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As a child I grew up watching the Transformers every afternoon when school let out. It was home to do homework and then before going outside to play I’d wait and see what Megatron, Starscream, and the rest of the Decepticons would do in order to destroy Earth and its Autobot protectors. Just how awesome it was seeing these huge machines and vehicles transform into robots so that they could wage war on each other was way too insane for my little mind to comprehend back in the eighties. Well, here we are twenty-four years after their debut and things haven’t changed a bit. Actually, things have hanged a lot.
The planet Cybertron, home to the Transformers, is in deep trouble. A black hole created by the destruction of Unicron is threatening the destruction of the planet and needs to be stopped. In order to save Cybertron, four Cyber Planet Keys must be found and returned so that things can be brought back to order. Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, has vowed to take his fellow robots and find the keys which are spread out on four different planets so that Cybertron can exist forever. Unfortunately for the Autobots, the map to the four keys has been stolen and taken to Earth by Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. This leads to great battled between good (Autobots) and evil (Decepticons) for the fate of Cybertron. And if Optimus and his group of Autobots don’t succeed, it could also mean the end of Earth as we know it.
Transformers Cybertron is yet another series in the ever growing timeline of shows devoted to the transforming robots. For those that have somehow never heard of the Transformers or are just coming into this whole thing; let me bring you up to speed. The Autobots are giant robots that transform usually into things like vehicles and they are of course led by Optimus Prime. The Decepticons are led by Megatron and are robots that transform into assault vehicles (tanks, jets, helicopters), weapons, and sometimes even boom boxes. On Earth the battles cause lots of damage and are a threat to all humankind. Besides wanting to save themselves and their home planet; the Autobots make sure to look out for humans since no innocent lives should be lost.
When it comes to Transformers‘ cartoons; they all usually have the exact same plot, but the animation changes things up a bit. The one exception is Transformers: Beast Wars which goes off in an almost entirely new direction. Animation can make or break a cartoon series because if it just doesn’t look good then it won’t matter how great the writing and storylines are because most people don’t want to watch crappy looking cartoons. Come to find out that TF Cybertron had every bit of its animation done through computers thus the futuristic look for a show that really doesn’t need to look that futuristic to be successful. See: original Transformers animated series. Let’s not forget the Japanese anime looking humans that bug me to no end. They don’t move their mouths to the way words are supposed to be said, but just flap their jaws up and down. Ugh…makes me think the animators were just lazy.
Besides the animation, there is plenty more that bugs me about this series and maybe it’s because I grew up on the original series. It seems to me that even the live-action film paid more attention to doing things according to history, but this series wanted to go off and have nothing old but the robots themselves. The voices of the robots (especially Megatron and Optimus) don’t fit the characters. That may sound weird considering these are giant robots so how could I possibly know how they’d sound right? But it’s evident when watching the episodes that the voices are usually too high-pitched and just don’t sound natural for a giant plane that just turned into a huge robot.
The series’ storyline is good, but nothing new. Not that a new plot would matter because it’s always just been the Autobots versus the Decepticons for some reason which usually includes saving some planet or another. I just never could get that into this series like I have with others. Maybe one of the biggest turn offs for me happened when the first episode I watched started up. The opening song sounded just like it should with “Transformers, robots in disguise” blared through the speakers. A smile crossed my face hearing those old lyrics, but it was quickly erased when a technoish hip hop musical sound started to play and a rap-style voice said in the background, “Autobots! Decepticons! Yeah!” Come on now, really? Is it necessary to make the theme to Transformers hip or something? Your animation and voice talents are bad enough. Thanks for ruining one of the only things your show had going for it.
The episodes are shown in Full Screen format and look good from a viewing standpoint even if the animation itself sucks. Colors are bright and there seem to be no compression effects or any problems in the transfer to DVD.
The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound and all comes through well enough with only this one setting. Every bit of dialogue can be heard fine while the music and sound effects raise the bar a little.
This is just not one of the better Transformers‘ series out there and quite possibly could be the worst. While the general idea is there, things veer too much from the original concept and ideas of the franchise. That simply could be a biased opinion of mine since I love the original series so much, but I was also one of the people who didn’t have much of a problem with Michael Bay’s live-action feature. The computerized animation of the robots and backgrounds combined with the anime style for humans is just annoying and turned me off the more episodes I watched. All of the little additions and changes to the “Robots In Disguise” theme song aggravated me too, but that is something that can be lived with. When the content of the episodes isn’t that good, then the real problems come forth. Transformers Cybertron isn’t helped by a total lack of special features either. Maybe a behind the scenes with the voice actors or showing us how the animation was done would have been nice, but there is not a single thing to be found. With a price tag anywhere from forty to sixty bucks depending on where you’re shopping; I can’t very well recommend this set with good conscience considering how many DVD sets of better Transformers‘ series are out there.
Hasbro presents Transformers Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection. Created by: Manabu Ono. Starring (voices): Gary Chalk, Sarah Edmondson, Sam Vincent, Richard Newman, and many more. Running time: 1144 minutes on 7 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: July 22, 2008. Available at Amazon.com