Transformers: War for Cybertron – Earthrise Review

I really enjoyed War for Cybertron – Siege last year and so, to my surprise, I was looking forward to this next six episode series, and it not only kept the momentum going but it actually surpassed it with an even more darker tone, layered characters and, most importantly in my eyes, lots of Transformers: The (animated 80s) Movie references! Let’s take a look…

Synopsis:

Believing the AllSpark destroyed, Megatron plans to flee the dying planet — but at great cost. Meanwhile mercenary Transformers hired by the Quintessons come upon the Ark adrift in space…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

“Hello again!”

Once again the series does a good job of making sure neither its lead protagonist or lead antagonist are in any way as basic “good and evil” as they were in the original series. In “Siege” we saw Optimus Prime throw the AllSpark, the very thing that supported life on Cybertron, through a “ring gate” to God knows where before leaving with a bunch of fellow Autobots on the “Ark”. This has left Megatron the ruler of a dying world, and throughout the first episode we see him struggling to make decisions that will hurt his fellow Decepticons, including visiting a settlement that was going to be taken offline before making the decision (which he ends up doing because it was mostly full of hurt workers rather than actual people helping the cause) and the big one: literally sucking the life out of a portion of the Decepticon population in order to power his own ship to leave Cybertron with the remainders of his race. searching for greener pastures. This is pretty evil alright, but given the planet he’s on is dying it is logical to save some rather than none, and despite this Megatron really struggles with the decisions, which is great to see in what was normally a paperthin villain.

Prime, Bumblebee and the others on The Ark are kidnapped by some mercenaries lead by the amusingly named Doubledealer (Yeah, I’d trust that guy…) and it turns out it was on the orders of both the Autobots and Decepticon’s greatest enemy: a Quintesson, the very people who enslaved them at the start of their history. This Quintesson, named Deseesus, is the good old classic five faces all arguing with each other member of the race, but eventually one face becomes dominant and cuts the other four off. It’s all good fun, I loved the Quintesson in the Transformers Movie, but in the end the Autobots escape and track down where the AllSpark ended up… turns out it was across the other side of the universe. Whoops! They track down a Ring Gate to help them travel to it but it’s blocked by a large space station being stuck half in and half out of it, which was a great visual and a fun setting. During this time Megatron is informed by Doubledealer’s men that the Ark and Optimus live, so he launches his ship early and goes after them…

What’s a Quintesson with only one head? Unotesson?

This leads to a fun showdown on the large space station, as classic the Autobots and the Decepticons do battle with not only themselves but the large and out-of-control Scorponok, during which Megatron is impaled and bleeds neon pink blood all over the place, which was quite the sight. Prime and Megatron try to see things from each other’s point of view, but Prime can’t justify Megatron killing his own people, and Megatron can’t justify Prime taking the AllSpark off planet and dooming his entire race… which is a fair point! That being said, Prime is feeling the guilt of what he did in the heat of the moment and is determined to bring the AllSpark back to his home planet and “make good”. They survive each other, Scorponok and a classic Starscream attempted coup and make it back to their ships, but the gate is destroyed and in its wake is a rip in the fabric of reality. The Ark falls through the rift and inside it they meet Sky Lynx, an old ally of the often-mentioned Alpha Trion who was banished to this “Dead Universe” as he was driven purely by his anger and rage, and wanted the Matrix of Leadership for himself. Turns out countless years in a dimension of emptiness only effected by thought led to Sky Lynx seeing the error of his ways and helping the current owner of the Matrix get out of the void.

Meanwhile Megatron gets visited by Galvatron, his Unicron-upgraded future self. He gets the same intro as he did in the film, and it actually turns out that he is from “another timeline”, which makes me believe he actually IS the Galvatron from the 80s movie! He tries to tell Megatron to take the Matrix in order to prevent himself from being put under the thrall of Unicron before he’s summoned back to his own timeline, where he get a few brief seconds of Unicron hanging in space and booming “you will pay for this betrayal, Galvatron”. Sent shivers up my spine… I do love Unicron… Anyway! The finale takes place above Earth, the planet where the AllSpark ended up (of course!) and includes another showdown between Megatron and Prime, with the former stealing the Matrix from the latter, and Deseesus arriving to make it a three-way battle. In the end Deseesus’s ship explodes and sends the Autobots and the Decepticons down to Earth…

The Bad:

Galvatron talking to Megatron…. An odd sight indeed! (though I hear it’s been done in some of the later cartoons… *shrugs*)

Although there wasn’t anything that bad, I will admit to not really caring about Elita-1 and her struggles pulling together what’s left of the resistance on Cybertron. Megatron being tempted to bring her on board was interesting at the start, and later her fight with heartless scientist Shockwave was good fun, but in general returning to Cybertron after so many members of the lead cast had left the planet seemed a little… pointless? Like the “War for Cybertron” had already left Cybertron, so let’s focus on that, especially at only six 20-ish minute episodes a series.

Once again pretty much all transforming takes place off-screen and a raptor seen at the very end of the last episode shows the CG team is much better at robots and machinery than they are living creatures (or robots that looks like living creatures, anyway…) but hey-ho, I can’t complain really, some of the actual fighting was much better this time round, though does still suffer from “punching something off of the screen and then cutting to them on the floor so we don’t have to animate falling robots” syndrome…

Overall Thoughts:

This scene literally lasts a few seconds, but I had to grab a screenshot of it…

War for Cybertron: Earthrise manages to improve on Siege in every way, adding in story depth, layered characters and plenty of fan nostalgia on top of it. If you’re not an old school fan of Transformers there is still plenty to like here, the darker tone and more interesting characters really carries the show past its “CG cartoon” image (a perfectly valid image because it is one, but you know what I mean…) It also doesn’t overstay its welcome, so overall let’s hope Part 3 lives up to the momentum created by this one!

2 thoughts on “Transformers: War for Cybertron – Earthrise Review

  1. Marc Hong January 14, 2021 / 12:56 am

    What about BLOOD OF ZEUS? What did you think of that? I thought it was the best anime Netflix put out this year.

    Like

    • David Hogan January 14, 2021 / 8:30 am

      I haven’t got round to it yet, but it is on the mental watchlist!

      Like

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