Sunday, February 23, 2014

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Writer of Worlds

Disclaimer: I own none of the images, literature or information mentioned in this post. All credit is owed to the original creators.
 

Few writers can rival the scope and scale of world building and exciting the imagination that Edgar Rice Burroughs achieved. While he is surpassed in depth by some authors, very few had the raw diversity that Burroughs brought to the table while still having levels of depth, creating landscapes, animals, places and races.
Burroughs planted the seeds of imagination across many realms. He dabbled in fantasy, science fiction, alternate history, primitive adventure, horror and romance.
He had his weaknesses of course. He was not gifted for dialogue. Few characters were terribly deep, although most were solid in one way or another. Certain plot devices were recycled to place characters in required situations.

Yet in spite of these drawbacks Burroughs had an uncanny ability to capture the imagination of a reader and tap into the adventurous spirit that lay within the hearts of millions of young readers. I believe that it was this spirit that he recognized that allowed his work to flourish in his career and continue even today.

My first exposure to the writing of Burroughs came in the form of several hand-me-down books from some relatives which happened to include a few old copies of Tarzan stories. I as instantly gripped by the Frazetta covers, first diving into Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle, actually the eleventh book in the series. This little, battered book turned out to be only the first brick on the path of pulp literature that I would end up traveling on for years to come. Even though I read the stories out of order I was transfixed. I began securing whatever Burroughs writing in any way I could, and was most irritated to find that many of his stories in paperback were expensive or hard to get ahold of. Luckily the Ebook systems helped solve that problem, and in short order I was able to get most of the writing in bulk for a mere pittance.

But let us dive into some of the characters, worlds and plots that Burroughs dabbled in!


Ah Tarzan, easily the best well known of his works. Tarzan was his most long running character and series, and has become a cultural icon of the United States. Even those who have never read his books, looked at his comics or watched his movies knows who he is.
A handsome but savage man clad in a loincloth with jet black hair with only a knife, bow or spear to fend off despicable men and monsters.
He was raised in the jungles of Africa by apes in most inhospitable. The steel of his character was tempered by constant conflict and his harsh environment while honing his intellect in the cabin his father had built. Tarzan actually learns how to read, which while extremely improbable, Burroughs somehow makes seem quite plausible.
I'm not here to recite the entire book and the following series, but I still want to analyze Tarzan and the places he operated in.
Tarzan is a fairly simple character in terms of personality and is not terribly deep. He considers himself an animal first and a man second. He has the brutal pragmatism of a wild beast yet the keen intellect of a human and an honor code that sets him apart from most characters. He could be extremely cruel to evil men or savage animals yet never harmed women. His greatest amusements were exploration, adventure and overall getting himself into trouble. Money held no appeal to him although he had lots of it. He was unflinchingly loyal to his friends and most of all his wife, Jane. No matter how many buxom women came onto him, which was often, he never once even contemplated betraying her once they were married. Once his wrath is kindled however he is a power to be reckoned with. When he believed Jane was murdered by the German Army in World War 1 he began a one man campaign against the entire German race, planning to exterminate them all. But even that wouldn't have been enough to quench the fires of revenge. Lucky for them Jane was still alive! Even given his capacity for grim violence, he did have a queer sense of humor.

I recall with fondness in the second story, The Return of Tarzan, he is relaxing in Paris with a friend of his but is bored out of his mind. An enemy he is unaware of lures him into an ambush where twelve men set upon him with the intent of killing him. Tarzan proceeds to maul each and every one of them and has the time of his life. When his friend warns him that he should be more careful and avoid the more violent portions of Paris Tarzan replies that that experience was the greatest fun he'd had in his whole trip and would from that point spend all of his spare time there hoping to provoke another brawl!

Certainly not one for high society. In short, Tarzan is a simple but solid character. He is not extremely deep, but he has a firm history and one can get a good idea of how he will react to a situation and how he will behave. So why is he so popular if he isn't as provoking as other characters?
I believe it's because of his abilities and what he does.

In ERB stories it's the adventure that counts, not really the characters. They are merely there for us to latch on to while we embark on epic quests, inserting ourselves into the action and pretending that we too are men of the wilderness. We want to be like Tarzan. We want to be handsome, big, strong, awesome with weapons of all types, have women fawn over us, have no worries about money, and go adventuring for no other reason than because we want to. Tarzan fits this role perfectly and allows us flights of fancy from our boring day to day lives.
Tarzan is resourceful, able to fashion weapons with only his hands. He's an amazing athlete, having almost inexhaustible strength, endurance, agility, dexterity and balance that lets him do everything from prance about the treetops with amazing speed to swimming for hours without tiring. He has astounding vitality, suffering all manner of grievous wounds but recovering. He's intelligent, figuring out complex problems despite his innocence regarding complicated societies. He can fight with his hands, knives, swords, clubs, firearms, spears and bows with stellar skill. His senses are almost supernatural. Women adore his physique and brave acts. He has great wealth although he scarcely needs it.

He can climb just about anything that a man is capable of climbing, able to race through the upper reaches of trees faster than most people can travel on level ground. His stealth is amazing, frequently sneaking into heavily armed camps with little difficulty. He's a master tracker, identifying people by their tracks as easily as looking at their faces.

Tarzan is what most of us wish we could be and we enjoy pretending that we can do the things he does. I imagine some people think that daydreaming and pretending as an adult is immature and childish, but I could care less. Daydreaming is fun, allowing us to detach from the bloody boring paperwork and phone calls we have to put up with. If I couldn't indulge in the children's ability of imagining things while at work I'd probably have slipped into a coma long ago.

Tarzan excels in exploring ancient lost civilizations, battling with horrible monsters, waging war with primitive fighters, a plot which he somehow managed to keep going for almost twenty bloody stories straight and still be entertaining! Who knew that Africa was so big and so poorly explored back then? That's part of the magic. Burroughs made our world seem larger than it was, lost cities hidden around every corner.

Tarzan was but one of the many series he wrote, and there are others that I believe are better in their own ways.



The runner-up in terms of popularity is ERB's excellent series, Barsoom. Whereas Tarzan took place mostly in Africa, albeit a poor representation of it, the Barsoom series is where Burroughs really showed his chops for world building. Through very mysterious means, our protagonist, John Carter, a Civil War cavalry veteran, is transported to the planet of Mars. How he gets to and from Mars, called Barsoom by the locals, is never explained. Yet it honestly never bothered me despite about six stories in. There seems to be some form of consistency, but it isn't elaborated on. And no, that movie doesn't bloody count. Don't mention that atrocity within my presence, thank you very much.

Where was I? Oh, right, the world building! Actually written very shortly before Tarzan, Barsoom itself carved out its own genre and is very well thought out. There are a multitude of fascinating races, history, technology, environment, wildlife, politics, all of that good stuff. Yet this is all mixed with excellent action and combat that sucks you right in.

Barsoom itself is actually well developed and for the time had some fascinating scientific ideas. Barsoom isn't just an inanimate chunk of rock in these stories; It's a complex environment that is changing, and when John arrives there, a dying planet. It used to be covered with huge oceans which have dried up, leaving massive dried sea bottoms. Resources are scarce and many of the inhabitants have to be careful of their reproduction. There is vegetation and lots of geography that come into play much like a real environment that you could interact with. The atmosphere is fragile and is only kept alive by the technology of the Red Martians.

Speaking of which, lets delve into just a fraction of the different races and species on Barsoom!
The main race on the planet are the Red Martians, a combination of three other races all culminated into one through necessity to cope with the increasingly harsh circumstances. They have developed very cool types of technology, which I'll get into in a bit, and have organized cities.

There are the Green Martians with their wicked radium rifles with absolutely insane range and large magazine capacities, blasting away with extreme precision. They pillage and raid along the dried sea bottoms and decimate anyone weaker than themselves. Most are cruel and have hard hearts, but John Carter helps change some of their tunes. They were quite inventive as a species for the time, being hexapods and very insectile. In fact, they're still more imaginative than most things I see on the Scifi channel on their movies. Ugh...

There are the giant Barsoomian apes, ghastly white, four armed brutes that tower above the Red Martians and are one of the few creatures that are feared by all. They prowl the dead abandoned cities, making them most dangerous to explore.

Then there are the calots, the Barsoomian equivalent of dogs. One of the stumpy, ten legged beasts become an adoring companion to John Carter, and it's genuinely touching how the two interact.

There are the thoats, the mighty steeds that are ridden by both the Green and Red Martians as beasts of burden.

Through the series we meet many more races and animals that are all very interesting. The frightful Kaldanes, the deadly banths, the ghastly Plant Men, the deceptive White Martians, the raiding Black Martians, the secretive Yellow Martians, and plenty of others.

The technology is most creative. On Barsoom there are two new bands of light in the spectrum, one of which is actually harnessed to provide lift to their skiffs and ships! Extremely cool concept. There are the deadly radium rifles. When the shells of the bullets break and are exposed to sunlight they actually ignite, making them potent explosive weapons when daylight shines. It's most surprising that so many people still use swords!
There is an element revolving around mind reading, but it seems to taper off after the second story, and I can't recall it being mentioned again. It's a critical plot point in the first book, but after just seems forgotten sadly.

