Scene 27: Having landed in the shuttle and seeing that Megatron is still advancing toward occupying the city, Optimus Prime transforms into his truck mode and races to intercept to a power ballad so prevalent in the 80's.
Commentary: This is where I part company with most of fandom. Everyone considers "You've Got The Touch" to be one of the highlights. I don't like it, as a song. I feel the same way about "Dare To Be Stupid" later, except I like that silliness even less.
Naturally, Prime takes out the little guys with little difficulty so that he can have a big showdown with Megatron, his archenemy.
"One shall stand. One shall fall," he intones with gravitas.
For a completely contrived reason, they get into a fist fight, instead of using their blasters.
Scene 28: Hot Rod yells that he has to help Optimus and doesn't listen when Kup warns him to stay away from the two titans of the Transformer race. Naturally, as this is the big showdown between the two, attacks that once would have had zero effect are suddenly critically damaging.
Prime ends up winning, leaving Megatron to grovel for mercy. Being a good guy, and it being a dramatically inconvenient time, Prime doesn't just shoot him dead.
Alas for the Autobot Leader, Megatron's pleas are a ploy to buy time as he crawls toward Optimus in order to get to a dropped blaster. Hot Rod has seen this and tries to intervene, but gets himself grabbed like an incompetent boob. Megatron uses him as an Autobot shield, which Optimus Prime refuses to fire through, alas.
Megatron shoots Optimus and the Greatest Autobot Leader, Ever goes down. The Decepticon Leader then throws Hot Rod away, like litter. Instead of instantly filling Optimus full of laser right there, he naturally has to gloat... while walking right into Prime's striking distance.
Optimus summons enough strength to double-fist Megatron hard enough to cause damage and he goes over the side of an Autobot City ledge, nearly going offline.
Commentary: Admittedly, this is an awesome moment for Optimus Prime, but really... how lame, as well.
Scene 29: With Megatron's fall, Starscream orders a retreat and they all pile into Astrotrain who in addition to becoming a locomotive engine with a really huge storage area, can also become a really huge space shuttle.
Commentary: This is another one of those cartoon things... the Transformers seem capable of pulling and shunting mass between their various forms so their sizes change wildly. Sometimes in the same shot, when the animation is particularly shoddy. Other times when we see things that shouldn't be physically possible, like all of the Decepticons making it into Astrotrain's interior with plenty of extra room left. Taking this to an absolutely ludicrous level, later in Astrotrain's shuttle form, we'll see the Constructicons begin to merge again into Devastator during an internal dispute among the Decepticons.
Starscream is frickin' awesome in this scene though. As he's ready to order a retreat, he says with extreme sarcasm:
"How do you feel, Mighty Megatron?" And then he kicks him! (HAH-hah!)
Scene 30: But the Autobot victory has come at a steep price. Optimus Prime lies critically wounded. Despite my disbelief that they'd kill Optimus, Perceptor announces the wounds are fatal, even apparently for a robot.
Prime names Ultra Magnus as his successor, which Magnus tries to decline as he is just a soldier and not worthy. Optimus weakly states neither was he when he took leadership.
He next tells Ultra Magnus that he will take ownership of the Autobot Matrix of Leadership... a mystical doohickey that is supposed to save the Autobots during their darkest hour. Prime drops the Matrix, but Hot Rod catches it and passes it off to Magnus who places it under his chest plate to await the prophesied day.
And, then Optimus Prime dies. He DIES!
Commentary: This scene is quite surprisingly emotional, considering we're still talking about robots. It very much has a Spock's sacrifice feel to it, including Prime telling those gathered around him not to grieve. But, this is another instance in which the animation utterly fails. There is a horrible jump-cut/edit/badly drawn stutter in the animation when Magnus goes to insert the Matrix into his chest that is just awful. Thank goodness for the emotional weight that can carry us through this f* up.
Scene 31: In deep space, Unicron replays the moment (apparently he has quite the set of long range sensors, and that's an understatement) when Optimus passes on the Matrix. Seeing this device, he is enraged.
Scene 32: Elsewhere in space, Astrotrain is struggling. He warns everyone that they need to jettison some weight, or he'll never make it to Cybertron.
A vote is taken to throw the seriously injured into space to, presumably, run out of energy and expire. The motion passes. Starscream chooses to ditch Megatron, personally. In another awesome bit of Starscream-ness, he says with utter sarcasm while holding Megatron in his arms out of Astrotrain's hanger door:
"Oh, how it pains me to do this!"
