Transformers: The Movie - Ultimate Prime Edition - orderlyroddypiper
Disclaimer: The way I choose to review movies and edits is that I show brutal honesty. What I mean is that while I will most certainly praise a film for its positive points? I will not hold back when an issue presents itself. With fan-edits I try to temper this as much as possible considering these aren’t made by professional teams and studios but I also don’t try to completely shy away because I just don’t feel comfortable in hiding my true feelings on something. If you are the editor and happen to be reading this? Just know this. I am in no way trying to discredit your efforts. In fact, I greatly appreciate the amount of time and patience that has gone into this and I think there is still something to be said about how fun it is to view these alternate versions of films and shows to see just how it could’ve been done a little differently and the idea that someone who has chosen this as their hobby winds up discouraged because of negativity saddens me.
That being said, I also feel if you put out a product regardless of if it’s something you pay money for or an edit you download for free that honesty in reviews is of the utmost importance because it is through that honesty that editors can learn how to potentially improve their craft and at the very least, it adds to the discussion. My opinions are just my opinions and you are free to do with them what you please and if you are a viewer who happens to like an edit I criticize? That’s great and I hope you do keep loving it and that more people give it a try. Sometimes edits can just not be for someone.
While Star Wars is certainly a franchise I’m basically a fanatic for? My true first love is for a certain series involving warring robots that can change shape and disguise themselves as vehicles and everyday objects. Now to be clear, I’m not a child of the 80s, my first exposure to the Transformers came in the 2000s with Armada and more specifically the PS2 game but over the years I’ve become more than aware of the impact the original G1 series has had on people, especially the 1986 animated film which over the years has become a cult-classic for its amazing soundtrack, great animation and action and what it did for the lore of the series.
For me though? The movie honestly is kind of overrated. I could understand the positivity more when say, we only had the Bay films in terms of Transformers movies to compare it to which made it the best by default but now after the release of Bumblebee and when comparing it to other stories told in this series? I feel under re-evaluation more of the movie’s issues show through. The new characters are not particularly strong and season 3 of the cartoon doesn’t do a whole lot to alleviate those issues, when you really think about it this is still blatantly a toy commercial with how all these elements of lore like the Matrix and Unicron come right out of nowhere with the movie pretending all of these were established facts in the first place without any hint of these being a reveal for the audience and then there’s, of course, the first portion of the movie having established characters of the first two seasons being ruthlessly murdered and it all culminating in the death of Optimus Prime. Now I’m of two minds of that last part, on the one hand, because of my lack of connection to G1 (For reference, my Optimus death that traumatized me was ROTF’s.) and growing up with shows like Dragon Ball Z, these don’t really affect me that much with me more being surprised and kind of impressed with the guts on display here, especially since with the exception of the Bay films and Cliffjumper since Prime, the series doesn’t really tend to kill named characters and Prime dying at this point I was aware was just a thing that happened that it didn’t really affect me.
On the other hand though? It is just odd how all these established characters die and yet no one, even in the quiet moments when you could feasibly expect characters to start taking a moment to grieve ever thinks back to just how much they lost with the closest being to when Arcee is looking down mournfully at Wheeljack’s body and Optimus’ whole death scene. Over the years we’d come to learn about the truckload of cut content and later adaptations and revisits would even attempt to rectify certain issues like IDW’s comic adaptation which in the trade included a scene where the combiner teams are battling one another to show what they were doing among other slight revisions. This brings us to the Ultimate Prime Edition, a cut by orderlyroddypiper that attempts through the use of footage from the show, other sources and various other ambitious edits to make a version of the film which not only is more epic but also has Optimus survive the whole way through. The idea is incredibly ambitious and it’s the kind of ambition I respect and hope to see more with edits of this movie, especially since we’re seeing a few people actually going as far as to animate some of the cut scenes that were storyboarded.
But ambition is one thing, what ultimately matters is the execution and if the edit works with all the changes made and… I’m so sorry to say that this is a case where the edit’s ambition was just too great for both the skills of the editor and what the movie provides to the point where even ideas that at first sound great end up falling to pieces, leaving an experience that not only doesn’t really improve upon the movie but despite its admirable ideas I feel it’s actively worse. Now normally for reviews I’d go act by act to break down what works and what doesn’t but honestly considering the movie is largely unchanged here aside from the added and changed scenes? I’m going to instead focus on certain portions of the movie where changes occur. So from the beginning to just after the battle between Blaster and Soundwave’s cassettes, we get a change seemingly inspired by the IDW adaptation by including a battle between the combiners and Omega Supreme which on paper is really cool and helps this to feel like a grand epic battle with everything from the cartoon but in execution does a lot of harm to the pacing and was more awkward to witness. It comes just after Blaster says “We’re all gonna look like burnt out toaster ovens.” and is a hard cut from the battle scene we see straight to a close-up of Motormaster’s face as he tells the Stunticons to unite while this rap beat plays. The transition doesn’t work because it doesn’t shift gracefully to the Stunticons, it just happens and what’s strange especially is that in the original movie, the transition was a fade to black which could’ve been utilized here to potentially make things work more smoothly. Then there’s the music which does not fit remotely with how the film is scored in any capacity. I get that when it comes to this you really can’t win given Transformers is an incredibly old series and you have to just accept that regardless of what you pick it’s not gonna exactly match up with the movie’s music but I feel the conclusion to just use a genre of music that isn’t even represented in the soundtrack, doesn’t match the 80s vibe or even the dire tone of the fight in Autobot City at all is much more distracting than anything. Speaking of distracting, the footage really doesn’t do a good job of matching up with the movie since while aesthetically it kind of matches? The problem is that the movie really took advantage of the higher budget and increased time to make characters look far more detailed and the animation much more dynamic for the time. The original cartoon… doesn’t really have animation that can match that and that’s not me trying to be cruel. The thing about melding animation from a TV show with animation from a movie is that you really have to consider wide the gap in quality is before using it since both are made on very different schedules which greatly affect the overall quality.