John Carter himself is not very deep, but is a one man army who travels the globe trying to rescue his extraterrestrial lover, Dejah Thoris, and carves a bloody swath through the population of every species on the planet to save her. Basic? Sure. But darned if it doesn't work. A scientific feature added is that since gravity and pressure is lighter on Barsoom, John is basically super powered, his muscles having adapted to the higher gravity of earth. He can fell bigger opponents with a single punch and leap across vast stretches, making him amazing even to the strong locals.
He's a master swordsman who uses his kindness and love to make friends and court loyalty and the point of a saber to slay those who stand in his way. I honestly believe he has an even bigger body-count than the fabled Tarzan! He works his way through strange cities, underground caves, strange forests, icy mountains and arcane labyrinths. We explore all over the planet seeing everything from alien swashbuckling to battles involving giant floating ships blasting each other's hulls with cannons. John uses his sword to fend off everything from hordes of soldiers to deadly wildlife the size of minivans.

Overall the Barsoom series is one of the pillars of planetary science fiction. It was the push that began an avalanche of science fiction and fascination with space. It fueled the imaginations of children who grew up to become scientists and was a catalyst for the US Space Program. Other legendary writers directly site the Barsoom series as inspiration, such as the pivotal Robert A. Heinlein, the author of Starship Troopers, Arthur C. Clark, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Ray Bradbury, the author of the Martian chronicles and many others.
Even a century later the stories of John Carter are still capturing our imaginations and still entertaining people. I don't care who you are, that's pretty darned impressive!


Then there is perhaps my favorite series of his: Pellucidar!
And in case you're wondering, yes, this one gets the biggest picture because this is my favorite series. And since it's my blog, I can be as unfair as I please. ;)
This world and history is in my opinion his most thought provoking as it not only opens the gates to superb adventure, but warps a few concepts that we take for granted!
David Innes, our main character, is a young man who recently inherited his father's mining business and fortune. His dear friend, a scientist named Abner Perry, develops a darned cool invention known as the Prospector. This is honestly one of the coolest creations I've seen since Jules Verne's submarine, the Nautilus. Check this schematic out!
http://www.erbzine.com/mag7/aecivie.jpg
http://www.erbzine.com/mag7/mole03.jpg

When giving this awesome construction a test run by burrowing into the Earth they find to their horror that can't stop it or turn it, and begin plowing deep beneath the surface. They expect to either die in the molten core of the planet or having their air supply fade and suffocate. To their intense surprise they in fact emerge in what they least expected to find: That the Earth is hollow! Now, this may seem positively silly to us today unless you're an alien conspiracy theorist, but back in the day the Hollow Earth theory actually held some water. Quite a few darned scientists actually wanted to lead expeditions to find supposed entrances at the poles. Today with our knowledge of plate tectonics we've learned that the Hollow Earth theory just doesn't work sadly, and we must go about our lives in the knowledge that there is nothing but molten rock and metal deep beneath our feet. Boring!

Anyway, here we learn that the Earth is a shell with a massive interior and even has its own sun in the center! Our characters are stunned at this and are quickly confronted with the perils of the world they've found. They encounter dangerous prehistoric life such as mammoths, ground sloths, ancient reptiles and many others. They meet strange mammalian races such as the half human half animal Sagoths and saber-tooth men. There are many tribes of primitive humans living among the mountains, plains and islands such as the people of Sari, Anaroc and Zoram. One tribe has even domesticated sauropods, called lidi, and later on have cannons mounted on their backs!!! There are the feared lizard-men, the Horribs, who ride reptilian steeds and lance prey with bone spears.

But we don't meet all of those right away. Their immediate threat are the dreaded Mahars, intelligent descendants of rhamphorhynchus. Although deaf they can communicate with their own species using something much like telepathy, but must talk with other races using sign language. When we meet them they are the dominant race of Pellucidar, living in huge underground cities and commanding legions of Sagoths which capture humans as slave workers. They are often cruel, sometimes forcing humans to fight in an arena. Other times they will perform dissections on living people. Or worse, they will use terrifying mental powers to overwhelm humans and devour them in a dreaded pool on one of the islands of Anaroc... David Innes and Abner Perry decide to overthrow the Mahars and place humans at the seat of power and intelligence within the inner world!

So... Yeah, it's pretty much one of the most awesome things ever created by man.

Another fascinating angle in this is that the inner sun is always fixed in place, providing constant daylight. Never is there night to tell them when to sleep or how many days have passed. With no way of keeping track of time, our heroes quickly lose track of it and even begin to wonder if time even exists! It throws them off and yet none of the native inhabitants can understand their confusion. They also have no way to determine direction, as there is no North or South, East or West, no compasses to use and no stars to chart their progress. Okay, later on David and Perry in the series get a few toys to help them out, but the locals have a naturally ingrained sense of direction that surface dwellers don't.

The series is intensely imaginative and fun. I prefer it vastly to the earlier Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. Sure, this has far less science, but it has a little bit and boy does it spark one's adventurous spirit! It is honestly one of the few fictional places I genuinely want to visit and explore. It usually takes a back seat to Tarzan and Barsoom, but it is by no means their inferior. It easily holds its own and receives just as much detail as Barsoom.

There are plenty of other series that also spike interest: The Caspak Series, The Moon Men Series, The Venus Series, The Mucker, The Return of the Mucker, The Monster Men, The Lost Continent, and dozens of others.

I would like to take a moment to address one aspect that many seem to throw at ERB's writing: sexism. This I actually find to be quite untrue. In fact, for the time the women in his stories were very strong. Many complain that his women are only personality deprived damsel in distress love interests. At first glance, sure, but when you dig a little deeper his women kicked all kinds of butt.
Were they love interests? Oh yes. I shan't defend the love aspect that much, as it wasn't done very well. Although still better than another popular series today that centers around supposed romance. Quick note: If ERB's romance ideas are more believable than yours you have failed as a writer. Just saying.

Damsels in distress? It's true that they were rescued very often by manly men in loin cloths.
But then again, so were the heroes! I honestly believe that Tarzan is captured far more often than Jane. I don't drink, but if you want to get tanked, here's a fun drinking game: Go on Wikipedia and read through Tarzan novel plot synopses and take a shot every time he gets captured. Have fun with the alcohol poisoning in the first three books. David Innes, John Carter, all these guys got captured more times than I can remember. They were caught at least as often as the ladies were and had to be rescued themselves with regular frequency!
These ladies weren't always exactly Amazonian warriors, but they were NEVER pushovers. Each time someone tried to kidnap one of them, there was a fight. At no point did they cower before crude men and beg for mercy. While they often felt fear, they were always defiant and went down swinging. More importantly though, they always had a sense of self respect and pride that would not be broken, regardless of the circumstances. They held their heads high and showed that they wouldn't stand for disrespect.

Isn't that what counts? ... You want to see them fight and kill people? Ugh, fine, here's a list of awesome things the various gals have done.
Jane collected a decent body count while using a rifle. When her home was attacked and the Waziri were fighting off a band of Arab raiders she was right there at the front door pumping bullets into the bad guys without hesitation. It was only after a few swimming pools worth of blood were spilled that they managed to capture her. She was capable of handling herself in the wilderness as well, Tarzan having taught her survival tactics and proved herself more than once.
Dejah Thoris, while she didn't do any fighting, almost single-handedly used her wisdom and influence to end a conflict with an entire tribe of Green Martians and turn them into allies, showing that she was a skilled political speaker and very important figure.
The cave-women of Pellucidar had a nasty habit of stabbing people with stone knives who didn't keep their hands to themselves. They had pretty strong feelings of self defense.
In The Monster Men the female lead loaded a Maxim machine gun and held off an entire flotilla of Borneo head hunting pirates all by herself!
In The Lost Continent the main character was tied to a post and left as a sacrifice to the hordes of man eating lions that prowled the ruins and was rescued by the love interest, Victory. She stole his weapons and traveled into the darkness basically unarmed, as she didn't know how to use his rifle or pistol. Yet she braved the darkness and predators to successfully save the protagonist. I know most guys who wouldn't go out in the dark with man eating lions while armed with semi-auto rifles!
In The Mucker the female lead, Barbara, makes an amazing change in a man who for all his life was a cutthroat. Hey, it's easy to kill a person. But to change a person? Now that requires strength of character.
In one of the Caspak books a protagonist jokes that he was captured and taken prisoner by his female companion, who had a stronger will than he did.
La of Opar added extra lung holes to some gents that tried to get their hands on her. Eventually they succeeded through strength of numbers, but not before two of them bled out.

From where I stand ERB actually had a pretty good balance. Most of his ladies were rather bland, but they didn't take crap from anyone.


As a brief recommendation, I would like to suggest fans read The Mucker. I was quite tempted to give it and its sequel their own entry here, but this is one of those cases where giving it a synopsis would ruin it. I consider it to be one of ERB's best stories simply for how great the character development is. I want to say more and gush over how it took me for a loop, but then it would spoil the surprise. So for now just look at it here. Do it! http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/331

Another subtle tactic he uses to add a little layer of reality to some of his stories is making them out to be things that he is merely relaying that happened to others. For David Innes it was that he met the man in the desert in the first story and established a telegraph line, and thus pretends that he didn't make the things up, but only relayed the information in the form of books. Likewise, he said that John Carter was his uncle whom travelled back and forth between Earth and Barsoom and thus told ERB of his adventures. The first Caspak story took place in the form of ERB fishing off of Greenland and finding the manuscript inside a metal cask, which helps lead to the next stories as ERB actually helps attempt to rescue those in the story. Pretty slick stuff!