Megatron insists he still functions, but Starscream replies with, "Wanna bet?"
He drops the yelling Megatron out into deep space.
Starscream immediately nominates himself as the new Decepticon Leader. Something that the Constructicons and Soundwave object to. This leads to a huge brawl in the confines of poor Astrotrain.
Scene 33: Sometime indeterminate amount of time later, Unicron finds (or brings to him) Megatron and the other injured Decepticons.
Commentary: Orson Welles was a huge prick. He had contempt for just about everything he accepted a paycheck for, and this part was no different. But, he is awesome as Unicron, and I love this scene between he and Megatron.
Unicron: "Megatron? Welcome, Megatron."
Megatron: "Wh-Who said that?"
U: "I am Unicron."
M: "Show yourself!"
U: "I have summoned you here for a purpose."
M: "NOBODY summons Megatron!"
U: "Then, it pleases me to be the first."
Unicron tells Megatron that he wants him to do a little job for him... i.e. he'll restore him to go and find and destroy the Autobot Matrix... he rather stupidly adds that it is the only thing that can get in his way. Megatron is not of a mind to take orders from anyone, even a planetoid sized incinerator. So, Unicron submits to his wishes and informs him that he'll simply consume him then!
Megatron, as you might imagine, reconsiders. With this settled, Unicron reformats Megatron into the new and more powerful (except when it's inconvenient) Galvatron and then reformats all of the other nearly lifeless Decepticons into a new force for him to command. This new force begins the travel back to Earth to find Ultra Magnus for the Matrix.
Commentary: Unfortunately, something wonderful and indefinable is lost when Leonard Nimoy takes over the role of Galvatron from Frank Welker's Megatron. Nimoy does fine, and he certainly plays the role, but Frank gave Megatron this arrogant joy that is simply missing from Galvatron.
As to Cyclonus and The Sweeps --- they're personality-less constructs and not worth the time trying to keep track off.
Oh, wait. Did I say that Galvatron immediately goes back to Earth to find and destroy Ultra Magnus. No, I'm sorry. That's what you'd think he'd do... but it appears that plenty of Megatron survived the reformatting, because Galvatron has a little payback date with Starscream.
Scene 34: So, in the battle cruiser that Unicron has provided, Unicron's new minions set course. Unicron issues one last edict, "Destroy the Matrix".
Scene 35: Back on Cybertron, Starscream is in the midst of his coronation ceremony which involves lots of horn blaring and a truly fabulously tacky crown that we never saw Megatron with at any time, because it is so over the top.
But just after he's crowned, a shuttle comes barrelling in for a landing, sending Decepticons scattering. Starscream is incensed by this marring of his dream come true. He demands to know who would dare.
The shuttle transforms into Cyclonus, as Galvatron ejects from the cockpit [this would be yet one more example where Transformers are pulling and displacing mass from sort of of other dimensional space ... or NOBODY involved in the entire show was aware of things like "scale" and "relative size"]. But anyway, since I've grown up watching Odo do the same thing on DS9, I am happily wanking this ridiculousness and moving on. Especially since this part is especially awesome.
Galvatron tells Starscream the he being crowned leader of the Decepticons is bad comedy. Something in his tone reminds somebody of someone who he thought was long gone....
Starscream: Megatron? Is that you?!
Galvatron: Here's a HINT!
Commentary: This was another 'holy crap!' moment when I first saw it on the big screen, and it's still an awesome moment now. Starscream was another character that started out from the very beginning and was a constant presence throughout the cartoon series. No matter how many times he fought with Megatron and was threatened with termination/banished /beaten, he never stopped plotting, Megatron never stopped threatening but not following through, and it seemed they'd just go on being allied enemies until the end of time.
[This is another thing ruined in the cartoon series post-movie, and I refuse to accept it in my personal canon ... Starscream is obliterated here, as it should be.]
I also the sense of symmetry in Megatron being 'killed' by Starscream at looonng last, oops not quite, Megatron-as-Galvatron kills Starscream at looonng last. And Galvatron's line, as delivered by Nimoy, sounds so much like Megatron, that it is just a wonderful moment for this feud to end in this way with those two lines. But, we can't wax on forever about this....
So Galvatron asks for any other volunteers to step forward for leadership, and instead everyone hails Galvatron. He crushes Starscream's crown under his foot.
