The Transformers: The Movie is a 1986 animated feature film produced by Sunbow-Marvel Productions and animated by Toei Animation. It was released in the United States on August 8, 1986 and was distributed by the, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. In other English speaking countries, the distributor was The Rank Organisation.
Often referred to by fans simply as "TFTM" or (until 2007) "The Movie", 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 - basically, the writers wanted to make all the kids watching cry. 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.
A large planet ominously travels through the depths of space near giant stars. It approaches the inhabited planet of Lithone, dominated by robots, much like Cybertron. The large planet proceeds to consume the smaller world. The inhabitants, vehicles, buildings, and even large chunks of rock float off the surface of Lithone and spiral into the giant planet's maw. A single ship escapes and nothing of Lithone remains.
Act OneThe story turns 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 supply run are caught on video by Laserbeak, who reports back to Megatron. The Decepticons hijack the Autobot shuttle en route to Earth, wiping out its crew (including Ironhide, Prowl, Ratchet and Brawn). 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. However, Hot Rod spots the breach in the shuttle from a mountain lookout point, opens fire on the shuttle, foiling the surprise and forcing the Decepticons to attack prematurely.In response, the city is converted into a battle fortress, forcing the Decepticons to lay a long siege to wear down its defenses. The Autobots manage to send out a distress call, and Optimus Prime arrives the next morning with a relief force that succeeds in halting Megatron's forces as they storm the city. During the battle, 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.
Shortly after the battle, Prime lies on his deathbed. He passes the reins of leadership to Ultra Magnus and hands 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 he is too overloaded to fly home under his own power. After putting the matter to a 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, who Starscream has the honour of tossing out and, after a free-for-all for leadership breaks out among the others, claims leadership of the Decepticon army.
Megatron and the other Decepticons adrift then encounter Unicron in interstellar space. Unicron offers to rebuild Megatron and his minions in exchange for their service. Megatron, facing the alternative of being propelled further out into space, is forced to agree and reformatted into Galvatron. The other Decepticons follow suit and become Cyclonus, Scourge, and the Sweeps. Unicron supplies them a ship and sends them to kill Ultra Magnus and destroy the Matrix, since the Matrix is his only serious obstacle.Galvatron first stops off on 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' moonbases are devoured, but not before getting distress calls out to Autobot City. During the bases' destruction, Spike and Bumblebee rig Moonbase 2 to explode, but this proves to be a vain maneuver, and they end up swallowed whole like Jazz and Cliffjumper. Under Unicron's coercion, Galvatron finally heads to Earth to kill Ultra Magnus, but Magnus and the other surviving Autobots flee under fire in a pair of shuttles. Galvatron's fleet pursues the shuttles, eventually manages to cause one (crewed by Kup, Hot Rod and the Dinobots) 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 detaching the command pod of their shuttle just before impact and the resulting destruction of the hind quarters of their ship.
The Autobots in the downed shuttle—Hot Rod, Kup, and the Dinobots—find themselves separated and in a hostile environment. Hot Rod and Kup are met by an Allicon squad, who they attempt to placate with Energon goodies each. However, the pair quickly runs dry of treats and are captured and taken before a Quintesson judge and his court. While being held over for trial, they learn the name and nature of Unicron from Kranix, sole survivor of Lithone. The pair is summarily tried and sentenced to death. Meanwhile, the Dinobots befriend a young, mischievous Autobot named Wheelie who has been living alone on Quintessa. Together, they crash the execution just as Hot Rod and Kup are fighting losing odds against the Quintessons' executioners, the Sharkticons. The tide quickly turns, and the Autobots commandeer a Quintesson cruiser.
Act ThreeThe other group of Autobots has landed on the planet Junkion to make repairs, but are assaulted yet again by Galvatron, who was tipped off to their survival and whereabouts 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, though with the intention of enslaving his master. The remaining Autobots—Perceptor, Springer, Arcee, and Spike's son Daniel—are then ambushed by Junkions, the eponymous natives of Junkion, who are also transforming robots. This battle is cut short, however, by the arrival of Hot Rod's group in their Quintesson cruiser. After the universal greeting is exchanged, they all make friends, and the Junkions restore Ultra Magnus to life to make amends. Together, the whole group travels to Cybertron in an effort to recover the Matrix.
