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YMMV / The Transformers: The Movie

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  • Accidental Aesop: Sometimes, our heroes die fighting for the greater good.
  • Adaptation Displacement: After the cancellation of the cartoon series, the Movie, which was widely available on home video, became most people's introduction to the Transformers universe.note 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Optimus Prime riding into the ravaged Autobot City and blasting the ever loving crap out of every Decepticon in his way. Then, proceeding to beat Megatron to a pulp, even after Megatron shoots him critically enough to wound him. Prime still manages to deliver one last punch so devastating that it practically leaves Megatron crippled. Just Prime being Crazy Awesome, Prime finally doing what needed to be done, or Prime going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge? He did declare, after all, that Megatron had to be stopped, "No matter the cost."
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    • There has been some debate about how much, if any of Megatron's identity was changed when he became Galvatron. On one hand, conversations like his Pre-Mortem One-Liner with Starscream indicate that he maintains all of the same memories and experiences. On the other hand, conversations like his declaration to kill Ultra Magnus (where he says "just as Megatron crushed Prime" instead of something like "how I crushed Prime before") suggest that he might view himself as a different being from Megatron.
      • Gets even weirder when, in Five Faces of Darkness part 1, the Decepticons effectively lampshade this, as it's revealed that they know Galvatron is Megatron. But then it gets into MindScrew territory when it's revealed in Starscream's Ghost that there's a crypt for fallen Decepticons somewhere on Cybertron— and there's a grave marker for Megatron!
  • Anti-Climax Boss: All three villains of the film fall pretty easily.
    • The Quintessan Judge is taken out when the dinobots drop a door on them.
    • Galvatron is threatening until Hot Rod grabs the matrix, after which he is effortlessly thrown through Unicron's side into space and out of the movie.
    • Unicron himself blows up almost immediately once Hot Rod uses the matrix. Even before this, Unicron's invincibility seems to be gone as the dinobots are able to damage him with little effort.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Soundwave's Out-of-Character Moment note  has since been addressed via Word of God: His intention was to win the fight for Decepticon leadership so he could order Astrotrain to go back for Megatron and then presumably hand the power back to him. It's still a bit awkward, but far more in line with Soundwave than what the film shows us.
  • Awesome Art: Probably the best aspect of the whole movie. The animation is very fluid, with some great dynamic camera angles and exciting action sequences, and the backgrounds are utterly gorgeous paintings. When you consider that the scenery and characters consist primarily of complicated, hard-to-animate machinery, it's even more impressive! Bonus points for Toei Animation's involvement for this film.
    • Unicron's transformation still looks amazing to this day. As Galvatron stares at his master's robot form in a mix of shock, horror, and awe, many viewers seeing the film for the first time are probably making the same expression.
  • Awesome Music: Every single track on the soundtrack is amazing, but special mention goes to Stan Bush's two tracks- "Dare", and of course, "The Touch".
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Blurr's tendency to speak really fast is considered either funny or annoying. It helps if you know it's actually not sped up, and famous commercial Motor Mouth John Moschitta Jr. really is talking that fast.
    • Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime as well. People either enjoy him for how he contrasts with Optimus and consider him one of the few developed characters in the movie/cartoon, or despise him for replacing Optimus and being partially responsible for his death.
    • Unicron is either a fearsome God of Evil or the biggest Generic Doomsday Villain the franchise has to offer.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The Junkions' dance with the Autobots on a Junk planet, to the tune of "Weird Al" Yankovic's 'Dare to Be Stupid' is probably a borderline case of this. The only thing keeping it from being such is Ultra Magnus being rebuilt during the scene, though as that comes after Wreck-Gar settles everyone down from the dancing number and a random Junkion kissing Grimlock during the dancing number.
    • Earlier, the film suddenly cuts underwater, where Hot Rod fights robotic fish and a squid, and rescues Kup. The background music makes it feel like a dream sequence, but it's not. Afterwards, the film cuts back to what was happening before the underwater scene, and other than Hot Rod repairing Kup, is not mentioned again.
