harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Movie Review: The Transformers the Movie (P3 of 3)

Scene 58: Back with the Quintessons, Kup and Hot Rod's turns have come. They're dumped into the Sharkticon pool. But unlike the other victims who immediately surfaced and were prompty torn apart, Hot Rod and Kup head to the bottom in their vehicle forms. This buys them several seconds where the Sharkticons are confused and don't know what to do (they're quite brainless, even worse than the Allicons).

With this time bought, Kup and Hot Rod start driving in circle of the yellow-pseudo water, creating a whirlpool (uh-huh). They're able to ride this up the wall of the tank and spring from the pool (uh-huh).

But, while they find it easier to fight on land, they're still horribly outnumbered by the Allicons and the Sharkticons, so things still look mighty poor for their survival.

It's a very good thing then, that Wheelie has led the Dinobots to them.

Commentary: It really bugs me that we never get an explanation for why Snarl, the Stegosaurus, wasn't included. The Dinobots are just incomplete with only four of them present and visually, Snarl is much more interesting than Sludge, if one of the Dinos were going to be ignored....

Anyway, after some fighting, Grimlock roars and orders the Sharkticons and Allicons to destroy the Quinetessons instead. Faced with fighting the Dinobots more, or rebelling, they choose the rebellion option, saving our good guys from eventually being overwhelmed.

Of course, that doesn't help with getting off of the planet and intercepting Unicron. Fortunately, Wheelie is there to rhyme his way (sounding like a mesquito buzzing in your ear) into revealing a Quintesson ship waiting to be liberated by the group.

Scene 59: Back on the Planet of Junk, Ultra Magnus lies in pieces. Unfortunately, there isn't a time to grieve for another loss, as the Junkions now decide to attack the invaders/thieves.

There is an extended running battle between the Autobots and the Junkions (in a neat bit, we see the Junkions exchange places with one another between being a rider and being a motorcycle back and forth).

Commentary: This is, alas, where we get the jokey "Dare to be Stupid" song and more TV & Song Lyric speech by Wreck-Gar, which considering how long this movie is running just can't hold my interest. By this point, I want to stay with Hot Rod and Kup and get to the confrontation with Unicron -- not waste time with another minor battle featuring more new toys to buy.

The battle is interrupted by the approach of another ship -- this time the Quintesson vessel, which corkscrews into the ground to land (uh-huh). The ship is Kup, etc. arriving and Hot Rod uses the universal greeting and energon slips on the Junkions. This works out much better than with the Allicons, earlier. The Junkions become allies and because Ultra Magnus' damage was so conveniently in large pieces, the Junkions are able to rebuild and restore him completely.

Much celebratory dancing is had, even though, y'know -- Unicron is still out there, your friends are still dead, the Decepticons are completely winning and the Matrix is now in Galvatron's hands.

With Ultra Magnus restored, Hot Rod learns that the Matrix is gone. Wreck-Gar informs them that Galvatron has gone back to Unicron (presumably because he overheard him). The Junkions join the Autobots in making a beeline for Unicron in their own junk based ship.

Scene 60: Back with Unicron, Galvatron believes that he can force Unicron into servitude by threatening him with the Autobot Matrix. However, when he goes to open it, in order to show Unicron the price that will be paid, should he not submit, he finds that it won't open any better than when Ultra Magnus tried it. Oops.

Unicron warns Galvitron that he has underestimated him and does his own transformation from planetoid to huge-ass humanoid robot. He tells Galvatron that he really screwed the pooch. Unicron was going to spare Cybertron, but now he's pissed off. He begins tearing into Cybertron with his mighty fists of fury, as Shockwave ineffectively calls for the Decepticons to scramble.

The Decepticons attempt to drive off Unicron, but are largely ineffective. Galvatron also turns into the gun that obliterated Starscream and fires several shots, but Unicron is more annoyed than damaged. He picks up Galvatron's puny form and swallows him whole.

