First 'Transformers One' Reactions Spark Standing Ovation, Multiple Applause Breaks

A work-in-progress premiere of the first fully animated "Transformers" movie since 1986 torn the house down.

On the second night of this year's Annecy International Animation Film Festival, after an opening night that showcased the beautiful and brutal "The Most Precious of Cargoes," the festival gave over to fun. In the same slot they previously premiered a work-in-progress print of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," Paramount debuted "Transformers One," the first fully animated "Transformers" feature since 1986's "Transformers: The Movie." It played like gangbusters.

Josh Cooley, the former Pixar artist and director of the Oscar-winning "Toy Story 4," introduced the movie after some preliminary words from Ramsey Naito, president of Paramount Animation. Cooley described the feeling of anticipation that goes along with giving someone a really cool present. He said he couldn't wait for the Annecy audience to open that present, a love letter to "Transformers" of old and to animation in general. He thanked the amazing artists who worked on the film and the team at Industrial Light & Magic, who were responsible for the movie's animation (ILM also provided the feature animation for "Ultraman: Rising," which has its world premiere at the festival later this week).

"You are audience one," Cooley said. Then the movie rolled.

It is exactly what it has been described as — an origin story for how two young robots (voiced by Chris Hemsworth and Brian Tyree Henry) went from being besties to mortal enemies, ultimately known as Optimus Prime and Megatron. The animation style previewed in the early trailer; a kind of painterly, 1980s lunchbox aesthetic, is very much present in the final film — all vibrant colors and shiny surfaces. That's pretty much all we can say without giving anything away. But that's all you should know going into the movie, debuting theatrically in September. Whereas the original "Transformers: The Movie," while enjoyable, was pretty much used to hard reset the lucrative toy line, which was cobbled together from existing Japanese toy lines and given a fresh coat of paint. The toys had been flagging, the movie was a way to rejuvenate the line (it didn't work). The cynicism of the earlier animated feature has been replaced with something joyful, beautifully alive.

And that joy was very much felt in the biggest auditorium at Annecy. There were applause breaks several times throughout the movie, getting bigger and rowdier as the movie went on. It was punctuated at the end by a standing ovation for Cooley and his collaborators. What seemed at first like a polite response to the movie also swelled, going on for several minutes while Cooley bashfully took the praise (down the row from him was Jeff Rowe, director of "TMNT: Mutant Mayhem," who received a similar response last year).

This was a project that had been in the works for at least a decade. Finally, in a sleepy town in France, it transformed into something real.

“Transformers One” hits theaters Sept. 20.

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