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Transformers: The Movie (1986)

For countless years a civil war has raged on the planet Cybertron between two factions – the Autobots, who fight for good, and the evil Decepticons.

This war has spilt over into the surrounding galaxy, including planet Earth, but now there is a new threat to the Transformers from a giant planet-sized robot called Unicron (voiced by Orson Welles), which devours everything in its path.

Meanwhile, the Decepticon leader, Megatron (voiced by Frank Welker), is out to eliminate the Autobot leader, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), so the Autobots certainly have the odds stacked against them.

When Star Wars was released in 1977, one of the most lucrative elements was the merchandising, especially the toys. By the early 1980s, toys were not simply released to cash in on a film or TV programme, but vice versa. Starting with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the Saturday morning cartoon became simply an advertisement for the latest line of action figures and toy vehicles.

The Transformers craze started around 1984 and had been extremely successful by the time this film was released. Written by Ron Friedman, it looks a lot like an extended TV commercial, showcasing an array of robots who, to the layman, would be largely indistinguishable from one another if it weren’t for the actors providing the voices.

The Transformers could change into cars, trucks, planes, trains, dinosaurs – and even a cassette recorder for some reason – and fell into one of two categories: goodies (the Autobots) or baddies (the Decepticons).

The movie plot is an excuse for the robots to zoom around firing laser beams at each other and beating each other up. When Optimus Prime is incapacitated, he gives up the Matrix to whoever can rise from the ranks of Autobots to lead them. There follows a huge-scale battle where Megatron, now under the control of Unicron, attempts to seize the Matrix himself.

It’s not too difficult to see who the new hero will be, as he’s the one who saves the little kid early on.

The whole thing proves you can blow characters up and subject them to all kinds of violence in kids cartoons as long as the characters are not human.

Narrator
Victor Caroli
Optimus Prime
Peter Cullen
Megatron
Frank Welker
Unicron
Orson Welles
Kranix
Norman Alden
Astrotrain
Jack Angel
Prowl / Scrapper / Swoop / Junkion
Michael Bell
Grimlock
Gregg Berger
Arcee
Susan Blu
Devastator
Arthur Burghardt
Spike / Brawn / Shockwave
Corey Burton
Cyclonus / Quintesson Leader
Roger C. Carmel
Quintesson Judge
Regis Cordic
Jazz 
Scatman Crothers
Dirge
Bud Davis
Perceptor 
Paul Eiding
Blitzwing
Ed Gilbert
Bumblebee
Dan Gilvezan
Wreck-Gar
Eric Idle
Blaster
Buster Jones
Scourge
Stan Jones
Cliffjumper
Casey Kasem
Starscream / Laserbeak
Christopher Collins
Daniel Witwicky
David Mendenhall
Scavenger
Don Messick
Blurr
John Moschitta
Hot Rod / Rodimus Prime
Judd Nelson
Galvatron
Leonard Nimoy
Shrapnel
Hal Rayle
Kickback
Clive Revill
Bonecrusher / Hook / Springer / Slag
Neil Ross
Ultra Magnus
Robert Stack
Kup
Lionel Stander
Soundwave / Rumble / Frenzy / Ravage / Wheelie / Auto-combatant / Junkion
Frank Welker

Director
Nelson Shin