate the original theatrical presentation of the film for the first time in home entertainment. Some fans, however, didn't realize that the film wasn't actually animated in widescreen, and, hearing that the DVD was to be in widescreen, expected to see the fullscreen image with additional footage at the sides, causing them to complain that the top and bottom were cut off, thereby totally missing the point.
Several English-language versions of the film exist, with the following differences in content from the American theatrical run:
- In some versions (notably the European version) the opening credits are replaced with a scrolling text ("Star Wars style") which provides backstory.
- In some versions (notably the European version) the film ends with a narrator reassuring the audience that Optimus Prime will return.
- Instances of swearing in the film (there are two) were edited out; sometimes one, sometimes both. Those instances are: Spike yelling, "Oh shit, what are we gonna do now?" after the self-destructing Moon Base 2 fails to scratch Unicron, and Ultra Magnus growling, "Open, damn it, open!" while trying to open the Matrix to fend off Galvatron and the Sweeps on Junkion. The United Kingdom cinema version had the swearing included but, when it was released on VHS in the United Kingdom, Spike's line was cut. However it has been restored on all United Kingdom DVD releases.
- Instead of DEG, the Rank Film "gong man" appears before the film, as Rank were the United Kingdom distributors.
- The movie was originally released in North America on home video in 1987 by Family Home Entertainment, minus Spike's swear. Not long after, it was releasd in the UK by Video Gems. This version featured the opening text crawl and closing narration inherent to the UK version of the film. In Australia, the film was releaed on video by RCA/Columbia Pictures/Hoyts. In Japan, Hillcrane released a Laserdisc version alongside a VHS copy.
- The movie was released spottily in the '90s, beginning with a budget VHS by Avid Home Entertainment in 1991. Malofilm released a VHS in Canada in 1995, notable for being the first home entertainment version to include Spike's swear. In 1998, Japanese company Pioneer produced another pair of Laserdisc and VHS releases. In 1999, things kicked off when American company Kid Rhino secured the Transformers license and released the film on VHS once again.
- The 21st century's flirtation with The Transformers: The Movie started with a UK budget VHS release of that country's version by Maverick Entertainment. A Japanese company called CatCo followed this up with a VideoCD, and Malofilm—now Seville—were the first to release a DVD version of the film, though it was just a dump of their VHS version.
- In November 2000, The Transformers: The Movie got its first, full professional DVD release from Kid Rhino. This edition, labelled a "Special Collector's Edition", is the first to feature remastered video and audio, and several special features, including storyboards and an interview with Vince DiCola. Rhino concurrently released this version on VHS, sans extras.
- In 2001 in the UK, Maverick Entertainment released their own much-delayed DVD version of the film. It was the UK version of the film, but included Spike's swear. However, the release was burdened by badly interlaced video, though it notably included the RTM 1 dub version of the Headmasters episode "Four Warriors Come out of the Sky" as an extra. This version (including the Headmasters episode) was simultaneously released on VHS.
- The movie was released on DVD in Australia in 2003 by Madman Entertainment, using the same video as the Maverick version, but distinguished by some nifty new cover art by Don Figueroa, and special features not seen on other editions, such as The Touch music video and 80s TV spots.
- After acquiring the license to release Transformers DVDs in the UK, Metrodome focused on completing their run of series box sets before turning their attention to the movie properly, releasing only a cheap budget DVD of the UK version through Prism Leisure with no extras, and a UMD of the same version.
- In 2005, Metrodome released "Transformers: The Movie - Reconstructed", a new version of the film designed to expose as much of the animated picture as possible. This, however, only resulted in exposing the rough, unfinished edges of the animation, and an overly pale remaster was compounded by excessive interlacing due to an unnecessary NTSC to PAL transfer. This, coupled with a 5.1 remix from Magno Sound, featuring the same extra sound effects that they added to Rhino's season box sets, made this release both controversial and disappointing to many. This was the first time that the US version of the movie was released in the UK, and the first to feature the US poster art as a cover (although a Silverscreen store exclusive version of the disc included a reversible cover with the UK poster art as well). Extras include trailers, TV spots, the character biographies from the Madman release, and a subtitled version of "Four Warriors Come out of the Sky".