    • The debut of "Cyclonus's Armada", which introduces a new character who has a plural name despite appearing in the singular, raises tons of questions relating to his creation, and vanishes in the very next shot.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Quintessa, both on the warped architecture and monstrous sea life fronts, owes a fair old debt to H P Lovecraft.
  • Broken Base:
    • The debate over who was reformatted into Cyclonus is rather infamous in the fandom. Unlike Scourge, who was very clearly made from Thundercracker, Cyclonus and his Armada (which consists of only one bot) are made from Bombshell and Skywarp at the same time without distinction. One side believes that Bombshell was reformatted into him, as Bombshell was in the foreground of the scene and the only one shown in the storyboards, and other material (most notably Transformers Universe) declare it was Bombshell who formed him. The other side believes it was Skywarp, citing the symmetry (blue jet Thundercracker becomes blue hovercraft Scourge so purple jet Skywarp should be purple jet Cyclonus) and other material (like Macrocosmic seekers) declaring Cyclonus to have been Skywarp. A third faction is annoyed that future writers keep going back and forth and wish that one interpretation should be picked and stuck to. Others still interpret that the other damaged Decepticons were dead when Unicron found Megatron, the new Decepticons were built from their corpses, and Scourge and Cyclonus almost never show signs of who they "were", therefore it doesn't matter who was built from who. And to make matters worse, in early scripts, neither were Cyclonus, with him and Scourge being created from the "life sparks" of other deceased Decepticon leaders.
    • Brawn's death is also infamously debated among the fans. People believe that either Brawn survived because he was too tough to die, or he died because that was the intention of the filmmakers.
  • "Common Knowledge": While a number people claim to have memories of Optimus crumbling into dust after death in the movie, he did not actually do that - it was the Armada Optimus who crumbled into dust on death. They may be confusing Optimus' death with Starscream's - 'Screamer did crumble to dust when dying, and both characters turned grey as they died.
  • Complete Monster: Unicron is an ancient planet-eating Transformer that was created by a Mad Scientist called Primacron. Primacron created Unicron to help him take over the universe, but he rebelled and destroyed Primacron's lab. Unicron travelled through space and devoured many inhabited worlds, including the planet of Lithone. After learning of Optimus Prime's death and his passing of the Matrix of Leadership, Unicron tracked down Megatron and tasked him to destroy it, as it was the only thing that could stand in his way. Torturing Megatron into accepting his deal, Unicron reformatted him into Galvatron and made him more susceptible to his psychic assaults. Galvatron, tired of being Unicron's pawn, tried to use the Matrix to turn Unicron into his slave, but it had no effect in his hands. In retaliation, Unicron started destroying Cybertron and attacked both Autobot and Decepticon alike. Unicron was eventually defeated by a Matrix-wielding Rodimus and only his head remained to orbit Cybertron, a testament to the Transformer that made even the mighty Megatron beg for mercy.
  • Covered Up: the song "Nothin's Gonna Stand In Our Way" by Kick Axe (Under the name "Spectre General") is actually a cover of a John Farnham song used for the movie SavageStreets. Subverted by the other Kick Axe song, "Hunger", which was written by members of Kick Axe but recorded first by King Kobra, making it unclear which one is the cover, but the Transformers version is definitely more well-known (if only marginally).
  • Critical Dissonance: Big-time. Before Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen came out, this was the prime example of Critical Dissonance in the Transformers franchise, although this actually took some time. Note, however, that the movie is less popular with newer Transformers fans.
  • Cult Classic: Very much so. The movie wasn't critically acclaimed when it was first released, but many Transformers fans remember it rather fondly.
  • Ear Worm: "YOU GOT THE TOUCH! YOU GOT THE POWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!" See the Crowning Music of Awesome trope page.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Ultra Magnus for being a humble yet competent leader in the wake of Optimus' death and Grimlock for downgrading his jerkass qualities in favor of being a lovable yet simple Blood Knight. Since Arcee is the most well known female Transformer, she likely counts too.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Megatron's last hurrah is him at his most threatening and capable. The destruction and body count that his attack on Autobot City wrought stands heads and shoulders above most of his performance in the cartoon, capped off with his legendary fight with Optimus. His return as Galvatron is similarly cool, with Leonard Nimoy's performance giving him extra menace, and his murder of Starscream showing that he's not taking anymore chances.
    • Sure, in terms of characterization Unicron is pretty bland, but he is a transforming planet with the voice of Orson Welles.
  • Fandom Rivalry: This film tends to get brought up often during arguments between fans of the original Transformers cartoon and fans of the Michael Bay movies. Fans of the former generally consider this movie to be the ideal way to bring Transformers to the big screen and lambaste the live-action films series as a faux-mature Human-Focused Adaptation that breaks what doesn't need fixing. Fans of the latter on the other hand prefer the live-actions films for targeting an older audience, their Visual Effects of Awesome, and the G1 movie's much lower budget and narrower appeal. While some of the fans of the live-actions films will admit that Generation One fans have many justified complaints, they have also accused the fans of this movie of being overly-harsh in their criticisms of Michael Bay's films while overglorifying what can be described as a 80-minute toy commercial. Not helping things is that both versions are disliked by critics on Rotten Tomatoes (the G1 movie has a slightly lower rating than the first Bay movie and a higher rating than the sequels).
  • Fan Nickname: "Cyclonus's Armada" or just "Armada" for the one bot said armada apparently consists of.
  • Fanon:
    • Many of the fans who hated/despised Hot Rod tend to see him as a Decepticon masquerading as an Autobot.
    • The sheer stupidity of Galvatron trying to strangle Hot Rod in space is commonly ignored, and fans like to think Galvatron is trying to decapitate him instead.
  • Fountain of Memes: Quite a lot of memes were spawned by dialogue from this film, most notably Ultra Magnus' "I can't deal with that now" and Hot Rod's "I have nothing but contempt for this court".
  • Franchise Original Sin: Some of the complaints about the live-action films can be traced back to here.
    • A common issue people have with the live-action films is how many beloved characters are brutally killed off, often with little fanfare. The first half hour of this movie kills off the majority of the original cast, and very few of them are given more than just a quick glance or passing mention. The difference is that these characters had a cartoon to give them more personality and screentime while the live-action films don't have as many side-materials to go off of. When studying both this film and the live-action ones, the huge amount of characters stuffed in makes it hard to give many of them development, but the original's cartoon helps to make up for that. This makes it less "they killed off a character I liked and I'm salty about it" and more "they killed off a character I liked before they could get more development".
    • The live-action sequels are often criticized for having Megatron get upstaged by other villains as the Big Bad and undergo Badass Decay as a result. In this movie, Megatron (well, Galvatron) serves Unicron and is treated as less of a threat compared to him. Unlike post-ROTF Megatron however, Galvatron is does not undergo Badass Decay (if anything, his higher kill count makes him more of a threat), he still calls most of the shots, and actually attempts to overthrow his master on several occasions. Note that during the climax, it is Galvatron, not Unicron, who serves as Hot Rod's main opponent.
