Fall of Cybertron
(c) Netflix. Video courtesy of Netflix via Youtube.
When I was a kid, I loved watching cartoons. I’d spend hours upon hours on the couch watching television. While I enjoyed shows from the early 2000s, the 80s and 90s produced some of my favourite cartoons: Captain Planet, Tiny Toon Adventures, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Turtle Power!), He-Man but most of all The Transformers was my favourite.
I’ve watched every episode of the original (G1) cartoon’s four-season run and the 1986 movie multiple times. So imagine my excitement when I stumbled across the trailer for the latest Transformers cartoon out on Netflix. I had a spare evening and watched the first two episodes.
The show follows the Autobots and Decepticons as they tussle for control in the final days of the war on Cybertron, with the Autobots battling for their survival as they launch a hunt for the Allspark as one last roll of the dice.
I just want to preface the rest of this post with the following: if you don’t like the Transformers franchise this show probably isn’t for you. It doesn’t spend any time getting new people up to speed and just dives right in.
The first episode opens up the same as the original G1 cartoon did – Autobots Bumblebee and Wheeljack hunting for Energon as they try to avoid Decepticon patrols. At this moment I thought this was just going to be a re-tread of the original cartoon beat for beat. I was happy to learn that this was not the case when the entire episode portrays Bumblebee as a survivor trying to stay out of the way of the war.
This shakeup continues throughout the whole episode where the writers of the show have taken the pretty clear moral standpoint of the original and skewed the lens to get a new angle where the characters are more complex and three-dimensional on both sides of the war. I like this change as it fits the darker tone and adult themes that the show is putting forward and there could be a lot of character development coming through in later episodes.
On the technical side, the show’s animation is pretty good although it does look a bit rough during the high-intensity action scenes. The character models are clean and harken back to the G1 character models although, as they are based on the toy line, it does look like the toys are just shoved right into the show which was jarring at first but throughout the episode, I got used to it.
While the animation is at a high level, the writing for the show is quite far below that. There’s a lot of cliché lines and dialogue that just doesn’t land quite right, especially some scenes with exposition. Building on that, most of the voice actors do an admirable job but some of them just didn’t sound right to me – which comes from me watching the original cartoon so much. The voice actors for Megatron and Optimus Prime are a bit hit-or-miss at times and are inevitably compared to Peter Cullen and Frank Welker.
The first episode ends on a cliffhanger but I don’t think you’re going to watch the next episode unless you’re a massive fan of the franchise.
In this episode, the plot picks right up where the last episode left off. It introduces some new characters and builds on the darker themes and tones established in the previous episode quite well. Most of the notes I made for this episode I’ve already covered in the first episode although the animation does seem to have gotten a bit smoother in this episode.
There were a couple of characters’ allegiances and motivations that seemed off to me, such as Impactor going from being one of the founding members of the Autobot Wreckers to being one of Megatron’s highly valued soldiers and Ratchet not being affiliated with the Autobots.
Overall, I’m excited to see just how dark this show gets as some of my favourite stories came when the franchise shed its kid-friendly image and tackle darker subject matter (Last Stand of The Wreckers, The Five Faces of Darkness).
However, I know that this show is targeted squarely at the fanbase and isn’t looking to attract a new audience. So, if you like transformers, check this out! If not, well then there’s plenty out there to enjoy.
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