I'll be the first to admit that ERB's writing had many shortcomings. Few of his characters had true depth, although on rare occasions he caught even me by surprise. His plots could often meander and not seem to have any strong direction. Certain plot devices would be reused to place a character in a certain position. I swear Tarzan has been struck by lightening at least three times.
His dialogue was far from good, and was often bare bones basic. His romance elements were quite simplistic, although sadly more believable than some I've seen in today's writing.

But his positives far outweighed his drawbacks. He never failed to entertain and had a magical ability to create fascinating worlds for his readers to immerse themselves in. He had a great skill for conveying thought processes within character's heads, something that few writers can do very well. His style was simple but engaging, making it easy for a wide audience to appreciate. Even today few can challenge his skill at creating worlds, races, customs and wildlife which he did regularly.

Was his work high literature, something with layers of depth and meaning? Nope. But he did deliver the quintessential pulp style that has managed to endure for decades even in the face of constant competition from countless other authors. He lent wings to those who longed to taste grand quests and daring journeys but were confined to their mundane homes and jobs. He was wonderfully imaginative and diverting. He covered a great range of genres and spurned others to write as well. His influence is staggering when you look at how many people directly site his work as their inspiration for their activities.

With all of this in mind I can confidently class Edgar Rice Burroughs as one of the three best and influential writers of the early 1900's.
But we still have two more writers to go, so stay tuned! Up next is Robert E. Howard!

If you are interested in reading the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs, you can do so safely, easily and legally here at Project Gutenberg.
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/48

Monday, February 17, 2014

Transformers 1986 movie review

Back in ancient times, before CGI crawled across the land like a plague, there was a magical era, a time when many things reached their peak. This time was known as The 80's. While I wasn't alive back then, most of my research points to this being a golden age in many respects. Ronald Reagan was president, the Cold War came to a peaceful conclusion, and cinema was awash with genre-defining action movies. Schwarzenegger seemed to star in a new action movie cheesy enough to give the audiences collective heart attacks ever six months. We got all kinds of awesome action movies like Predator, Aliens, Highlander, Indiana Jones, The Thing, the list goes on!

But there is one movie that I feel is an unsung collection of awesomeness that is continually denied recognition, and that is Transformers The Movie. For all you people born within the last two decades, you are probably familiar mostly with the Michael Bay films. To save you a whooooole lot of time, I'll make it simple for you. The original movie makes the Bay movies look like what you'd find in the stomach of a man-eating shark. Brutalized, torn, half digested and now only a remnant of what was once loved and cherished.

What's that some of you say? The Bay movies aren't that bad? Well, I'm not going to tear those movies a new sphincter since there are far more intelligent and skilled people than I who have had strokes over those movies, so instead I'll just try to explain why this movie is so enjoyable and awesome. Some fans love it, some fans hate it, and I shall do my best to explain these things.
Lets jump in!

The movie is a continuation of the original 80's cartoon series, a cheesy but really fun and imaginative cartoon with a gigantic character roster with two very cool seasons. But right off the bat in this movie we notice several things. First is the animation, which takes a distinct upgrade and has what I feel to be a very vibrant techno look, mixing bright colors with technical artistry with spectacular visuals.

But the mood has changed with it. In the first few seconds we get a view of the vast depths of space, and an object moving between two stars roiling violently, streams of red and blue flame lashing about like angry serpents. The music instantly hits you too, an ominous almost gothic lullaby piping with metallic string plucking, giving me the distinct impression of the true vast emptiness and loneliness of space, and lending menace to the massive construct emerging from the void. It's almost a Lovecraftian sense of smallness I get, something ancient, giant, unstoppable coming... And boy does that come close to the mark. We get a sweeping shot as the horned planetoid swoops past the camera, almost like a whale moving past, giving a sense to how big and fast this thing is, and heading towards another nearby planet.

We zoom in on the planet and find that it is not only inhabited by other robots, but seems to be positively flourishing. We see massive clusters of towers and buildings, local bots chatting and talking. It's very brief but gives some sense of this place being nice, then sorta just moves to a pair of robots delivering stuff to another dude who we won't get to know inside a laboratory. He's working on some kind of liquid concoction, we never get to know, and it certainly isn't important. Then the building begins rumbling and they look out, one of the three yelling "Look! It's Unicron!"
Nitpick time! These guys look like scientists and have some good gear, and space is kinda huge, and they sorta seem to know who Unicron is and what he does... And they only notice him when he's close enough to see his dentistry. Someone really fell asleep at the wheel for the Unicron Alert Force. Well, kinda late to fire him. Ah well.

As we hear the same haunting lullaby tune we see a beam flash from Unicron's mouth and see just how frigging big he is as he literally begins EATING THE PLANET! Sorry, caps lock got stuck. It does that during dramatic stuff. Anyway, the beam begins lifting up citizens and ripping parts of the planet off towards the waiting maw, sucking them up like a demonic vacuum cleaner while the huge pincers bury themselves into the planet, ripping it asunder and even see several buildings smashed under their movement with a few citizens too slow to avoid being caught in the destruction. The three robots rush for what appear to be the only three spaceships on the entire premises, as the planet continues to be ripped apart the same way a dirt clod is dissolved by a fire hose, especially if you imagined all the microscopic life actually being able to scream and foresee their upcoming doom. Two of the ships take off, one rocketing off into space, but the other is too slow and gets caught in Unicron's gravitational pull, wailing in despair as the occupant is pulled back. Then we get several shots of Unicron's inner workings as he has the planet and its entire population crushed and dissolved for sustenance. His outer ring lights up with power and he rockets off further into space towards his next collection of victims...

...

Jeez, that was bloody bleak. Awesome, but really dismal. Folks, we're only two minutes and thirty seconds into this movie, and we just witnessed an apocalypse take place. That should give you some kind of clue as to what we're in for in this movie. The mood has definitely changed. Instead of the fairly tame action of the regular show, we have a very gritty and visceral story that doesn't pull punches.

Anyway, we then get a cool 80's version of the classic Transformers theme, which is all kinds of fun, and we get the basics of what's happening, and boy has a lot changed since the end of season two. As all of you classic fans will remember, and as I'll darned well remind you, Megatron spent most of each season trying to horde enough energon to restart Cybertron and retake control of the planet. Apparently he managed to succeed, but the Autobots aren't going to just give it up. They've established two somewhat secret bases on Cybertron's two moons and... Wait, Cybertronian moons?


This is where some old school fans take issue with this movie. Continuity errors and pulling out things that really didn't exist before. I can certainly understand that, as continuity errors can be pretty darned annoying. After all, the first two seasons NEVER pulled stuff out of their rear that didn't come up again! Right? Yeah, for me, I'm aware of the inconsistencies, but I don't really care. It's bloody Transformers G1 for crying out loud! You're not here for continuity, you're hear for the Transformers doing awesome stuff. So, moving on!

The dreaded Laserbeak flies from Cybertron onto Moon Base 1 and begins spying on the Autobots as they buckle down on their gear. Huh. I guess they weren't quite as secret as they first thought. That, or Laserbeak is darned good at knowing where to find Autobots. Anywho, the 'Bots are really churning stuff out: Cannons, tanks, guns, a pretty impressive production facility that's being... Okay, wait, stop right there. What are the Dinobots doing overseeing production? I mean, don't get me wrong, I bloody love the Dinobots, but why are they the ones watching the factory stuff? Shouldn't another Autobot be doing that? The Dinobots aren't exactly in the business of keeping things organized and running smoothly. They're more into... the opposite of that actually. Presumably Grimlock really really wanted to see the stuff working and Prime turned it into a fieldtrip. There, now it makes sense in my head. Moving on!

Laserbeak spies on Prime as he informs Ironhide that he needs to make a run to Earth and Autobot City to gather more energon so they can send Megatron a birthday card containing his coffin. We briefly see Spike and Bumblebee on Moon Base 2, informing Prime that things are all hunky dory on their side. Spike finally found a different way to be useful, now having an exosuit. Nice! Although I do question having just two guys around for an entire base. Uh, Prime? Dude, I love ya, but ya'll gotta rethink your distribution of manpower. Just saying.

So the Autobot shuttle launches and begins its trip towards Earth, and Optimus Prime instantly jinxes himself by saying "Now all we need is a little energon... and a lot of luck." Laserbeak mentally thanks Prime for the comment and flies back to base where Megatron takes a nice underhanded smack at Starscream's competence. Laserbeak's recordings are played back and Megatron learns of the Autobot shuttle heading towards Earth and thinks it'll be just dandy to hitch a ride over there with a few pals. Although Shockwave will not be one of those pals as we will soon see. Poor Shockwave! Unlucky sap spends a few million years on Cybertron guarding it against the ravages of dust boredom waiting for Megs to send him a phone call letting him know that things are chill. Remarkably, he doesn't sod off after the first few thousand years, as I sure would have, and how is his loyalty repaid? I'm just going to assume their conversation went like this...

Shockwave: Mighty Megatron, we shall soon gut those wretched Autobots with their own shuttle as our vessel!

Megatron: About that Shockwave, we need someone to stay here on Cybertron while I take care of the Autobots on Earth.

Shockwave: I'm sure Soundwave would be perfect for the job, or Thundercracker.

Megatron: Sadly Shockwave, I'll need someone with a bit more experience to watch over all of Cybertron.

Shockwave: Surely not Starscream! The scum would take Cybertron for his own the moment you left.

Megatron: Which is why I need you to stay here and guard it for me while I wipe out the Autobots!

Shockwave: ... You want me to stay here? Again? While Prime and the Dinobots are on the Moon Base and you take all the other Decepticons with you?

