Travis McClain’s review published on Letterboxd:
I recently began rewatching The Transformers in its entirety. There are some gems in the first two seasons, but I admit that the second half of the second season was a bit of a chore. Having watched this movie ad infinitum over the last 28 years, I admit I found the show somewhat benign and even tedious as so much of the dialog consisted of trash-talking insults and the action had all the stakes of staged wrestling.
And so it was that I found this viewing of The Transformers: The Movie almost startling.
Obviously, there's the body count - a lot of it surprisingly gruesome. The Decepticon attack on the Autobot shuttle, for instance, feels so savage that it's incongruous with the tamer cartoon show. Prowl's death in particular has always stood out to me, his eyes turning red and fire escaping his mouth as he falls. Freaky stuff when you're 7, and it turns out, still freaky stuff when you're 35.
Beyond the story content, though, the animation is definitely more sophisticated than the show. Understandably, that's because more money went into the movie's production than went into the show. Still, there are a lot of terrific shots that impress me even more now that CGI has made me more appreciative of hand drawn animation. The team that worked on Unicron, for instance, deserve a special shout-out, as do those who did the battle at Autobot City and the entire segment on the Planet of Junk.
Lastly, I feel Vince DiCola's score merits some recognition. I always liked it anyway, but it upped the game from the heavily recycled stock music from the show. It didn't help that the same music library was also recycled throughout G.I. Joe at the time, meaning we heard those dozen cues all the time. The blend of electric guitar and synths is surprisingly effective and suits the tone of the film. The Decepticon motif in particular has always caught my ear.
The Transformers: The Movie Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#13/1647)
The Transformers: The Movie > Analyze This --> #13
The Transformers: The Movie > Planet of the Apes (2001) --> #13
The Transformers: The Movie > Mickey's Christmas Carol --> #13
The Transformers: The Movie > Up --> #13
The Transformers: The Movie > U-571 --> #13
The Transformers: The Movie > Shaun of the Dead --> #13
The Transformers: The Movie > Tombstone --> #13
The Transformers: The Movie > Casablanca --> #6
The Transformers: The Movie < Schindler's List --> #6
The Transformers: The Movie > Lawrence of Arabia --> #4
The Transformers: The Movie was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #4/1647
This ranking process hurt, particularly Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia.