Transformers has been given a new life on Netflix thanks to an excellent idea of bringing the Machinima Transformers trilogy style series system to the streaming service, giving everyone a chance to see it. This time around, we have the War For Cybertron Trilogy, which started with the first chapter Siege, and now begins to build excitement and intrigue with the next chapter: Earthrise.
Title: Transformers: War for Cybertron: Earthrise
Production Company: Rooster Teeth Studios, Polygon Pictures, Allspark Animation
Distributed by: Entertainment One & Netflix
Starring: Philip Bache, Edward Bosco, Jake Foushee, Rafael Goldstein, Sophia Isabella, Jason Marnocha, Bill Rogers, Frank Todaro, Joe Zieja
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro and Takara Tomy
Release date: December 30, 2020
Running time: 26 mins per episode
The search continues…
Transformers: War for Cybertron: Earthrise (Referred to henceforth as Earthrise, to save time) continues the story directly from Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege, with the Autobots continuing their search for The Arc and the All-Spark. Following close behind are The Decepticons, lead by Megatron, in their own search for the All-Spark. Megatron’s plan to unite all the sparks of all Cybertronians under one mindset… His.
What plays out in Earthrise is a weird mash-up of themes. On the one hand, we get a bit more of the past of Megatron, and also his pre-war relationship with Optimus Prime. We also see more connection with the original G1 series, with many stories being told once again from a different angle, then there are the alternate timeline time travel elements… It’s really a lot to take in all at once.
Luckily the pacing of Earthrise is pretty fast and takes enough time to make sure that everything has enough time to sink in. Personally, I wish I had enough time to break down everything that happens, but my usual cheat-sheet of a Wikipedia recap is not out at this time. Still, I’d refer you to the video that Keith and I put together discussing Earthrise if you want to hear about each episode’s recap that way.
However, what I can say about the episodes of Earthrise is that much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did with their 2012 series, Earthrise does for Transformers. We get many references and stories that both old and new fans can enjoy together and discuss at great length. The biggest piece of discussion is going to come from a couple of things: One being the Galvatron episode, which takes some queues from the UK Marvel comics storyline “2005”, while also linking back to the original 1986 Transformers animated movie, showing that we are viewing an alternative timeline with the War for Cybertron trilogy. Another discussion point will come from the extremely well-done tease for what will come in the next chapter, Kingdom.
A Transformers fan’s reference dream…
The biggest thing that Earthrise has going for is that it combines the modern look and “universal” style that Hasbro has been pushing with all its properties with many nods to the transformers series’s history, especially the Generation 1 fan base. A lot of what happens in Earthrise will either have references, characters, names, locations, and even stories that will link directly back to some of the more classic elements from the 1984 TV series. For someone like me who is a long-time Generation 1 fan (I own 2 full sets of the TV series, 4 different copies of the movie, plus all series that followed on from Headmasters to Zone and into the next generation), seeing these little reference drops was a delight, as it shows that the show-runners and writers remember that fans like us are going to be the first ones to watch the show first.
For the rest of us, Earthrise is a show that does things a little differently, giving other Transformer characters who never got a spotlight a chance actually to get some time in it. Characters like Arcee, Elita-1, Cog, and others are given their own sub-story lines where they get time to focus on the plot and even get some good character development. Seeing this happen shows that the writers get more than the main cast to work with and have some ideas on what to do with lesser-known of focused characters to make them feel important to the overall universe.
A big part of what makes Earthrise work as a series comes from one particular thing: The Animation. The animation here is just as good as it was in Siege. A lot of that comes from the internal edict that everything needs to look like it will work as a toy in real life, and you can see that in the models of the characters in the show, right down to where screws would go and pegs were used internally. For characters who might not have toys in production, there has been a lot of care taken from either previous toys or new models being developed so well that you would be mistaken to see that the characters would be just toys done in stop motion.
I’ve also got to point out that when it comes to the nostalgia pieces, like Galvatron’s introduction mimicking his wire-frame creation from the 1986 movie, to the design of The Ark, to the inclusion of some subtle things like the Junkion spaceship (As seen below) done in this newer 3D style while keeping the classic looks of the pieces is excellent to see. For things that have long been just 2D artifacts in the show being fleshed out in such good detail while keeping the chilled minimal style from 1984, it’s amazing to see and a great bit of respect from the animators.
Something Does Not Compute…
While fans like me are going to heap a lot of praise on Earthrise for its story, characters, nostalgic nods, and all that, there is one ongoing nagging problem with Earthrise, as well as the whole Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy thus far. The issue comes from the casting and use of voice modification. A majority of the casting is outstanding, with the limited acting pool doing a good job with multiple characters at the same time while trying to keep them accurate to past performances that have gone on to become the staple for Transformers shows in the 36 years since the franchise began, there’s one performance that I still can’t wrap my head around, and that’s the performance of Jake Foushee as Optimus Prime.
Foushee’s performance as Optimus Prime seems somewhat “off” when you listen to it. I’m not sure what it is, but after decades of listening to the legendary Peter Cullen as the big red truck himself, hearing Foushee doesn’t work, and the issue gets worse from Episode 4 in Earthrise where Foushee’s voice is either missing some of the robotic voice modulation, or he had a very sore throat. During this time, Prime sounds a lot deeper and rough than he did previously. Unfortunately, one small technicality took me out of the show as I spent way too much time thinking about what went wrong with Foushee’s voice than enjoying the best bits of the show.
This also brings about a larger problem regarding what will happen with the setting of Kingdom, as some particular voices cannot be done by other voice actors in the industry, most of them done by one Scott McNeil, whose voice cannot be replicated. But I’m afraid that with Netflix having some weird thing about using Union voice acting in their animated shows (The reason we don’t see Peter Cullen or Frank Welker in their legendary roles in Earthrise) that we’re going to lose out on something that is going to make those characters in Kingdom sound like they did when they were first introduced back in the day.
At its core, Earthrise is a great show, showing a lot of respect for Transformers fans from all generations. The story’s main bulk might have gone quicker than it did in Siege, but that is a welcome change. Given there was so much more to be included, even resolved, during Earthrise so that the story of Kingdom can be told, Netflix has handled everything really well. Some fans might think that the search for the All-Spark is a bit of a boring thing, don’t worry, because at about the halfway point, you’re going to see some of the best and most amazing nostalgic episodes any TV show reboot has done in a long time, and what is to come will have you hyped enough to see through till Kingdom starts in 2021.
For further information and opinions about Transformers: War for Cybertron: Earthrise, feel free to check out our Spoilercast video on our Youtube channel on December 30th.
Review Disclosure Statement: Transformers: War for Cybertron: Earthrise was provided to us by Netflix for review purposes. For more information on how we conduct and handle reviews here, please visit our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info. Thank you.
Earthrise is a great show from start to finish. Taking the shortcomings from Siege and making sure that all fans are going to walk away entertained was a big step up in the series thus far. However that use of non-Union voice acting for classic characters is starting to be noticed so much it distracts from the show itself and also gets people worried about what is to come in Kingdom.
- More references than TFWiki
- Nice clean animation
- That ending…
- Prime’s voice seems off
- Flip-flop of allegiances
- Too much off-screen happenings