One will stand, one will fall.
So which Transformers movie is better? Let’s take a look at these two legendary motion pictures. The following is spoileriffic.
THE MAIN HUMAN CHARACTER
1986 movie: Daniel Witwicky. A creepy little munchkin in a transforming robot suit.
2007 movie: Sam Witwicky. A creepy teenager who drives a transforming robot.
The Winner: The 2007 movie. Sam might be creepy, but he’s also a pretty clever guy. Hey, he got a smoking hot girl to sit in his lap, didn’t he? (In future episodes, Daniel acquired the ability to transform into the head of Arcee. That is way more disturbing than sexy.)
THE MAIN GIRL
1986 movie: The original pink Transformer herself, Arcee.
2007 movie: The very curvy mechanic, Mikaela Banes.
The Winner: The 2007 movie. If you frequent this site, you know I love Arcee. However, Megan Fox is definitely softer and squishier. You can’t go wrong with that.
1986 movie: In a moment of extreme duress, Spike screams, “Oh, sh*t!” (If you’re from Canada or the UK, this may surprise you. Well, you saw the edited version. Spike’s four-letter world caused children all over America to realize that they had become adults.)
2007 movie: Sam’s parents talk to him about masturbation, causing me to look uncomfortably at all the children in the audience also watching the movie.
The Winner: 1986. Both are pretty uncomfortable moments, but you can at least explain to your kids that “sh*t” means “poo.” Try explaining the other one.
MOST TRAUMATIC MOMENT
1986 movie: The death of Optimus Prime.
2007 movie: Tough call, but that scene where Bumblebee pees on the Sector 7 guy has got to be up there.
The Winner: 1986. No contest; when Optimus died, kids were too busy crying to go to sleep at night.
TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY SPOT
1986 movie: After Hot Rod heartily greets Wreck-Gar the Junkions with a “Ba wee grah na wee ninny bong,” everyone gets down and boogies to Weird Al’s “Dare to be Stupid” … robot style!
2007 movie: The Hispanic guy getting constantly reminded to speak English.
The Winner: 1986: At least the spontaneous dance sequence didn’t feel horribly racist. (Not to say that it wasn’t; isn’t that how heroes used to greet indigenous island cultures in older cartoons? Even Space Ghost: Coast to Coast made fun of it.)
RATCHET AND IRONHIDE
1986 movie: get offed, alongside Prowl and Brawn, within the first 10 minutes of the movie. Presumably, this was to make way for a new toy line. Harsh.
2007 movie: last to the end of the movie, but are not very distinctive characters and are oddly absent in the final battle. I think they were off fighting that Mountain Dew bot, but they could’ve been slamming down a few brewskis for all we know.
The Winner: 2007. Well, at least they didn’t die. And, although they didn’t get many lines in the Bay movie, the Ratchet-Ironhide combo only got all of one line in the 1986 movie.
1986 movie: Tries his best to get Megatron lost in the cold, inky blackness of space. After he thinks he has triumphed, the new Galvatron fries him but good.
2007 movie: Is the sole Decepticon survivor to escape the final battle. May have played a role in Megatron’s death.
The Winner: 1986. He may be dead, but he does come back in later episodes. Also, before he dies, he gets to rock the cape and crown.
1986 movie: barely misses getting stewed in Unicron’s gastric acids. Goes on to win the Space Olympics on the TV show. Truly a triumph of humanity.
2007 movie: is ripped in half.
The Winner: 1986. Keeping your body in one piece is a habit of a highly effective person.
1986 movie: Frankly, I forgot he was in this one. He survives the movie, but does nothing spectacular. I think he also survived the acid bath.
2007 movie: is pretty much the one Autobot who could qualify for Lead Actor status.
The Winner: 2007 movie, easily. Bumblebee slams a VW Beetle, tries to get two human-types to pitch woo, pees, dons a killer facemask, and does two cool voices: one that is all soundclips, and one that is sorta weak and charming.
1985 movie: is voiced by Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime. Is killed off before the movie is even half over.
2007 movie: is voiced by Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime. Does not appear until half the movie is half over. Also, has a mouth. And flames, but fan rage over that subsided once the whole mouth thing was discovered.
The Winner: 2007. The original may have Optimus’ classic design, but 2007 Optimus got more screen time. Also, casting Peter Cullen for the voice was a major coup; he WAS Optimus Prime.
1986 movie: is originally voiced by Frank Welker. After his weakened body is approached by Unicron, he is transformed into Galvatron — with a giant space gun alternate form — and gets voiced by Leonard Nimoy. Sports a light saber and fusion cannon.
2007 movie: is voiced by Hugo Weaving. Has sharp teeth. Transforms into some sort of Cybertronian jet, though really he looks like some kid’s Lego project. Sports a mace and a fusion cannon.
The Winner: 2007. The tag team of Welker and Mr. Spock is a formidable equal to Agent Smith. However, Galvatron spends most of the 1986 movie playing second banana to Unicron.
1986 movie: Unicron, an enduring villain that’s been the subject of subsequent Beast War series and an anime series. Is kind of a ripoff of Galactus. If they do a “Transformers 2” where Unicron is a flippin’ cloud, I will be ticked off.
2007 movie: Barricade, the only time a police car has been a Decepticon. Comes with a pretty awesome tagline: “To punish and enslave.”
The Winner: 1986. As a bonus, Unicron was the last movie role of Orson Welles. That lends the entire movie a touch of class, even if Orson himself described the movie as one where toys do horrible things to each other. I imagine he appreciated the irony.
THE FINAL BATTLE
1986 movie: After a huge space battle over the skies of Cybertron, Hot Rod transforms into Rodimus Prime, unleashes the power of the Autobot Matrix of leadership, and destroys Unicron somehow with a sparkly lightshow. Deus ex machina doesn’t even begin to cover it. “You got the touch, you got the power. Yeah!”
2007 movie: After a thoroughly confusing fight sequence set in the downtown of some city, Sam Witwicky jams to Allspark into Megatron’s chest and destroys him somehow. Frankly, I was surprised that Megatron was dead. That as it?
The Winner: Both had their moments: 1986 had Dinobots flying around Unicron, 2007 had mini-Transformers popping around as the Allspark stopped by. But I went with 2007. Sure it was a jumbled mess, but seeing two robots get slammed through buildings is a thrill like no other.
The overall winner: The 2007 movie. Sorry, old school fans, but Michael Bay miraculously managed to get something right this time.