The 80s were a fantastic time in television, movies, and music. Hair metal was popular, Robert Stack was helping the word solve one mystery at a time in Unsolved Mysteries as the shows third and longest running host, and transformers, G.I. Joe, thundercatsand he-man and the Masters of the Universe all reigned supreme as the royalty of Saturday morning cartoons.
Whether your favorite phrase to shout when playing with your friends was “I have the power”, “Thundercats, hoh”, or “Yo, Joe”, there was one that possibly ranked above all others, especially when it came to 80s animated films . “Transform and roll out” helped to shape a generation of kids, making The Transformers: The Movie perhaps one of the greatest animated films of the 80s.
The Cast of The Transformers: The Movie
For the movie, members of the original cast that were either already famous for various on-screen acting, voice over roles, or Top-40 countdowns — Frank Welker, Peter Cullen, Corey Burton, Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem, and a plethora of others — were joined by some newcomers to the transformers franchise. Mister Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy joined the cast as the bat-crap crazy Galvatron, a reformatted and crazier version of Megatron. This would not be Nimoy’s only stint in the transformers franchise, as he would join 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon as the ill-hearted Sentinel Prime.
fan of Monty Python? The Transformers: The Movie has you covered, as Eric Idle joined the cast for the film as humorous and television quoting Wreck-Gar. Bringing some extra talent and coming off a slew of performances in the 80s such as love boat, StrikeForce, and comedy masterpiece plane!, Robert Stack brings life to Ultra Magnus, an incredibly armored soldier who would meet his end in the film only to be reborn. The eleven-fastest talker in the world and former spokesman for the Micro Machines franchise, John Moschitta Jr. sped into fans hearts as the lovable and fast speaking Blurr.
In the 80s, there was perhaps no bigger name in films than Judd Nelson. A member of the Brat Pack, which included actors such as Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Molly Ringwald, Nelson joined the cast fresh off of the smashing success of The Breakfast Club, John Hughes’ masterpiece about teen angst set in the fictional town of Shermer, Illinois. The film even touted an Oscar winner: in his last role, voiced before his death in 1985, Orson Welles, who won the Academy Award for his work on Citizen Kanevoiced the cannibalistic and threatening Unicron.
The Music of The Transformers: The Movie
From a great electronic score from Vince DiCola to fantastic hair metal rock from the likes of Stan Bush, Specter General, Lion, “Weird Al’ Yankovic, and NRG, the music sets the tone of the film from start to finish. The film’s music has lasted the course of time, with Bush even doing songs featured around the franchise in his videos well into the 2010s. Bumblebee hit theaters, audiences witnessed what was critically acclaimed as the best transformers film of the modern era. There was one problem, however: in the opening moments of the film, Generation One (G1) fans were treated to a slew of fantastic cameos of Transformers in their original series designs in a huge moment as we witness the fall of Cybertron. Soundwave, Starscream, Brawl, Arcee, the threatening Shockwave, and a slew of others are all seen in all of their glory. The problem is the music that Dario Marianelli selects for the opening scene doesn’t quite go along with the action. The score is fantastic throughout most of the film, but in this particular case, the track “Cybertron Falls” misses the mark. Not soon after, a fan project, using the theme from The Transformers: The Movie overlaid the song to the action with a much, much better result. You can check that remix out here.
The Transformers: The Movie is gripping from its opening moments as it reaches out and snags your attention with a scene that shows a planet getting closer, stalking and moving towards another. This is typically not the type of behavior one would expect from a planet, but when the said planet opens up its mouth and munches on an entire other planet — well, how many times does one see a cannibalistic planet on the big screen? The film took some risks for the sake of trying to sell toys, mainly, killing off everyone’s favorite semi-truck: Optimus Prime.
Here is the issue: when you kill off the resounding favorite hero of children in the 80s, mothers get mad. In a time before Change.org, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and just the internet in general, mothers everywhere wrote Hasbro, Sunbow, and Marvel in a massive campaign to voice their displeasure at the decision. The mob of angry moms wrote in with tales of children crying and locking themselves in their rooms.
Here is the crazy part: the campaign worked! The seemingly well-orchestrated letter-writing campaign saved G.I. Joe character Duke from a similar fate in that franchise’s 1987 film. Not only was Duke saved, after being side-lined for the majority of the movie, Optimus Prime was later revived in the transformers third season, not once, but twice! Additionally, to the mothers of America rising up against evil Sunbow and company, the film has spawned steel book releases and has been in theaters to celebrate its theatrical anniversary, as well as the overall franchise anniversary, most recently in 2021.