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Direct Beams Comms #35


Transformers: The Movie

TransformersIn 1986 Transformers: The Movie made something like $5.8 million at the box office, and about $3 of that came from me.

Honestly, I have no idea how or why I decided to go see Transformers: The Movie at the theater. Back in 1986 I was into Transformers but I was just at the age where I was starting to cycle out of toys and TV cartoons for other things. I suspect that my friend Jon, who saw it with me, was the driving influence on us going since my family didn’t see a lot of movies in the theater and it wasn’t like I had a lot of money of my own to spend seeing films.

Transformers: The Movie is an odd film. It’s based on the 1980s cartoon series of the same name where no character ever died and things always stayed the same between episodes even though there were lots of battles between the good Autobots and bad Decepticons. But in Transformers: The Movie movie LOTS of characters died, even arguably the most famous characters of all Optimus Prime.

Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. Just before Optimus’ big death scene there’s a huge battle and I had to go to the bathroom. And I held it until the fighting had ended and the Autobots went to attend to a wounded Optimus. Since it was a weekday afternoon we had the place to ourselves and then I ran out of the theater to the bathroom, went as fast as I could then ran back to my seat and back to the movie. Jon leaned over and said, “You totally missed it, Optimus just died!” While I believed him, I really didn’t. Surly they wouldn’t kill off the most popular Transformer character of all time?!

Looking back now I can see what happened. In 1986 the toy series had been around for a few years and Hasbro was looking for a way to add some new Transformers characters to the line. So some characters had to die in the movie to make room for new ones on toy shelves.

Transformers the Movie

Transformers the Movie

What’s interesting, though, is that while there were big changes in the movie and new characters were added, I don’t remember that the cartoon series changed all that much the next fall. What ended the spring of 1986 continued that autumn and ignored the movie entirely. Though when I was reading up on the movie I did forget that it takes place in the far off futuristic distant year of 2005, so maybe that explains the story discrepancies?

While I do have fond memories of Transformers: The Movie those memories are mostly around seeing the film in the theater rather than the actual content of Transformers: The Movie itself. I still enjoy seeing clips from the movie, think the soundtrack is excellent throwback brilliance and love the poster, but I can’t remember the last time I actually sat down to watch Transformers: The Movie?

Of course nowadays if you say, “Transformers: The Movie” to almost anyone they’d assume you’re talking about the line of dreadful Michael Bay produced films that began back in 2007 with yet another one due in 2017. If the 1986 movie is bad, it’s bad because it’s too earnest in a 1980s kind’a way. If the recent film series is bad, and trust me, they are, it’s because it’s a movie series about talking robots that transform into things like cars and jets that takes itself waaaaaaay to seriously.

Which means that since there’s a slew of new, abet crappy live-action films out there now there’s less opportunity for Transformers: The Movie to air anywhere on TV. Why would kids today want to watch a crummy cartoon when they can watch a stupid live action cartoon instead?

In closing, Transformers = sort’a cool, Michael Bay = uncool. 😉

Dunkirk teaser trailer


Out this week is the book Aliens: The Set Photography that looks to be 144 pages of behind the scenes pics from this movie classic.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1960: David Duchovny, Fox Mulder of The X-Files is born
  • 1968: Gillian Anderson, Dana Scully of The X-Files is born
  • 1986: The Transformers: The Movie opens in theaters
  • 1989: The Abyss opens in theaters