The Transformers universe has seen several animated series. Some of which have been exceptional, some were so bad that fans for the series simply refuse to acknowledge them, but in the end, they all strive to tell a new story in the Transformers universe. Now we have a new entry with Netflix’s ‘Transformers: War for Cybertron’, which is broken up into three chapters, starting with the first, called “Siege”. Along for the ride is Rooster Teeth, who produced the previous Transformers series, ‘Transformers Prime Wars Trilogy’.
** Early access to Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy – Chapter One Siege was provided by Netflix **
I have to say that I respect Netflix’s and Rooster Teeth’s vision on a reboot, a re-telling of the Transformers story. Even though we’ve had numerous origins of the lovable robots, I found that this new story is one that fans of the series can appreciate. With its dark and hopelessness tones that run the course of throwing in the towel, to finding a spark of hope that opens a path of victory, no matter the cost.
While this is a new origin, there’s quite a bit that remains the same. Two factions; Autobots and Decepticons are still at each other’s throats, and Cybertron is a shell of the once wonderous robotic world. The golden age is over, the world is dying, and Energon is scarce. You’d think that seeing your planet on the verge of no longer being able to sustain life would force the two to team up.
Of course, we can’t forget the back and forth relationship between Megatron and Optimus Prime, the two rivals that are forever locked in combat. However, it’s not as cut and dry as it usually seems in the Transformers world. Here, the two were once brothers for the same cause, until a single event forced the two onto different paths. More on that later.
Even then, the characters while not the same as we remember from our childhood and recent Transformers animated features, remain familiar. For starters, Bumble Bee, who has always been known as an Autobot, doesn’t even want to be considered as one. While the opening scene from the series features him and Wheeljack as they search for Energon, which is a throwback to the original animated Transformers opening scene.
Megatron isn’t painted as a dictator who wants to scrap the Autobots just because he’s a one-dimensional character. No, instead, he seeks to unite Cybertron and bring it back to its former glory but isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty while doing so. While Prime, who isn’t quite the noble leader we remember, refuses to accept Megatron’s law and leads a rag-tag team of Autobots who constantly blurs the line of being heroic and desperate. And while I’ve always been drawn to Prime, as he represents the best of us, it’s Megatron that steals the show. He’s calculating, he doesn’t act on emotion (at least not at the beginning) and commands respect.
It’s an interesting dynamic at play here, one that shows that you can argue that both sides of this conflict are right or just as easily wrong for their actions. Prime could suck it all up and accept Megatron’s terms and unite the dying planet. While Megatron could simply allow the two factions to co-exist and back down. As the events unfolded, I could see that the point Megatron was making was probably the best case in a losing situation, even if it meant giving up certain freedoms. While Optimus begins to become so desperate that he throws caution to the wind and confuses survival for winning. Then just when you think you understand what’s at play, the script gets flipped and then you understand why Prime’s actions are justified and how Megatron slowly turns into that maniacal character I remembered him as.
If it sounds like politics, you’d be right. But then again, hasn’t the entirety of the Transformers story always boil down to that?
Nothing here is clear cut, and there are many smaller plots that are happening while the main story progresses. Throughout this first arc, we can see alliances tested, familiar faces eventually changing sides, and even a glimmer of a relationship between Optimus Prime and Elita-1. I loved this as I’ve always enjoyed her as a character. She’s as tough as Prime, she’s perhaps wiser and she kicks ass. Not to mention that the two have been a pair for quite some time, yet rarely saw much of her in the original animated series and since then she’s only ever made one other appearance in the 2007 Transformers Animated TV Show, and she wasn’t even the same character.
There’s plenty here for both veterans of Transformers, those who know every name by heart and have in-depth knowledge of everything Transformers-related, while the story and characters are compelling to rope in newcomers. I was thrilled to how much lore was pumped into this chapter and have to give the studios credit for staying true to the series.
Of course, seeing how this is still a war, we get to see the grim reality unfold between our eyes There’s no coming back once you’re blasted to bits and were a number of characters who were killed off and won’t be making a return. Some happen off-screen, while some that bare importance are front and center. It’s sorta like 1986 Transformers movie where we saw countless favorites snuffed out of existence.
For fans of the recent Transformers show, Transformers Prime Wars Trilogy, you’ll be happy to know that the animation, while similar, is leaps and bounds better. Thanks to Rooster Teeth and Polygon Pictures, who handled the animation, gone is the choppy animation, replaced with more vivid and lifelike animation. Not just in the movements and transformations, but also the facial expressions. There’s just one issue I had with this and that’s with the lips on certain characters, especially Megatron’s.
Sadly, while the story is compelling and made me curious to see how this chapter ended, I still couldn’t wrap my head around the voice acting. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about it, it’s just that I grew up on the original voice actors, and they weren’t present here. For me, Peter Cullen will forever be the voice of Optimus Prime, Frank Welker as Megatron, and I was saddened when I realized that neither one were attached to this project. I understand the need to move on past the original voice actors, it’s just that nostalgia is hard to move past.
In the end, Netflix’s Transformers: War for Cybertron – Chapter One Seige is a solid entry in the ever-expanding Transformer universe and one I’d quickly recommend to any fan of the series. I’m looking forward to the next chapter and hope it comes sooner than later.
Transformers: War For Cybertron Siege will be available on Netflix this July 30th, 2020.
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I found this arc rather interesting, mainly due to my history with Transformers cartoons and the comics. While many things were completely different from the Transformers lore I was used to, there were still similar things, while others started to fall into place. It’s where this story finds itself straddling moments from Transformer history while forging an enjoyable new entry.