He's shunted down a tunnel into the bowels of Unicron.

Scene 61: Ultra Magnus exclaims disbelief when he sees Unicron standing over the planet, Cybertron, and he and the Junkions join the Decepticons in attacking him.

The ships come under energy fire by Unicron and the Quintesson ship holding the Autobots, minus Perceptor, who is onboard the Junkion vessel crashes into Unicron's eye. The Autobots have to abandon ship within Unicron.

Commentary: This is another real problem I have with Unicron's depiction. His internal configuration is really weird and nonsensical. And, why wasn't Galvatron and the Matrix immediately turned into scrap by the internal destructive apparatus that we saw inside of Unicrons maw... where did all of that go since his transformation?! Presumably into his stomach area, but then shouldn't Galvatron have ended up there, instead of where we'll see him later for the conclusive battle...? And, it only gets worse when Daniel finds his father, who should have been turned into unidentifiable mush when Moonbase Two and his and Bumblebee's shuttle was swallowed. Their survival doesn't make a lick of sense, considering what we saw when a shuttle from the alien planet was caught in identical circumstances in the opening attack.

Even for a cartoon, this all becomes much too confusing and contradictory -- especially when the status quo wasn't the point and they've already killed off major characters. I can understand thinking that killing Spike was deemed going too far, so he'd have to be saved in some way -- but they've basically done so by asking us to just ignore everything we saw when we watched the planet Lithone at the beginning. That's really lazy.

Scene 62: Through contrivance, er... destiny, Hot Rod is separated from the others. Within Unicron's head or upper throat maybe? Anyway, pincers come shooting out of the wall, acting as an immune system against the invaders. The others have to run, leaving Hot Rod to his fate.

Scene 63: In the meantime, Hot Rod has ended up (again, forget attempts at internal geography within Unicron, it will only drive you crazy) where Galvatron is imprisoned. He tells Hot Rod that the Matrix is useless as it won't open. Hot Rod informs him this is because he's a Decepticon (but we also know if refused to open for Ultra Magnus, too, so that isn't it). Galvatron isn't about to turn it over to an Autobot, but he does offer an alliance against their common foe.

Until, that is, Unicron does the psychic torture thing again... at which point Galvatron decides to kill Hot Rod, instead.

Scene 64: Meanwhile, the combined Transformer army is still fighting with Unicron and barely holding their own.

Commentary: This is really unfortunate here. Because of the characters that were chosen to give focus to, we don't see the heavy hitters take on Unicron. This would have been a great place for a cameo scene with Bruticus and seeing Shockwave's powerful gun mode put into action. Worse though, is that we're not given another scene with Devastator! Since he was already featured and we know the Constructicons are on Cybertron, this is really an unforgivable oversight. Who wouldn't want to see Devastator attack (and of course be defeated by) Unicron?!

The Dinobots manage to cause some superficial damage, but Unicron is simply too much and Grimlock leads a withdrawal.

Scene 65: Inside Unicron's head, Daniel trips and falls and the snappers close in on him. The autobots respond with blaster fire and Arcee ends up puncturing a coolant pipe that sweeps everyone away, separating Daniel next from the group.

We follow Daniel as he's swept down passages and into another room within Unicron. Inside this room is smelting pits, where those who weren't immediately destroyed in the maelstrom of Unicron's planet-form orifice are somehow rendered helpless. They're then moved in a conveyor system over the smelting pits and dropped to their doom.

Commentary: And, again, this seems pretty gruesome for a kids' cartoon -- we get a nice shot of a screaming in suffering robot as he's melted down to slag. Wow.

In the conveyor line are some transformers I recognize, but can't name straight off, Jazz, Bumblebee and Spike in his exoarmor. Spike yells at Daniel to blast the acid covers over smelting pools.

Spike gets dropped and Daniel thinks for a moment that he blasted the lid down too late to save his father, but of course Spike is fine.