Scene 36: As Megatron-reformatted is celebrating his renewed ascension to the Decepticon leadership, Unicron has made it into distance orbit of Cybertron. He targets the Autobot-controlled moonbases as a snack.
Cliffjumper and Jazz are shocked by this planetoid sized creation suddenly popping up next to them unannounced [yeah, remember I mentioned that sensors were especially vulnerable to plot conveniences] and Unicron wastes no time in beginning his tractorbeam/devouring thing.
Jazz makes a panicked call to Earth --
Scene 37: -- where Blaster picks up the subspace signal [uh-huh, okay] and plays Jazz' message about a 'weird planet'. Their signal is cut off before Ultra Magnus can speak with them.
Scene 38: On Moonbase One, things are looking pretty grim. Jazz and Cliffjumper make it to an escape shuttle, but they can't break free of the tractorbeam of Unicron's and are yanked into the maw of Unicron. Since we saw what happenes to ships that get pulled in, we're left to conclude that we've just lost two more original characters.
Scene 39: On Moonbase Two, Spike and Bumblebee report on the first moon's demise. Their transmission is also cut off after they report that the rogue planet is cruising toward them....
Scene 40: Spike and the Bee set the moon to self-destruct and flee as Unicron is very rapidly approaching. They also reach an escape ship and watch as Moon Two is yanked into Unicron's maw. The detonation goes off without a hitch as the moonbase is half devoured.
But, Spike and Bumblebee are left watching the detonated debris of Moonbase Two simply pulled in and devoured as well. Unicron wasn't even dented.
"Oh, shit! What are we gonna do now!?" Spike exclaims, using that PG-rating freedom.
What they're going to do is join Cliffjumper and Jazz. We're left to conclude that both Bumblebee and Spike are also being written out of the show for good.
Scene 41: On Cybertron, Galvatron is throwing a fit. He exclaims that Cybertron and all of its moons (and we see a third floating through the scene) belong to him. But, one of the altered reminds him, as he's being remote tortured for his insolence, that Galvatron and all of them belong to Unicron now.
Galvatron shows that Megatron spark by denying he belongs to anyone... but that doesn't last long, as the remote torture intensifies.
With Galvatron cowed for the moment, he orders his troops to Earth to go after Ultra Magnus.
Scene 42: In the ruins of Autobot City, where repairs were being made, Ultra Magnus orders everyone to shuttles for the trip to Cybertron and this new threat. Springer, not unreasonably, wonders what they're going to do when they get there about a rogue planet that can devour entire moons. Magnus suggests the Matrix, and Hot Rod pipes up that it can stop this threat. Kup wonders what he knows about it, but all Hot Rod can say is that he has a feeling.
But, these plans are delayed as Galvatron, the Sweeps, Cyclonus and uh, whoever that other guy is attack Autobot City... or what's left of it.
Magnus orders everyone to get to the shuttles.
Scene 43: The escape attempt is hampered by being shot at. And by the fact that Grimlock doesn't want the Dinobots to retreat, but wants to fight off the attackers. He resists Blur's attempts to get them aboard a ship, which he whines about quite loudly to Magnus over.
Magnus orders Kup and Hot Rod to deal with the Dinobots stubborness.
Scene 44: Kup, Hot Rod and the Dinobots end up on one shuttle. On the other Ultra Magnus, Springer, Daniel, Arcee, Blur and Perceptor retreat. Blaster has remained, apparently, hidden in the hulk of Autobot City, since he completely disappears... (he's not dead, he shows up later in the cartoon series post-movie).
Commentary: I really love the comical interactions between Kup and Grimlock. Kup has a habit of stating that every situation they're in reminds him of something else. Hot Rod finds it mildly annoying, but Grimlock loves Kup's stories.
They get into the air and proceed to deep space, but Galvatron and his forces (of which, I note that the old Decepticons haven't been included -- only the new toys..., uh - I mean, only the transformed by Unicron troops) are on their tails with a barrage of laser fire.
Scene 45: A short time later, Ultra Magnus states that they've lost Galvatron for the moment.
Kup takes this opportunity to entertain the easily bored Dinobots with his war stories. Hot Rod asks Kup if there isn't a better use for their time than telling tales, like figuring out how they're going to save Cybertron when they get there. Grimlock forcefully says he wants stories.
Scene 46: There isn't going to be time for either one however, as Galvatron has found them again and is launching missles across space to destroy them.
Cyclonus is able to damage Kup and Hot Rods' shuttle and they spin out of control for a crash landing on a bizarre looking kinda-planet thingie. This will belong to the Quintessons.