And in the case of 80s cartoons like Transformers where the animation was often produced quickly and cheaply? This is where you’re especially gonna run into problems considering the animation of these shows aesthetically don’t line up with the movies and often were very inconsistent and that problem gets compounded when multiple sources are used. This version of the movie uses the original cartoon, sped up Scramble City footage with replaced sounds (Including one instance of a rock hitting Bruticus’ head that’s way too loud.), slowed down footage from the cartoon and it all culminates in a mess of a fight. There is no sense of consistency, no clear idea of where everyone is in relation to one another and the quality varies way too much between footage (The Scramble City footage in particular looks like it was recorded off a VHS with some overblown contrast in some instances) and in the case of the original cartoon footage, the original background music is even still present which I know to a degree is a nitpick considering the audio track produced for the cartoon was a mono track and likely none of the master materials for the audio has survived but it’s still incredibly distracting. The thing about the IDW trade and why it was able to have a scene like that in the first place is because it’s original art created for it that has to capture a moment in time and in that moment in time, everyone’s battling all at once and thus it fits with the pace of the movie. In the actual movie, to make a change like this work gracefully you’d need a great deal of patience and skill to really work to tie all these elements together in a way that sticks with the movie because the cartoon used every trick in the book make things easier to animate from keeping fights down to usually one-on-one bouts and making most of the fights grapple matches. Not only that but the edit makes the odd choice to give us a fight between Devastator and Omega Supreme and while I can give props considering I get the thinking was that this is a robotic city similar to Autobot City and had an orange sky which matches up with the later scenes? Not only is the color completely different but considering Omega Supreme showed up in the mountainous regions to help Defensor and Superion earlier and due to the limitations of the footage? Omega just teleports basically to where the Constructicons are to get bodied. If this scene wasn’t included then maybe I could’ve tweaked my analysis to think “Well at least it admirably tries to include a scenario from the IDW comic.” and look past the limitations aside from the technical hiccups while still saying the scene shouldn’t be here for pacing reasons? This really crippled it. It’s a choice that feels like it was made for the sake of being cool and not for the sake of the story or pacing.
And unfortunately this really sets the standard for edits like this since we then get how the edit chooses to have Prime live. Now idea-wise? It works. Megatron grabs the pistol he used to kill him in the original film, Prime notices the move and then opens fire. That being said, there are a few problems here with the first being the general oddities with the edits. For the most part the footage is pretty clear and definitely using one of the recent releases of the film but then on occasion it changes over to what looks like badly upscaled footage of the film, particularly when Megatron gets knocked off the platform where outlines are suddenly blurry and look a lot like watercolor and every time it happens it distracts me quite a bit. Next there’s the matter of it using cartoon footage to have Optimus shown firing at Megatron which is quick but in this time, the music completely changes, the environment around Prime doesn’t look right and he’s two-handing his rifle. The animation quality is also different and the music just snaps back to the film’s score which is jarring and then there’s the hard cut from the Decepticons rushing towards Megatron to them surrounding him which leads to the score jumping to a later point with no graceful transition and the same happens when Starscream shows up. Now to a degree, I get what the point was for the previous edit since it was editing around Optimus struggling to stand and collapsing but honestly considering the damage he suffered to his side? I feel with some creative editing it could’ve been better to have Optimus still doing that like he’s just now taking a moment to deal with his injuries but the Starscream one confuses me considering the scene isn’t like this in the regular movie with there being nothing to edit around.
I’m really not gonna focus on how this messes with Hot Rod’s character arc considering the editor addressed this but I’m at the very least gonna contest that this is a worthy tradeoff given the general execution, especially of the later scene where after an admittedly nice transition, we get to Optimus’ speech about the fallen and this is honestly a commendable but still very sloppy job. It tries to stitch together lines from mainly season 1 and a few other points to make this a heartwarming remembrance speech but the lines don’t really work. I can’t fault the general quality too much considering the age of the cartoon but there’s something about “They will live forever as long as freedom exists.” that just sounds too silly. I get the general vibe that it’s about them living forever in their memories but honestly with how it’s done? It sounds like Prime accidentally implied they are not dead and will forever live on as long as there’s freedom, he realized in the moment how silly that sounded and so he quickly added “We shall remember you.” so that he doesn’t look stupid. I would go over specifically every edit but honestly they keep up this general theme.
The edit is also loaded with technical problems from audio jumps to quality dips in both the audio and footage, multiple times where the intended edit creates continuity and consistency issues and with the addition of footage from the season 3 episodes involving the hate plague, a subplot that ends up created which distracts entirely from the main story. It all culminates in a final product that makes me more appreciate what the original film was trying to do and understand now that the worst take on this story is not the Deviations comic. Overall, this gets a 4/10 from me. A great effort and idea but marred by very poor execution and overambition.