June 12, 2008

DVD Review: Transformers Animated - Transform and Roll Out

I am a Transformers fan from way back. I cannot claim to have an extensive knowledge of the series, but when I was a child I loved watching Transformers and GI Joe. Those two shows/extended toy commercials always held my attention. Over the years I lost track of the story, as well as the other series that appeared. Then, the movie arrived last year, and while I did enjoy it, it was not quite what I had hoped. Now we have a new animated series to check out, and it is distinctly different from the show that I remember, with a much more "cartoony" look to it and appears to integrate story elements of both the live-action movie and the original cartoon. I enjoyed it, but I am not sure how much I will like it in the long-term. And yes, this is my first exposure to this version.

The series takes place in the future, Cybertron would seem to be a thriving planet and we pick up our band of heroes as they work on clearing rocks from a space bridge. The team is made up of new versions of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Prowl, along with a new character (at least to me), Bulkhead. Also with the team is Ratchet, who is a veteran of the long ago war with the Decepticons (which I believe to be the original animated series. The team have distinctive personalities, all which pair up with their counterparts (where applicable) from the original series.

As the team goes about their business, they discover a mysterious object embedded in the rock. This item turns out to be the Allspark, the powerful object which gave life to all robots (and the focal point of the live-action film). Of course, an object of this importance is being sought by the bad guys, led by supreme baddie Megatron and his traitorous second-in-command Starscream. The chase/battle ends on Earth.

Much time passes with the robots inert at the bottom of Lake Erie, on the shores of Detroit. An errant cybernetic bug awakens the Autobots who take the form of current Earth vehicles and make their appearance, becoming near instant heroes. Their fame and relative peace is to be short-lived, as danger looms on the horizon. A danger that has a great reveal at the conclusion of the episode.

This DVD presents the introduction of the new series and is a pretty good way to check out this new take on Transformer lore. The further into the show I got, the more I enjoyed it, although it is no replacement for the classic series. I liked how they showed a smattering of clips from that first series, portrayed as history for the current incarnation. The characters developed nicely and the story has some potential.

However, there is another side, a side that I don't care much for. The look of the show is too rounded, a little too far to the goofy and unrealistic side. Not really a problem, it is more a matter of taste. It also took a little while to get used to the voices.

In the end, the show is interesting, but it is definitely targeted at a younger audience (well, duh). Not being in the target audience more than likely hurts my potential for enjoyment, but it still reminded me of my youth, watching the classic Optimus Prime battling Megatron for those glowing energon cubes.

Audio/Video. The tech specs of the DVD are sharp, crisp, and clear; that goes for both the audio and the video.

Extras. There is a two and a half minute short featuring Optimus talking to a group of schoolchildren, but they are more interested in seeing him transform than whatever he has to say. That is all there is!

Bottomline. Give this a shot. It is Transformers, after all. It is worth taking a peek at. It is fun and silly, and perfectly harmless.

Mildly Recommended.


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