Scene 47: Aboard the second shuttle, Springer exclaims that Kup and Hot Rod just bought it, but Ultra Magnus tells him he can't deal with that right now, as they're under attack as well.
With Springer pointing out the Decepticons will dog them until they're destroyed, Magnus decides to play a little deception. He orders emergency separation, leaving three quarters of the shuttle behind them as the command section uses it as a shield. Galvatron manages to destroy the abandoned section in a huge explosion that covers Ultra Magnus' escape.
Scene 48: Galvatron exclaims the Matrix has been destroyed. But, he nearly immediately feels Unicron's wrath. For reasons not explored (but due to lazy writing), Unicron doesn't just send him a subspace message explaining his error. Instead, Galvatron has Cyclonus pilot them to Unicron to find out why he's being punished.
Scene 49: Aboard the 1/2 shuttle, the damage is taken its toll on the systems. Magnus has Perceptor locate a planet to set down on for repairs. Conveniently (sort of), this will be the Planet of Junk, which should have plenty of spare parts they can use.
Commentary: This is where the story really comes to a screeching crawl. We're going to get a plot relevant cutie-moment as Daniel learns to operate a power suit. We're going to deal with Ultra Magnus' team on the Planet of Junk (more anon) and with Kup's team on the Quinetesson's planet (more anon). Though I don't particularly mind the Quintesson scenes, it is shadowed with an ultra-annoying character (another newbie) who unfortunately doesn't immediately get killed... Wheelie, the jump-the-shark-introduce-'cute'-kid character of the Transformers.
Scene 50: With Kup and Hot Rod, they've been separated from the Dinobots in the crash and have found themselves in a lake of some sort with entirely mechanical lifeforms fighting for their survival.
Commentary: This isn't as ridiculous as it sounds, as this oddly-shaped planet/orbital base, belongs to the Quintessons who specialize in creating robotic lifeforms. It is clear that this weirdly shaped place is not naturally, but artificial. It also makes sense that the Quints would build an entire ecosystem for study around them. I do wonder why Hot Rod and Kup find it so easy to drive through a liquid medium, though. But since the giant robo-squid is kinda awesome and since the whole scene has some rockin' tunes, I sit back and just enjoy it mindlessly.
Hot Rod is able to drive the robo-squid off and rescues Kup - though the older robot has lost an arm and leg that needs to be reattached.
Scene 51: Meanwhile, Magnus' shuttle lands hard on the Planet of Junk. Everyone is okay, though the damage to the shuttle is extensive. Arcee gives Daniel his father's old exosuit and we spend (i.e. waste running time) watching Daniel learn to use it.
Finally, we get back to the story.
As our crew are trying to find spare parts that are still salvagable, we see them being watched by more robotic lifeforms ... The Junkions.
Commentary: I hate them. I hate that the leader has a fu manchu beard. I hate their old-TV speak. I hate this entire largely pointless interlude. I have the jokey "Dare to Be Stupid"ness coming up. I do love their Mad Max Motorcycle vehicle form, but otherwise the introduction of yet one more sentient robot species who also transform into alternate modes has gotten to be a bit much. Especially since their alternate modes is the motorcycle mode, which looks cool, but would be entirely useless trying to drive over the jagged metal that and loose parts that make up this crazy drifting trashheap. I thought that these would be the most irritating part of the movie, but then we'll meet Wheelie and all will become clear.
Scene 52: Back with Kup and Hot Rod, they attempt to locate the Dinobots but run into a new faction, the dimwitted and brutal Allicons. Kup tries to gain their friendship with little slips of Energon, but this only works until it runs out.
Kup and Hot Rod get mobbed....
They're captured and dragged away to an unknown fate, witnessed by Wheelie (no, he isn't annoying yet, he's silent in this scene).
Scene 53: The two are marched into a grand hall where a trial is apparently going on. We come in just as a verdict is delivered: Innocent. But, this doesn't lead to the outcome expected. Despite being found innocent of whatever charge was levied against the robot lifeform (yes -- another one -- the universe is replete with non-organic life apparently), he's dumped into a pool of fluid for his sentence. The pool is home to the Sharkticons and the prisoner is devoured to the evil chuckles of the Quintessons.
Kup and Hot Rod can see that they're pretty much screwed.
