Comparing Transformers 1986 Classic and 2007 Film

July 16, 2016

Hey Nerdbot Readers, 'tis I your big geeky brother Joshua J, ready to talk to you about something that I love, something I grew up with, something could never possibly destroy us.  I, of course, am talking about the Transformers.  Now for this particular article, I will comparing the original 1986 classic with the 2007 Transformers film.  I could compare it to all four films, but the first one is really the only one with a semi coherent story.  I seriously couldn’t tell you what Revenge of the Fallen was about, all I remember were giant swinging robot balls on what I think was supposed to be Devastator.  

Plot:
If you have never seen it before, the 1986 film is about a giant planet sized being called Unicron, (voiced by the late Orson Welles) who basically consumes planets for breakfast. Now, with all great villains there is always that “one thing” that stands between him and his evil destiny, in this film’s case it is the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, which at the start of the film is held by Optimus Prime.  In the 2007 film, all the Transformers are after this ultimate power called “The Cube.” so they of course bring their giant robot war to Earth, Shia LaBeouf can’t stop screaming, and all hell breaks loose.  However, what both films have in common is the hero’s journey, in which the main hero, Hotrod in the ’86 and Sam in the 2007 leave their normal world, and are then thrust into adventure and danger, which will ultimately change him  for the better or worse. (See Star Wars: Episode 4, The Lord of the Rings, Rocky, The Untouchables.)  In the case of these two films, it’s Hotrod (voiced by 80’s icon Judd Nelson) finding himself, becoming Rodimus Prime, and using the Matrix to defeat Unicron.  In the case of the 2007 film, it’s all about Sam Witwicky helping the Autobots find the Cube, find his inner courage, and stop the Decepticons. Story wise, both are decent films, some have even compared the ’86 film to Star Wars Episode 4.  In that a young hero sets out to destroy a massive threat that can destroy planets, plus Arcee has buns on her head, and Optimus dies, etc.  

Actors:
Without a doubt one of the best things about these films are the actors they got to play the characters.  Actors like the late Leonard Nimoy as the villainous Galvatron, the aforementioned Judd Nelson as the heroic Hotrod, and of course Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime and the God of voice-over himself Frank Welker as Megatron.  In the 2007 film you had a great cast of talent too, I’m talking voice talent here, the main actors…not so much.  In the 2007 version you had Hugo Weaving as Megatron, Jess Harnell of Animaniacs fame as Ironhide, and of course brought back specifically for this film, Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime.  Both films have talented actors, but the ’86 film wins in terms of sheer star power and talent.  Also if you didn’t know, Frank Welker actually did audition for the role of Megatron for the 2007 film, but director Michael Bay didn’t think he was right for the film version.  Gold star, Mr. Bay. Gold star.

Soundtrack:
I can definitely say that both films have a great score.  However in the ’86 version there are two different sets of music used.  You have the score written by Vince DiCola who also did the music for Rocky 4, another epic film from that year. Plus the film also uses awesome 80’s hair metal as well.  In the newer film you have a complete instrumental score done by Steve Jablonsky.  Which is a great score, it definitely suits the film, one of the best pieces is called “Arrival to Earth.” And is probably one of my favorite sequences of that film.  The music builds as each Autobot lands and dons their respective identities, the music builds more as they all gather together, and finally the music reaches its peak as our hero Optimus Prime transforms and speaks to Sam for the first time…and then the rest of the movie happens, some stuff blows up, and Shia LaBeouf somehow ends up with Megan Fox.  That is not how it works.

Animation/CGI:
Now back in ’86, CGI wasn’t really a thing yet, filmmakers used practical effects, makeup, etc.  ILM was the go to house for when you wanted your film to look special.  Google it, if you don’t know what ILM is.  So obviously the ’86 film used top of the line animation for their big budget Transformers movie, and it looked awesome!  Now flash forward some 30 years and CGI is now a staple for every film,  but I will say they made it work for the 2007 film, I actually felt like I was watching my favorite robots in disguise on a live action screen.  So each style works for their respective eras.  Can you imagine them trying to do the 2007 film back in ’86?  It just wouldn’t have looked right.  Now vice versa, that’s another story.

In conclusion, both are enjoyable films each with their own unique charms and moments. I highly recommend you check out both if you haven’t already.  Also let me know what you think on Twitter at @justjoshuaJ or in the comments below.  Till next time readers, remember you got the touch and you got the power!

 

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