The Transformers: The Movie is a 1986 American animated science-fiction action adventure film directed by Nelson Shin and written by Ron Friedman. It is based on the toy line and animated TV series of the same name.
It was released on August 8, 1986 by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and produced by Sunbow Productions, Marvel Productions & Toie Animation.
In the year 2005, the war between the Autobots and Decepticons has culminated in the Decepticons conquering their home planet Cybertron while the Autobots operate from its two moons preparing a counter-offensive.
Optimus Prime sends an Autobot shuttle to Earth's Autobot City for Energon supplies, but the Decepticons, led by Megatron, commandeer the ship and kill the crew, consisting of Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl and Brawn.
Travelling to Earth, the Decepticons attack Autobot City, slaughtering many Autobots and leaving only a small group alive including Hot Rod, Kup, Ultra Magnus, Arcee, Springer, Blurr, Perceptor, Blaster and human Daniel Witwicky.
The next day, Optimus and the Dinobots arrive as reinforcements. Optimus single-handedly defeats the Decepticons and engages Megatron in a climactic battle that leaves both of them mortally wounded.
While on his deathbed, Optimus passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, informing him that its power will light the Autobots' darkest hour and dies.
Elsewhere, the Decepticons jettison their wounded from Astrotrain, including Megatron at the hands of his treacherous second-in-command Starscream. The wounded are found by Unicron, a gigantic sentient cyber-planet who consumes other planets.
Unicron offers Megatron a new body in exchange for destroying the Matrix, which has the ability to destroy him. Megatron agrees and is converted into Galvatron, gaining new troops from the other Decepticons present.
On route to Cybertron, Galvatron crashes Starscream's coronation as Decepticon commander and destroys him, before travelling to Autobot City to eliminate Ultra Magnus. The surviving Autobots escape in separate shuttles which are damaged by the Decepticons and crash land on different planets.
Hot Rod and Kup are taken prisoner by the Quintessons, multi-faced tyrants who hold kangaroo courts and execute prisoners by feeding them to the Sharkticons. Hot Rod and Kup learn of Unicron from Kranix (who is a survivor of Lithone), a planet devoured by Unicron.
After Kranix is executed, Hot Rod and Kup escape their own trial (aided by the arrival of the Dinobots and the small Autobot Wheelie) who helps them find a ship to leave the planet.
The other Autobots land on the Junk Planet, where Galvatron kills Ultra Magnus and seizes the Matrix, intending on using it to control Unicron.
The Autobots reunite and befriend the local Junkions, led by Wreck-Gar, who rebuild Magnus. Learning Galvatron has the Matrix, the Autobots and Junkions fly to Cybertron, which Unicron, discovered to be a gigantic Transformer also now in robot form, begins to destroy.
The Autobots crash their spaceship through Unicron's eye, but they end up getting separated. Daniel rescues his father Spike, Jazz, Bumblebee and Cliffjumper from being devoured. Hot Rod confronts Galvatron, who tries to form an alliance, but he is forced into attacking Hot Rod by Unicron.
Hot Rod obtains the Matrix, which converts him into Rodimus Prime, the Autobot that Optimus said would light their darkest hour. Rodimus tosses Galvatron into space and uses the Matrix's power to destroy Unicron from the inside.
The Autobots celebrate the end of the war and the retaking of Cybertron, while Unicron's severed head continues to orbit the planet.
- Norman Alden as Kranix
- Jack Angel as Astrotrain
- Michael Bell as Prowl/Scrapper/Swoop/Junkion
- Gregg Berger as Grimlock
- Susan Blu as Arcee
- Arthur Burghardt as Devastator
- Corey Burton as Spike/Brawn/Shockwave
- Roger C. Carmel as Cyclonus/Quintesson Leader
- Victor Caroli as Narrator
- Rege Cordic as Quintesson Judge
- Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime/Ironhide
- Scatman Crothers as Jazz
- Bud Davis as Dirge
- Paul Eiding as Perceptor
- Ed Gilbert as Blitzwing
- Dan Gilvezan as Bumblebee
- Eric Idle as Wreck-Gar
- Buster Jones as Blaster
- Stan Jones as Scourge
- Casey Kasem as Cliffjumper
- Chris Latta as Starscream/Laserbeak
- David Mendenhall as Daniel Witwicky
- John Moschitta as Blurr
- Judd Nelson as Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime
- Leonard Nimoy as Galvatron
- Hal Rayle as Shrapnel
- Clive Revill as Kickback
- Neil Ross as Bonecrusher/Hook/Springer/Slag
- Robert Stack as Ultra Magnus
- Lionel Stander as Kup
- Orson Welles as Unicron
- Frank Welker as Megatron/Soundwave/Rumble/Frenzy/Ravage/Wheelie/Auto-combatant/Junkion
"The Transformers: The Movie" was budgeted at $6 million, six times greater than the budget used to create 90 minutes of the regular cartoon series. Nelson Shin's team of almost 100 personnel normally took three months to make one episode of the series.
Despite the extra budget, they faced considerable time constraints in making the film while also continuing production on the TV series at the same time.
According to Shin, the decisions on which characters to include or kill off were made by Hasbro. He said: "They created the story using characters that could best be merchandised for the film. Only with that consideration could I have freedom to change the storyline."
Shin also came up with the concept of the Transformers changing color when they died. He said: "When Optimus Prime died, I changed his color from red and blue into grey to show the spirit was gone from his body."
Toei Animation Vice President Kozo Morishita spent one year in the US during production of the film; Morishita supervised the art direction, insisting that the Transformers themselves be given several layers of shading and shadows to give them a more dynamic, detailed appearance.
It was the final film to which Orson Welles contributed; Welles was in declining health during production. Shortly before he died, Welles told his biographer, Barbara Leaming, "You know what I did this morning? I played the voice of a toy." He elaborated, "I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen."
According to director Nelson Shin, Welles had been pleased to accept the role after reading the script and expressed an admiration for animated films.
The voicework for "The Transformers: The Movie" was the last film project that Welles worked on; his last voice session was on October 5, 1985, and five days later, he died of a heart attack at the age of 70.
"The Transformers: The Movie" opened at #14 at the box office, grossing $1,779,559 during its opening weekend. Domestically, it grossed $5,849,647.
Due to the poor performance at the box office, Hasbro lost $10 million of the film and their previous one "My Little Pony: The Movie."
Because of that, the producers were forced to make "G.I. Joe: The Movie" a direct-to-video release instead of a theatrical release and they cancelled plans for a "Jem" movie.
"The Transformers: The Movie" has received less than positive reviews by critics.
Common Sense Media described the film as "an awful toy commercial in disguise." Chris Sawin of the Examiner said it was "by far the best toy commercial ever made."
Ben Walters of Time Out said: "The anime-inflected look is generally impressive too, although the power-rock soundtrack is unsalvageable."
Despite that, the film has become somewhat of a cult classic.