Reviews: Transformers Prime

Not quite as good as Animated

To Transformers Prime's credit, it eliminates several moments that made the Bay movies so annoying. Actually focusing on Transformers in a show named Transformers? Good. More distinct character designs? Good. Far better writing (not that it takes much)? Also good.

Still, to me, Prime is merely decent, as opposed to Animated, which I would rate as "superb". It's a combination of factors. More annoying human sidekicks (IMHO), gathered from cliches over every American teenage show ever. The persistent need to feel "epic" to the detriment of story and characterization, manifesting, among other things, in bringing out Unicron and in Optimus' overly pompous speeches.

But its greatest flaw, I think, is that it takes itself too seriously. Lighthearted humor, to me, has always been one of the main selling points of Transformers, and Animated delivered on that front, oh, it did. And let's face it, the concept of Transformers, those Ridiculously Human Robots that disguise themselves as cars and planes, is kind of silly to begin with. Trying to play it serious only emphasizes its inherent silliness even more.

Having grown up on G1 in childhood, I was sold on Animated, which combined the iconic elements of G1 with better writing by reinterpreting them in a new, creative way. This show... It's sort of watchable, but I find myself getting bored through it. And that's not a good sign. That said, most people seem to like it, so I guess it's just not my cup of tea.

Not great

I don't think Transformers Prime is a good show.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not terrible, and it's far from the worst Transformers incarnation. However, it's also far from being the best.

Transformers is an inherently silly premise, and so it works best with a lighter tone and a sense of fun. In Prime, everybody is completely serious and grim all the freaking time, and this quickly gets wearisome. It seems like the writers noticed that the most highly-regarded episodes of Animated and Beast Wars were the dark and serious ones, and so tried to make the entire series like that, forgetting that in the earlier series, the serious stories made an impact because they stood out in contrast to the lighter episodes around them. When every episode is grim, there's no impact, because there's nothing brighter to compare it to; even Beast Machines did have some light moments to offset the darker tone. I'm not saying that Prime should have been an outright comedy like Animated often was, nor should it have been as goofy as Generation 1, Victory, and Robots in Disguise could get, but at the very least the writers should have remembered they were writing a cartoon about alien robots that turn into cars.

Speaking of which, the series barely uses transformation. In most episodes, the characters transform into vehicle mode, go through the ground bridge, and then transform right back to robot mode. Only two fights in the series happen with humans present, thus forcing the Transformers to actually use their altmodes for the stealth they adopted them for. (OK, the Autobots were also using them to hide from the Decepticons at the start of series 3). I just think that a greater emphasis on remaining hidden among humans would have resulted in a strong and more interesting show, like what was done somewhat in Robots in Disguise, as well as to a greater extent in Cybertron and I feel is one of the things Michael Bay managed to get right.

The best Transformers show since Beast Wars.

When I started with season 1, the show felt like it was simply retelling yet another Autobot/Decepiticon conflict on Earth story. Still, the CGI was polished the action scenes were great and the soundtrack is easily among the best in the whole franchise (sorry Stan Bush).

But this show exhibited darker and more mature tones which set it clearly apart some of the more goofy series of the past such as Transformers Animated. This is where Transformers Prime was able to show it's depth as the show managed to even have episodes focusing entirely on the Deceptions. Transformers Prime was clearly aiming to do more than many of it's predecessors and for the most part they succeeded.

Transformers Prime went on to contain many previous elements from other transformers series but they rarely used in an attempt for just cheap jokes unlike Transformers Animated. Instead it took you out of your comfort zone as the show made took it's own unique take on legendary Cybertronian relics such as the Omega Lock. In many ways I feel compelled to positively compare this show with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Both of these great shows knew they were working with a rich franchise and paid due service.

Each season of Transformers Prime felt like a condensed and somewhat improved version of other Transformers shows and films. With season 1 there was a strong G1, Bayformer influence and it dealt with the penultimate enemy that the G1 universe could offer. Season 2 featured a bit of a fetch quest storyline combining Transformers Cybertron with the Bayformerverse yet ultimately the season involved protecting Earth and restoring Cybertron. Finally, with Season 3 there was a strong resistance vibe that existed from Transformer Beast Machines. But what made Transformers Prime so much more interesting were the curve balls that the show would throw. It was more than just an arms race between the two sides but the character choices that were made as well. It becomes clear that none of the two sides are faced with easy decisions and that they are continually reminded of the consequences of those choices.

My only complain would be that certain characters can't outlive one season. But then it also keeps things interesting as almost anyone can die. All in all I thoroughly recommend this show to both purists and casual viewers as it is more than meets the eye.

