Shout! Factory // 2002 // 1215 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 22nd, 2014
More than meets the eye.
Transformers Armada ran for two years and 52 episodes' worth in the early 2000s and offered a massive departure of continuity for the sprawling 'bot universe. In fact, the events of this series live in a completely separate timeline and wrap up nice and neat by the end of the final episode or two, which, if you're a Transformers fan, are quite a doozy.
Here's how it plays out: Cybertron is still a tumultuous war zone, ravaged by the ongoing war between the standard-bearers of good and evil in the universe: the Autobots and Decepticons. The big prize they're fighting over (besides the fate of the galaxy, natch) is control over the Mini-cons, diminutive bots which, when paired with a Transformer, can pump in added power. Whoever possesses the Mini-cons has the inside track on galactic domination.
The battle inevitably transfers to Earth and the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime and the rest of the gang, team up with some goofy teenagers (instead of, say, the Pentagon) to do battle with such all-stars as Megatron, then Galvatron and, ultimately, the big daddy of them all, Unicron.
Transformers Armada looks and feels like the Japanese-produced cartoon it is; the art is anime-like and the characters -- particularly the human characters -- are goofy and exaggerated. Actually, it's these carbon-based players that are the weakest part of the show, goofy, doofy and too young. I know kids love to live vicariously through the pipsqueaks in Transformers cartoons, but it'd be nice to dial back the precociousness.
Eh, whatever. This is a show about big-ass space robots, and in that department it delivers. There is all manner of insanity to digest and the writers ensure to fill up all 52 episodes with laser fights, allegiance switchbacks, explosions and the currency that Transformers operates with, maniacal douchebag Starscream whinnying. As the series winds down to its denouement, things get even more bananas. The Megatron/Galvatron dynamic shows up in a big way and ushers in the approach of Unicron, leading to a wholly satisfying conclusion that puts to be this alternate timeline nicely. That's the best things of this installment in the mythology: it's not bound by canon or continuity, freeing up the showrunners to tell their own story and wrap it up with a bow, not having to plan for a subsequent series.
Shout Factory's massive set is straightforward: standard def 1.33:1 full frame, Dolby 2.0 stereo, and no extras.
Transformers Armada is worth visiting (or revisiting), though the lack of Peter Cullen is disappointing.
Not guilty. You could do a lot worse with your 20 hours.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1215 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated