Monday, August 6, 2007


The 80's produced some of the best cartoons for kids. I admit the 90's has had some good stuff, but I don't think any of them can really compare with DuckTales, Super Mario Bros. Super Show, TMNT, G.I. Joe, and, the creme de la creme, Transformers.

Cartoons from the 80's were quite different from their contemporary counterparts. When the show was finished you always felt great. Nothing could compare to the high you got after watching an episode of G.I. Joe or Super Mario Bros. I remember waking up 2 hours early for school just to watch The Legend of Zelda on Fridays, and after that, you knew it was going to be a great day. You just walked away from those shows with self-esteem and knowing that you could do anything, which is really the whole idea of the 80's - the confidence to know you could do anything.

You can win if you dare!

That's what the spirit of the 80's was about; that's what those cartoons made you feel when the show ended.

Now, I admit, I'm too young to have enjoyed Transformers in their hay day on television. What I do remember, though, is the movie (the original one).

I was listening to the 20th anniversary edition of the soundtrack, and there's some great stuff on there. Stan Bush's memorable, 80's butt-rock, pump-up songs of "The Touch" and "Dare" both portray the soul of the decade, and it's impossible to overlook the theme song by Lion when they scream out "TRANSFORMERS!! Robots in disguise." The 20th anniversary edition of the soundtrack features some extracts from the score, particularly a medly of Unicron's themes and a track aptly named "Megatrong Must Be Stopped." Now, there are lots of ways for music to give you a great feeling, but when it comes down to it, a couple guitars, a drum set, and a synthesizer played along side the image of Optimus Prime kicking the grease out of the Decepticons and then taking on Megatron in fisticuffs is about as good as it gets in my book.

Dare - 'cause there is a place where dreams survive,

And it's calling you on to victory!

That really is one of the best moments in movies as far as I'm concerned. I took a class on the history of film recently, and so I've been recently acquainted with a handful of classics. Even with films like Citizen Kane, On the Waterfront, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and (I'll admit it's grown on me) The Graduate, I still think that Megatron's arrival on Earth and his declaration, "Megatron must be stopped, no matter the cost," followed by his monumental aristeia is easily in the top 10 of movie moments. It's got power, passion, and imbues that great feeling of being able to do anything (like being able to take on an entire army of Decepticons by yourself).

Then it's followed by the death of Optimus Prime, which of course is one of the 10 saddest moments in movie history.

During that scene, Prime gives the Autobot Matrix to Ultra Magnus who says, "Prime...I'm not worthy. I'm just a soldier," to which Prime replies, "Nor was I when it was given to me." The humility of Optimus Prime - the best of the Autobots and a transformer with Akhillean skill - is something that every kid who saw that film took to heart. Prime was a hero, and someone that kids could truly look up to. From that moment, Ultra Magnus takes the role as the temporary leader of the Autobots, but is never able to open the Matrix, even when he's surrounded by Decepticons and
believes it is their darkest hour.

But as the film progresses, one thing you get to see is how Hot Rod grows as a character. You see him as he goes from being a 20-something robot who thinks he's all that to finally maturing, taking on Galvatron (Megatron, post transformation by Unicron), opening the Autobot Matrix, turning into Rodimus Prime (who transformed looks like a Winnebago crossed with a hot rod with flames painted on the side), destroying Unicron, lighting their darkest hour and becoming the leader of the Autobots. He grows from someone that kids could relate to to someone they look up to and respect - which is really the main theme of the film, growing up to be mature and respectful.

You can fly, if you try leaving the past behind
Heaven only knows what you might find...
Dare - dare to believe you can survive

You hold the future in your hand!

Contemporary cartoons just don't give that same feeling of self-esteem and potential. It's something that the 80's had in excess, that the 90's showed apathy towards, and that the 00's seem to resent.

I miss the 80's, but I miss the 80's cartoon shows most of all.


Brady said...

Confession... Okay, two of them actually. I didn't watch Transformers as a kid...(but Becky has agreed to go when it gets to the dollar theater because we've heard its good and if we're going to see it we want to see it on the big screen... Secondly, I tried on Becky and the web log thing, but she said it might have to wait until fall when her class is done...

Keep standin'

Becky said...

just kidding... look at

Brother-in-Law said...

That last comment was from me.

Luca said...

Heh, I had the same feeling with the live-action movie :)

-->jeff * said...

did you get the idea that optimus prime declaring 'megatron must be stopped' was one of the greatest moments in cinema history from me, or are these your own words of your own accord? if it's all you, then we really must be brothers.

regardless, i think we need to get a group together and watch it at Christmas time. brady, you're invited, too.

Tim said...

I don't think we've talked about that, actually. I had a discussion with Doug about it a few days ago, and then listening to the soundtrack made me come to this conclusion.

Luca - that makes me feel good. I still haven't seen the new movie, but hearing that gives me hope for it.