“The Transfomers The Movie”
Music By Vince DiCola
Intrada Special Collection Vol. 263
25 Tracks/Disc Time: 78:13
In the 80’s, “Transformers” was easily one of the more wildly popular cartoons along side the likes of “G.I. Joe”, “Thundercats”, “Alvin And The Chipmunks” and “He-Man” to name a few. As a young boy growing up during the decade, I can easily tell you that if you were a fan of these cartoons, you easily had the toys and watched the cartoons incessively after school on television along with my friends. So after the success of the series and the toys it was a no-brainer that a “Transformers” movie would no doubt be in the works. The film which was released theatrically by the now defunct (DEG) DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group film company in late Summer 1986 just before the premiere of the shows’ upcoming third season. To capatilize on this, the film which most drastic in its’ violence and the surprise curse word that was uttered by one of the cartoons favorite characters made the film a separate entity in itself, but would soon change the face of the series soon after by the introduction of new characters and elminating popular ones, which really didn’t go over too well at the time.
The film takes place twenty years after season two on the show as is the year 2005. The battle between the heroic Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the evil Decepticons led by Megatron, two warring factions of transforming robots from the planet Cybertron. The Autobots must save their homeworld from an evil entity known as Unicron, who’s ready to consume anything that stands in its way. At the same time, they must defend themselves against an all-out attack from the Decepticons with one final battle between Prime and Megatron in which Prime dies which was the subject of controversy for fans of the series back then and a major shock with it introducing “The Matrix of Leadership” the essence of what makes the Autobots go and what Unicron is after, which could help destroy him. Megatron is soon left for dead after being betrayed by Starscream in a power play of Decepticon leadership and reborn as Galvatron after being a second chance at life by Unicron and to help him destroy the Matrix before the Autobots figure out that it is the only way that it would destroy him once and for all. The film featured the voices of then Brat Packer Judd Nelson as Autobot Hot Rod, Leonard Nimoy as Galvatron, Robert Stack as Ultra Magnus and the late Orson Welles as Unicron. The film was not the success that the studio had hoped it would be and would put “G.I. Joe: The Movie”, which was already completed by the studio on the shelf only to be released on television and on video soon after.
One of the more and popular aspects of the film for the last three plus decades since the films’ release has been the film’s soundtrack which featured popular musical anthems “The Touch” by Stan Bush and a nice host of rock artists of the time that made it a hit with both mainstream rock fans as well as soundtrack collectors thanks to the push that Columbia Records gave it. The soundtrack also featured the fun, energetic work of Vince DiCola who had scored mega blockbuster success with “Rocky IV”, which featured another best selling soundtrack and a score that featured terrific synthesizer and orchestrial elements but kept the essence of Bill Conti’s famous theme. “Transformers The Movie” was a completely different animal as DiCola scored the film primarily and entirely on synthesizers which was a perfect match for the film. Also, incorporating some of the rock elements that were really successful for “Rocky IV”, DiCola’s score brought energy and freshness to the film that really made the film graduate from its’ after school origins to that of a hard core cartoon on the big screen.
The score gets off to a pulsing start with the rather ominous theme for Unicron (“Unicron Attacks”) that has the same musical traits from “Rocky IV” in utilizing a reprise of the Drago theme (Rocky’s Russian counterpart in that film) and the exceptional track, “War”) Then the score gets off to a rockin action start underscoring the rather climatic battle that opens the film between the Autobots and the Decepticons that will alter the Transformers universe for the rest of the film and the following season on the show in the tracks “Autobot/Decepticon Battle”, “Prepare For Extermination”, and “Optimus Prime Vs. Megatron”, with the first two being exceptional highlights of the score with great rocking propulsive action and the latter half of Prime vs. Megatron shifting to a somber tone with the sad demise of the much loved Optimus Prime character and shifting the Matrix of Leadership to whoever the Matrix feels is the right choice. DiCola then returns to the Unicron material while incorporating the rebirth of Megatron as Galvatron (“Megatron Departs”, “I Am Unicron”) who must serve him after rescuing him from certain death with moody synthesizers shifting musically between the light material and the dark material of Unicron’s theme. Soon the Autobots take one final battle for their survival as well as that of The Matrix with a final stand against Unicron and Galvatron (“Decepticon Attack”, “Unicron Transforms”, “The Matrix” , “Attack On Unicron”, “Reunited” and “The Fight Continues”) which are really cool rocking tracks with very cool melodies and rhythmic 80’s styled action licks that are very enjoyable. “Legacy” is another highlight and is the demo that DiCola submitted to the producers and directors of the film with his ideas on how the score would sound like which features early versions of the Unicron material as well was the rock themes and light material as heard in “The Trial”, “Fishing” and “Escape” which is great.
Intrada’s special release of the soundtrack is surprisingly the third incarnation of this fine score by the composer after the score had appeared as a Limited Edition CD only available at “Transformers” conventions in the late 1990’s and sold out extremely quickly. For years, fans of the film have clammored long and hard for DiCola’s invaluable contribution to the film to finally be released publicly aside from the fair representation it got on the original Sony album in 1986 which featured a handful of tracks from his original score. This is the full presentation of the score as it was meant to be heard outside of the film and it is a fun little ride that unfortunately is a bit dated by it’s sound and the fact that the film is also very dated, doesn’t help it much. I don’t mind this sound to be honest with you and I think alot of it is very hip and unique unlike most scores that utilize this sound in this day in age. DiCola had a plan on how to approach the film and it worked to great success otherwise we wouldn’t have this release at all today. “The Transformers: The Movie” is a major step back down memory lane and it was fun ride that brought back great memories both good and sad thinking of all those Transformers toys I once had and sadly don’t anymore, but Vince DiCola’s score more than cures that a bit with this rocking effort. Recommended, Thumbs up.