Scene 66: Deep in Unicron, Hot Rod goes up against Galvatron in a series of hit and run attacks. He makes a seemingly critical error when he runs over Galvatron in his vehicle mode and gets flipped over. Galvatron can now wrestle with him and Hot Rod looks to be on the ropes and about to have his head torn off his shoulders.

Scene 67: Back outside, the battle against Unicron does not go well. The Junkions and Perceptor find their vessel grabbed by Unicron and crushed before being thrown away into space.

Scene 68: Back to Hot Rod, who's having his throat crushed by Galvatron [which looks far too much like strangulation, and that naturally is entirely inappropriate and stupid, since these ARE ROBOTS]. Galvatron brags over his killing of Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus and that he's about to add Hot Rod to his list of wins.

But as Hot Rod flails around, he grabs the Matrix hanging about Galvatron's neck. The Matrix immediately responds to Hot Rod's CHOSEN status and allows him to blast Galvatron off of him.

But more than that, Hot Rod begins a transformation to a larger form than before... and he hears Optimus Prime. The engrams of Optimus calls him Rodimus Prime.

Galvatron manages to blast the Matrix from his hands, but the damage is done. Rodimus Prime fights Galvatron hand-to-hand and throws him through Unicron and out into space.

Hot Rod completes his opening of the Matrix and it sends out tendrils of energy that react very strongly against Unicron.

Unicron finds all of his systems blowing out, explosions tearing through his body and generally not having a good day all of the sudden.

Oh, and all of this happens with "You've Got The Touch" being reprised from when Optimus Prime was doing his heroics against Megatron... which is kind of neat.

Scene 69: The Autobots manage, a bit unbelievably [there's that internal geography thing again], to find each other and the newly minted Rodimus Prime orders them to transform and roll out. Kup expresses that he always knew the kid had greatness in him.

They make an exit through Unicron's other eye just as he blows apart, his now-lifeless head going into orbit around Cybertron.

Scene 70: A bit later on Cybertron, for some reason, the Autobots have now assumed control. I guess the Decepticons were so dispirited by the destruction wrought on the surface by Unicron that they just surrendered, or ran away?

Anyway, Rodimus makes a rousing speech.

And we return to the awesome The Transformers Theme, rocked out.

The Good: The theme song is just awesomely 80's in the best and fun way.

The opening animation with the suns is beautiful work, the haunting theme that turns tense as Unicron drifts through space and the opening attack on Lithone is a great start.

The films shockingly brutal and ruthless in a way the half hour cartoon couldn't get way with and is all the more effective for it.

Wow. Watching the Autobots getting slaughtered left and right was just... shocking... and the deaths of those aboard the shuttle to Earth and later of Prime was much more affecting than I ever thought it could be. It was also much more graphic in the violence done to them than they'd ever show on the cartoon, as well. They really embraced their PG rating and went for it.

So much of the soundtrack is wonderful, in an 80's way.

This has some great, quotable dialog throughout.

The voice actors did an outstanding job of giving their characters some personality -- especially Scatman Crothers, Peter Cullen (whose so awesome, it hurts), Chris Latta, Frank Welker (who is also so awesome, it hurts) and Lionel Stander. All of the name actors also did a nice job of actually putting in performances for their voicework. It's much appreciated.

The Bad: The Lithone's are ridiculous. In fact, the general application of human-like attributes to the robots continually goes too far and ends up looking dumb. The Lithone children running around laughing is just the first instance.

There is some serious animation errors, continuity problems, and characters vanishing without explanation. The Transformers (on tv) always had serious continuity problems, and it was really disappointing that they weren't a lot more careful in the film.

Well, as much as I don't have a problem with the scenes in and off themselves (in fact, I like much of it), the detour to the Quintessons' planet was largely pointless and had zero to do with the larger narrative against Unicron and the Decepticons. If only they'd given a special power to the Quintesson ship or something that would have had a point against Unicron. But no, this is just to introduce more characters that will be made into toys. At least the Junkions has Galvatron's attack and stealing of the Matrix to make it relevant to the story.