  • Growing the Beard: Though still So Bad, It's Good, this film and the Marvel comics that were running at the time were the point where Transformers fiction started becoming more than just a glorified toy commercial and developed actual plot. Fitting, considering the fact that this film indirectly establishes a lot of the mythos for the franchise that later incarnations would build off of.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: If you think Prime had it bad before he died, just remember now that before the events of the movie, he had to destroy an artifact that held the remnants of Cybertronian culture.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Many fans believe that those who weren't killed on-screen survived. One commonly cited example is Brawn, who went down with only a single shot to his shoulder. The fact that even after going down, he was on a shuttle with Decepticons for a lengthy period of time doesn't bode well for him. It doesn't help that Season Three had the habit of mistakenly reusing designs of deceased characters in background shots.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Idiot Ball: Galvatron sets a high bar for stupidity by attempting to blackmail a genocidally murderous robotic elder god with a weapon he has no idea how to use (not to mention said god can just destroy his mind at a whim). Unicron, however, immediately raises the bar by swallowing Galvatron whole... in the process ingesting the very weapon and putting it in the perfect place to destroy him. (Possibly he was hoping Galvatron and the Matrix would go down the pipe to his digestive system, and forgot that Decepticons can fly, but still pretty dim. Squishing him between his fingers would have been a lot more sensible than eating him with an added dose of kryptonite.)
  • It Was His Sled: Hot Rod becomes Rodimus Prime. Optimus Prime and several other Autobots die. Megatron gets reformatted into Galvatron. Galvatron murders Starscream. The giant planet Unicron has a robot mode!
  • Jerkass Woobie:
  • Memetic Mutation: Is the source for many a quotation among G1 fans:
    • Ultra Magnus's "I can't deal with that now!" has become somewhat memetic (and kind of funny, considering the post-movie season, where he largely serves as Rodimus Prime's level-headed Number One).
    • Any time two Transformer fans argue about anything, someone will say "One shall stand, one shall fall."
    • "Coronation, <X>? This is bad comedy."note 
      • For that matter, Starscream's "coronation" outfit with his crown, cape, and shoulder pads, is surprisingly popular given he appears in it for less than a full minute of screentime.
      • Also: "Who disrupts my Combination?" for the Power of the Primes Starscream toy's ability to combine.
    • "Soundwave superior, <X> inferior."
      • "Generation 1 Superior, Bayformers/Michael Bay inferior". explaination 
    • "Michael Bay Must Be Stopped. No Matter The Cost."note 
      • Likewise, fans also compared Unicorn's line before destroying Cybertron as Bay destroying the franchise's reputation.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • In his very first scene Unicron destroys Lithone, and it is made explicitly clear that the population died horribly. And this is just his first onscreen planet destruction; Kranix recognizing Unicron once he arrives suggests that he's been doing this for quite some time...
    • The Quintessons cross it by feeding Kranix and Arblus to the Sharkticons. Those two were the only proof that Lithone even existed.
    • The Decepticons cross it by gunning down all the Autobots aboard the shuttle, but Megatron in particular crosses it by mercilessly executing a wounded and helpless Ironhide, sneering while doing so.
  • Narm:
    • The opening scene with Unicron devouring an entire planet is chilling, but when we see a masher within Unicron making cartoony chomping noises, it loses some of its punch.
    • Galvatron attempting to strangle Hot Rod in the climax has been widely mocked, as A) being a robot means Hot Rod wouldn't need to breathe in the first place, and B) they're in space. As a result, many choose to believe Galvatron is actually trying to decapitate him instead.
  • Narm Charm: While no one will claim that it's a pinnacle of high-quality cinema, the movie is filled to the brim with Rule of Coolnote , from the giant robot fights set to '80s hair metal music to the surprise inclusion of Orson Welles and Leonard Nimoy as two of the movie's badass villains. This is what helps hold it dear to many a fans' heart, along with the mandatory nostalgia.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Ultra Magnus' "I can't deal with that now!" in response to seeing Hot Rod and Kup get shot down has become popular in the fandom to make him look like an incompetent fool/massive Jerkass.note 
    • Soundwave making zero objection to throwing his master out of the airlock to his death is the source of much contention with the fan base who love his Undying Loyalty persona (which ironically was in full display just beforehand by carrying him into Astrotrain in the first place). Arguably inverted since the audience prefers to ignore that it happened as much as official interpretations do. The most common interpretation is that he was planning to take over so he could turn the shuttle around.