Transformers: Prime Season One - The Best Transformers Series Ever

I'll admit as much as anyone else that I was pretty startled when Transformers Prime was announced all of a sudden, and being a big fan of the excellent Transformers Animated before it, I was kind of reluctant towards it prior to its premiere. And with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci as the Executive Producers, I had the dark premonition that this would become Bayformers: The Animated Series.

...fortunately, such was not the case. Transformers Prime is the best incarnation of the famous Robots In Disguise yet, combining the best elements of previous stories (the dark tone of Transformers Beast Wars, the stylized art of Animated, the brutal action of the films, metc.) and weaving them together with its own unique ideas and standards to create a compelling sci-fi drama on par with the likes of Stargate SG 1 and Battlestar Galactica.

Special mention must go to how unequivocally dark this show is. When the first episode aired and I saw the TV-Y7-FV rating, I expected it to be pretty watered down and sanitized. "Kiddy", if you will. But then we had the death and zombification of Cliffjumper, loads of PG-13-level violence, lots of horror-themed scenes and episodes ("Rock Bottom" deserves special mention), and some pretty heavy thematic content... all on a rating that basically equates to a heavy G/light PG. Either the radar is asleep, or these guys got balls of steel.

This is an awesome series, and I can't wait for season two. An A++ for sure.

The Omega Arc: Macguffins and Doom

This arc lasts from episodes 20-26 and leads into the finale of Season 2, and it is both simple and awesome.

For those not wanting spoilers, please scroll down, though I will try to keep it to a minimum.

In some ways, since smokescreen was a recent addition to the show before this arc, this is mostly his arc, as he grows into a true autobot warrior. However, this arc is also Optimus Prime and Starscream's arcs, and a LOT happens in this mostly transformer-centric story arc.

This arc starts with Smokescreen being taught the conventions of being a robot in disguise, but the real story begins with the retrieval of the Star Saber, a Sword Of Plot Advancement that only Optimus can use, to DEVASTATING effect. Optimus's old mentor uses the sword to contact him and tell him about the Omega Keys: 4 keys that when used with the omega lock back on cybertron, can restore their dead home to life.

However, the decepticons, while not knowing about the omega keys's true powers (at first) are also determined to get their hands on them as well. And the arc essentially boils down to a Mac Guffin chase to find the 4 keys before the others do, and a grand fight in the 2 part season finale. However, it also comes with some handy exposition that reveals that the artifacts found earlier in the show were meant for the autobots to use, and the fights here are fantastic!

The first 4 episodes are the 3 sides jostling for control of the keys, with Megatron, Optimus and Starscream (who was rogue at the time) jostling for control, with no real call on who will take control of the keys. However, after a Wham Episode in episode 23, it's ultimately a decepticon who gets the keys, but not in the way you might expect.

However, it's the final two episodes that everyone will remember. On one hand, it's a triumph of weapons as the autobots tear through the cons using all the tools they acquired over the series (at first). On the other, it's a triumph of evil, as the end of the arc is best described as sobering and a Downer Ending, with Heroic Sacrifice of body and cause. Despite its simple premise, it ends up becoming probably the most memorable arc of the entire series, and the new standard for season 3 to live up to in the retooled Beast Hunters season.

It has its flaws such as a nasty case of Killed Off For Real and some inconsistent pacing, but overall, I give the arc 8.5/10

Transformers Prime, or: The most adequate TF series ever.

Let me get this straight. I don't hate Prime. I still will watch it sometimes, and I still collect the toyline related to it - Wheeljack is one of the best toys in recent memory, in fact.

Thing is... The show kind of averages out. It has a lot of good points; the CGI is probably the best ever seen on a TV budget, the designs basically mix the best parts of Transformers Animated and Michael Bay's movies, and the show generally feels like the live action films minus the horrible idiocy that made Revenge Of The Fallen so awful. The show also has some pretty great characters, such as Knock Out, Ratchet, Starscream, Soundwave, Fowler, Bulkhead and Arcee. In addition (most) of the humans don't suck - Raf and Jack are almost as likeable as Sari was, in fact.

But then you have the forced epicness and darkness that suck out most of the fun; the character deaths that seem to be tacked on because of said forced epicness (did we really need to kill off Breakdown?); and two pretty lame characters in Miko and Airachnid. Miko is bad because she's just annoying, and Airachnid... Well, she comes across as being too evil to be enjoyable. Also, Optimus Prime in this series is an absolute bore of a character - maybe it's because he was created after the far more human Optimus of TFA, but he's probably one of the dullest and forced-epic characters in the franchise.

