Created by Hasbro Studios
Starring: Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Jeffrey Combs, Ernie Hudson and Steve Blum
The age-old battle between Autobots and Decepticons continue with old favorites and new graphics, but does it hold up without the nostalgia?
Autobots and Decepticons are at it again. The complete first season covers the opening miniseries “Darkness Rising” (Overall 8/10 at CineGeek) and goes from there, covering the exploits of the Autobots and their new human friends as they try to protect Earth from the hidden Decepticon threat.
This series is dramatic and action packed. While it has its humor to keep the whole show from being super dark, the show generally takes itself seriously. All the threats feel credible, and the suspense is really solid. While some of the stories are the general race between Autobot and Decepticon to find energon/Cybertronian artifact/MacGuffin of the week, others are more character and plot based. We learn back story of several of the Transformers, and the show runners did their research. From new interpretations of Unicron to the Orion Pax back story and more, franchise fans will be more than pleased by this new yet familiar territory so well fleshed out.
The human characters are bearable and even likeable at times, not all too common with humans in a Transformers series. Still, the kids are too prone to follow when told not to, which ends up causing more problems than they solve. I’m still not a fan of the smarter-than-his-age-group cliché that is Raf, but at least he doesn’t tend to cause as many problems as the far-too-impulsive Miko. The more surprising aspect would be the human villains, a techno-terrorist unit called M.E.C.H. that actually provides a serious opposition to the Autobots (and a thankful break to Starscream’s constant whining about energon and his inferior superiority complex).
All around though, the characters are well acted. Thankfully, there’s no one I find annoying to listen to as I wait for the combat to commence. Obviously, you can’t go wrong with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker reprising the wise and fearless Optimus and maniacally evil Megatron respectively. Everyone else does a stand-up job, from Jeffrey Combs’ Ratchet, Ernie Hudson’s Agent Fowler, Steve Blum’s Starscream, Gina Torres’ Airachnic, Clancy Brown’s Silas, to the kids and more.
I would like to see more Transformers, or at least more Autobots. The only new addition out of the main five is the one-episode appearance of Wheeljack. The Decepticons do a much better job fleshing out their lineup. I’m much more a fan when this war is on a much larger scale, and there are Autobots and Decepticons everywhere, but obvious limits in CG models makes this difficult.
With good storytelling, good acting, and great bot-on-bot action, Transformers Prime is an excellent show for any mecha enthusiast.
The Video and Audio
The video is presented in 1080p anamorphic widescreen, and the audio comes in both 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo English tracks. The CGI is crisper and more detailed than I recall from the miniseries DVD release. While I still can’t get used to Bumblebee’s Groucho-Marx-styled eyebrows or Optimus having a mouth, the animation in general is still really impressive. From the fluid action, down to the dinged metal and scraped glass, with the dramatic soundtrack to accent it all, the series shows that a lot of work went into this series.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The whole season comes on a four-disc set in a Blu-Ray case, packaged with an IDW graphic novel in a cardboard box. The graphic novel is a prequel telling how Arcee and Cliffjumper came to be partners. It’s decent enough on its own, but it works well in making this a complete collection.
The discs themselves are packed with select episode commentary with cast and crew (even the voice of Bumblebee, so think about that), a trailer for season two, a making-of video, and a toy featurette video. The toy featurette is more of a making of than the actual making-of, discussing the franchise legacy, making the toys to match the series and so on. Plus, unlike the making-of video, the toy featurette is obviously made after the series, so the Hasbro cast gets to discuss aspects throughout the series. Overall, the toy featurette is a neat piece about what goes into a Transformers series beyond just the technical show making, and the making-of has interviews with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, so it’s all a win-win.
The minor complaint comes from the packaging, with the flip cover in the Blu-Ray case lists the episodes starting at #1 on each disc, instead of episode numbers in terms of the full season (Example: episode 4 on disc 3 should instead be episode 17).
Overall (Not an Average)
I’m glad to see my high opinion of the series maintained throughout this first season. If these robots in disguise have been a part of your childhoods at all, Transformers Prime does your nostalgia justice. Definitely check it out.
The Series 8/10
The Video and Audio 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10