TF:TM Memories

The original Transformers movie
January 05, 2012

Transformers: The Movie came out in August 1986, but didn't appear in my area until around New Year's 1987 (we lived in a rinky-dink town & our local theater only got 10th run movies). The movie was poorly received in general (even leading to the G.I. Joe film being released direct-to-video instead of to theaters), but I absolutely adored it. Not only did I watch it in the theater, but I later rented the VHS and much later bought the DVD. I was 11 when I watched it the first time, and I was blown away. Seeing a movie with a rock soundtrack was rare in those days, and seeing an animated movie that wasn't some Disney fluff was unheard of. I had been a huge Transformers fan since they first appeared, and seeing them on the big screen and with such high quality art & animation was fantastic. I wasn't happy with so much of the original cast getting killed off, but I was pleased that they were actually hitting what they were shooting at for a change. (I was reaching the age where I no longer found robots designed for war, who can't hit ANYthing with their lasers to be believable.)

I didn't like the new rounded design of many of the newly introduced Transformers

old relic

newly built
(which oddly included both newly built ones and ancient relics. Everything old is new again, I guess.), nor did I like Rodimus Prime as a leader nor as a character. Only appearing in the end of the movie, he wasn't a problem there, but when they incorporated the movie back into the animated series they gave him a major role. This new leader was just a perpetually whiny and annoying little wretch. He tended to be a little more proactive than his predecessor, which was good, but his unending whining made me wish he would hurry up & get his head blown off.

I watched Transformers: The Movie for my 11th birthday party. The timing was actually good, since my birthday was in early January and the movie had only recently arrived at our theater. It was the first time I was actually glad that our theater was slow. Few kids in town had had a chance to see the movie yet, but all of them wanted to.
The party started out at my house, where I opened presents and we had cake, then we went downtown to the theater. It was also a sort of coming-of-age thing for me, since it was the first time I went to the theater without parental supervision (my mother dropped us all off, then left us to watch the movie & go home by ourselves). I had gotten a Walkman and a Transformers audio tape as gifts that year, and stood listening to the tape as we waited for the theater to let us in. The tape seemed like it should have been one of those read-a-long ones, but it wasn't (you could tell for certain because it lacked the "turn the page when you hear the beep" cues). The voices on the tape were completely different than the familiar ones from the cartoon series, as was the theme music. I wasn't very fond of the story portion of the tape, but I liked the theme & still like it to this day. It only had about five notes from a synthesizer and someone saying "TRANS-FOR-MERS!" over and over, but there was just something about the atmosphere it created...

That movie theater has since been pushed to the wayside by the opening of a new mega theater just outside of town, and even closed for business for a time. It has since re-opened after some renovations and a new owner though, and is currently open for business.

I should go back there again one of these days (I no longer live in that town). I have a great many memories of going to that theater. When I was a kid, we would go there about once a month or so, depending on when they finally got some new/decent movies (which was not very often at all, see the earlier comment about them being a 10th run theater). We would sneak in some cans of soda and some snacks (often either pringles or that "hull-less" popcorn, which is just cheese curls with butter instead of cheese) and sometimes a deck of cards or something to pass the time waiting for the movie to start. (That theater always started movies 15~20mins past the scheduled time, and never aired any cartoons or anything to fill the gap.) Afterward we would always go to the donut shop directly across the street, where I would invariably get a chocolate frosted donut & a glass of chocolate milk, and talk about the movie we just watched.

Before Transformers: The Movie came out, there was a contest & ad campaign on the local TV stations. They would give you a letter in the name of the movie's major villain each day, then you would have to unscramble the letters when it was all done and send in your answer. I missed a day/letter, but was still able to guess the correct answer (I knew it would have to be either "unicorn" or "unicron", and I couldn't see some big, badass, giant robot being named "unicorn"). Unfortunately, I didn't win the contest.

After the movie came out, "The Touch" by Stan Bush became insanely popular and even got a music video. That video appeared endlessly on MTV and was included on the Transformers: The Movie VHS release as a special bonus. Unfortunately, when I got the DVD many years later, it did not include the video. Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" song also became insanely popular after the movie.

The movie had a drastic impact on the TV series. Most of the well-known characters vanished (having been killed off in the film) while a slew of unknowns swept in to take their places. The setting shifted from primarily occurring on modern day earth, to largely occurring in space, and when it did feature earth it was a very futuristic earth. The overall tone of the show also got considerably darker. Many fans hated the change, I was on the fence about it. I simultaneously enjoyed the change of pace, and mourned the loss of the familiar.

Transformers: The Movie may not have been a box office success, but it is a cult classic which will live on in many of our hearts. (Something which can never be said about those monstrosities Michael Bay crammed down our throats recently, but lets just try to forget that those three movies ever existed.)

Well, this article meandered more than I anticipated. That's just the way memories go, I guess.
Transformers: The Movie is, and will always be, one of my #1 favorite movies of all time.
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