Speaking of the Planet of Junk: I find Wreck-Gar supremely irritating, and he TV-Speak banters much too much. Oh, and speaking of the Quintesson's interlude - Wheelie was entirely unnecessary and an utter Scrappy Doo to the story.

Unfortunately, another problem is Ultra Magnus and Hot Rod. Both are fine as characters, but neither one of them is entirely interesting and their personalities are simply not strong enough to command the screen time that they're given. I wish that Optimus Prime had handed the Matrix to Kup, instead - because Frank's voicework is sorely missed after Prime's exit and Lionel would have been more engaging than Robert Stack. Also, I really could have done without that putz, Hot Rod, being given CHOSEN ONE status.

Other Thoughts: The missing Snarl really bugs me. In fact, the general disappearance of the cartoon series characters was a disappointment, but if they were going to include the Dinobots anyway, then why did they short one member and not mention in a throwaway line what happened to him? That seems particularly clumsy, doesn't it?

Also, we should acknowledge here that I'm fully aware that there was nothing original in this story: We have the dweeby loser finding his inner strength through being a chosen one and arising to become a hero and defeat the big bad who killed his mentor. Unicron is basically the Transformer version of the Planet Killer from Star Trek. It has the "never has anything been worse" just before the newly discovered hero finds his power and turns the tide. Yadda-yadda, nothing new here. I DON'T CARE. There is a reason that the same tales get told over and over ... because they're really great stories that are universal to every culture around the world. So, yes, I get there isn't anything original... I'm fine with that.

I'm also going to mention the survival of some of our characters here, because their survival is so outlandish, I just don't see how it makes sense. If they were going to show us in loving detail what happens when planet-form Unicron destroys a world, then you can't really have survivors from the Moonbases when they get consumed. It's just ridiculous. Whoever was on the Moonbases should have been expendable and shouldn't have been found fine later, not after what we saw of Lithone being consumed. Now, I get why Daniel couldn't die. I even get why they wouldn't want Bumblebee taken out (he's one of the ongoing characters from the beginning and they might not have wanted to thin the herd THAT MUCH), but there were plenty of secondary Autobot characters they could have placed here, instead. They could even have had Spike and Bumblebee survive the encounter, while we thought they perished, if they hadn't been so blatant in EVERYTHING being destroyed just inside of Unicron's maw. It just feels like a real cheat because of the presentation. And as to Cliffjumper and Jazz -- both of them should have been expendable, plain and simple. That all four of the characters featured on the Moonbases should happen to have survived and then just hung around captured and waiting to be smelted, but not having been so during the long wait for the heroes to arrive is just too much. You'd expect that from the typical cartoon... but as mentioned several times, this movie seemed to go out of its way not to maintain the usual status quo and took shocking steps, so why not here?

Also, Hot Rod as the CHOSEN ONE... blah. Oh, I wish they'd given this honor to a standing character, like Bumblebee. He'd have been the perfect unassuming, but dependable and loyal foot soldier to have this destiny thrust upon and it would have been so nice to see him elevated to Rodimus Prime, instead. Ah, well, what can we do but take what we were given.

The Score: Overall, I really love The Transformers: The Movie despite the cheap looking animation and the usual lack of care in continuity that occurs. The characters are mostly engaging and the story is always full of action and moving from one set piece to another to hold interest. I'll admit that it does run a bit too long, though. The side trips to the Quintesson outpost and to the Planet of Junk really impacts the flow of the movie and you kinda want them to get on with it at that point. There are also some slow spots happening when everyone ends up wandering around inside Unicron, not being immediately destroyed, that could have been edited down. But, they really went somewhere with the opportunity to make a movie length cartoon, instead of just regurgitating the usual Decepticon plots that end with the status quo restored, so you've gotta respect that:

3.75 out of 5 stars


Tags: review the transformers the movie

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