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Transformers: Why The Cartoon Outshines Michael Bay’s Version

As a kid Transformers was the best cartoon on TV. I couldn’t wait until Saturday morning’s to see Optimus Prime fight Megatron. It was classic good vs evil but it was beyond so cool to watch. Robots turning into cars, guns, planes, trains, radios and even a gigantic robot formed by 5 different transformers. Oh man, that show was such genius but then it was topped. I didn’t think it could get any better. I was wrong.

In 1986 Transformers The Movie hit, and changed they way I viewed movies. This generation sees the metal transformers with the star-studded cast, hot women and awesome graphics and think instant blockbuster but to the hardcore fans who grew up on the originals, there is no comparison.

The original cartoons were sappy, humans meets good robots and then bad robots come to take over the world then a war breaks out, then 30 minutes later there is peace until next week. No one is hurt, maybe injured but by the next episode all is well. But when the original movie dropped all bets were off.

The first scenes of the movie were pure destruction as Unicron devoured a planet killing all in its wake and that was just the first five minutes into the film. But what happened next broke my young heart. As a young kid growing up watching the show I had my favorites like everyone else. I know most for some were either Prime or Bumble Bee, but mine was Iron Hide. He was the muscle of the crew, always down for a fight but 10 minutes into the movie I realized this was not your weekly cartoon here, this was grown man stuff. Megatron and crew hijacked their plane and killed every Autobot on-board including Iron Hide. I looked at my brother and was shocked. My favorite was gone but I would later find out he was just the beginning of a killing spree.

As the movie moved along my focused went to another Autobot, Hot Rod. He was the young, brash, ready to fight whenever kid who happened to be best friends with Spike’s son Daniel. When he saw that the Decepticons were entering their base he was the frist to open fire, starting the war that made this movie so great. Michael Bay’s movies has action but it’s more on the lines of PG rated while the original version held nothing back. Case in point.

Prime is the hero and to today generation he is seen as untouchable, but the original version, no one was off-limits as we seen within the first hour as he and Megatron fought their best fight ever. As a young kid I didn’t understand what a score in a movie meant but I know I loved the song that came on the moment Prime went after Megatron. The battle was epic, in the end Prime took a laser to the stomach for Hot Rod bringing a close to one of the best heroes in cartoon history. Prime was killed. This would not happen on Saturday mornings, so the shock took damn near the rest of the movie to wear off for me.

In the latest installments of Transformer movies, it seems to be jumbled up, more dialogue than action and you would think the director of Bad Boys would bring the thunder down. Maybe he hasn’t had the chance to watch the original version and see how pure it was, witness how they ushered in the new crop of Autobots by killing off the old. But it wasn’t all senseless murders, they went out in style (if that makes a difference).

The torch (Matrix) was passed over to Ultra Magnus after Prime died, he tried but wasn’t cut out for the leadership role. This is where Bay’s movies could gain more steam if he were to kill of Prime or another major character like Megatron. Remember in the original when Star Scream finally got the opportunity take get rid of Megatron? He took his shot but it didn’t work in his favor as Unicron found Megatron and made him over in the form of Galvatron. During Star Scream’s coronation as new leader, Galvatron (Megatron) crashed the party and literally turned Star Scream into a pile of dust, classic move but will or can Bay top that?

I think he’s scared to bend the rules. We have seen 3 movies of the same figures, for a fan of the cartoon I know that new ones were ushered in. Where are the DinoBots? Grimlock may be the funniest Transformer, besides Star Scream. I would love for Bay to somehow bring them into the fray and cut the focus of Megatron and Prime, two characters that died two decades ago.

At the end of the original a new leader emerged, Hot Rod whom became Rodimus Prime when the Matrix chose him (awesome scene by the way), gave a touching speech at the end of the movie. Bay has options, the legacy of Transformers will live on forever but he refuses to let go and trust that the fans will support him.

I didn’t spend my childhood only to become an adult and watch as one of the greatest cartoons legacy get tarnished by a director that can’t seem to figure how to make a better movie that a 20-year old cartoon.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com