Megatron: Exactly! And no one has more experience in defending Cybertron than you Shockwave. I have complete confidence in your abilities!

Shockwave: ... Mighty Megatron, the last time you left me to protect Cybertron while you went to destroy the Autobots resulted in you both disappearing for four million years.

Megatron: Then you know what to do if that happens again now don't you?

Shockwave: Sigh... All hail Megatron muttermutter...

Gotta feel sorry for Shockwave! Seniority sucks sometimes.
So, the Autobot shuttle takes off and heads for Earth and the Decepticons decide to hitch a ride to save on energon. Megatron makes an awesome entrance, smashing through the wall of the shuttle like it's used toilet paper followed by a good number of his men. The shuttle is piloted only by Brawn, Prowl, Ratchet and Ironhide, which makes some sense, can't devote too many men on what's supposed to be a secret mission. But this is also where a lot of people get mad at the movie.
Brawn leaps from his seat and charges the Decepticons to the song Instruments of Destruction. With unusual confidence, Megatron goes into gun mode, is caught by Starscream, and in the very first shot aces Brawn. Blammo. Prowl jumps up too and fires a blast which misses. Scavenger fires what looks like a blind reflex shot while falling and zaps Prowl right through the chest. And I mean through the chest. The entire bolt lances him like a pimple but with far worse results. Prowl's eyes briefly flash with bright yellow and then fade, orange smoke billowing from his mouth like his soul leaving his metal husk as he falls to the ground, dead.
Merciful crap, that was pretty graphic!
Ironhide and Ratchet decide that they need to help and began shooting wildly at the clustered Decepticons and score exactly no hits. Starscream and the other Decepticons actually fire back with aimed blasts, knocking the last two Autobots to the ground. Cripes! Did Megs finally give these guys firearm training? If so it certainly frigging paid off. It was good enough to kill four first season characters for Pete's sake!

Megatron takes a moment to gloat, and lets face it, he kinda earned it, while Starscream proves why he's not in charge yet again. Megatron reveals his plan though, which while simple is actually very likely to work: Sneak through the Autobot defense systems in their own shuttle, and then rip Autobot City from the ground up. Although, this does bring the security screening procedures of Autobot City into question.

Ironhide is still alive however! Like a champ he grabs Megatron's leg in an obviously futile but none the less heroic gesture of determination, fighting with his last astroseconds of life. Megatron only utters this comment with pitying distain: Such heroic nonsense! And with his fusion cannon aimed at Ironhide's face he fires a single shot, which the camera is merciful enough to pan away from so that we aren't haunted with the image of Ironhide's head being blasted from his shoulders. Jeez.
Some people were pretty mad at four long standing characters being flat out murdered, which I can understand. Ironhide was one of my favorite characters, and all were stout fighters from episode 1. Yet I really like this scene, it has real teeth to it. To show what kind of strength this has for me, I actually knew how this movie went years before I was a Transformers fan. I knew from the get go how this would run. Yet I still felt a sense of loss and energy whenever I watch it. Now that's something! Can't help myself, I know. We shall miss you four! In loving memory of Ironhide, Brawn, Prowl and Ratchet. Well, at least there won't be anymore horrible fatalities in this movie!

Hah! Fat chance.
We then cut to Earth where we see two of our new characters, Hotrod and Daniel, who is shown to be Spike's son. Sorry, but before we go any further, I gotta get this off my chest. I wanted Daniel to leave the second I saw him. He just plain isn't needed and he's kind of annoying. That's not to say that he's completely useless, but you could have edited him out pretty easily. Urg. Yet Hotrod easily gets more hate than any other character I've seen in the franchise. Well, besides Michael Bay. At first I hated Hotrod a lot myself. In fact, in season 3 when he gets flat out shot in the chest by Prime I thought it in no way unusual, and was actually kind of surprised when it turned out to be a evil act. But upon looking at it more, Hotrod is actually a good character. He's a spunky, young, reckless character that needs to mature to realize his full potential. He makes mistakes, sure, but we see that he improves over the course of the movie. If you still hate him, I can't change your mind, although I'll get more into his thing later. Because there is one legit reason to hate him.
Hotrod and Daniel are fishing and see that the Autobot shuttle is coming in for a landing, and Daniel wants to see it do so. Fair enough.
The two begin driving up to Lookout Mountain where we meet another new character, Kup, who's biggest weakness is his name. I'm sorry, but the series gives so many cool names to so many characters, and what does one of the new characters get? A misspelled word for something you drink out of? Poor guy. Even so, Kup is one of my new favorite characters and helps soothe the passing of Ironhide. Kup is a grizzled old veteran, the kind of guy you see at the shop who laments the old days when kids watched movies in black and white, everyone wore button up shirts and the Soviets were still a problem. I just find him to be a fun character. He and Hotrod are actually a good pair together, their characters really coming through in their interactions since they are at such odds.

Kup has Huffer and another Autobot I can't identify moving a road sign in the middle of the road for some reason never established, and I'm not sure why it required three frigging Transformers to do it. C'mon Kup, can't you move the darned wood by yourself? Ah well, Hotrod come slashing through like a maniac and outright smashes through the sign without slowing down. Although we don't see it, I suspect this is where Huffer dies, because we never see him again. Blast it, and he was such a crucial member of the team to! Like the time that he... um... The time when... Huh, I'm blanking all of a sudden. So sad.
Hotrod and Daniel reach a dandy platform at the top of the mountain complete with a viewing scope, and Daniel goes to take a peek. He instantly notices that there is slight structural anomaly within the shuttle. Namely a big slagging hole in the side of the thing. Congratulations Daniel, you've done your duty, you can leave now. Please. Right over there, just exit the curtains. ... Dangit, the kid isn't leaving. Grrr.
Hotrod pops out some binoculars and decides to take a look. Lo and behold, there is a hole in the side! And Starscream has the courtesy to be standing there, showing off his aft either out of defiance of Megatron's authority or posing for a picture that he and Thundercracker will keep as a souvenir. Hotrod displays great prudence in immediately firing at the blasted thing, while Kup, who didn't see the Decepticons mooning them, is understandably wondering why the heck Hotrod is team killing and if he can be booted off the server. Hotrod scores a solid hit, bisecting the shuttle as the entire Decepticon horde bails and begins their assault. Although they were discovered, they still have plenty of firepower brought to bear as the fighting begins!
Although Blitzwing appears to have an abominably slow aim time in tank mode. If you watch you'll see what I mean.

As Hotrod, Kup and Daniel make their way to Autobot City the Decepticons begin the siege.
Perceptor transforms into microscope mode, which apparently also lets him see far away, and spies the Decepticons closing in fast and we get to see several other new characters: Ultra Magnus, Springer, Arcee and Blur.
Hmm, what to say about these characters? I have mixed feelings about some of them. I don't hate them, but for some reason I have difficulty getting attatched to them or finding any distinct character in them. It's weird. Ultra Magnus seems to be a competent leader, identifying situations quickly and making logical decisions and seems to be a decent fighter. Springer is a bit more quick to the punch and appears to enjoy conflict a little more, jumping into the fray smoothly and intelligently. Arcee is a mature, intelligent and somewhat nurturing figure that helps keep Hotrod in line. Blur is... Okay, I might revise my earlier statement about not hating any of them. Blur is literally a blur of motion, talks really fast and has a weird speech pattern. It's like he downed a bunch of Red Bull, coffee and 5 Hour energy drinks simultaneously on a bet and is now in a permanent state of hyperactivity. Cripes, he's like one of my younger brothers. Of all the new guys I find him to be one of the least useful or needed. Say, Movie, wanna trade the death of Ironhide with Blur? C'mon, it's a win win deal! No? Fine. Have it your way.

The new guys roll up and Perceptor informs them that they are outnumbered. ... Outnumbered? Freaking how? This is Autobot City! You should outnumber the Decepticon strike force easy! How the devil are you guys outnumbered? That's like Mongolia invading New York City and the Yorkers being outnumbered!
And this is where we get my only major gripe of the movie. In the first two seasons of Transformers G1 we racked up an absolute crapload of characters on both sides, and we cut out a ton of them in this movie. No Aerialbots, Stunticons, Combaticons, Omega Supreme, not even beloved Sea Spray! ... On second thought, yeah, keeping Sea Spray out was probably smart. That guy's voice...
I understand that since it's a movie it just isn't practical to give lots of screen time to all 500 characters. Just not feasible old boy. But it would be kinda nice to see some of them fighting in the background. C'mon, we're just begging to see Omega Supreme throwing down with Devastator and all that good stuff! We're never told where the heck they are during this movie, nor do we get any hint. They're just plain gone. Sigh.

Despite my griping, the siege of Autobot City is pretty darned awesome. Springer and Arcee begin the process of transforming Autobot City, shutting off doorways and sprouting more cannons than the British Navy circa 1880. Also, Starscream has to mutilate his leg to avoid being crushed. Gotta love it. Two of the Insecticons begin eating their way through one of the doors which allows Hotrod and Kup to make their way inside. Although Kup takes the effort to run over Kickback, who's metal head gets crushed like an empty soda can. Yeah, I'm gonna list him as dead. They wouldn't have focused on the utter brutality if he weren't. Oh, and to honor his sacrifice another door shuts behind the one they just ate through. Good job Insecticons, your efforts were well worth it!
Perceptor is dispatched to tell Blaster to send word to Prime that Megatron has stopped by unannounced and that Prime should probably come over to have Megs wipe his feet in the door mat before coming in. Blast is the only one who isn't gloomy during the fight. In fact, he seems to be having the time of his life, blasting away from a turret tower before attempting to send Prime a text. Soundwave then dispatches Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage and Ratbat to cancel their phone service, which they do quite promptly. The little cassette guys are fought off, but the radio dish is mangled, and Blaster hopes that his message got through...

