It’s probably a tie between Star Wars and Transformers: The Movie, but as everyone probably writes about Star Wars, I’ll go with the one that emotionally scarred me the most.
Well, not really, but Transformers: The Movie was a big deal. Just to clarify, we’re not talking about the recent Transformers films, which weren’t so much about the Transformers as they were about Megan Fox’s bum. And that’s fine, just don’t call the films Transformers, call them Megan Fox’s Bottom. That way everyone’s happy.
No, I’m talking about the 1986 animated movie that spun off from the cartoon series. It was the first film I went to see without my mom, I think, on the grounds that it was based a toy line and therefore couldn’t be too traumatising.
So when half the cast of the cartoon is slaughtered within the first twenty minutes, you know that something serious is going on. The confirmed kill list is longer than War and Peace, but I’ve found out in recent years that they cut a bunch of scenes that would have killed even more favourites. Frankly, it’s messed up.
The Giant Robot MassacreTM is balanced by one pivotal Crowning Moment of Awesome – the good guys are getting wiped out when their leader, Optimus Prime, shows up with the cavalry. Only he doesn’t need the cavalry, because he just turns in to a truck, and smashes through the assembled ranks of the bad guys before getting into a fight to the death with his arch-nemesis. It’s fantastic, although I suspect you have to be a ten-year-old boy to really get the most from it. Nowadays most of the awesome comes from the soundtrack, eighties hair-metal brilliance from Stan Bush’s ‘The Touch‘. I was at a friend’s birthday party when this was played and half the dudes in the room just cheered and starting singing.
In fact, for me the whole film is about those opening scenes – the main plot is basically a road movie in space before the good guys have to go toe-to-toe with an immense planet-eating robot. Some of it feels like filler and some of it actually helps to contradict stuff that happened earlier in the film, but that first half… There’s a Facebook game where you post a film quote as your status and see who picks up on it. When that happens with my friends we end up with a list of Transformers quotes that pretty much make up the script of the movie. This movie isn’t just something we’re fans of, it’s a part of our vocabulary. This is a bit of a problem, as there isn’t much call to use it in real life – how often do you get chance to yell "I got better things to do tonight than die!" or "One shall stand, one shall fall!" at work? Admittedly work would be more epic if we could, so let’s not dismiss the idea just yet.
So is Transformers: The Movie the film I’ve seen the most? Probably, yeah, although that’s partly because it’s pretty short. It’s certainly one of my geek set-texts, and it’s something of a shibboleth for the Dudley Nerd Herd. I can’t claim it’s a great film, but it’s fuel for my nostalgic fire. And I still get a lump in my throat when Optimus Prime dies, even though I’m a 33 year old man with a responsible job. And you know what? I don’t care. There’s a part of me that will always be ten and that has a ridiculous attachment to robots that turn into cars. I can live with that.
Cue theme song!