- For the movie's 20th anniversary in 2006, new license holder Sony BMG released a two-disc special edition of the film, featuring both a high-quality widescreen remaster and the original fullscreen version, audio commentaries from crew and fans, several new featurettes interviewing those involved in the movie's production, storyboards, tv spots, American and Japanese commercials and more. Most notably, this version included the first Western release of "Scramble City", albeit silent and unsubtitled, featuring only audio commentary. This release featured two covers by Don Figueroa: one is of the '84-'85 cast that appear in the movie, and one is of the movie's new characters, available either as a lenticular hologram that switches between the two, or as a reversible sleeve with the images printed on either side.
- Delayed a bit to coincide with the hype for the 2007 live-action movie, Metrodome also released a two-disc "Ultimate Edition" with a different widescreen master. Like "Reconstructed", this version used the US edition of the film, but this time, the UK version was also included, in fullscreen, on the second disc. Extras include TV spots, commercials, the Madman biographies, storyboards, commentary, Scramble City (with audio and subtitles), featurettes with Flint Dille and Peter Cullen, and more. The double-disc edition was sold in a steel case featuring new art by Andrew Wildman, with the UK poster art adorning the standard case inside. Various store exclusives were available, including postcards from Play.Com, a reversible cover with the US poster art from HMV, art cards from Virgin Megastore and posters from Woolworths and Toys R Us. It was also available in an extra-less single-disc version. This version was premiered at the Mid Ulster Film Festival in Ireland which was the only cinema showing of the remastered version of the film to date.
- The film was released in Full HD 1080p on Blu-ray in the UK in October 2007. The Blu-ray is not region-locked, so it will play anywhere in the world. It features a 2.0 soundtrack, 5.1 Dolby Digital track, and a full bitrate DTS 5.1 track. The master used was the same used by Sony for their US DVD. The picture is quite stunning and the sound very good. Sadly, there are no extras on the DVD. The version of the film on the Blu-ray is the US one, complete with swear word.
- Madman produced their two-disc special edition through some collaboration with Metrodome, and consequently it features much of the same content, with additional extras taking the form of The Touch music video and a bonus episode of Beast Wars. This release again features cover artwork by Don Figueroa, specifically the cover of IDW's Transformers: The Animated Movie adaptation.
- A comic adaptation of the movie was published by Marvel Comics in 1986, concurrently with the movie's theater run. It was based off a non-finalized version of the script, and differs in many details from the final film. Additionally, most of the major character models (and possibly their unedited original character write-ups) appear in Issue #4 of the Transformers Universe series.
- A four-part adaptation was released in 2006/2007 by IDW Publishing, as part of the film's 20th anniversary celebration. It was titled Transformers: The Animated Movie to differentiate it from the Michael Bay live-action film. Unlike its predecessor, it adheres rigidly to the script and plot of the finished movie.
- The movie was advertised on related 1986 toy packages via the Decipher the Decepticon Sweepstakes, which included a pack-in poster and contest.
- The movie was heavily advertised directly by TV commercials, and tail-end segments on Transformer toy commercials. Portions of its story were also retold in altered fashion by animation segments of commercials for the movie character toys, such as a spot showing Springer doing battle with Wreck-Gar.
In the comic continuity
The Marvel UK comic made extensive use of the Movie as the basis for a series of stories involving the Transformers in the future. However there are several differences between the events seen on screen and those referenced in the comic:
- The comic always dates the move to 2006, following the date given in a treatment that was all Simon Furman had when he wrote Target: 2006.
- In Target: 2006, Cyclonus states that he was previously "Life Spark".
- The Matrix is always called the "Creation Matrix" in the comic, a name that predates the "Matrix of Leadership" but which is now used for the same physical object.
- Brawn and Wheeljack both survive the events, both later appearing in Space Pirates! (set in 2008).
In addition Shockwave definitely survives the attack by Unicron.
The US comic ignored the events of the Movie, though later in the run an alternative future is briefly shown in "Rhythms of Darkness!" and "A Savage Circle". In this timeline at least some of the events of the Movie took place such as the creation of Galvatron from Megatron, which is dated to 2005, though Prowl's death was overlooked. Wouldn't the first time. Or the last.