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Transformers 40th Anniversary Event

Transformers 40th Anniversary Event

Rated PG
Starring: Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Michael Bell, Gregg Berger
Running Time: 1 hours 36 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: May 15, 18 & 19, 2024


Plot Summary

TIL ALL ARE ONE: TRANSFORMERS 40TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT celebrates a legacy that began in 1984 and hasnít stopped exciting fans for 40 years. This special cinema experience will take you back to the very beginning as the original voice actors team up for the first time in decades to revisit their characters and recreate the enduring magic of The Transformers. An exclusive behind-the-scenes table read appears on a split screen with the pilot episode, More Than Meets the Eye, Part 1, followed by the next three episodes in the first series. Experience the original Saturday morning cartoon for the first time on the big screen and relive its evolution over the years with a sneak peek of the new season of Transformers EarthSpark. Donít miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate 40 years of Transformers action, humor and legacy with fans of all ages at an anniversary event that is truly... More Than Meets the Eye! (from

Film Review

When 80's kids were watching their favorite cartoons airing each week, I'm pretty sure most of them didn't realize they were basically watching 30-minute animated toy commercials with stories. Would we have cared to know that, though? No, I don't think we would have. Shows like Transformers and G.I. Joe were among the best of the decade, but they basically existed to push toylines to children. And it worked. And we were none the wiser. But Hasbro boldly showed their hand in 1986 with a full-length animated Transformers movie. In it, virtually the entire "Generation One" cast of Transformers characters were killed off in an effort to wipe the slate clean and introduce a new line of toys--err... characters. It's safe to say it didn't go over too well.

Transformers 40th Anniversary Event
Evidence of that can be made by just the sheer fact that most of those characters that met their doom in the '86 film has since been revived and reinvented. With new live action films, animated TV series', and toylines, Transformers still seems to be going strong - with no end in sight. And to honor its humble and wholesome beginnings, we're presented with the Transformers 40th Anniversary Event in an effort to celebrate the series' debut in September, 1984.

Transformers 40th Anniversary Event, on paper, sounds like a fanboy's dream. It's the first 4 episodes of the '84 cartoon series translated to the big screen, featuring present-day interviews with original voice actors from the '84 series, as well as actors who have been voicing characters in more recent animated series'. Not knowing completely what we were in for, my 13-year-old son and I grabbed tickets and made sure to have our seats reserved for opening night.

Transformers 40th Anniversary Event
The Transformers 40th Anniversary Event opens with two members of the Hasbro team introducing the event. But just as soon as they greet the audience, they're pitching their latest toylines. That's a little gutsy, but nothing reveals the event's truest intent than what unfolds next. A series of Transformers toy promos continue - for their store page on Amazon (complete with scannable QR code), the latest combiner figures, the latest new cartoon show Earthspark (which looks truly terrible), and the trailer for the upcoming animated feature film, Transformers One (which doesn't look much better, and seems more like a spoof of Transformers than a legitimate film). It's shameless self-promotion that begins to feel rather slimey by the second commercial. My son even kept turning to me and whispering what he wish he could say to the toy cartel powers that be, "Play the movie already!"

The true "Event" portion of the feature introduces several voice cast members for Transformers new and old. The Transformers royalty of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime and Frank Welker as Megatron are the real treasures of this feature (and I'm thankful these guys are still with us today, after all these years). After a handful of voice acting talent get to reflect on the franchise, it's announced that the first episode of the cartoon series has been re-recorded with these voice actors all in one room for a table read. What then unfolds is a split screen of the cartoon on the left and the voice actors on the right as they read their lines and it's synced up with the footage. At first, it's super distracting, since you're not entirely sure which part of the screen to focus on. But once you hone in on the cartoon and only occasionally glance over at the voice actors does it start to really work. After the first episode, which is Part One of a three-episode pilot, titled "More Than Meets the Eye," we're treated to some outtakes from the table read as kind of a send-off for the legendary actors.

Transformers 40th Anniversary Event
The Transformers 40th Anniversary Event continues then with the second and third parts of the "More Than Meets the Eye," as it was originally recorded, with the opening credits shaved off and the end credits sped up. The table read is over and we don't see the guys again for the rest of the feature. Instead, the cartoons are now front-and-center with a widescreen presentation that gives the episodes side panels to look like a console on the Autobots' ship. The episode name and number are displayed over the left corner of the episode, which is a little unfortunate because it never goes away and is on top of the actual cartoon (albeit in small font). On the right corner remains a 40th anniversary logo. The cartoons themselves are pretty clear and colorful, optimized well for a big screen. After the pilot trilogy ends, we're given the fourth series episode, "Transport to Oblivion," followed by one classic PSA where Bumblebee encourages a kid who wants to run away from home to stay with his family. The last thing we see is a screen that honors the voice actors who have passed away through the years, with the characters they voiced under their names. It's a nice way to honor them.

So is this "40th Anniversary Event" worth it? It depends on how big a fan of Transformers you are. While I was getting a little fatigued by the fourth episode, that first episode with the table read was a pretty cool way to pay tribute to the original series. I loved seeing Welker bounce from Soundwave to Megatron and even voice them talking to each other with ease. And, of course, I'll never get tired of hearing Peter Cullen voice Optimus Prime; he's still got it! The excessive amount of self-promoting commercials before the feature were pretty obnoxious, and it nearly soured my experience. I did see a couple people actually get up and leave early on in the showing, with one guy who got his phone out (at full brightness, mind you -- don't be that guy, folks) to look up his ticket and view the movie poster before leaving. I can only assume he thought he had bought a ticket to see the 1986 movie back in theaters. (A mistake I almost made when I purchased the tickets. I'd rather it be these episodes than that film anyway.)

The episodes shown are pure nostalgia and classic 80's animated goodness. Sure, the dialog is painfully corny at times, and animation mistakes - like Bumblebee being in the background of one scene when he's supposed to be somewhere else at that very moment, or two of the Decepticon jets standing right next to each other are painted to look like Starscream, when the second jet should really be purple - are more obvious in the large format, but it's still a treat to revisit these episodes... and in a theater setting, no less.

Transformers 40th Anniversary Event
The content for the feature is pretty clean and benign. All there is is quite a bit of cartoon violence where robots attack each other, flick humans aside, or blow things up. No one ever dies, and no robot is ever mortally wounded. It's a classic good vs. evil struggle, and it's always endearing to see the Autobots protect the humans and support each other, in contrast to the Decepticons always looking out for themselves only.

Transformers 40th Anniversary Event sounds awesome in theory - and it still kind of is - but right out of the gate, it feels like a cash grab when you're bombarded mercilessly with product commercials right off the bat. It's pretty tacky. I have to give it slightly higher marks than I may want to, because it really is a nostalgic treat. It's cartoons from our childhood, that were only ever on a small screen, being shown in a theater; the voice actors of our childhood heroes being given their due in the flesh; and a unique table read / re-recording experience we'd otherwise never get to see. So once Hasbro gets its ugliness out of the way, it's pure 80's bliss till the end, and any diehard fan of these robots in disguise will want to experience it while they can.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/15/24)



Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: None.
. Vulgarity/Language: None.
. Alcohol/Drugs: None. (Just some name-calling.)
. Blood/Gore: None.
. Violence: Lots of cartoon action violence; We see robots frequently punching and hitting each other, shooting laser cannons and guns at each other, blowing up buildings and ships, crashlanding, attacking a few humans, and falling from great heights. Some of the robots sustain injuries, but none of them are fatal, and any time someone might think a robot or person might have died, we quickly find out that they're totally okay or just need a little care from the Autobot medic.


Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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