In addition, the series has a focus on Mac Guffins of the week that hasn't been seen since the Unicron Trilogy.

All-in-all, this is a series that's... Adequate. Not bad, but it's merely okay. It's vastly superior to the second and third movies, but Animated is a far better series.

In all Honesty

In all Honesty, I like this show. Originally, I expected this show to surprise me, the designs seemed too Bayish, and the aesthetic seemed likewise. The 5 episode pilot was extremely underwhelming, it was very predictable, and the animation seemed a little off compared to later episodes (especially Bulkhead running, that was very choppy). I expected a rocky start, and reception, before improvement, and Prime never failed to deliver. The series did hit its stride, eventually, and I begun to enjoy it.
  • What I like: The Animation, it's very shiny, and flows very well. The Characterisations come off as very solid, and neat. The Voice acting is good, I like the Cast. The Fights are also very good, very balanced and engaging. The level of violence is surprising, and definitely welcome. The fight scenes are one of the biggest strengths of the series. Balancing the cast took a bit, especially since they tended to kill of characters in their debuts. When the traditional 5 man/bad roles were taken, I enjoyed the interactions.
  • What I don't like: The Intro. It does a very good job at being cinematic, and epic in scale, but it get's kind of boring. First, seeing the bots, then a sequence of the bots converting and getting the humans, then a fight with Megatron and Starscream. I think a good intro shows off the entire cast, and get's me excited. (The Animated intro was good, but the Decepticons were glossed over). The Japanese Animated intro, and Cybertron Intros were fast paced, and showed off the main characters. The G1 intros also did this, especially the season 2 one. Prime's intro focused too little on the Decepticons. The Transforming is always good to have in the into, because this is Transformers, duh.
The Humans are... present. Two of the biggest complaints are that humans hog the spotlight, or that the fans complain too much about them. The Humans do not annoy me, well Miko does. I don't find any merits with the other two, they can be a bit annoying, and integrating them into the plot has mixed results. All in all, I find the humans distracting, but I don't hate them. Ernie Hudson and Clancy Brown are very good as Fowler and Silas I do enjoy their characters more than the kids.
  • To Finalize, I like Prime, it's one of my favorite series. The characters are good, and The Animation, especially the violence, is one of the best points.

A nail-biting starter

Unlike most fans watching this, I didn't come into Transformers Prime after having watched the other Transformers series, since I wasn't around during its real heyday and knew it mostly from just the first Bayformers movie. I came in pretty fresh, knowing in general what I could expect after an early wiki preview.

And then... the first ten minutes passed.

I won't spoil it, even though I'm sure most of you know what moment I'm talking about, but I will tell you that from the first episode to the last of its first season, Transformers Prime had me hooked. Every element of the series was done with real love, and though it's obviously written for a more mature portion of the fanbase, I think it has something to offer for everyone. The show relishes in tense action sequences, entertaining story arcs, awesome-looking robots, and a sympathetic cast of both bots and humans who all have their chances to shine. It's also starting to get quite the reputation as a deconstructional epic of not only the Transformers franchise, but of tropes from similar action series involving war and alien invaders (but in a very different and... sounder vein from say, Evangelion or Bokurano). While it might be scary for some of its target audience, it's the kind of scary that kids can watch in good fun while gripping the edges of the sofa. I certainly had a blast watching it, and if you're a Transformers buff or just a lover of good sci-fi action, you'll probably find this to your liking.

Definitely has its own shine, and this is coming from a fan of the older stuff.

Okay, off the bat I've seen every episode so far out but one, and I haven't hated any of them, I've not seen Out of My Mind yet but I figure it is as good as everything up to and including Criss-Cross. Second, I like Miko and I will get into that later, I know most of fandom hates her guts but I am entirely cool with and think she's a part of the package that makes the series work. Third, my first intro to the series wasn't Darkness Rising 1-5, it was Predators. Finally I still love G1 designs for the cast better than any other design since and that probably won't change.

I'll do my best not to compare things from older series unless I absolutely must, because times and tech change and things that used to work won't fly anymore, and there are things you can get away with today you couldn't back then. The smaller 'bots cast functions in giving the entire team time to grow and flesh out. Covering detailing in their pasts you couldn't do before, and deal with changes to the outlooks over time. Such as Ratchet's point of view on the kids. I wish the 'cons had a bit more faced members (I feel killing Skyquake off was a mistake, given that it took a while to bring in Knock Out and Breakdown).

