Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Transformers: 1986 vs. 2007

You know, if they'd only released this movie last year, the title of this post would have seemed so much cooler.

Anyway, I saw the new Transformers movie on Monday (review here), and yesterday I rewatched the good old fashioned 1986 movie. You know where this is going - it's time for the classic head to head category breakdown. If the new movie wins, it's blasphemy. If the old movie wins, it's ludicrous. I'm pretty blasphemous, and also pretty ludicrous. Which will prevail? Let's just get to the categories, shall we?

Massive Battles
2007 - There's only one real battle in the new movie - but holeeeey shit is it a good one. The movie's act three battle is so breathtaking you might need CPR. Shit gets blowed up good, transformers fight, transformers die. It's awesome.
1986 - There are so many damn fights in this movie. The encounter with Unicron at the end isn't really much of a battle, but that still leaves you with a half dozen firefights and brawls to choose from. Some of those scenes are awesome - like Hot Rod and Kup's escape from the Quintessons, and certain parts of the Earth invasion. Others - like the scene where 10 previously important characters die in 10 seconds - not so much.
Verdict: 1986 doesn't lack for trying, but it just doesn't have any scenes that can match the thunder of the final battle in the new one. Edge: 2007


Characters
2007 -
The Autobots all get a little personality, but nothing particularly deep. The only character with any real development in the movie is Sam Witwicky, who gets all warm and fuzzy for his car and his hot girl, and learns that sometimes you have to sacrifice, and sometimes you have to instead kill the bad guy.
1986 - Rewatching the movie as an adult, I realized that it's really a coming of age story for Hot Rod. It's done just subtly enough that you don't see his emergence as a hero coming, but it sort of makes sense when it does. It's not grade A but it's there. There's also some subtle character work with Ultra Magnus, who's thrust into a position of leadership, but has little moments where you can tell he's not up to the task, culminating in his tragic quasi-fatal heroic stand against Galvatron.
Verdict: 86's robots have at least as much personality as the 07 bots, and many more have significant characteristics. Hell, Hot Rod and Kup's growing mutual admiration is at least as deep as any given relationship in the new movie. Edge: 1986

Climactic Duel

2007 - Optimus Prime and Megatron have a knock-down dragout fight through the city that leaves buildings crumbling, and sees a falling Prime almost crush some guy.
1986 - Christ, which one? The actual climactic duel between Hot Rod and Galvatron is pretty good, but it's mirrored earlier in the movie by the unreal awesomeness of the be-all-end-all Megatron vs. Optimus Prime fight. This final battle between the two arch-foes has more gravitas every time you watch it, and is a fitting end for both characters.
Verdict: The 86 Prime/Megatron fight may never be topped by anything ever. Edge: 1986


McGuffin

2007 - The All Spark, which brings life to metal things and also kills you when you shove it in your chest. And is the cause of the Cybertronian war I guess. And also goes from gigantic to small when Bumblebee touches it right.
1986 - The Matrix of Leadership, a weird globe with handles around it that goes into the chest of the head good guy. Its main purpose seems to be blowing up Unicrons, and giving Hot Rod a trailer.
Verdict: Both McGuffins are incredibly nonsensical, but I'm going to give it to the All Spark - at least its only power isn't to blow up one specific bad guy. 2007


Bad Guys
2007 - There are 9 Decepticons in the film. Unfortunately, half of them are introduced in a downright comical montage right before the final battle.
1986 - Let's see. There's the full Decepticon army, headed by Megatron for starters, then the new threat of Galvatron and his henchmen, the Quintessons just for shits, and because all of that wasn't epic enough, let's throw in a planet that transforms into a massive robot and eats other planets.
Verdict:
Do I even need to say it? 1986


Visuals
2007 - Dear fucking lord. You will believe a pontiac can fly.
1986 - You know, in my memory, the animation on this always looked fucking spectacular. Rewatching it, I discovered that it does look fucking spectacular - once every 10 minutes or so. The animation is extremely uneven - you can tell that a lot of different people were drawing it.
Verdict: Did I create this category just so the new movie could win it? Maybe. But it's undeniably important. 2007.


Humor
2007 - At one point, Sam Witwicky's parents accuse him of masturbating, and are relieved to discover he was instead having sex with a hot chick who was hiding in the closet. For example.
1986 - Admit it, when you were a kid, you giggled like a school girl when Ultra Magnus said, "Damn it!"
Verdict: For the first hour, the 07 movie was basically a comedy, which made its slow scenes a ton more watchable. The 86 movie well... let's just hope you weren't watching it for the dialogue. 2007

Plot
2007 - What plot? I guess they're trying to protect the All Spark or something... which means taking it to a city for some reason? Whatever, robots fight.
1986 - What plot? I guess they're trying to blow up Unicron or something... which they have no idea how to do, so they spend the second act fighting Eric Idle and also shark monsters. Whatever, robots fight.
Verdict: So neither movie's plot makes a ton of sense. Here's the difference. In the 07 movie they spend the entire movie building up for one fight. The 86 movie opens with a massive battle, and is all kickass adventure from there on in. The scenes almost even manage to build on each other more or less logically! 1986


Humans
2007 - Sam Witwicky is the star of the show, a compulsively likable lead character who gives us a perfect perspective on the transformers, allowing us to see both their scale and their humanity. The rest of the humans all have their moments too - if only there weren't so damn many of them.
1986 - Awww.... isn't it cute? Daniel learned to use his very first exo-suit!
Verdict: The Witwicky kid isn't annoying?! This is going to take some getting used to. 2007


Final Tally: In a shocking upset, 2007 takes it 5 to 4! I'm actually flabberghasted here. I had no idea I was this blasphemous! I think I even disagree with the final result! I must be getting less ridiculous in my old age. I'm going to go watch the Kremzeek episode or something as punishment.

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