    • Hot Rod already had a giant uphill battle to be accepted by fans as the new Prime, but the fact that Optimus died saving him from his own idiocy ensured that it would never, ever happen.
    • THE DEATH OF OPTIMUS PRIME! Nobody expected it to be as big of a deal as it was! The filmmakers openly admitted that the whole film was a commercial for new toys! And yet, we had children leaving the theaters in tears, as well as the one kid who locked himself in his room for days on end to grieve.
  • Older Than They Think: This movie gets brought up often by people who feel Michael Bay is actively trying to destroy their childhoods with the new films. However, a lot of the complaints are also present in this film. An (annoying) human character and a robot who has an (annoying) unique speech pattern? Daniel and Wheelie. Product placement? Come on, the majority of the film is this. Brutally killing off characters? Watch the first 30 minutes of the film.note  Filler scenes? See Big-Lipped Alligator Moment above. Then of course, the film adds new characters out of nowhere, and the Matrix had never been even mentioned before (even when Prime's chest was opened in A Prime Problem.) Celebrity voice actors? Lets see... there's Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Eric Idle, Orson Freaking Welles.
  • Replacement Scrappy: The film kills off a large portion of the cast so that new characters could be introduced in their place, so this trope is to be expected. To list a few:
    • Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime to Optimus Prime. The latter is incredibly popular and his death infamously traumatized pretty much every kid who saw this movie. Not only was introducing a character to replace him a massive challenge in of itself, but Hot Rod being partially responsible for Optimus' death did not do him any favors.
    • Daniel and Wheelie to Spike and Bumblebee. They all fit into the Kid-Appeal Character trope, but the former group fell into the exact pitfalls that Spike and 'Bee avoided, like being too young and having annoying voices.
    • Galvatron generally gets the least of this (possibly because he technically is Megatron, just in a different form), but many still prefer Megatron due to feeling that Galvatron came off as less competent and didn't have as many interesting dynamics with his troops.
  • Ron the Death Eater: As far as a lot of the fans who hate Hot Rod for being partially responsible for Optimus' death are concerned, he is either an undercover Decepticon or a Jerkass who wanted Optimus to die so he could take leadership for himself. The numerous times that he stops the Decepticons' plans paired up with a notable lack of moments of aiding them seem to disprove the former, and season 3 features two episodes back-to-back that seem to disprove the latter: one where Rodimus is perfectly willing to give up leadership, and one where he decides to revive Optimus.
  • Sacred Cow: This film set up many aspects of the Transformers lore and many of its scenes are still beloved by fans. While there has been some debate about how well this holds up compared to later works, calling this film a bad one is like asking to die.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • Transformers: The Movie was the first Western animated feature film to rely on ideas from anime and comics (and yeah, Star Wars) to set up an elaborate space opera with a backstory and continuity tie-ins to resulting episodes of the series. After it came out, all the other Saturday Morning TV series copied the idea. With the rise in popularity of anime and elaborately plotted multiverse continuities in every franchise (Transformers or otherwise), it's considered no big deal now.
    • Three words: Digimon. The. Movie (at least the three-part dub). The Merchandise-Driven nature, type of soundtrack used (for the time), backstory and continuity expansion all seem to draw from TFTM - they even share the same animation studio and Animesque style (although Digimon is actually Japanese anime).
    • Many lines from the movie have been quoted in other Transformers media (e.g. "One shall stand, one shall fall", "I still function", "Soundwave superior"). Though once applauded, fans are now sick of hearing them over and over, to where even Prime himself got sick of it in The Transformers: Robots in Disguise:
    Galvatron: Today -— one shall stand, and two shall fall!
    [Prime decks Galvatron]
    • Optimus Prime's death was very unexpected and shocking, as the audience reactions can attest to. Nowadays, with every other incarnation of Prime dying and coming back to life at least once, it can be hard for modern viewers to see what the big deal was about.
