REVIEW: ‘Transformers: War For Cybertron,’ – “Chapter 1: Siege”

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War For Cybertron: Siege

Netflix is coming in hot with another original anime series, Transformers: War For Cybertron. Produced by Rooster Teeth, the series is divided into three parts with the first, “Chapter 1: Siege,” recently becoming available on the streaming platform with the next two parts planning to be released later at unconfirmed dates.

Transformers: War For Cybertron “Chapter 1: Siege” is a mouthful, but the length of the title is not synonymous with its run-time. With only six episodes, each coming in at around 25 minutes apiece, it’s disappointingly short. Stack on the fact that we don’t know when chapter two or three will be released, and it’s a bit frustrating, to say the least.

“Siege” is placed in the Transformers timeline before the Autobots and Decepticons reach Earth but after the beginning of the Great War that pit these two factions against each other. This is an interesting time point to start this series and a good one. With the majority of Transformers cartoon series focusing on Earth and the new IDW comic reboot centering on events that started the Great War, “Siege” slides right in the middle of these. Although Transformers: War For Cybertron is based on the video game of a similar title and harkens to a similar timeline, it’s a good choice to mix up the media that’s currently available.

Despite the timeline being interesting, the plotline falls flat. “Siege” opens up to a Cybertron that is a shadow of its former self; buildings are crumbling, energon is scarce, and the Autobots are on the run. The Decepticons have the upper hand and are systematically hunting down Autobots left and right. No one wants this war, but neither Optimus Prime nor Megatron is willing to back down. Megatron devises a plan to use the All Spark to reformat Autobots into Decepticons to end the war. However, Optimus gets whiff of his plans and now the two factions are in a race to find the All Spark.

The All Spark is an important relic in many universes in the Transformers canon; it’s been used many a time as a plot device and this story is no different. Beyond the plot being familiar enough to feel stale to any long-time Transformers fan, it’s very straightforward and has little substance to it. There are a few times where characters hint at darker and deeper backstories, but these stories are generally overlooked and ignored. The plot is just a retelling with too few new elements added to be captivating.

War For Cybertron: Siege

Despite the plot falling short, the characterization is a gem. Rooster Teeth has a way of bringing characters to the forefront of their productions. Viewers will likely be familiar with many of the characters featured in the show and Rooster Teeth has made sure to get their personalities down. The interactions and relationships between characters are crafted wonderfully, and little feels amiss with how these characters are represented and how they develop. The one character I was a bit confused about was Impactor. As far as I’m aware, Impactor was never at any point a Decepticon. It’s obvious that the creators specifically used Impactor’s allegiance as a plot device, but it felt like an odd choice due to the canonical history of the character. But one character wrong out of a couple dozen is still pretty good.

Rooster Teeth’s animation team has produced some amazing shows and this one is no different. The camera movement is dynamic and the movement of individuals is smooth and almost effortless. Transformers can often look clunky and awkward, but the animators smoothed out the edges. They’ve also used designs from the G1 era of Transformers which will likely pander to older fans. The downside to some of the animation is specifically in relation to the fighting sequences which can feel lethargic at times, especially any close-quarters combat.

What I’m most impressed with about this series is the voice acting. The animation produces little facial movement, however, the combination of eye movement, body language, and voice acting overcomes this minute detail. The Transformers are widely emotive and it’s largely due to the excellent voice acting accompanying the animation. The voices also match the ‘bots. With a long history of Transformers cartoons, there’s been a lot of voice acting and fans already have an idea of how many of these ‘bots should sound. Thankfully, there are few incongruencies.

Given that this is a new Transformers series, I really wanted to enjoy it. However, with my prior knowledge of other Transformers media, the plot felt stale and there were too few new elements to keep me entertained. However, the creative team did a wonderful job in the development of the characters, the animation, and the voice acting.

Transformers: War For Cybertron “Chapter 1: Siege” is streaming now on Netflix.


Transformers: War For Cybertron, Chapter 1: Siege
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

With my prior knowledge of other Transformers media, the plot felt stale and there were too few new elements to keep me entertained. However, the creative team did a wonderful job on the development of the characters, the animation, and the voice acting.