After a bit of a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix’s Transformers War for Cybertron Trilogy has begun! Shout out to production companies Rooster Teeth Studios, Polygon Pictures, and Allspark Animation and distributors Allspark, Entertainment One, and Netflix for making this happen.
Last night I signed up for my free month of Netflix, and just now I sat down to check out the show. I must admit I hadn’t realized each episode is nearly 25 minutes in length. Consequently, this is going to take me some time to watch. I’ll try to do the whole binge watching thing over the weekend, but the show is going to have to be amazing for me to get all six episodes in.
What is amazing, though, and the reason for this post, is the opening. I’m writing this having only watched the first five minutes. That is, up until the opening credits of the first episode. Now, I really don’t care for the animation style, and I knew I wasn’t going to care for it going in, but that’s not the point. My biggest concern for this series was the storytelling, and what we got is an opening with Bumblebee and Wheeljack on the hunt for energon, just like they were way back in 1984 in the original The Transformers cartoon series from Marvel and Sunbow. This nod to the original animated series — while being different enough to constitute this as an original tale — is all I needed to see and hear to put me at ease. The story is in good hands. Writers George Krstic, Gavin Hignight, and Brandon M. Easton show respect to the foundational, animated lore while still finding room to venture out and make their version unique. Of course, I’m eager to comment on these variations, but not here and not now because spoilers.
Do check out Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy on Netflix.
I’ve put some time into rediscovering Transformers during this pandemic. Previously, I had purchased the Vintage G1 Optimus Prime and Soundwave from Walmart. Prior to this whole “safer at home” situation, I’d been eyeing the War for Cybertron figures in stores. Last week, I finally broke and bought some of them. So far, I’ve managed to transform from robot to vehicle and back Red Alert and Hound. In my social distancing endeavor this Easter weekend, I even started watching Transformers: Cyberverse on YouTube. I can’t stand Bumblebee. I love Windblade. And, hey, it’s Hot Rod and Blurr on Velocitron in the S1:E8 racing fest “Terminal Velocity,” an episode which originally aired on October 20, 2018. So, I’m a little late to the party. But this is so cool! I love Hot Rod and Blurr back from the days of The Transformers: The Movie. I can’t wait to see all of their adventures!
So, yeah, let’s just enjoy this kids show and remember simpler times. I mean, it’s good to get my mind off this whole coronavirus pandemic thing for a while, yeah? Well, in this particular episode, there’s this plague, you see. It’s a plague of rust. And it’s spreading from planet to planet. And I’m thinking: that’s appropriate, but everything will be fine. Oh, no. The plague spreads to Velocitron, and Blurr gets infected, and now he’s dead. Fucking Blurr is dead. So yeah. I’m disturbed. I mean, kill Optimus Prime when I’m eight and I’m fine. It’s just a cartoon. But this?
“Oh shit, what are we going to do now?” are the words Spike Witwicky yells beside Bumblebee after their failed attempt to damage the monster planet Unicron with the detonation of Moon Base Two in the 1986 cartoon film, The Transformers: The Movie. That line was removed for the film’s VHS home release in the United States leaving some of us with no option in the ’90s but to bootleg the Canadian version in order to hear the complete film. Thankfully, the line would return in subsequent home releases this century. This past Thursday, September the 27th, the crowd gathered at the nearly sold-out Fathom Events screening of The Transformers: The Movie gave a collective laugh as Spike yelled the line, the first time most of us had probably heard it in a movie theater since 1986.
Watching The Transformers: The Movie on the big screen as an adult was not something I was going to miss, and I was amazed at how many people likewise felt the same way. Seeing the film so very, very large on the big screen was an experience I thought I’d never have again. I found myself noticing the sides of the movie frame, watching the facial expressions of Constructicons and Seekers as Megatron and Starscream bickered, and picking up little details in the design of the robots that I never really noticed prior, like Kup’s belt. Quite a few children were present with their parents at the showing. These caring parents were no doubt making sure a whole new generation of kids experienced the trauma of Optimus Prime’s death in the dark displayed on a gigantic screen in a room full of strangers.
Overall, though I’d seen the film numerous times, I found myself enjoying the ride. It’s a film that, thanks to its Star Wars-like story, never gets old. The movie itself was preceded by a preview of the forthcoming Bumblebee film. In it we saw a longer (though probably not complete) version of Charlie Watson and Bumblebee’s first encounter in the garage, and if that scene is anything to base the movie on, it’s going to be really, really good. The Transformers: The Movie concluded with a mini-documentary on Stan Bush’s work for the film which left me humming “The Touch” on the way out to the parking lot clutching my unexpected movie poster. All in all, a pleasant experience which has me looking more into what Fathom Events has to offer.
So the Bumblebee trailer dropped this morning, and at first, in my morning stupor as I sipped my coffee, I was like, “Nah. This doesn’t look like my thing,” which is fine, but then I was like, “Oh, Shockwave,” and then I was like, “HOLY SHIT THAT IS GENERATION 1 SOUNDWAVE AND OH MY GOD RAVAGE!!!”
Ravage, ejecting, transforming, and looking all badass is what sold me on the Bumblebee movie. Granted, I would rather watch an entire film of the Transformers on Cybertron than Bumblebee on Earth, but I’ll take what I can get here. They didn’t have to include that fan service. The movie could work without it, and I hope it succeeds in courting a new generation of Transformers fans, but I’m glad they’ve put in some material for us older fans to get excited about even if it only ends up being a few minutes of screen time in the theatrical film.
You can catch the trailer below, and yeah, I admit it, Bumblebee is so cute.
While exploring my Amazon wishlist of all the things I cannot currently afford, Amazon kindly informed me Transformers: The Last Knight is available to watch with my Prime membership. So, I thought, why not?
And it’s pretty bad. But … interesting. Because Stanley Tucci is Merlin. And some stuff is happening and I’m not really sure what but it could get relevant as the US government in this film seems really unhappy with all these aliens showing up illegally. Maybe there is some depth to be found? Some commentary. And, wait, is that Steve Buscemi? So about thirty minutes into the film I decide to commit to watching it because both John Goodman and now Steve Buscemi are Transformers, and that’s pretty cool. These Michael Bay Transformers flicks are generally bad, but not that bad. They are watchable, I just wish they had more cultural relevance to them, focused more on the robots and less on the humans, and that the personalities of the robots weren’t developed through racist voice caricatures and instead through, I don’t know, character development. These are robots from Cybertron. They should be speaking English with a Cybertronian accent, whatever that is. Try a little harder, Michael.
And then, okay, Earth is Unicorn, and that’s cool, because The Transformers: The Movie from 1986 is pretty much what I base what Transformers is to me on. And then this Citroën DS turns out to be … Hot Rod? … and he has a French accent? What the hell is going on? And again with the voices. But then, holy shit, that’s a nice Lamborghini. And then, then, Hot Rod copies the form of that Lamborghini.
And so here we are: the moment Transformers: The Last Knight wowed me by not only giving me Hot Rod, but Hot Rod as a gorgeous Lamborghini Centenario.
I’m an hour into the film and Transformers: The Last Knight is delivering enough fan service to keep me going. But I first had to post this because that car.