We cut to evening and the attack is still going strong. The Decepticons rendezvous at the main gate for their final push to break into the heart of Autobot City. Springer tries to move a rocket launcher into position despite the fact that it has treads and is clearly meant to move. Maybe they lost the keys. We also see Arcee take a quiet moment to lament the deaths of two other characters. One of them is... wait, who is that? Hold on for a sec, gotta wiki this... Oh, it's Windcharger. Yeah. He was such a core character.

Yawn. Arcee took more time to mourn him than I did. Okay, who's the other stiff? ... Wheeljack? Crap! Why Wheeljack? I'm not kidding here! Dude was one of my favorite characters! First Prowl, then Ironhide, and now Wheeljack? Okay, the frigging gloves are off Megatron! It is ON!!
So, Kup and Hotrod enter the bunker and all begin helping to push the launcher into position. Took your sweet time, didn't you two? Oh, and Daniel. Sigh.
Anyway, things heat up more as the Constructicons merge and form Devastator, who then crushes one of the last turrets with his hand like a gorilla with one of those stupid origami things that girls always made guys choose a number and color from back in elementary school. Still don't know how you make those darned things.
So Springer gives a cool one liner, loads a rocket, hops into the gunners seat and lets fly! Okay, hold on, stop. The frak was that? This is the most useless launcher I've ever seen. It's an over-glorified slingshot! The thing literally just throws the rocket forward and it then propels itself. Crap, you don't need a launcher that bloody big, just downsize and you'll be fine! Just get a recoilless rifle system dangit. Huh, maybe that was Wheeljack's last invention...
Rockets fly at the clustered Decepticons, one giving us the gratifying image of Bombshell go flying from the concussion of one explosion. Devastator rips the front gate off however and throws it at the bunker, crushing it along with the launcher. Then we get a fade shot as night falls to a pretty bloody awesome although brief scene of the fight at night. Purple and yellow lasers flashing across the dark sky, streaking back and forth as the forces trade fire, flames blazing across the entire city as explosions shake the ground. It'd be nifty if a few humans dropped by to assist, but apparently they're all drunk. Honestly, after the Bay movies, it's for the best.

Morning arrives and smoke is billowing from the shredded Autobot City, the last gate finally penetrated and Megatron commands his forces to murder everyone inside. But as he does a shuttle comes in for a landing from space. Flown by Optimus Prime! Hope surges to our floundering heroes at the sight, and good thing too. Inside the shuttle are also Sunstreaker, Hound, and all five of the mighty Dinobots! ... Erm, four I mean. Coulda sworn there was a fifth. Curses, what happened to Snarl? Did he wet the carpet and they left him on Moon Base 1 as punishment? Maybe they needed him to oversee the factory still. I'd really like to know where he went in this whole frigging movie.

Prime tells the Dinobots to go down and make Devastator wish he were dead, an assignment that Grimlock takes to heart. The five four Dinobots jump from the shuttle like paratroopers, fly towards Devastator who has a look of surprise and terror as well he should, transform into dinosaur modes and begin one of the most epic duels a Transformers fan could hope for! The Dinobots, five four of the coolest bots around versus Devastator the mighty combined super bot!
Folks, this is gonna be one for the record books! Good luck Devastator! Have fun in he- Okay, maybe not. He kicks Grimlock in the gut, tosses Sludge like an empty trashcan, gets rammed by Slag and drops junk on top of Swoop who falls down like a wuss.
Well. Not the epic slugging I had hoped for. Y'know what? I'm gonna pretend that the Dinobots wrecked his face offscreen in such an awesome manner that we weren't allowed to see. There, I can sleep now.

Ah, but now we get the REAL fight! Optimus Prime exits the shuttle and knows Megatron must be stopped. No matter the cost. He then transforms to his truck mode accompanied by his cool theme "Touch" and begins a one bot rampage against the entire Decepticon attack force. He proceeds to run over two Decepticons like road kill with Blitzwing barely flying out of the way, lucky him. Other 'Cons fire lasers at Prime, but to no avail! Prime launches himself into the air with some kind of jet burst and transforms in midair. He then proceeds to perform a graceful arc through the air while shooting four of the Decepticons down one handed, including Soundwave! He then lands on his feet after having performed the stunt Evil Kneivel would have balked at and guns down two more Decepticons, thus earning himself a Kill Streak but doesn't summon a helicopter or harrier. Most likely because he is too awesome for such small stuff and preselected an AC-130 Gunner, since that is well within his destruction range.
Man, seven kills and no damage! That's hard core yo! But the real fight is about to begin!

Prime confronts Megatron, and the two begin a truly epic duel, a no holds barred fight to the death. The two begin whupping each other with everything they have, a brutal choreography of two age old rivals that no description I can give can really cover adequately. Okay, I may be exaggerating slightly, but the fight is still pretty good and these guys really knock the bark off of each other. But in the end it is Prime who appears to be the superior fighter, calmly preparing to finish Megatron off.

Ah, but Megatron spies a pistol nearby underneath some rubble, and having no sense of shame at all begins groveling for mercy as he crawls towards the gun. Prime is of the opinion that mercy isn't exactly something Megatron deserves highly, but Hotrod sees what Megatron is up to and leaps in to save the day! Or not. Megatron completely manhandles the cocky twerp, uses him as a crappy robotic shield as he grabs the pistol and delivers two critical shots on Prime, one in his wounded side. See Megatron, why don't you use a pistol more often? You seem to shoot better with that than your fusion cannon, although I confess I find the thing to be frigging awesome. But whatever, all the 'Cons have been practicing with the pistol and it shows.
Megatron tosses Hotrod aside who pathetically does nothing, as he proceeds to gloat within face punching distance of Prime, ready to finish him off. Megatron hisses "It's over Prime."

No, this can't be the end! Not for you Prime! Quickly, everyone, we have a duty: Give Optimus Prime your energy! Raise your hands in the air and lend him what strength you can! You know the drill!


... Dangit. Goku is taking everything already. Goku, has that thing ever really worked that well outside of the movies? You seem to botch every time you use it in the show. Sigh.

Prime is horribly wounded but is not yet ready to say hello to Death. With one last burst of effort he shouts "Never!" and using a double fisted smack he knocks Megatron off of a ledge like a piƱata hit with a SWAT battering ram, sending him flying downwards to crash on the ground below. You can frigging see parts flying off of the dude from being hit so hard!

Yeah! Nice shot Prime! He attempts to stand but crumples to the ground, Hotrod rushing to the side saying "Optimus, forgive me..." He'd better do it fast, cuz he ain't doing too well Hotrod. I think this is one area that Hotrod gets a lot of hate. For having busted in without thought and getting Prime gutted with a laser, but I'll offer some defense to him here, however feeble. Yes, he shouldn't have blundered in the way he did. He should have just shot Megatron from a distance away since, y'know, he had his wrist cannons. He screwed up royally and there's no getting around that. But I do get the feeling that he feels frigging horrible and knows just how badly he messed up. And he's gotta live with the knowledge that his dumb actions got Optimus killed. That's kind of a big burden. Yet Optimus doesn't berate him at all. I think that in his last moments Optimus did forgive him, making him that much more of a hero.

... Yeah, I don't think I'm doing Hotrod any favors here. Some defense lawyer I am. Sorry about that.
Although Autobot City is in tatters the spearhead of the Decepticon attack has been blunted. Megatron is beaten and broken. Half the force just got their faces kicked in by Prime and the Dinobots are still at large.
Starscream walks up to the horribly injured Megatron and does his own gloating thing, kicking him in the groin and then ordering Astrotrain to get them the frag out of there. Soundwave picks up Megatron and Ravage grabs his fusion cannon while the Decepticon force moves to evacuate. The siege has been broken. Astrotrain takes off with everyone in tow.

Despite all my whining before I really like this entire fight. It really feels like it was an intense fight and that the Decepticons were just barely beaten off. I feel like if Optimus had arrived just one minute later all might have been lost. It's a truly harrowing battle and one I never tire of. The fact that a lot of older characters die adds a lot of weight to it in my opinion, making it seem like a genuine fight and not another slapping fight like we usually get.

We then find that Prime is literally on his death bed with all the surviving Autobots gathered around to watch his final moments. And when I say all surviving Autobots I mean Perceptor and the new characters. It'd have been nice to see a few other guys around to see the passing of their adored leader. Be that as it may this scene too carries a great deal of weight and I never think less of people when I see comments stating that they cried during this. Prime then passes on the most precious item among the Autobots to Ultra Magnus: The Autobot Matrix of Leadership.
Again, some people are annoyed that this is the first time this thing is brought up and is literally never once mentioned or seen in the first two seasons. I can see the irritation, certainly. But c'mon, it's Transformers G1! Enjoy the campy fun.
Ultra Magnus reluctantly accepts responsibility of the Matrix. He feels that he is no leader, only a ground level fighter, but he honors Optimus's dying request. Optimus says that in time an Autobot will rise from the ranks, claim the Matrix and light their darkest hour before he finally gives up the ghost. His hand falls and the color leaves his entire body...

Optimus Prime, long standing leader of the Autobots, arch-rival of Megatron, has passed.

Deep in the voids of space we see Unicron, and within his incomprehensible interior we view a sphere of many panels, showing the transferring of the Matrix. Unicron has his eye on it...

We cut to Astrotrain in transit to Cybertron who informs his occupants that they need to make things less heavy unless they want to enjoy the vacuum of space for the rest of their lives.
Starscream takes to this assignment with eerie enthusiasm.
Proving their everlasting loyalty, about half the crew decides to dump the damaged Decepticons out into the cold vacuum of space without any hesitation or remorse. Man, note to self, never trust Decepticons. It is actually legit spooky how the music kicks in when they are cast out into the void with little hope of survival.
Then Starscream reveals his true colors to Megatron... for the 48th time. It turns out that he wants to be the leader of the Decepticons! Dun dun duuuuun! Actually, by this point, Megs has no excuse for keeping Starscream around. He's just begging for a revolt now.
Although I do love the smug look on Starscream's face as he delivers the most unveiled snark I've ever seen in my life.

Megatron attempts to point out that he's not quite dead as Starscream is making him out to be.

Like a true politician however Starscream ignores this tiny piece of evidence and tosses Megatron's arse out of Astrotrain and is just giddy with delight. Starscream then decides that it's for the best to select a new leader since Megatron sadly passed and all and gently suggests that they vote for him. This goes about as well as you'd expect. Instantly the Constructicons pipe up and say that since they form Devastator, they should lead. ... All six of you leading? How the heck does that work? You really want Scavenger having an equal vote in how things go down in your organization?
Soundwave gives the best political argument I've heard in some time. "Soundwave superior. Constructicons inferior."
Masterful eloquence! The Constructicons counter that he's boring but Rumble and Frenzy disagree. And then we get how I wish politics really took place down in DC. A rip-roaring all out brawl to decide who gets to be in charge! Constructicons try to make a motion with the Devastator Act of 1877. Rumble and Frenzy counter with the Up Yours Treaty of 1954, quickly dissolving the motion. Although maybe it's just me, but to me the idea of Rumble and Frenzy using their earthquake gear inside of Astrotrain while flying in space is kind of a frigging dumb idea.

If I had a vote here, I'd throw my vote in with Soundwave. That guy is awesome! Although it would have been frigging hilarious if Astrotrain went "I think I should be in charge!" and dumped the rest of them out into space through a hatch. That would have ended the debate right quick! :D

But now we move onto perhaps my favorite scene in the entire movie: Megatron meeting Unicron. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzNsOGt3bHk
Words are insufficient to describe how much I love this scene. I can say with relative safety that I've spent more time watching this scene than the first two Bay movies full running time. And I'm far more entertained with this than any portion of the Bay movies as well.
For one thing, we finally hear Unicron speak and it is glorious. He is voiced by the legendary Orson Wells, lead actor in the mighty movie Citizen Kane. From what I researched Orson really didn't give much of a crap for this role and was actually freaking dying while he gave his performance! His voice was so messed up they had to run it through a bunch of modifiers and filters. But the result is the most intimidating and powerful voice I've ever heard. I'm not joking. At all.
He speaks with a very gentle breathy rumble, as if he's just barely above a whisper. Yet it feels like the voice of Zeus if he were assimilated by the borg. Just raw power and force that is inhumanely intimidating. It's difficult to convey with words just how amazing this voice is and it fits perfectly. It truly brings Unicron to life.

Megatron is still alive despite his horrible damage as Unicron confronts him yet is still the confident and defiant leader he always was. Which is pretty awesome. Unicron tells Megatron that he wishes the Matrix of Leadership to be destroyed, and if Megatron agrees he will rebuild him and provide new combat forces. Unicron reveals that the Matrix is the ONLY thing that poses a threat to him and it'd be just dandy if it were turned into vapor. Megatron attempts to haggle but forgets that you generally shouldn't try to boss around an entire planet. Especially when you're already one foot in the grave. Megatron finally agrees under the threat of sure annihilation and we get a transformation that gives me chills.
Megatron is completely rebuild and given birth into a new creation: Galvatron! The other Decepticons, most of whom I can't identify and don't care, are transformed as well. There is Cyclonus who looks awesome although I don't think he gets one line in this movie. Then there's Scourge... Okay, I honestly think Unicron deliberately messed him up. Facial hair just don't work with him and he looks positively ridiculous with it. Not to mention that flashlight glued to the top of his head. And his alt-mode is some kind of cross between a submarine and a Florida airboat. He's also not much of a tracker either, despite what Unicron says. The sweeps are just kinda there and don't do much. Ah well.
Unicron then gives Galvatron a new spaceship as well and commands him to go forth and obliterate the Matrix. But he has one last modification to reveal: Galvatron is voiced by none other than Leonard Nemoy. Yes, Spock is voicing a villain, and my gosh is it glorious! Folks, if I could change my voice to any other in the world, it would be this. He honestly has one of the most chilling and intimidating villain voices I've ever heard. Come on, listen to that voice and tell me you couldn't command anyone within earshot using it.

Thus the stakes are raised and Galvatron orders his ship and his moon to Cybertron for the first order of business: To show Starscream that he made his last mistake.

Starscream is in Cybertron and is making sure to make his moment as leader as joyous and bombastic as he always wanted. Man, this guy must've had this stuff prepared ahead of time, cuz he's got a huge shoulder thing, cape, and crown all ready to go! Although I'm SO calling BS on the idea of him beating Soundwave in a fair fight, or even an unfair fight. Starscream got whupped by Laserbeak. But somehow Starscream got in charge. I'm just going to assume everyone else read the script and knew what was coming, and let Starscream have the mantle.
So, Starscream basks in his power, at last, after literally millions of years of trying, having overcome Megatron and now assuming the throne of the Decepticons! But just as he's about to give his first royal decree a ship comes roaring out of space, being Cyclonus piloted by Galvatron to crash the party
Starscream angrily demands who's stopping in uninvited and Galvatron gives an AWESOME retort: "Coronation Starscream? This is bad comedy." Starscream kind of pauses and asks if this is Megatro. Galvatron only says "Here's a hint!"
We thus get to see his new alt-mode: A frigging howitzer form! He fires but a single blast that hits home. Energy crackles around Starscream, his cape evaporating and his body losing all pigment. He seems frozen like a statue for a moment before crumbling into a pile of rubble. His crown clatters down the stairs, signifying his fall as a leader. Galvatron goes back to his normal form and displays his utter contempt by crushing the crown with his foot like it's made of plastic. He then turns to the crowd of Decepticons with a scowl on his face and gives yet another awesome line: "Will anyone else attempt to fill his shoes?"

Nobody steps up to the plate, because screw that, and they all hail Galvatron. Was it worth it Starscream?
Although I do love his outfit though, it was kinda cool. Hail Starscream in 2016!


Shortly after Galvatron does what Megatron should have done on episode 1, Unicron decides to pay a visit. Jazz and Cliffjumper quickly find Moonbase 1 being eaten like a cookie by Cookie Monster and shoot Blaster a quick text that things are not completely hunky dory on Moonbase 1. Man, Autobots just aren't getting a break lately, are they? The two wisely decide to book it, but Unicron uses what seems to be a tractor beam to ace that getaway and eats those two as well.
Spike and Bumblebee inform Earth that things are not going well in the Cybertron neighborhood, and say that they may need a tad bit of help before the signal cuts out. In another brief but pretty cool scene, the music and lighting are great here, they set Moonbase 2 to self destruct just as Unicron comes for seconds and barely leave the moon in time. The base explodes in mid-nom and sends the escape ship reeling as Spike and Bumblebee high five in congratulations. Guess who got too optimistic? Unicron doesn't even notice and swallows them too. Suckers!

Galvatron however is not all that happy about this and defiantly yells "How dare Unicron! Cybertron and all its moons belong to ME!" Did I mention I love this voice here? Unicron uses some kind of red haze of light to get Galvatron to shut his energon hole and decides it's about time to finish what he started the day before. Galvatron then orders the Decepticon horde to attack Autobot City once more.

Back on Earth Ultra Magnus puts defeating the hungry robotic planet at the top of the list of Things to Kill, and Springer reasonably points out that a handful of tired Autobots are a little more vulnerable than slagging moons and they might not represent a large threat to the thing. Magnus suggests casually that the Matrix might solve their problem and Hotrod insists that it will based on a feeling. Hmm, lets hope that mysterious Autobot shows up that will light the darkest hour!

But no sooner is this mentioned that Galvatron and his fleet arrive to pound everyone into vapor. Autobots decide to bail into the shuttles and get the heck off of Earth. I'm just guessing it's because Autobot City is messed up so badly that there would be no point in trying to hold that position against a recovered force, which is the right answer by the way. Dinobots refuse to get into the shuttle despite of, or I think because of, Blur urging them to jump on. Honestly, I don't blame them. I'd balk at being trapped in a space ship with Blur too. Hotrod and Kup get the Dinobots on the first shuttle, and everyone else jumps onto the other shuttle and take off. Sadly Daniel accompanies them. Can't you just leave him there? The Decepticons have bigger fish to fry than the twerp. Sigh.

The two shuttles are going aimlessly through space, enjoying a brief respite from the attack and I kinda enjoy what we see. Dinobots are listening intently to Kup telling old war stories like little children. It contributes nothing to the story, but it gives us a moment to breathe and actually brings out more of the characters in the group I believe. But this doesn't last long as Galvatron catches up fast and begins firing guided missiles at them. Boy is determined!

Volley after volley is fired and the shuttle with Hotrod and his crew crashes on a bizarre planet, Quintessa. The other shuttle has little time to mourn however, as Galvatron is now focusing his fire on them now. They detach the bulk of the shuttle to act as a decoy, which is destroyed and Galvatron believes he has succeeded in powderizing the Matrix. Unicron is watching however and sends Galvatron a subtle message that he might not have been as thorough as he thought. Nope, wait, he freaking tazed him with the red glow and Galvy books it back to find out why he got messed up.

Magnus and the others crash on another new planet, the Planet of Junk. Certainly an accurate name! This place is actually kinda cool though. Daniel is given a hand-me-down exosuit to help fix the shuttle, ugh. But yeah, they figure they can find a few parts here, but we glimpse the locals, the Junkions, who actually have cool designs. Well, except the facial hair, but I can buy that as being a weird add on due to how they work.

We cut back to Quintessa to see what's going on with those guys, and we get one of the strangest water environments I've seen, where freaking everything from the fish to the coral and seaweed are robotic. Man, us flesh creatures are real anomalies in this galaxy. And we apparently suck at making robots. Nature on other planets has awesome animal robots already. C'mon people, we need to step up our game!
But yeah, we shoot in to Hotrod underwater to an bloody great song, Nothing's Gonna Stand In Our Way. He uses a buzz-saw to cut himself free of some seaweed and drives off to rescue Kup, who is being ripped apart by a robot squid. ... I hope this wasn't aired in Japan.
Anywhat, awesome fight ensues where Hotrod shows his chops by actually being a competent fighter and rescuing Kup, who isn't having such a great day.

Hotrod apparently learned a few things as he is actually able to not only fix Kup, but do it right while removing a few flaws, and clearly cares about the appreciation he receives, showing that he's not a complete idiot when dealing with elders. They decide to try to find the Dinobots and head off, but almost immediately run into a group of Alligatorcons. Kup decides to work his mojo with the universal greeting: Ba weep gra na weep ninny bong. By the way, this doesn't work in Europe. Don't ask.
Here it works... Kinda. In addition to the phrase they give the weirdos some pieces of energon, which they receive happily. However, this doesn't work out terribly well when they want more. Say, you ever take a kid to feed ducks at the pond? Cute duckies come around, coming close and gratefully nibbling at the bread you toss them, everything peaceful and fun. Then the geese roll in. You know the ones. All white feathers, pink beaks and an attitude like a Tasmanian devil with a constipation problem. Do they appreciate the bread you give them? No! They seem infuriated that you don't give them everything you own, and then proceed to harass you for having the audacity to not feed them their own weight in bread! Ungrateful buggers.
Well, that's basically what happens here. The Alligatorcons have goose mentality and promptly jump Kup and Hotrod after they were actually pretty nice and capture them. In the near distance is a tiny Transformer who watches and then sods off. We'll get to him later...

Kup and Hotrod are then led to a strange courtroom where we see a Quintesson and some of his lackeys, giving a rather interesting hearing to some bot we don't know. Although he's found innocent, he's dumped into a pit full of Sharkticons and ripped apart. The Quintesson faces then take turns laughing like twats. The Quintessons kind of fascinate me, although I don't like them. I mean, they have five faces! Do they all share one personality? Or does each have a distinct one? Gah, I don't wanna do another Monty Python reference, so I'll just say that it must kinda suck to be a Quintesson, stuck with four other jerks all day and night, and the only way they can find solace is to inflict greater misery upon others. Works for me!
Hotrod and Kup are ushered into a cell filled with ripped up bots and in the cell next to them is the last survivor of the planet destroyed in the opening. He tells them that his planet was crushed by Unicron and that the Quintessons are a horrible race there. They seem to have heard that as he's then taken out, found innocent, and sacrificed to the Sharkticon pit as well. Poor bugger. Why do we have genocide in a kids movie again? Ah well!

Meanwhile the Dinobots are wandering around looking for our two prisoners and not doing a great job, and are about to knock eachothers heads off when that tiny bot I mentioned before intervenes. His name is Wheely. Ugh. Just gonna say it, I really don't like this character. I don't think I hate him, but he just feels out of place and has little use. And I'm a might peeved that his weapon of choice against frigging Grimlock is a slingshot with tiny energy bolts. And wins.

... Writers, did you lose a bet here? Did the studio step in and demand something cutesy? I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, because so much else is so cool here and then you bring this twerp in. C'mon... Ah well. He leads the Dinobots to the prison center.

Back at Unicron, Galvatron has zapped back there wondering why Unicron zapped his brain when he did his job, and is informed that he kinda missed his target entirely and that he should probably finish that up right quick. Galvatron shrugs and decides to take that job up and takes his ship over thataways so that Unicron will stop flashing his brain with red lights.

At the Planet of Junk everyone is pitching in to repair the shuttle, and Daniel is pretending he's still important to the plot while everyone else humors him. Although that might just be me.
Anyway, Decepticons show up and with a quick missile barrage add an extra layer of garbage to the planet and stranding the Autobots. Ultra Magnus says that he'll try to unleash the Matrix and seals everyone else off in some other junk pile while facing down frigging evil Spock and all the other baddies. The Matrix won't open though! Despite his best efforts, Magnus can't open the darned thing up.
Galvatron and Cyclonus saunter up with smug smiles on their faces, probably laughing at Magnus having trouble opening the energon jar like a woman. Huh, I wonder why I'm still single?
Galvatron demands Magnus hand over that thar lil' Matrix thing and Magnus tells him to screw himself. Submarines of doom then zap the poor bugger who explodes into shrapnel. Jeez! Leaders in this movie have shorter life expectancies than suicidal Russians at the Battle of Stalingrad!

Galvatron gets ahold of the Matrix and decides that it's about time someone else was in charge of the galaxy that isn't Unicron, who is watching this and is less than pleased...

Back on Quintessa, Kup and Hotrod are being held for trial, being accused of... um, nothing apparently, but it seems you can't be too careful there. The two are found innocent and are set free! Ahahahaha, nope, they're found innocent and get their arses dumped into the Sharkticon pit. But these dudes aren't having any of that, and when the music Hunger kicks in, you know we're in for some fun!
The two don't flounder at the surface, but head for the bottom of the tank and transform, then begin running circles around the tank, making an awesome whirlpool the same way my bro and I did when we were kids and trying to wreck our above-ground swimming pool.
The two achieve such awesome speeds that they're able to launch themselves out of the pit and onto solid ground while plowing through the Sharkticons like they're a bunch of trashcans in the middle of the road, aw yeah!

They recognize that they are hopelessly outnumbered, but without a second to mope decide to deliver as much damage as robotically possible and proceed to wreck Sharkticon faces like mad. Kup freaking rips the tail off of one and uses it like a flail while Hotrod punches faces in like they're made of tin foil. Heck yeah!
They are eventually jumped due to sheer numbers while one of the Quintesson lackeys who looks like a combination of a xenomorph and a Cthuloid screams for them to be executed. Then the door behind him collapses as the Dinobots enter and you can tell that the Sharkticons are loosing their oil over these dudes strolling in like they own the place. The five four of them act like an EMP given physical form and cut an oily swath through the Sharkticon horde. I love these guys.

The Quintesson orders the Sharticons again to execute the group, who then transform into their altmodes for the first time. Grimlock smashes his foot to the ground like a gavel, knocking them all off balance and gives one of his best lines of the movie.
"Me Grimlock say execute them!" The Sharkies look at eachother for a moment in confusion... then decide that's just a dandy idea and rush the Quintesson stronghold. First smart decision they've made! Remember kids, it's always better to attack a multi-faced robot head than five four robotic dinosaurs designed solely for making things more dead than real dinosaurs. That advice has saved my own hide on more than one occasion!

Wheelie does his last important thing of the entire movie and points out a Quintesson ship that looks like a Unicron's wine corkscrew and the group jumps onboard to find Magnus and the rest of their friends. Cuz seriously, screw Quintessa.

The rest of the crew find Magnus's scattered remains and have only a moment to lament his death before the Junkions finally decide to attack the random strangers. This is where we get what I feel is the most out of place song in the movie Dare to Stupid by Weird Al. Now, before you people get your torches lit and pitchforks sharpened, I would like to say that I don't dislike Weird Al, I think the guy is hilarious. I just think that it was misplaced here in this circumstance. Every other song is hard rock that fits the violence very well, this feels more like something out of a kids movi-... Erm, I just don't like it in this part. Erg.

Anywho, a decent fight ensues where we find that the Junkions are easy to damage, but almost impossible to keep down as they put themselves right back together and rejoin the fray. Their leader, Wreckgar is voiced by Eric Idle, from Monty Python's Flying Circ-... Maybe I should have had some more Holy Grail jokes. Hmmm...
The fight gets nasty as Wreckgar and Springer face off, and is then saddled with eternal embarrassment as Daniel saves his hide. Better to have let him die kiddo.
The brawl stops abruptly when the universe's largest corkscrew begins descending on the planet, and the Junkions are just as baffled at its design as I am. Hotrod, Kup and the Dinobots disembark much to the delight of Arcee and the others.

It looks as though the fighting is about to resume when Hotrod shows part of his arc by having learned something else. He completely diffuses that conflict by delivering the universal greeting! Wreckgar and the other Junkions instantly switch from murder mode to dance mode, giving us the trippiest looking scene in the movie as everyone dances together. Coming from a movie where robots turn into extinct animals and vehicles, this is saying a lot. The Junkions also reveal that they talk TV, having spent a good chunk of time watching Earth garbage TV for quite some time, which to me explains a good bit. Although this also puts the Autobots in their good graces, as they are friendly to Earthlings and Kup knows a few annoying phrases that we typically hate from TV broadcasts. Masochists.

This delights the Junkions so much however that they put Ultra Magnus's parts back together and use some kind of scientific/magical goo stuff to bring him back to life! Jeez, these Junkion guys could very well be one of the strongest robot factions out there. Bringing dead Autobots back to life and all? Hmmm, if only there were some other Autobots that were important that died recently and needed reviving... Ahem. ... Yeah, apparently they don't pick up on this amazing feat and don't even consider bringing back Prime, Ironhide or anyone else. Sigh.

They learn that Galvatron has stolen the Matrix and Hotrod is gung-ho to pay a visit and ask for it back at laser point. Wreckgar somehow knows that Galvatron is at Unicron and where they are. I'm going to just assume the News told him that. The Junkions prove their metal by summoning their own ship to join in the assault. Heh... heheheheh... metal... heheheh... The two most odd looking ships in the galaxy take off together to launch a balls out attack on Unicron!

Back at Unicron, Galvatron shows that he is now in possession and presumably control of the Matrix and tries ordering the sentient planet around like a petulant child. Hey, Unicron? If you bothered watching the first two seasons of the darned show then you'd have seen this coming, and not chosen a minion who refuses to be ruled by frigging anyone. But he's relatively safe as Galvatron attempts to show off his stunning power, only to fumble with the Matrix in what must be an amazing understatement of embarrassment.
Unicron informs Galvy that he's not as hot as he thinks he is and begins... to transform!!!

In one of the most epic transformations I've seen in any franchise ever, Unicron turns from a monumental planet into his altmode, a titanic humanoid shape complete with arms, feet, head and devil horns. We get an awesome shot of Galvatron realizing just how deep he's stepped in it, as if a giant talking planet alone weren't enough.
We get yet another chilling line from Mr. Wells that lets Galvatron know that he probably shouldn't have tried threatening him.
"For a time I considered sparing your wretched little planet Cybertron. But now... you shall witness... its dismemberment!" and launches himself at Cybertron to rip it apart by hand, Galvatron wailing in horror and despair.
Unicron then begins to rip Cybertron apart with his hands with impressive results. Cybertron is not defenseless though! Shockwave announces that things thereabouts are a bit destructiony and has the Decepticon forces mobilize and launch a massive attack on Unicron, with predictable results. Galvatron goes into his altmode and begins firing away at Unicron's face, which only seems to irritate him. Unicron then picks him up and devours him whole.

This has nothing to do with anything, but the size changes of Unicron here and there always kind of bother me. One minute he really has the appearance of being a mobile planetoid, then we'll see another shot that makes him look like he's only a few thousand feet tall. This is the most obvious of them and it always stuck out to me. Although I'm also not sure what I would have had them do differently. Maybe have a cable tentacle thing come out of his finger? Not sure. Just thought I'd throw it out there though.

But now we reach the electrifying climax! All forces converge here for the final showdown!

The Autobots and Junkions see Unicron punching Cybertron, in an epic, bizarre and... erm... epic... shot and decide to take the fight to him! Corkscrew ship lances right through one of Unicron's frigging eyes, which HAS to hurt, while the Dinobots and Junkions proceed to become a major problem to his overall health.
Somehow blasting through Unicron's eye dislodges all the occupants, who fall into his insides in ways I can't even figure out, since the creators didn't make a schematic for him. Pffft, heresy. I'm just going to assume that Hotrod got stuck in Unicron's head, and the rest fell within his chest. Not that it matters a great deal anyway.
Springer, Blur, Arcee, Kup and Daniel are instantly pursued by grapple tentacles and haul arse to heaven knows where while Hotrod wanders the dark recesses of Unicron's head. Wait a sec... Blur isn't in that piece... Where the heck did he go? And why do I care? I don't like Blur. Also I don't see Magnus in this part either. Were those two on the Junkion ship? Jeez, these guys are hard to keep tabs on...
While searching he finds the Matrix... and Galvatron.
Galvatron actually isn't immediately hostile. He values Cybertron more than anything else and actually suggests teaming up as the only way to defeat Unicron. Unicron hears this however and tazes him yet again and says something I can't quite make out, but afterwards Galvatron attempts to turn Hotrod into something resembling tin foil after you put it in the microwave for a few hours.

Outside, the Dinobots are doing an admirable job of making Unicron hate life as they dodge his fire and go around to his backside and actually inflict a crapload of damage. That's what you get for messing with the Dinobots man! Him Grimlock king!

Kup, Arcee and Springer race down a hallway while chased by the claw tentacles, in a way that I like to think is them also trying to abandon Daniel who is lagging behind. But they pansy out when the twerp trips and they go back to help him. Arcee shoots a hole in the ceiling which was apparently a pipeline, as water dumps into the chamber and washes them down different routes. We then see what happens to the bots that Unicron captures as Daniel washes up on some kind of shore. There is a conveyor belt thing that drops bots into a giant, pink acid vat that holycrapmoregruesomedeath... Two unknown bots are dropped into the acid bath and amidst their wails like haunted souls we see them splash helplessly within the devouring goo, heating red and being melted to fuel the fires of Unicron's hunger... Y'know what, I'm not even going to keep a body count for this thing. There are just way too bloody many, and most of them are things you'd have trouble fitting into a PG-13 movie. Cripes...

Here we see the Autobots captured from the Moonbases and even Spike, who shrieks for Daniel to shoot the acid covers. Gotta give the voice actor for Spike some credit here, as he does deliver a real sound of terror, urgency and dread as he cries "Hurry!" to Daniel who actually manages to be useful and saves Spike, Jazz, Cliffjumper and Bumblebee.
Hooray, the twerp's existence has been justified! I'd have just had the other Autobots do that, but whatever.

At last we get the final confrontation between Hotrod and Galvatron. In the warped interior of Unicron the two play a game of cat and mouse and we see just how far Hotrod has really come. Remember earlier when Megatron owned him even after his face was beaten in by Optimus? Here Hotrod is fighting a more powerful foe at full health and actually puts up a great fight. Using a combination of guerilla warfare, blitzkrieg attacks and confident one liners he gives Galvatron a really hard time, making have to work truly hard to keep up. But Galvatron gets his hands on Hotrod and begins to throttle him, although I don't think Autobots breathe... but it's still epic!

Things are looking at their worst: The Junkion ship gets crushed into scrap and it looks as though Galvatron is about to carve another notch on his wrist gun until... Hotrod grabs ahold of the Matrix, rips it from Galvatron's neck and is enveloped in a radiant light, greeted by the voice of Optimus saying "Arise Rodimus Prime..." Hotrod is then upgraded, becoming larger, more powerful, and turning into the new Autobot leader, Rodimus Prime! The fabled Autobot has risen from the ranks to light their darkest hour! Aaaaaand I think this is where most people hate Hotrod. As an audience proxy he's actually pretty darned good. He has a form of arc in the movie. He improves over time, learning through the battles that increases their strength rather than being a continually petulant twat. But he's not who we wanted as the leader. Had he stayed a subordinate he probably wouldn't have gotten half of the hatred he gets. We wanted Optimus to be the leader, not anyone else, and having him die and replaced by a new character is something that upset a lot of fans, which I can understand. Hotrod has improved, but he's just not the grizzled, wise, inspirational hero that Optimus was. He's not terrible, but almost nobody felt that he was worthy of the title of Prime.

Alas, he is our new leader, and does deliver some cool stuff for the climax. He rushes Galvatron and proceeds to throw him through Unicron's side like a frigging boss, Galvatron flying through the void of space while crying in despair. Rodimus then raises the Matrix and releases the heart of it which begins to rip Unicron apart from the inside out, all the while accompanied by the song Touch. The Autobots break away from the inner defenses and rendezvous, all of them transforming and taking an exit through Unicron's other eyes presumably out of spite.

Unicron's head detaches and his body explodes. The greatest threat in the series up to this point is now defeated and dead... The Decepticon ranks are broken, their leader cast into the void and the Autobot forces bolstered. The Cybertronian War is deemed over and Cybertron is reclaimed by the Autobots, bringing a close to the ancient conflict. As a closing we see Unicron's dismembered head orbiting Cybertron, functioning as a replacement moon and signifying the end of his reign.


And that is the Transformers '86 movie! In spite of my many little complaints, nitpicks and plot holes this is actually a darned good movie all things considered. The soundtrack rocks. The voices are freaking awesome, giving a truly amazing lineup that will have a hard time being equaled. The animation for the most part is clean, has a lovely techno feel that suits the age and subject wonderfully. The plot, while having holes here and there, has a great deal of momentum that keeps you from asking too many questions. It just picks you up and carries you along, refusing to let you be bored. The action is of course excellent, giving us all kinds of electrified fights that are all fun and epic.
While some old fans have big gripes for this film, it kicks the arse of the Bay movie by a longshot. At no point are we bored, looking at things that aren't important, being beaten over the head with dumb humor, or wondering where the frigging Transformers are. The focus is very tight and knows exactly what it's about and doesn't get sidetracked. Overall it's just a plain fun action movie, and one I still enjoy watching even today. Check it out if you get the chance and join the fun!