Back in the 90’s
In a school playground in England in the early 90’s, two boys are zooming around pretending to be their favourite transformers, on a mission to stop the Decepticons. They played this game almost every day. One of them would always pretend to be Hot Rod, and the other would be Jetfire.
Those two boys are still friends to this day, and in 2007 they went on a Transformers Odyssey.
Fast forward to 2022. I was getting ready to do a workout, and I needed to choose some music. As I looked through my collection, I saw something I hadn’t listened to for a while. It was the soundtrack to 2007’s Transformers movie. I used to listen to it all the time when I was doing my workouts, but hadn’t played it for ages – time to give it another spin! As I listened to the tracks, my mind cast back to memories of first seeing that Transformers movie, the excitement that I had for it when I first heard about it, and the build up to seeing it on the big screen. Sure, the Bayverse movies have had their critics, and the first movie is no exception to that. But at the time, Transformers coming to the big screen was huge news, and I was very excited about it.
Rewind to 2007, months away from the release date of Transformers. Those two boys who used to zoom around the playground together as kids are having a catch up. My good friend is visiting his parents who live near me, and so I head over there to spend some time with them all. It doesn’t take long before our talk turns to the upcoming release of the movie. We bust out a laptop and check out the teaser trailer; turns out the Beagle 2 Mars Rover encountered some difficulties and it looks like an alien robot is to blame. This teaser is more than enough to get us excited.
We decided to dig a little deeper to see what more the internet can tell us about the film. We learnt that Bumblebee would not be a Volkswagen Beetle as he was in the cartoon.
“Ah man, that’s disappointing, surely they could have made him one of the modern Beetles”.
“Yeah, but I get it, they’ve gotta modernise the film and make them look bad-ass”.
We then learnt that Ironhide would not be red, and neither would Optimus. We got excited to learn that Peter Cullen would be voicing the Autobot leader though.
“Hmmm, why wouldn’t they use Peter Cullen to voice Ironhide as well as Optimus? He did in the cartoon!”
“I get that they’re going for a modern look with the vehicle designs and colours though.”
Making up for ’86
Despite the creative choices that made the movie differ from what we were used to, we’d seen the teasers and we were familiar with the character names. It was still enough to keep our excitement levels high. I expressed how awesome it would feel to be able to watch Transformers on the big screen, especially considering I’d only ever seen the ’86 movie on the small screen. Then, my friend said something that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of myself:
“We need to see this on the biggest, baddest screen we can find.”
“Yes, yes we do!”
The evening came to a close, and as we went our sperate ways, we vowed to stay in touch and make sure we found that big, bad screen!
While I don’t know if we ended up finding the biggest baddest screen in existence, we certainly found the biggest one either of us had ever been to. We decided we would see the movie at the Empire in Leicester Square, London. We booked tickets as soon as they were available. Another friend of mine joined us and I managed to get the centre three seats on the very back row – the very best seats in the house in my opinion!
Searching for Spoilers!
On the build up to the opening night, we carried on trying to find out all that we could! I was intrigued to see these new Decepticon characters whose names I wasn’t familiar with; Blackout and Barricade, but was also pleased to see both Autobot and Decepticon names that I was familiar with.
The night eventually came. I was only going to see a movie, but I got dressed up as though I was going out for a special occasion – in my eyes it was. My beloved Transformers were coming to the big screen, and I was getting to reignite one of my childhood loves as an adult. This was awesome and worth getting dressed up for!
Two of us caught the train to London, and met my long-time childhood friend who lived nearby. We walked to Leicester Square, and to say that this movie felt like a big event is an understatement. There were lights shining Transformers logos and images on the sides of the building, and large Transformers cut-outs inside the building. This is what we came for. Inside, the size of the screen that we were about to see the movie on was massive, bigger than we’d ever seen a movie on. We couldn’t wait! The place was full of Transformers fans, the atmosphere was amazing, and people were finding any excuse to cheer.
Getting into the mood as the movie was about to start, I raised my hands to my mouth and shouted, in my most Optimus-like voice: “Transform and Roll Out!” If I’d done this anywhere else, it perhaps would have been embarrassing, but not here, not tonight! My call was greeted by a wave of cheers!
People train for years with meditation techniques to learn to be “in the moment”, but I can fully say that for the full duration of that movie, I was definitely Zen-like, in the moment. Thinking of nothing else, just taking in everything in front of me. We marveled as we heard the thud-like sounds of Blackout’s rotor blades before he transforms and rips apart the air-force base. We laughed as Bumblebee subtly influences Sam to “drive her home tonight” and Captain Lennox being offered a premium package while he’s in a war zone with an alien-robot-scorpion in the desert! Our adrenaline levels raised as we enjoyed an epic car chase between Bumblebee and Barricade. Every time a new Autobot of Decepticon came on screen, the whole audience cheered. Yes, we were among like-minded fans here tonight!
When the movie reached its conclusion, everyone applauded, like they would if they were watching a play. We stayed for the entire end credits, and then started our walk back to my London-based friends’ house – we were staying there for the night. As we walked along the streets, I was shocked at what an impact the movie had had on me. They had done such an awesome job of making transforming cars look real, that every time I saw one, my brain half expected it to transform in front of me. It was surreal!
That was our Transformers odyssey!
I would go on to watch that movie an additional 5 times at various cinemas over that summer, as I wanted to share my joy for it with other people who hadn’t seen it yet. As I look back on it now, of course there were some things I would have liked to have seen them do differently. But at the time it didn’t matter. It was Transformers, it was on the big screen, it was coming back, and that was cool!