The TV show was about an ongoing war between two rival armies of robots who had found their way to Earth - the heroic Autobots were out saviours and the evil Decepticons were the suitably inept bad-guys always trying to take over the universe. So, if you've seen one kids' cartoon then you've probably seen them all - the courageous Autobots and their leader, Optimus Prime, always triumphed over the dastardly Megatron and his minions. Then came the film. And Megatron pretty much wiped out all the heroes we'd spent the last two seasons rooting for (and bought their toy-incarnations, obviously).
I would imagine anyone who didn't follow the franchise as a child would be none the wiser about this fact. It was deliberately stipulated by the toy-manufacturers as a way of 'killing off' the toys that children already owned, in favour of bringing in a 'new line' and thus make them more money. I guess they totally underestimated the attachment we - the kids of the day - had for our robot buddies.
So, whether you curse or cry for the fall of those we'd supported for so long, the film itself is actually pretty good. Because of the first time we see (robot) deaths on screen, it has a much darker tone than the TV series and the action/animation is top notch. The story introduces new elements of the mythology seamlessly and it is definitely the logical progression for the story (if only they'd kept a few of our faves alive just a little longer!).
A couple of the new characters are - unfortunately - pretty grating. Long before Jar Jar Binks wound every cinema-goer up the wrong way, you had a little robot called 'Wheelie' who is truly the worst! Plus there's the soundtrack. It's awful. For some reason the producers felt that eighties cheesy rock should be the soundtrack with which these metal behemoths slug it out to. It's so bad it's just terrible and belongs in some episode of 'South Park' where they're taking the mickey out of the genre.
But, that's just a minor gripe. Once you get used to the music you can actually find it pretty funny. I will always remember this film as one that totally depressed me due to who died and therefore got replaced with (in my opinion) 'substandard' characters. However, as an adult, I can now enjoy it for what it is - which is quite an adult take on the cartoon (just to terrible music!).