The Transformers have seen many iterations over the years, from the 1980s cartoon (also known as Generation 1 or Gen1), to the computer animated style of Beast Wars, to the live action films along with various comic book lines. The War for Cybertron Trilogy is a worthy addition to the transforming robot franchise.
Set on Cybertron during the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, this series functions as a prequel of sorts to the original cartoon, which started when the fleeing Autobots crash landed on Earth. While it is unclear whether this series is meant to tie into that series, the first episode leaves that possibly open. Familiar hallmarks of the original series are referenced in the first episode, from the matrix, to the space bridge, to the classic sound when the bots transform.
Many of the recognizable Gen1 bots are here, from Optimus Prime to Megatron. The depiction of Starscream fits how his character acts in various media like a glove and his voice sounds the closest to that cartoon version. The remaining voice work is solid, with a new take on Megatron. Sadly, Peter Cullen doesn’t reprise his role as Optimus Prime, but Jake Foushee sounds a pretty good approximation.
The first chapter (episodes 1-6) is titled Siege, and it adds some additional details that make this series less one dimensional than the cartoon. Megatron is given more depth, making him more than just a bad guy who wants to rule everything. Perhaps taking a cue from the IDW Comics series, both sides of the conflict are explored and there is a little more intrigue within each team than the fairly ‘good guys vs. bad guys’ original. Bumblebee is shown as unaffiliated with either faction, and thankfully he can speak.
The animation is excellent, using cell shaded CGI to bring the characters to life with additional detailing such as battle damage. The coloring is a bit darker than some of the other shows, which fits into the dire situation the characters find themselves in. Sometimes the animation can be a bit clunky, but this isn’t too distracting when the characters are robots. The character designs are consistent with their familiar Gen1 models, making them recognizable (unlike some other Transformers series over the years).
Episode 1 does a great job of introducing this iteration of the Transformers. You don’t need to know anything about Transformers to watch this series, but fans of the original cartoon will enjoy seeing their favorite characters return. This series is fun because it remains true to the original source material while adding enough of its own take to make it worth following. The first episode has a fair amount of fighting and one of the characters says “pain in the ass,” so the show may not be appropriate for the youngest of viewers. It also ends on a cliffhanger, which thanks to the magic of Netflix, only means you don’t have to wait a week to watch the next episode.
Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy premieres on Netflix this Thursday, July 30th 2020
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