Even the most action-craving child is likely to get shell-shocked by the 86 minutes of relentless skirmishes, scuffles and end-of-the-world confrontations in this hyperactive animated film. It is based on the toy line of robots that turn into cars, planes and everything else—including a couple of things that look like kitchen sinks. This film is more sophisticated in its animation than the TV series based on the toys, and it also introduces a number of new characters. One scene may be too sad for some children to take: Optimus Prime, the leader of the good-guy Autobots in their eternal battle against the evil Decepticons, is mortally wounded and goes to the big junkyard in the sky. He is replaced by Ultra Magnus, whose voice is provided by Robert Stack. The villainous Unicron, a satellite robot that prowls the universe eating planets and their inhabitants, has the voice of Orson Welles. It's depressing to think of Welles going out with such lines as, "Stop him! Tear him apart and destroy the Matrix!" Eric Idle provides some needed relief as a motorcycle that talks in jargon learned from TV commercials. Parents should take note that the film's violence is more lethal than that of the Transformers TV series, in which characters constantly get zapped, melted and shredded without undergoing any lasting damage. (PG)

  • Contributors:
  • Ralph Novak,
  • Scot Haller.