Nitehawk Cinema’s Animation Attacks Presents:
The Transformers: The Movie in 35mm
Midnight, August 3 and August 4
1) The Transformers: The Movie actually makes some pretty bold narrative choices early on. Not only does Optimus Prime, the gilded hero of the Autobots, meet a tragic end in the first act, seven other good-guy robots get blown to bits over the course of the movie. Human character Spike yells “shit” at one point too, which, I mean, watch out kids.
2) Though I’d like to think that killing off beloved Transformers creates a “no-one-is-safe” type of narrative, the film’s writers have since come clean and admitted that the deaths were orchestrated by Hasbro to clear the way for fancy new toys to sell. Toys like Hot Rod, Galvatron and, ugh, Ultra Magnus, who are basically the worst transforming robots ever.
3) I love “Weird Al” Yankovic as much as the next guy (probably more so, really), but the scene where the Autobots and the Junkions fight and then dance to Al’s DEVO send-up, “Dare to Be Stupid,” makes me want to crawl out of my skin and die. The combination of Al’s nasally vocals, the plink-plink-plook of the keyboards and Eric Idle shouting odd television tropes is enough pop-culture ephemera to kill an elephant.
4) The fallout from Optimus Prime’s death was so negative that it forced Hasbro to reconsider another major character’s death in the G.I. Joe Movie, which was in production around the same time. So, if you ever thought it was strange that Duke takes a lance to the chest during the climax of G.I. Joe: The Movie only to make a miraculous off-screen recovery during the film’s last scene, it’s the Transformers’ fault.
5) Unicron is Orson Welles’s last credited role. According to his biography, Welles’s final recording session as the planet eating robot was just five days before his death on Oct. 10, 1985. According to producers, his voice was so weak that they had to distort and amplify it beyond recognition just to make his lines audible. Commenting to his biographer, Welles didn’t have that much respect for the material:
“The Japanese have funded a full-length animated cartoon about the doings of these toys, which is all bad outer-space stuff. I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I’m destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen.”
6) The not-at-all-official Transformers Wikia page for The Movie lists a hilariously nit-picky amount of supposed continuity errors from the film. Here’s my favorite: “The existence of Cybertron’s moons is contentious at best.” (Italics is theirs)
8) The film was originally animated in 4:3 but then cut to widescreen for theatrical release. It’ll be interesting to see which version is on our 35mm print because… we don’t know yet.
9) There are many rumors circling around the movie that suggest that a much more violent and traumatic version of the film was originally released and then quickly edited into oblivion. This alternate version supposedly included more scenes of Autobots being violently blasted apart and Optimus Prime disintegrating after his death. These were the type of rumors that were “totally verified by my cousin’s friend in Japan,” which means that they are 100% made up by some guy in 1996.
10) Every single Transformer toy I ever owned ended up breaking. Every. Single. One.