Who would have imaged a toy-line would be more popular now than back in the ‘80s? The three Transformers movies have made billions in the last few years. It’s only natural that the TV series gets revived since toy manufacturer Hasbro owns The Hub cable channel. Transformers Prime uses CGI to continue the adventure of the alien robots that can transform into cars and other devices. Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising edits together the introductory mini-series into a movie.
The Decepticons have been laying low for three years. That doesn’t mean the Autobots have declared victory. They’re searching the countryside for the mysterious element Energon. Cliffjumper (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) stumbles across a large deposit of Energon which would normally be a good thing. Except it turns out the Decepticons have also located it. He can’t put up too much of a battle against an overwhelming enemy force. The Decepticons have evil plans involving Dark Energon. They want to create a race of zombie robots to do their bidding. They also plan on bringing Megatron back to Earth. It’s a major nightmare for Optimus Prime. He can’t allow it. Luckily he has three plucky kids to assist in his battle. The kids help the audience relate to a world of living machines.
Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising plays better than the last Michael Bay trainwreck involving the characters. The new CGI kids are more tolerable than the forgettable actress Bay hired to replace Megan Fox. The cartoon might be a little bit shocking for small eyes since the opening includes the abrupt end to one of the characters at the hands of the Decepticons. Although judging from the way toddlers destroy toys, maybe it isn’t such a revolting concept to them. Transformers Prime isn’t a secondary entertainment for fans.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The detail shows off the details in the CGI figures. The audio is stereo. The mix is OK for a TV show. This isn’t up to the levels of the Michael Bay movies.
A Look At Character Design (4:59) is a montage of how they developed the new figures.
A Look at Set Design (4:31) is a guide to how they put together the CGI landscapes and locations.
Animatic For Episode 1 (22:07) is barely animated storyboards with the raw audio.
Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising plays better without having to watch it in episodic form. There’s no need to search for the remote to fast forward past opening and closing credits. This is a successful revival of Transformers.
Shout! Factory presents Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising. Starring: Dwayne Johnson. Running Time: 106 minutes. Released on DVD: December 6, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.