5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Dennis A. Amith (kndy)
- Published on Amazon.com
"Transformers", the popular entertainment franchise that many generations have grown up with, may it be playing with the toys or watching the animated series back in 1984, playing the video games or reading the comic books.
Needless to say, since the early '80s, millions have experienced "Transformers", especially in recent years with the release of film trilogy or the animated series which continues to air on television and of course, the many toys that continue to be popular with collectors and also children.
But within the last three years, fans have watched the animated series known as "Transformers Animated" becoming the latest "Transformers" animated series to be showcased on television beginning in 2007 and would last for three seasons through 2009.
Fans knew that there will be a newer version of the series coming out, but the question is what kind of series?
In 2010, the video game "Transformers: War of Cybertron" was released and was a well-received by gamers but also video game critics and it was revealed that the upcoming animated series would be set in the same universe as the video game.
And then by November 2010, Hasbro unveiled "Transformers: Prime", a CG animated television series which would air on The Hub and would first begin with a five-episode mini-series. And with one season having now been completed in 2011, a second season is set to air in 2012.
And it's this latest series that has been creating a lot of buzz among fans and viewers. With the CG animation and slightly darker storyline, the series would go on to win a Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation" for background design and color design.
As many fans have waited for a video release of "Transformers: Prime", fortunately, Shout! Factory has decided to release "Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising", a year after its premiere. The DVD would featuring all five-episodes combined to make an uninterrupted movie.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising" is presented in widescreen format. The CG animation for this film is absolutely wonderful as we can see details on the metal of various robots. You can see scratches on the metal, the reflection of light and also glass windows and the reflection.
From Optimus Prime's glass windows on his chest showcasing reflections to Megatron's steel body and also the damage on the overall body of Cliffjumper, I was quite pleased with how this series looks! But also detail is featured in the overall scenery as well.
While I do feel the robots are much better looking than the humans, in terms of detail and overall look, I do like the characters designs on the three human characters, it just that they look a bit rubbery for me.
But overall, great detail and lighting for this TV series for DVD and hopefully Shout! Factory will consider giving "Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising" the HD treatment in the near future.
As for audio, dialogue is presented in English and Spanish Dolby Digital stereo and dialogue is clear and understandable. The voice acting is terrific and the fact that voice talent Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron) of the original "Transformers" animated series are back for this series...Fantastic!
"Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising" comes with the following special feature:
A Look at Character Design - (5:00) Character design sketches for "Transformers Prime".
A Look at Set Design - (4:31) Featuring the sketches and finalized backgrounds and set design for "Transformers Prime".
Animatic for Episode 1 - (22:07) Sketch animatics for episode 1.
"Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising" comes with a slipcover case.
Is "Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising" possibly the best "Transformers" animated series yet! Well, I know that question is quite subjective but in terms of overall look and storyline, this latest series is action-packed and definitely will captivate viewers of all ages.
While the storylines of "Transformers" tends to change from series to series, the storyline of a battle between Autobots and the Decepticons still remains. Especially Optimus Prime vs. Megatron... And with every new series, you often wonder how the writers will keep the series fresh, especially for every new generation that has just become a Transformers fan.
I've literally grown up with the series, collected the toys and then to watch my son become a Transformers fan (his first was "Transformers: Cybertron" followed by Shout! Factory's awesome release of the original series on DVD) and now watching him enjoy "Transformers: Prime".
With this latest series, what I enjoy about it is that there are not so many robots thrown into each episode. Several years ago, "Transformers: Cybertron", an animated series that would throw in so many robots and while it was great for the toyline, with so many characters, it could get a bit confusing.
This time around, going by a similar theme of the previous"Transformers Animated" series, the series focuses on five primary Autobots and staying with the recurring theme of humans who go on to help the group in someway or form.
But the first 5-10 minutes of "Transformers: Prime" makes things clear that this is not the same type of series that many of us have grown up with. This time around, robots...do get killed and destroyed in battle. And while the humans will never be put in any major life threatening danger for a children's animated series, still, "Transformers: Prime" definitely has some darker elements.
And as mentioned earlier, the CG animation for this series is great! Typically, there are a lot of shortcuts taken on TV series but the creators of the series definitely made sure there is a lot of detail on both the Autobots and Decepticons but also various objects and environments. So, it was more than I expected for an animated series as "Transformers: Prime" is possible the most ambitious animated series yet.
In fact, the acting is also well done for this series and what I was surprised was how many big names they brought in to do voices for the characters. Legendary Optimus Prime voice actor Peter Cullen and legendary Megatron voice actor Frank Welker ("G.I. Joe", "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends") are back. They are joined by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (of WWE fame and "Fast Five") as Cliffjumper, Steve Blum (Logan/Wolverine for "X-Men") as Starscream and Ernie Hudson ("Oz", "Ghostbusters") as Agent Fowler. But for any longtime "Transformers" fan, the fact that Cullen and Welker are back to do the voices for Optimus and Megatron is fantastic!
But the series definitely sets the storyline for the exciting first season of "Transformers: Prime" (which I hope Shout! Factory releases on DVD as well).
Overall, If you haven't caught the five episode mini-series before or are not familiar with the latest "Transformers" animated series, I highly recommend "Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising". It's full of action, excitement and it looks so darn awesome! And for me, it's possibly the best "Transformers" animated series yet!
And because this DVD is coming out right in time before the children's winter vacation, if you're looking for a safe DVD to keep your kids occupied during a long commute or for their vacation, or you are an adult who is young at heart and is still passionate for this long-running "Transformers" franchise, "Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising" is definitely recommended!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
If you're relatively new to the Transformers experience and looking for the perfect kid-friendly feature-length introduction to the world-renowned "robots in disguise" and the franchise's new "Aligned" continuity family in particular (the same continuity family as the video games "Transformers: War for Cybertron" & "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron", the novels "Transformers: Exodus", "Transformers: Exiles" & "Transformers: Retribution" and the new Flash-animated kid-focused series "Transformers: Rescue Bots"; basically it cherry-picks all the best stuff from every continuity - describing each character as a mix of traits from each continuity - thus far, from Generation 1 through the Bayverse films and Animated, and is now THE basis for the future of Transformers storytelling, compared to the first 25 years of the franchise lore - which was created on the fly, with continuity reboots common and deep-rooted mythology established after the storytelling had already begun), then look no further than "Transformers: Prime - Darkness Rising", now available on DVD from SHOUT! Factory.
If you're a longtime fan of the original series, then, my friends, you're in for a real treat because Peter Cullen and Frank Welker have reprised the voice-over roles that made them household names in the 1980's: Cullen's performance as Optimus Prime stills carries the calm, dignified sadness inspired by his late brother Larry, a former Marine who fought in the Vietnam War ("Peter, don't be a Hollywood hero, be a real hero. Real heroes don't yell and act tough; they are tough enough to be gentle, so control yourself.") - as if the Great War has affected Optimus so deeply that he's always crying deep down inside - and Welker's new version of everyone's favorite bucket-headed bad boy Megatron sounds quieter, much more menacing and nowhere near the bombastic, raspy-voiced, loud-mouthed ham that the original was, though as the series goes on, he does have his moments.
There's one constant throughout the franchise that helps viewers connect with the Autobots: a group of humans (usually kids, in this case Jackson Darby, voiced by Josh Keaton from The Spectacular Spider-Man; Miko Nakadai, voiced by Tania Gunadi from Disney Channel's Aaron Stone; and Rafael Esquivel, voiced by Andy Pessoa from The Amazing Spider-Man) who not only learn their secret and help in their fight against the Decepticons in any small way but help them adapt to life on Earth in their off-hours (a classic example from Generation 1 has Spike Witwicky teaching the Autobots how to play basketball; even Optimus gets in on the slam-dunking action), and the way the 'Bots connect with the kids over the course of this movie helps set the tone for the series:
Bumblebee & Raf, being the youngest of their respective age groups (and, as such, the series' kid-appeal characters), hit it off right away, especially when you consider that Raf is the only kid present who can understand the Autobot scout's R2-D2-style beeps, squeals and whistles.
Bulkhead (Kevin Michael Richardson) may be the team's heavy hitter (as a former Wrecker, it kinda comes with the territory), but when it comes to Miko, he's as gentle with her as an elephant plucking a wildflower with its trunk.
After a shaky start, Arcee (Sumalee Montano from The Young and the Restless, among others) & Jack are soon tearing it up through the Nevada backroads; ultimately, when he decides to walk away after helping rescue Special Agent William Fowler (the Autobots' liaison with the U.S. government; voiced by Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters) from Starscream (Steve Blum from Wolverine & the X-Men), she gets him to come back to the fight, as the following dialogue from Part 5 indicates:
Jack: Arcee, really, Miko already tried. Tell Optimus I respect him big-time, but if you're at war with the Decepticons, there's nothing I can do to help.
Arcee: Optimus didn't send me, and no one's asking for your help.
J: Okay, so if we both agree that I'm not warrior material -
A: Jack, I just lost someone I cared about. Maybe it's the grief talking; maybe you're growing on me; whatever it is, I'm just not ready to say goodbye.
In the end, he finds in her the guiding spirit of the big sister he's always needed, despite what the shippers out there may think, and by film's end it's pretty clear that he's not ready to say goodbye, either.
At first, Ratchet (Jeffrey Combs from Re-Animator) doesn't want anything to do with the kids, but as time goes on, he comes to understand what they have to offer Team Prime from a civilian (and human) standpoint, and eventually he connects best with the equally tech-savvy Raf.
