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"You got The Touch!" 9 bits of Transformers: The Movie trivia

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Michael Bay's big-scale Transformers blockbusters might be hugely popular with today's cinemagoers, but for film fans of a certain generation there'll always be a special place in their hearts for 1986's Transformers: The Movie.

A big screen spinoff from the animated TV series, the film was epic when seen for the first time by young eyes. Spanning from the Cybertron to Earth, via the far reaches of space and a planet-eating villain voiced by Orson Welles! Describing it as a classic might be a stretch but this was an exciting war movie that taught us about loss and the fist-pumping stadium rock majesty that is Stan Bush's 'The Touch'.

Digital Spy takes a look back at 9 bits of trivia from Transformers: The Movie.


1. It was hard to hold back the tears when Optimus Prime bit the dust in Transformers's brutal Battle of Autobot City. The passing of the Autobots's paternalistic leader hit fans hard, and it had a ripple effect on GI Joe: The Movie, a Hasbro cartoon movie that was in production simultaneously. Prime's passing was met by a severe audience backlash, meaning the GI Joe team decided to abort plans to off Duke, fearing the same would happen (instead he went into a coma and awoke later).

One thing we've always wondered - why did Prime change colour when he passed? Director Nelson Shin has the answer: "When Optimus Prime died, I changed his colour from red and blue into grey to show the spirit was gone from his body."


2. Though aimed at kids, the original theatrical release of Transformers: The Movie featured Spike exclaiming, "oh s**t" at a key moment in the film. The bad language was actually added for commercial reasons - without it, the film would've been rated G in the US, and films carrying that certificate were not played as often during the day as those with a higher certification. The s**t secured the PG rating, but subsequent VHS versions removed the mention. It was reinstated for Rhino's re-release of the film in 2000.


3. Early drafts of the script reportedly featured more graphic Transformers deaths, but the finished film itself was still pretty violent for an animated feature. The high body count was down to Hasbro's desire to introduce a fresh product line for the forthcoming season (the movie was designed as a bridge between the second and third seasons of the cartoon).

The creative team, however, were not totally on board with the mass destruction. Screenwriter Ron Friedman explained to Todd Matthy that there were "steaming arguments", particularly relating to the death of Optimus Prime.

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4. Transformers: The Movie featured the first appearance from "female" Autobot Arcee (the voice of Susan Blu). In her original pink and white form she transformed into a car but in later iterations she shape-shifted into motorcycles.

The character is the most prominent female Transformer in the entire franchise and was going to be introduced into the live-action series as early as 2007's debut instalment, but the filmmakers couldn't find enough time to explain why a robot looked like a woman (yes, that was the excuse!). Arcee eventually appeared in 2009's Revenge of the Fallen, where she was voiced by Erin Naas.

Transformers: The Movie (1986)

5. The film marked the final big screen role for Hollywood legend Orson Welles, who provided the voice of the space-travelling colossus Unicron. "I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed," the star was quoted as saying of his role.

According to some, Welles died just five days after completing his final voice session for Transformers: The Movie. His performance was heavily synthesised due to his breathing difficulties, but it somehow feels apt that the man whose voice terrified a nation with the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds should sign off with a role like this.


6. Alongside Welles and Transformers regulars Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron), some prominent stars lent their voice talents to the film. Eric Idle provided comic relief as Wreck-Gar, Judd Nelson was Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Casey Kasem played Cliffjumper, Scatman Crothers (who died just after the movie came out) was Jazz and Leonard Nimoy voiced Megatron's rebooted form, Galvatron. Nimoy, in fact, returned to the live-action Transformers series as Sentinel Prime in Dark of the Moon.

7. Marvel published Transformers comics throughout the '80s and even put out a three-part adaptation of the film in 1986. Ralph Macchio (not the Karate Kid!) penned these comics based on an earlier version of the film's script. Consequently, the on-the-page version saw an altered design for the Autobot Matrix and a different death for Ultra Magnus.

8. Many directors who take on franchises based on existing properties have a strong affinity with the original but this wasn't the case with Michael Bay, who didn't feel beholden to the original series when he directed 2007's Transformers.

During the promotional rounds for Revenge of the Fallen, the director told Wired: "I've heard so many people say, 'Michael Bay, you've destroyed my childhood.' I didn't know there were people who'd hunt you down. I urge them to watch the 1986 animated movie, go watch the cartoon. You'll want to shoot yourself."


9. Transformers: The Movie's iconic rock song 'The Touch' was originally conceived by Stan Bush and co-writer Lenny Macaluso for Sylvester Stallone movie Cobra. It wound up on the robot epic instead, alongside Bush's 'Dare' and songs from Weird Al Yankovic, Spectre General and Lion's take on the Transformers theme.

'The Touch' was revived by Paul Thomas Anderson for his porn opus Boogie Nights, with future Transformers star Mark Wahlberg who delivered an excruciating rendition of the song as his character Dirk Diggler strived to launch a music career.


Transformers: Age of Extinction is showing in cinemas now

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