The true measure of the entertainment value of Transformers: War for Cybertron Siege? My inner
44-year-old 10-year-old immediately started browsing online at Entertainment Earth for Siege figures.
Turns out that strategy of making half-hour commercials for toys still works just as effectively for 80’s kids turned adults when it’s backed by an engaging, unpredictable and well-animated product that focuses more on the title characters than humans. What a novel concept…
The war between the Autobots and Decepticons seems near its conclusion. Megatron (Jason Marnocha) has the Decepticons on the verge of victory and is ready to crush the remnants of the Autobots led by Optimus Prime (Jake Foushee). With defeat seemingly imminent, Prime makes a desperate gambit to send the legendary Allspark off of Cybertron to avoid it falling into Megatron’s hands.
Old Transformers fans might be surprised by some of the changes. Jetfire (Keith Silverstein) is the dispassionate leader of the Decepticon Seekers constantly clashing with upstart Starscream (Frank Todaro). The normally people-pleasing Bumblebee (Joe Zieja) is a loner loyal to neither Autobots or Decepticons and is just content selling Energon to get by. And the Autobots are fighting a desperate losing war on Cybertron against the Decepticons. OK, some things at least never change.
Megatron and Prime once were allies, but their schism has rocked Cybertron. In keeping with a war, both sides are convinced the other is to blame for the state of their world and only envision peace or a restoration to the old ways being accomplished by vanquishing the other. Prime has a more peaceful outlook while Megatron is slowly leaning towards the extermination of the Autobots being the best strategy.
This doesn’t sit well with all of his allies who begin to question if they’re on the right side. Others like Starscream, Soundwave and Shockwave are all too happy to usher in this new world order.
Prime also has some issues getting everyone on board with his ideas. His sounding boards and close confidants, Ultra Magnus and Elita-1 (Linsay Rousseau), are frequently at odds with him and try to get Prime to change his tactics. Elite-1 makes good points, but occasionally she comes off as less providing other options and more repeating the same argument despite knowing Prime’s answer.
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Like the semi-traumatic Transformers: The Movie for a certain generation of viewers, there’s a few surprising deaths to established canon characters. Thankfully the deaths aren’t just done for shock value and in one major case definitely drives the story forward. WFC also allows for better aim for both factions as they can actually hit their targets now.
There’s a weight to these firefights that was missing in previous iterations as stronger Transformers can take more shots and damage than their weaker counterparts. And the damage is reflected on most Transformers as they carry battle scars, scorches and broken parts. It makes for a stronger visual to convey the war theme and it’ll be interesting to see if that aesthetic remains throughout the series.
The action scenes are crisp with animation that doesn’t start ignoring the laws of physics for the sake of a cool fight. Larger Transformers move slower while the Seekers definitely have a speed advantage.
It’s not fair, but it’s hard to hear Prime and Megatron and not think they would be “truer” to the characters if longtime Transformers voice actors Peter Cullen and Frank Welker were handling the performances. Foushee does an admirable job of channeling Cullen while Todaro hits the right tone of Chris Latta’s Starscream. Marnocha brings a deeper and more menacing performance for Megatron. There’s nothing wrong with it even if it feels more traditional main villain take.
My biggest issue with the first chapter besides the rabbit hole of casually stalking Siege and Earthrise figures? It’s only six episodes so just when you’re starting to really get into it, it’s over. Worse, it ends on an amazing cliffhanger that had me considering the various possibilities of where the next two chapters could go.
Transformers: War for Cybertron – Siege is a terrific start to this next generation of Transformers animated storytelling. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the next two chapters arrive.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix