Transformers the movie was planned in 1985 and cost around $6 million, more than 6 times the budget of a single "movie" made up of regular footage. Nelson Shin's production company usually took 100 people 3 months just to make a single episode, so now we can appreciate the enormous constraints that the producers were under back in the day. It debuted on August 8th 1986 for the US, but us Brits had to wait until the Christmas period of 1986 for the cinematic release.
As well as featuring a heavy metal soundtrack from Stan Bush, Lion, Spectre General and NRG, it also featured an all star cast of big name celebrity talent from back then. Including: Eric Idle, Orson Welles, Norm Alden, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Lionel Stander and Judd Nelson.
The Movie was produced alongside the GI Joe Movie. Sunbow had sought to kill off Duke. Hasbro responded that they were more than happy to kill off the character, as the toy was no longer selling and insisted they did the same with the 1984/1985 Transformers, as the toys themselves were being clearanced and removed from store shelves to make way for the new line of action figures. Now, the backlash of Optimus Prime's death in the movie caused such a shockwave, that Sunbow were not only bring back Optimus Prime in Season 3, but also re-write GI Joe to where Duke was only put in a coma.
The movie's plot revolves around In 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. 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 the 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. On his death bed, 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. Going 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, a survivor of Lithone – a planet devoured by Unicron. After Kranix is executed, Hot Rod and Kup try to 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 then 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 are separated. Daniel rescues his father Spike and Jazz, Bumblebee, and Cliffjumper from being devoured. Hot Rod confronts Galvatron, who tries to form an alliance, but 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 head begins to orbit the planet.
When the movie was released, it was given rather negative reviews, Many of the big names considered it a loud and obnoxious toy commercial. Orson Welles was particularly negative about it, where he said he voices a toy. Welles sadly died 5 days after finishing his voice recording sessions. However, in recent years, it has gained a cult following, with many people preferring the movie over Michael Bay movies.
The movie is widely available in many formats, including Blu-Ray, DVD, VHS and Laserdisc. So grab yourself a copy, sit and and enjoy perhaps the greatest entry in the Transformers universe.