"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Fans knew that there will be a newer version of the series coming out, but the question is what kind of series?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!