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DVD Review: Transformers: Cybertron - The Ultimate Collection


After being blown away by Transformers: Animated, I was really looking forward to viewing Transformers: Cybertron - The Ultimate Collection... and man, what a letdown this series was. All of the robots are rendered as 3-D computer animations, while the backgrounds and human characters all appear to be done in a traditional 2-D anime-style. Now, 3-D and 2-D animation have been blended together many times over many different animated movies and series, and often it works well. But here it does not. The robots all feel very awkward and clunky, they have no "give" to them, they move like actual bulky robots rather than living beings, which hurts the emotional connection we're supposed to form with these characters, especially since their facial expressions barely ever change. You know how you see the character on screen and then you get the toy and the toy doesn't look quite like the character does on TV and can't really move like the one on TV? Well, these robots feel like they're toys, not living characters. And since the show is basically all about these robots, that really REALLY hurts.

The plot of the story finds a giant black hole that is threatening to engulf the Transformer's home planet of Cybertron, and thus the entire planet is evacuated. Can anyone guess to where these mechanical refugees will be calling their new home? Yep, Earth! Because we've got plenty of room for an entire planet's worth of giant robots. But now the Transformers want to blend in, so they take on the form of typical Earth vehicles. Strange, though, that even before they take on Earth vehicle forms the robots have wheels and car windshields and whatnot already built into the robot forms. I'm curious to know what these guys would look like in their cybertronium vehicle forms, because according to the designs of their robot forms, they would look exactly like the Earth vehicles that they had yet to choose.

And now yet another thing that really hurts the series is the voice acting. Maybe I'm just spoiled from Transformers: Animated, but the acting here just doesn't seem very expressive. It's very flat and bland. Plus, a bunch of the Transformers have some accents from various Earth regions, which seems strange seeing as how they haven't lived here before. Okay, so they do a little research and pick up the language prior to coming... but they each pick up the language from different regions on Earth? Guess I'm getting a bit too nitpicky now, but that doesn't change the fact that I feel nothing when these guys talk. And the worse offender of all is Coby, the older of the three human kids that discover one of the Autobots when he crash lands. That kid's voice just does not fit. And apparently I'm not the only one who thought so, as it sounds like he was recast in the very next episode.

Okay, so the Autobot Landmine crash lands in the Rocky Mountains where kids Coby, Bud, and Lori find him and try to carry him to safety. What's amazing is that they actually move this giant hulking piece of metal. Then the Decepticon Thundercracker attacks, and more Autobots arrive to help out. All-in-all, it's a pretty boring battle, but what's shocking is that Optimus Prime actually comes FLYING in! Yeah, he's a fire engine that can fly just because he has some wing-like structures that attach to his side. I couldn't help but roll my eyes when I saw that. Anyway, after the particularly weak battle, they all stand around talking, filling in the humans about how the map to the Cyber Planet Keys which are needed to save the universe has been stolen by Megatron. Wow, exciting.

The following episode is rather dull as well, in which basically the Autobots build their new base and then try to shield it from detection by applying a coating before the Decepticons can find it. Naturally, it comes down to the wire, as the Decepticons are on their way to find out what the Autobots are hiding while the Autobots at the base try to complete the stealth coating around the base. They keep saying they're not going to get the coating done in time, and yet one Autobot is just sitting there at the monitor the whole time instead of getting off his butt and actually helping out. Then, when all but one of the sections are finished, only one Autobot races over to the last section to get started. Everyone else just sits there and yells encouragement. Hello?! Get over there and help him! WTF?! This seriously agitated me. What kind of teamwork is this?

Another thing that bugged me in this episode is when Vector Prime starts displaying a hologram and the three kids complain about the sound that it makes. Then Vector prime says:

That so-called "racket" you speak of is the trans-sonic signal given off by the Omega Lock. You alone can hear its call. The fate of the universe rests with you.

How in the world does he know that "they alone" can hear its call? They are the only three humans around. Did he go door-to-door around the entire planet asking everyone if they could here the trans-sonic signal? This is sloppy, but as you can probably gather, it seems par for the series, which is definitely unfortunate.

However, it's not all bad. As the story progresses it does get more interesting, and they start traveling to other planets. It's definitely a slow starter, but if you have patience and can get past all the flaws, you will eventually find a series that could keep you entertained. It's just disappointing that there are so many flaws, like sloppy writing, uninspired voice acting, awkward robotic animation, and flat characters. If you're going to shell out money for a Transformers box set, go with the original generation one series or the newer Transformers: Animated series. I really can't recommend this one for anything more than a rental.

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