Scene 54: The two are escorted to holding cells to await their turn. In the next cell over, we re-meet Kranix. He is one of the robot dudes from the planet devoured by Unicron at the beginning. Alas, it seems his escape was only temporary. He's able to fill in Kup and Hot Rod about where they are. He's also able to put a name to the mysterious globe that Jazz, Cliffjumper, Daniel and Bumblebee reported to Earth before communications were lost.
Alas for Kranix, now that he's delivered a little bit of exposition, he's no longer relevant. He's marched out to his "trial", which now appears to skip the trial part altogether.
The court issues a summary judgement of Innocent on Kranix and the last survivor of a doomed world is consumed by the Sharkticons....
Commentary: Y'know, this kids' cartoon is really exploring dark material here under the guise of it being about robots: You've entire worlds destroyed, the death of multiple major characters, several outright brutal murders, warfare and its costs, torture, unjust and brutal regimes... this cartoon is filled with death and destruction and much of it is pretty explicit.
Kup and Hot Rod can see they're not just pretty much screwed, but really screwed.
Scene 55: Meanwhile, Swoop returns to his fellow Dinobots, having been searching for Kup and Hot Rod from the skies. He reports no sign. And this, ladies, gentlemen, and geeks everywhere is when The Transformers: The Movie really becomes an endurance test. Wheelie opens his mouth and speaks. WHY?!
Wheelie tells the Dinobots that he knows they're headed in the wrong direction to find their friends, except he singsongs all of his dialog in this high-pitch, scratchy whine... and all of his sentences end in a rhyme. He's a high-pitch, scratchy-whine, rhymer. And, they give him dialog! WHY?!
Wheelie has climbed up on the head of the Dinobot Brontosaurus, Sludge. Grimlock takes exception to being called a fool by the little brat and knocks him to the ground with a:
"Me Grimlock no like you!" (I share your pain, Grimlock.)
Wheelie though has a slingshot that he uses to shoot some sort of energy pellets that can hurt Grimlock's nose (Oh, F*-YOU... Grimlock is one of the toughest Transformers out there, you stupid little brat -- no way is a slingshot pellet going to actually hurt him). For whatever reason, Grimlock doesn't just roast him with his fire breath, but continues speaking to this horror.
With Wheelie informing them that he can lead them to Kup and Hot Rod, Grimlock and the Dinobots follow him (and it's the start of a confounding friendship between Grimlock and Wheelie).
Scene 56: In the meantime, back with the actual plot of the movie, Galvatron has come before Unicron. He is informed that he's been tricked and that Ultra Magnus and the Matrix is on the Planet of Junk. He's dispatched there at once.
Commentary: Now, wouldn't a subspace receiver have been really valuable here?
Scene 57: On the Planet of Junk, the Junkions don't take kindly to the Autobots purloining their garbage without asking.
But, before they can do anything about this blatant (if unintended) theft, Wreck-Gar spots Galvatron swooping in with his troops. Ultra Magnus orders everyone to scatter in order to draw the enemy away from the needed shuttle, but this doesn't stop the Decepticons from completing its destruction. It's not enough to leave them stranded however, as Galvatron still has his orders to kill Magnus and destroy the Matrix of Leadership.
They press their attack.
Commentary: And, we have a severe animation error. It is so severe, that I - who usually doesn't notice any of these things - pick it up immediately and am all, "HEY WAIT?!"
Y'see Daniel is confronted by two Decepticons. One of these is a Constructicon, who isn't with Galvatron on this mission. He's supposed to be on Cybertron, still. But WORSE, is that the other Decepticon is the Insecticon, Bombshell. Bombshell, who was very clearly one of the Decepticons thrown into space who was intercepted by Unicron and reformatted. There is no way that these two should be here, but in the case of Bombshell, you can't even wank it that Galvatron swung by Cybertron to pick up reinforcements!
Also, the animation of Spike rolling over the junk planet's surface is just as glitchy and badly done as when Hot Rod and Kup drove down the mountainside outside Autobot City way back when.
Seeing that they're going to be overwhelmed, Ultra Magnus shoots down an overhang of junk, covering his fellows. He pulls the Matrix out of his chest and attempts to open the pseudo-religious object to unleash its power against the Decepticons.
The Matrix, however, remains stubbornly closed. Galvatron demands the Matrix, but Magnus refuses. The sweeps are ordered to terminate him... and THEY DO!
Ultra Magnus is blasted into modular parts and Galvatron grabs up the Matrix. But Galvatron was Megatron; did you really think he was going to destroy his bargaining chip over Unicron?