Galvatron tries to open the Matrix to unleash its power against Unicron, but fails to pry 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 in retribution. 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 cruiser straight through Unicron's left eye. This impact wrecks 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' 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 sets off detonations throughout his body.In the meantime, the other Autobots inside Unicron locate and rescue some of their comrades from the moonbases, including Jazz, Cliffjumper, Bumblebee and Daniel's father, Spike. The Autobots, including Rodimus, escape through Unicron's right eye just as he begins to fall apart and explode. The scene then immediately shifts to the surface of Cybertron, where, amid devastation and heavy losses to Decepticon forces, the Autobots are left to resume control over the planet. Rodimus vows an era of peace and prosperity, and the film closes with a shot of Unicron's severed head still floating in orbit around Cybertron.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Welcome, Laserbeak. Unlike some of my other warriors, you never fail me."
- —Megatron making an obvious reference to Starscream.
"This was almost too easy, Starscream."
"Much easier, Megatron, than attacking the real threat: the Autobots' moonbase!"
- —Megatron and Starscream
"You're an idiot, Starscream."
- —For once, Megatron, we agree with you.
"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 Hot Rod drives through the traffic barricade.
"Come on down, Auto-brat!"
- —Blitzwing, about to blast Daniel, until Kup interferes.
"Optimus Prime, do you read me? The Decepticons are blitzing Autobot City! We're really taking a pounding! Don't know how much longer we can hold out!"
"Soundwave, jam that transmission!"
"Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, Ratbat: eject. Operation: interference."
- —Blaster, Megatron and Soundwave
"First we crack the shell, then we crack the nuts inside!"
"We got Decepticons at the gates, Decepticons in the air, Decepticons outside the walls! Decepticons, Decepticons, Decepticons! If we beat them at the walls, they're still in the air. If we shoot them out of the air, they're still at the gate. So where does that leave us? Nowhere, that's where!
- — Blurr's "short report," with 51 words.
"I was afraid you'd be trapped outside the city."
"Hey, I wasn't worried for a micro-second."
"Then you probably didn't understand the situation."
- — Arcee and Hot Rod
"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 @#!*% kicker cometh.
"No more, Optimus Prime! 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 and Optimus Prime
"How do you feel, mighty Megatron?"
- —Starscream says this to Megatron before he kicks him.
"Don't leave me, Soundwave."
"As you command, Megatron."
- —Megatron and 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."
"Wait, I still function."
- —Starscream and Megatron, the former fighting back tears and the latter of whom finally realizes that Starscream is not a con.
"Soundwave: superior. Constructicons: inferior."
"Who are you calling inferior?"
"Nobody would follow an uncharismatic bore like you!"
"Hey, nobody calls Soundwave unchrasimatic!"
"Yeah! Let's kick tailgate!"
- —Soundwave, the Constructicons, Rumble, and Frenzy
"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!".
"Your bargaining posture is highly dubious, but very well. I will provide you with a new body and new troops to command."
"And nothing! You belong to me now."
- —Unicron and Megatron
"Behold: Galvatron. And these shall be your minions. Scourge, the tracker, and his huntsmen, the Sweeps. Cyclonus, the warrior, and his armada. And this shall be your ship. Now go. Destroy the Autobot Matrix."
"I will rip open Ultra Magnus and every other Autobot until the Matrix has been destroyed. To Cybertron!"
- —Unicron and Galvatron
"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 Megatron?
"It hasn't even been dented! Oh @#!*% , what are we gonna do now?"
- —Spike Witwicky naming a DVD chapter
Arcee: "Did we have to let them detonate 3 quarters of the ship?"
Springer: "Seeing as how they would have detonated 4 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 your 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.
- —Unicron's death speech
"Let this mark the end of the Cybertronian Wars as we march forward into a new age of peace and happiness! 'Til all are one!"
"We've got to get a new travel agent."
- —Hot Rod giving advice for 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.
"You want me to gut Ultra Magnus?"
- —Cyclonus asking Galvatron to shoot Ultra Magnus. According to the special edition of the Movie by Madman it was not his only line in the movie. There was one other line he had that many viewers attribute to Scourge
"But remember, we belong to him".
- —Scourge, reminding Galvatron who's boss. This was Scourge's only line in the film.
"Jettison some weight or I'll never make it to Cybertron."
- —Astrotrain, blatantly defying the laws of space.
And of course most importantly: "YOU GOT THE TOUCH! YOU GOT THE POWER!!!"
- The Transformers Theme by Lion
- Instruments of Destruction by NRG
- Dare by Stan Bush
- The Touch by Bush
- Nothin's Gonna Stand in Our Way by Spectre General
- Hunger by Spectre General
- Dare to be Stupid by "Weird Al" Yankovic
- The Transformers Theme by Lion
Notes & Trivia
- This film was the last professional performance by Orson Welles. 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 voice director Wally Burr.
