TRANSFORMERS – WAR FOR CYBERTRON [Chapter 1 Review]: Siege!

Travis Moody
@TravMoody

It’s all come down to this, kids. The new toys, the repeated viewings of Generation 1 and Beast Wars under quarantine– all in preparation for the ultra-anticipated Transformers: War For Cybertron series on Netflix. The first Chapter has rolled out, and since “Siege” is as short as those first couple seasons of Netflix’ Castlevania, you’ll want to watch it twice.

War For Cybertron‘s first 6 episodes are damned good so watching it twice won’t be a problem. The pacing is perfect. No amount of conversation or exposition wears out its welcome, and things don’t move so frenetically that you have no idea what’s going on. A little history on Transformers (beyond the Bayverse) definitely helps, but isn’t necessary. This is a reimagined origin tale of sorts, and n00b0ts are more than welcome to the party. It’s even better if you’ve reading Brian Ruckley’s current — and excellent — IDW Transformers, since that comic is also exploring the earlier days of Cybertron; bits of pieces of Ruckley’s run take place even earlier than this War, in fact.

While the series should ring familiar to current comic readers with its Cybertronian atmosphere, writers George Krstic (eps 1 and 3), Brandon Easton (eps 4-6) and Gavin Hignight (eps 4-6, and 2, along with showrunner F.J. DeSanto) swarm the ‘Bots in a world filled with apprehension, dread and short snark. The Decepticons can’t stop deceiving each other, and you can smell the whiskey soaked on their sparks from a mile away. In other words, the atmosphere and attitudes match. There’s plenty of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron and Starscream, but plenty of other ‘Bots and ‘Cons get their moments in the dark and shadowy desert sand-full world of Cybertron too. Those clamoring for a more bad-ass version of ‘Bee than previous ‘toon incarnations will be pleased with Joe Zieja‘s inflection and the sturdy appearance and creative handling of the fan favorite.

If there ever was a deadringer for Peter Cullen’s legendary voice it’s Jake Foushee, and he’s an especially welcomed addition the more you realize that this is early game Optimus. There’s just the right amount of the Autobots’ “Captain Cybertron” on screen too, since Prime’s.. well.. optimism and good-natured shtick can get awfully stale. Ultra Magnus (Edward Bosco), Jetfire (Keith Silverstein), Elita-1 (Linsay Rousseau) and the aforementioned Bumblebee all have important enough arcs in Siege to give this first chapter just the right balance of character development. For those curious, most of the classic sound effects are here, to boot.

Narratively speaking, longtime T-formers vets — and those who binged every comic, cartoon and crappy movie from the brand under the quarantine — may even have to wiki the references and/or appearances of one-time Orion Pax mentor Alpha Trion and the Cybertron “peacekeeping” Guardians (aka Sentinels aka Destructors). But since we have two more chapters to fly, that’s alright. You can’t conquer Rome (or 6 episodes) in a day. That’s OK. This team behind War For Cybertron is preparing us for further greatness, planting seeds and not bashing us over the brain with mindless mumbo-jumbo merely for being “part of the lore”. There’s a long play here with TWfC:S, a fair brunt of it ideological, and damn near almost all of it enjoyable.

So long as you can appreciate Rooster Teeth, Polygon Pictures and Allspark (wink, wink) Animation’s cell-shaded vibes, you’re in for a treat. I, for one, find the look is fantastic. There are a gazillion Transformers animated series out there, and War For Cybertron is highly-detailed, super distinct, and “transforms” a lot better to screen than it has any right to. Based on the trailers I was expecting the animation to be a little stiff and, thankfully, those moments are few and far between. Oh, and Frank Todaro downright crushes it as Starscream and the production team could improve the vocoder presence of my personal fav, Soundwave.

Bottom line: Earthrise and Kingdom, please hurry the eff up. 4/5 Bibles.

-Travis Moody

You can watch all six episodes of Transformers: War For Cybertron – Siege right now on Netflix.

 

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