And last, but certainly far from least, there's Optimus Prime himself: as the leader, whatever the series or continuity (for the sake of this review, I'm omitting Shattered Glass), he strives to be a positive male role model and father figure not just for his team but for any humans aiding them in their fight against the 'Cons, and it's no different with Jack, Miko & Raf (in Season 1's "Masters & Students", he sees the school science fair as an excellent opportunity for his team and the kids to learn more about each others' home-world and culture). Also, it doesn't hurt to practice a little diplomacy by trying to convince the Decepticon du jour to stray from Megatron's path and either side with the Autobots or lead the 'Cons toward peace (Skyquake - voiced by Richard Green - and his split-spark twin brother Dreadwing - voiced by Tony Todd, aka The Fallen from "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" - have no real grudge against the Autobots but are loyal to Megatron above all else). However, one can only push the Big O so far before he starts pushing - and eventually hitting - back - Megatron ultimately proved that he was beyond all hope of redemption in "One Shall Fall" (and the compilation movie "One Shall Stand") after he almost killed Raf, resulting in Optimus realizing just how foolish he was to believe that the Autobots and Decepticons would find a way to bury the hatchet and end the war peacefully; the tone of Optimus's voice before the fight begins ("Megatron, today you answer for your crimes against Cybertron and against humanity!") tells the audience that this isn't the last son of the Primes speaking: this is a battle-hardened warrior whose every punch, kick, gunshot and swing of his sword is fueled by a potent & explosive cocktail of the Matrix of Leadership and the rage felt by a dad going after the bully who's been hurting his children, and HE IS PISSED!
As the movie (and the series) progresses, however, we're given a harsh reminder of something that's easy to forget in this post-9/11 world: whether it's being waged in our own backyards, overseas or a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (yes, a deliberate nod to STAR WARS), there's absolutely, positively NOTHING glorious about war - it ruins the lives of everyone caught in the crossfire, it tears families apart, and it's fought for the stupidest reasons. Also, as befitting the "Transformers" franchise, we're reminded that while the Autobots and Decepticons may be tough, they're not invincible - Optimus, his team and their liaisons with the U.S. government learn this the hard way after the death of Cliffjumper (voiced by none other than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) by Starscream's hand, or rather, talon, proving the trend established by executive producer Jeff Kline: once a character is killed off, they stay dead, and Dark Energon-fueled zombie resurrections don't count. Needless to say, the Decepticon heavies (some of whom turn out to be, at the least, more honorable than Megatron - a trait inherited from Dinobot in "Transformers: Beast Wars" and Starscream's portrayal in "Transformers: Armada") don't fare much better through the series: Skyquake gets ripped apart in midair by Bumblebee and forced into a crash landing in "Masters & Students", Breakdown (Adam Baldwin from Halo 3: ODST, for starters) is butchered by Airachnid (Gina Torres from Firefly) in Season 2's "Crossfire", Hardshell (David Kaye, aka the voice from Megatron from Beast Wars, Beast Machines and the Unicron Trilogy) gets his tailpipe handed to him by Miko in "Hurt", and Dreadwing is gunned down by Megatron before he can kill Starscream in "Regeneration".
Speaking of Dark Energon, once Megatron reveals just what the "Blood of Unicron the Chaos-Bringer" can do (in this case, bring a dead Cybertronian back to life and turn it into a mindless zombie berserker), the genius (or rather, insanity) of his latest plan to conquer Earth becomes apparent: he intends to send a big hunk of the stuff to Cybertron via the SpaceBridge, raise an army of the planet's dead, bring them back to Earth and usher in the ultimate zombie apocalypse.
Presentation: every frame of this 1:46:19 adventure (created by editing the 5-part inaugural miniseries into a feature-length movie and removing all the scene repeats & commercial break fade-outs), from the opening shot of Cliffjumper to the closing shot of the Autobots & the kids riding off into the sunset as Optimus delivers his closing monologue, is presented in glorious 16:9 Widescreen, and comes with your choice of sound: English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround or English stereo (turns out the Spanish stereo label was a misprint), all beautifully reinforced by a score composed by Brian Tyler and recorded by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, Allan Wilson conducting - a fitting tip of the hat to the scores composed for the live-action trilogy by Steve Jablonsky and recorded by Nick Glennie-Smith conducting the Hollywood Studio Symphony. In short, the sound and picture quality are on par with the series proper (I'm one of those middle ground completionists who's bought both the compilation movies and the season sets - as of this latest edit, I've bought every Stateside DVD release, including the Target-exclusive "Dawn of the Beast").
In the end, whatever the genre, wherever or whenever it's set, the lesson at the heart of every story about the never-ending battle between good and evil is clearly in play here, and it's as old as time itself: life, love, courage, hope and the light are, and forever will be, infinitely stronger than death, hate, fear, despair and the darkness.