- 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 or action.
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.
Indeed, the Deceptions as a whole seem to have become far more resilient and competent in the "20 years" between season 2 of the cartoon and the movie. The conquest of Cybertron is a surprise, as Season 2 gave the impression that the Autobots were winning. Even more obvious, their traditionally horrendous Aim has been replaced with Superb Marksmanship, as evidenced in the Shuttle attack, where they dispatch the present Autobots with only a few shots. Devastator as well has suddenly become a far more obvious threat, as, during Springer's missile attack, the missiles, which in past seasons would have reduced the Combiner to his different pieces, are shrugged off, even as they send the other Decepticons flying.
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, killing him), 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 Chaar in the season 3 premiere.
This is the last appearance of Shockwave. Or not.
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 Transformers cartoon had gone off the air. Only the first season 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).
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 Megatron's insignia are connected to his insignia, not separated, which makes it kinda look, like the insignia is smiling.
- As Kickback and Shrapnel are eating the entrance at Autobot City, after Shrapnel eats one part, and eats another, the first part is immediately auto-fixed.
- There is another common but not always noticable mistake that also occurs in the series after the movie. Blaster's forehead is white, but is sometimes drawn red along with the rest of him.
- When Hot Rod said to Daniel, "Why settle for a peek, when you can see everything from Lookout Mountain", Daniel was sitting in him the wrong way.
- 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, killing Brawn. When they cut back to the Decepticons, Starscream is in front of the Constructicons without Megatron and is firing one of his missle launchers (this probably should have been Skywarp or Thundercracker). When they cut back to the Decepticons for the third time, Starscream has Megatron again in hand and is finishing off the rest of the Autobots.
- During the Autobot City battle, 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?
- After Wheelie declares the location of a ship, the animation looks as if it got older, outlined darker, and less effort was put into it.
- During the Battle of Autobot City, Arcee is seen pulling bodies away from the battlefield as Springer pushes the turret. Before Arcee enters the shot, a dead Autobot who is lying there appears to be Smokescreen but was probably Wheeljack with the wrong colors.
- 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.
- Sunstreaker and Hound appear with Huffer, Bluestreak and Kup when they observe Hot Rod firing on Ironhide's hijacked shuttle. Sunstreaker later appears as Optimus Prime's co-pilot on the relief force shuttle, and both are seen disembarking behind Optimus Prime. One of these appearances was probably supposed to be Sideswipe, but Hound's presence is still unexplained.
- Hot Rod has at least two totally different transformation schemes during the course of the film.
- When Hot Rod exchanges the universal greeting with the Junkions, the Autobot insignia on his chest is black.
- Even after the Autobot City battle, 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 as well as all three Insecticons. Also, Decepticons with the same color scheme as Reflector are seen scrambling to posintions at the end battle.
- As Starscream is being executed by Galvatron, Astrotrain and Ramjet fall off the platform in a way that looks like there is a wall in their way of falling and they slide off the edges of the screen.
- When Galvatron kills Starscream, Soundwave and Scrapper can be seen reappearing after unacceptable ways of trying to become the leader of the decepticons, but when Galvatron first arrrives at Cybertron in the first place, they are already seen there. (Scrapper is blowing a trumpet and Soundwave was knocked over when Cyclonus ran over his fellow Decepticons).
- Other then on Cybertron, Shockwave is present only in a single fly-over shot during the Autobot City battle. Also, one of the Reflector robots appears throught the Battle.
- Ironhide can be seen during the Battle of Autobot City even though he's dead.
- 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 appears to be several images of post-apocalyptic buildings inside Unicron.
- There are a couple of frames where you can see the inside of one of the Lithonian ships being devoured by Unicron. The ship's pilot appears to be Kranix or Arblus, even though he screams out Kranix's name and both appear later in the Quintesson complex. The original script and 1986 comic adaptation show that Arblus was meant to die, which is how the scene was animated, but the final script meant for the Lithone scientist to die.
- 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.)
- 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 crow's nest scene when Blaster dispatches 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?
- Bumblebee and Spike are before Jazz and Cliffjumper when they are about to be dropped into the acid pit. Jazz and Cliffjumper were sucked into Unicron first. Right?
- As Bumblebee, Spike, Jazz, and Cliffjumper are being dropped onto the acid cover, Bumblebee is the second one to fall. After Jazz and Cliffjumper fall, another Bumblebee is seen about to be dropped.