The humans are given a standard Id Ego Super Ego split, which is why we do need Miko. Raf and Jack would seriously NEVER DO ANYTHING if Miko didn't give some bit of courage to the group. Sure, it isn't healthy for her to be so involved, but there are plenty of times early on it wouldn't be good for human survival if she didn't make them step-up. All three humans eventually (maybe less so with Raph) need to be given some help in stepping up while in danger. Miko having the spark of a Wrecker only goes so far.

There's enough mix of G1-Movie-Animated design that the characters look good (G1), look realistic (Movie), and emote well (Animated) to keep the bots and cons from getting dull. The kids get in the way but are useful enough (and forced by fate enough) to make them not as annoying as Sam was during Transformers. I like the soft touches they can do thanks to CG with battle damage which gives the series its own feel. I didn't know they had connected it to War for Cybertron and I wish they hadn't given the style shift on the cast.

So long as you aren't completely closed on new series, give it a shot.

A decent start, but a long way to go

Darkness Rising

Darkness Rising introduces us to the new Transformers series with a bang, but leaves some misgivings in the viewer's mind.

It's been a while since we've had a CGI Transformers series and I'm glad to say that things have come along a lot since then. The animation is very smooth and the character models are pretty good looking, while also managing to be very expressive and emotive. I'd say that the look is one of the high points of the new series so far, paired with some really fantastic voice acting. Old hands welcome the return of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker as Optimus Prime and Megatron, and my own personal highlight was Jeffrey Combs as Ratchet, really bringing the part to life.

That said, let's talk bout those misgivings. People have mentioned Miko and she's definitely a big problem, but for me she adds to something a little more worrying; the decepticons are not threatening. The five-parter opens with Decepticon storm troopers killing Cliffjumper, which is good, but unfortunately the last time they'll be effective. Later on we see the heroes wade into gun battles with dozens of Decepticon enemies, completely unscathed. Even the humans are immune; later they wind up beneath the Decepticon battlecruiser, filled with decepticons, and only one autobot to defend them! The result? It takes about five minutes and as many losses for them to capture two of the humans, who are promptly freed, while autobots and humans run freely around the Decepticon ship.

Megatron is an exception, but only enters combat once. His plan to resurrect zombies is undermined by their total ineffectiveness; Optimus and Ratchet dispatch a hundred of them without any serious damage. This is a shame, since in that fight we see that the animators are very capable of visceral combat damage- but it only ever seems to happen to zombies.

Overall the combat is reminiscent of Energon- a comparison that would send the chills down the back of any Transformers fan. Hopefully the series can grow out of this in time. Darker theme is good, but in turn the villains need to be more threatening. Consider that in Animated Megatron's head posed a serious threat to the heroes for the entire first season.

Prime has a long way to go, but I think it can still get there. Here's hoping.

So far, so good.

After the undeserved cancelation of Transformers Animated, I must admit that I was initially apprehensive and quite saddened at the idea of completely new series, if only because TF: A was such a success, and replicating such a success was in my opinion a near impossibility given the perpetually broken state of the Transformers fandom. Sure, not everyone loved TF: A, but despite the initial misgivings concerning the art style, I feel that a large majority of the fan base warmed up to it by the third series. Thankfully, my fears seemed to have been unfounded as casting announcements confirmed the return of Frank Welker ad Peter Cullen reprising both their original roles, and initial screenings reported that the new series would be a dark toned mix of both Animated and the film series styles. Needless to say, as a long-standing Transformers fan, I was pretty damn pumped for this show!

I was fairly impressed by the "Darkness Rising" arc, though I did have some trouble with the human characters (always the weak link), namely: MIKO!!! What an annoying little fungus of a character! I know that she was meant to represent the ubiquitous fan-girls in this show's fandom, but I forget where it was stated that Transformers fan-girls have no sense of self preservation, or tact, or even a fecking brain for that matter! Hell, I'm a fan-girl and I wanted to punch her upside the head! Let the decepticons have her! Still, as it's only a five episode opener, I'm sure that the series proper plans to further develop her (outrageously annoying) character, so maybe she can still be saved from the scrappy heap.

However, apart from that unpleasantness, the show held up pretty well. Two out of the three main human characters come across as pretty likeable, and the robot characters get their share of screen time. The autobots come across as reasonably competent (though their reasoning behind taking in the kids is a bit unbelievable), and the decepticons actually come across as a threatening opposing force! Let's just say, the other fan girls are going to have a hard time fitting Starscream into those leather pants this time around!

So, yeah, a fairly good start to the series, Megatron's little zombie plot was a great way to introduce our new macguffin for the series, and both the story and characters are well-written and clearly not just for the little kids.