My golden pre-teen years were the 80’s. The late 80’s more specifically. During that time I witnessed my older brother do alot of his two primary activities: maintain spray his jheri curl and play Atari. He had Pac-Man and a slew of high school girlfriends while I had Optimus; the leader of the mighty Autobots. Optimus Prime set my moral compass every Saturday morning with every new episode of The Transformers. I saw him defeat the evil forces of the Decepticons as an animation and afterwards I had a 12″ die cast figure to carry around as a physical representation.
Today, I can only guess at which characters will appear in what will be the third installment of the live, “CG” version of the Transformers. Both movies were box office hits. I was tremendously pleased with the first movie, the second….it was “aight”. I guess the first was for 80’s babies which stuck with original core characters, while the second was aimed at the new generation using ridiculous robots like Skid and Wheelie.
It kinda made me sad to know that many of the kids today didn’t know about the original cartoon movie back in 86. Now I know how older cats in my neighborhood felt when I rode through blasting Juicy by Notorious B.I.G. not knowing the beat was sampled. Looking back, I don’t really know what I was expecting when I heard the news of the Transformers cartoon movie that was debuting that summer in 1986. I knew I loved the Transformers. I knew I slept with my Optimus Prime toy so much that I had cuts and scrapes on my back and chest from turning over on it in my sleep. I knew that if moms didn’t take me to see it after school that day then there would be hell to pay.
As promised she took me. I remember not wanting snacks or popcorn because those things were distractions. My favorite hero was making his big screen debut and he’d brought his army of Autobots with him.
The second the movie came on I knew this was going to be the greatest movie I’d ever seen. When the lights went dark in the theater and the “new and improved” 80’s rock version of the Transformers theme song came on, (performed by Lion) the only words that came to my mind where:
“HO-LEE-SHIT I’m witnessing history.”
I wasn’t physically mature enough to have a sexual orgasm (I don’t think) but this movie did to my adolescent mind what having sex with Alicia Keys would probably do to me now. Yea, it was that serious.
With Optimus Prime in one hand and Grimlock in the other, I sat and watched the first ten minutes. What more could I ask for?
We had a new “bigger than life” planet eating villain (Unicron), voiced by the late great Orson Welles. A new Rock and Roll soundtrack that gave me goose bumps. Then topping it off, the animation was excellent. The movie still would have been historic if they just coasted on that; but no, not the 86’ Transformers…they had to make serious.
In the movie, Optimus had ordered a small crew of Autobots to travel to Earth from Cybertron, led by his Lt. and old friend, Ironhide. During the journey, the ship was ambushed by the Decepticons. Megatron, Starscream and the Constructicons invaded the ship by blasting a hole in the side.
*Nerd question: How did they get that close to an Autobot ship undetected?*
Anyways, this was all still pretty routine stuff from the normal cartoon series. Megatron ambushes, Autobots fight back, robots transform, lasers are fired…blah blah blah.
Not this time. When the Autobots notice the ship has been breached, brave and heroic, they respond to defend themselves. One Autobot in particular, Brawn, known to be one of the stronger Autobots rushes to engage Megatron and his evil band of Decepticons.
This is when it became serious.
Megatron transforms into a Walther P38 hand pistol. Landing in Starscreams hand, he fires a single blast. The blast hits Brawn in the shoulder and blows his fucking back off! Brawn dies.
It wouldn’t stop there. The invading Decepticons would proceed to massacre Ironhide, Ratchet and Prowl, all key members of Autobot army. The Autobots didn’t even get a punch in.
I remember sitting with my hand over my mouth as a kid thinking, “oh my God”. You gotta understand I was a child and this was 1986. Cartoon villains killing the heroes?