- The First Transformers seen falling into the acid pit appear to be Ironhide and Ratchet, but they were clearly killed when the Decepticons hijacked the shuttle headed for Earth.
- The first time we see Unicron's face he’s missing his beard. The next scene, it’s there. Rapid Aging?
- When Megatron shoots Optimus with his pistol 5 times, not only does the pistol turn black when he says "Fall, FALL!!!" but the first three shots are purple, and the last two are orange.
- In his brief appearances, Bluestreak is missing his shoulder blasters.
- After Unicron devours Lithone, the "blinking energy" effect of Unicron's innards shows, for a split second, what appear to be several images of post-apocalyptic buildings. These are actualy from the Fist of the North Star movie which Toei Animation also animated. It was also released in Japan in the March 8, 1986 whereas The Transformers: The Movie was released in America exactly five months afterwards.
- If you watch Sludge when he's haymakered by Devastator, his eyes pop out of their sockets in Looney Tunes fashion.
- The dismembered robot body parts in the Quintesson jail cells are in fact redecoed parts of the RX-178 Gundam Mk-II and RMS-099 Rick Dias, two mobile suits from the 1985 anime television series Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
- 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.
- In "Fire on the Mountain", Brawn gets shot repeatedly in the head by Soundwave, then gets shot in the chest by Megatron's fusion cannon about two seconds later, and complains of a slight headache. Then he gets shot in the shoulder once by Megatron's fusion cannon, and dies. Hmm...
- When the Decepticons attack Autobot City, Devastator ripped down the walls of the city with his bear hands, which seemed to cause him considerable damage (hence the falling down in the next scene). However, in the television show, the comics, and the toy — he has a drill. The reason why he didn't use it to penetrate the walls faster is also unknown.
- Optimus Prime makes the fatal mistake of talking too much before pulling the trigger, and pays with his life. Just a few seconds later, Megatron follows suit. Both, apparently, haven't heard of the rule: "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk".
- Optimus' last words are :"Until that day... 'till all are one". An ancient Jewish custom is for the dying to utter a verse ending with the word "one" with their last breath, such as: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one", or: "On that day, the Lord shall be one, and His name shall be one" — which sounds very similar to what Optimus said.
- Along the movie, characters are speaking and shouting freely in outer space, ignoring the fact that without air, no sound can be heard. Also, opening Astrotrain's door while he's flying in space should have blown all his passengers out of him, due to the sudden change of air pressures. Note: Transformers aren't required to breathe, so most likely he has no reason to be pressurized.
- 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.
- 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.
- Blurr, Wheelie, Ultra Magnus, Preceptor, 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.
- When Unicron devours Lithone, it is munched and "digested" with its survivors in the inside, while Moon Base's survivors are taken to a huge acid bath. How exactly are they separated from the Moonbase debris and their escape-ships, is unclear.
- The original identities of the Decepticons changed by Unicron, aside from Megatron becoming Galvatron, are as follows: Thundercracker becomes Scourge. Kickback and Bombshell are Sweeps. Shrapnel becomes Cyclonus, apparently, while Skywarp is "Cyclonus' Armada".
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 it was one, sometimes both. Those instances are:
- Spike yelling, "Oh @#!*%, what are we gonna do now?" after the self-destructing Moon Base 2 fails to scratch Unicron
- Ultra Magnus growling, "Open, @#!*% 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; on that note, some other DVD releases, like that from Prism Leisure, also cut out instances of swearing. ("(Oh @#!%,) What are we gonna do now?"), ("Open, (@#!% it,) open!")
- In the UK, this film was distributed by Rank Film, which explains why the company "gong man" appears in place of the D.E.G. company logo.
- The movie was originally released in North America on home video in 1987 by Family Home Entertainment, minus Spike's swear (Ultra Magnus' swear was retained as an editing error). Not long after, it was released 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 released 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. Japanese company 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 film got its first, full professional DVD release from Kid Rhino. This edition, labeled as 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 Transformers: The Headmasters episode "Four Warriors Come out of the Sky" as an extra. This version (including the Transformers: 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.
- The Transformers Season 2 (U.S. Prequel)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Scramble City Activation (Japanese Prequel)
- The Transformers Season 3 (U.S. Sequel)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers 2010 (Japanese Sequel)
- Transformers: The Movie (Marvel Comics) (Alternate Retelling)
- Transformers: The Animated Movie (Alternate Retelling)
- 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.