Judge Patrick Naugle is nothing more than what meets the eye.
Autobots, roll out…again.
It could be that I've finally hit the saturation point when it comes to anything having to do with Hasbro's Transformers line of toys, cartoons, and live action movies. Of course, as anyone worth their kid's entertainment salt knows, the Transformers began as a popular toy line (originally created in Japan), morphed into a successful cartoon series, spawned a full length animated film, then went seemingly dormant for many years before being taken from the shelf, dusted off, and given new life with Michael Bay's series of live action films—Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. As the old saying goes, everything old is new again.
Transformers: Cybertron, a show that aired during the mid-2000s, was originally produced in Japan under the name Transformers: Galaxy Force. The series is a combination of traditional anime and computer generated animation, neither of which is the least bit impressive. The traditional animation (used for the human sequences) feels stale and shoddy while the computer animation (used for the Transformers themselves) feels sloppily thrown together and horribly dated. Did you see the 1992 horror/sci-fi movie The Lawnmower Man, an early '90s flick about cyberspace and virtual reality? Well, the CGI in Transformers: Cybertron is just a notch or two above that. Sequences are often repeated on a loop, including Optimus Prime changing from a robot into a truck (this scene feels like it happens about every ten minutes). This gets mighty weary after half a dozen times, and also gives the show a rather low-rent feel.
There is a plot to Transformers: Cybertron, although it's more of the same if you've seen any other version of the Transformers universe. This time around Optimus Prime and his team of Autobots (including Scattershot, Red Alert, Landmine, etc.) must secure four keys called the Cyber Planet Keys, which will destroy a black hole that was left behind by the enormous Unicron (who was featured in the 1987 film using Orson Welles' voice talents). Of course, Prime and his Autobots must recruit the help of some humans (including Bud, Lori, and Coby) to help them complete their mission. I found myself disconnected and disinterested in if the Autobots won or lost; even the appearance of my favorite Decepticon, the traitorous Starscream (voiced by Escape from Planet Earth's Michael Dobson), couldn't pique my interest.
Sorely missing from Transformers: Cybertron is the fun and lightness of the original series. There's something that feels off about this version, which may have to do with the fact that it was created for overseas in another country, then retooled for American audiences. The voice talent is all only mediocre; gone is the deep authority of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime, instead replaced by Eight Below's Garry Chalk (this is like replacing Coke with a cheap store brand version). Everything about this iteration of the Transformers brand just feels slipshod and lazy.
The episodes (spread across seven discs) are presented in 1.33:1 full frame (the show's original aspect ratio). Shout! Factory gives fans a very clean and pristine looking picture. The colors on the show and bright and cheery and feature dark black levels and no major imperfections. The soundtracks are each presented in what appears to be Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (no mention is made on the package). The audio mix for each episode is nothing special—this is a mostly front heavy mix that features one of the worst versions of the classic "Transformers" theme song ever (seriously, it's that bad). No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this set. There are no extra features.
I suppose children will get a kick out of Transformers: Cybertron because…well, they're kids and all about a cartoon show featuring shape shifting robots no matter how lackluster the production values. While young ones may enjoy it, anyone over the age of fifteen is going to find this quite tedious and repetitive. Although it may be heresy to some, it may be time to put the Transformers on the shelf for a second time and give the property some time to cool off before letting it back on television again. Also, I'm happy if Michael Bay never gets his hands on them again, either.
For completists only.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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