    • Heck, just a piece of Transformers fiction killing off characters has fallen into this. Parents and children alike were shocked to see the characters that had before just flown off into the sunset at the end of every adventure get killed en masse. After series like Beast Wars and pretty much every comic series followed the Anyone Can Die rule, it can be hard to see why killing off the franchise's characters would surprise people.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Optimus' final fight against Decepticons while Stan Bush's The Touch plays in the backgrounds.
    • Optimus Prime's death, immediately after the aforementioned fight.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The Unicron melody is very similar to the Ivan Drago theme from Rocky IV, which Vince DiCola also composed for.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: While most likely unintentional, Grimlock's first words towards Wheelie is saying that he hates him, right before swatting him.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Inverted with regards to Ultra Magnus when he's destroyed. After Magnus is brought back to life, he doesn't do much and the Matrix is passed on to Hot Rod. He could have stayed dead and it wouldn't have made a difference.
    • Kranix could've been potentially interesting as an ally to the Autobots, especially considering how much he seemed to know about Unicron. There was also potential for developing him as a character to see how he kept himself going from day to day knowing he was The Last of His Kind.
    • Plenty of the new characters, especially Scourge, Cyclonus, Blurr, Springer, and Arcee, get very little characterization and don't have much of anything to do in the actual plot aside from the occasional fight scene. The third season helped them shine, though.
    • During the reformation scene, Unicron introduces Galvatron to Cyclonus' Armada... consisting of only one member who vanishes without a trace immediately after to seemingly be replaced with another Sweep, making you wonder why he existed in the first place. Wouldn't it have been cool for Galvatron to have more than one type of Mook at his disposal?
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: Every now and then you might find a claim that says that Optimus turned into dust after he died, or that there's a cut that includes all kinds of horrible violence. Neither exists, with people likely misremembering Starscream's disintegration being part of Prime's death.
  • Villain Decay: Unicron, for the most part, is scary. He is shown to be able to destroy anything on his path with ease, and blowing up a moon on his mouth was a No-Sell. And then once the movie is nearly over, the dinobots start to tear him apart even before Hot Rod uses his only weakness and destroys him by grabbing the MacGuffin.
  • Vindicated by History: At the time of release, the movie was slammed by critics and failed to make back its budget. Nowadays, it is one of the most beloved Transformers works for its contributions to the lore and sheer Rule of Cool.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • The infamous scene where Hot Rod attempts to "help" Prime defeat Megatron. The poor kid seemingly forgets about all of his built-in weaponry (even if we assume his guns had run out of ammo, he still had a sawblade that he could have used to slice off Megatron's arm or head) and proceeds to tackle the Decepticon leader with his bare hands, costing Optimus his chance at a clear shot. Even so, it doesn't look too great on Optimus' part either since he spends time commenting on how odd it is for Megatron to beg for mercy instead of not taking any chances and proceeding to blow his head apart with a laser blast, or at least shooting in the brief period between Megatron picking up the gun and Hot Rod tackling him.
    • Upon getting the Matrix, Galvatron decides to use it to enslave his planet-destroying master who can Mind Rape him, and he doesn't test to make sure he can open it until the moment he begins to threaten him. Sure pal, that will work out great for you.
    • Instead of simply crushing Galvatron between his fingers and destroying the Matrix with him, Unicron drops him into his mouth, and doesn't even bother using his Mind Rape powers to force Galvatron to destroy the Matrix once it's clear that he is not currently melting in his digestive system. It's like Unicron wanted to die.
    • Speaking of Unicron, instead of punishing Galvatron by destroying Cybertron with the massive cannon/vacuum he has, he instead transforms and starts punching it.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: As noted under Darker and Edgier, this film surprised a lot of parents (and children) who expected the same lighthearted tone as the TV series, only to see hordes of Autobots die in the first ten minutes. And Spike clearly says "shit".


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