TRANSFORMERS: WAR FOR CYBERTRON, EARTHRISE Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace joins the search for AllSpark.
I am nowhere near the Transformers fan I used to be. I started with the 2000s Robots in Disguise show (which nobody seems to remember) and made my way through Armada and Energon and Cybertron before falling out of it around The Dark of the Moon. I watched Bumblebee and enjoyed it, and would occasionally look through Teletraan I to amuse myself at that site’s wry sense of humor. It was then with curiosity, more than anything else, that I tried Siege, the first miniseries of War for Cybertron, which I thought was decent. It was good enough that I decided to try Earthrise, its sequel.

Overall, I am pleased to say, Earthrise is better than its predecessor, something few installments of any series end up being. It felt to me that there was more substance here, more meat on the bones, so to speak. That was my issue with Siege: it felt very shallow. Not so here. The characters are much better developed.

The series starts off with a moral issue, deeper than what I expect from the Transformers franchise: is it wise and just to free the people that your enemies imprisoned? The gut answer of many would be ‘of course!’ But as these Autobots take control of a Decepticon prison camp, they are confronted with what to do with the Decepticons that had displeased Megatron, ever the unstable tyrant. There’s a real nuance there that the franchise just doesn’t usually have (especially when in the hands of Michael Bay).

Much of this series is a hunt, and for this sort of story you need interesting locations, which it fortunately delivers. You have unsettling lairs of ancient overlords plotting their return, and an abandoned space station jammed within a space bridge. That station becomes something out of a science fiction horror film, dark and abandoned, and something is certainly lurking there. This provides the stage for the best set piece in the entire show.
Characterwise, the two standouts are Optimus Prime and Megatron. They are the former allies, now nemeses, around whom the entire franchise revolves. In a welcome move, the two get to spend a lot of time around each other in a situation where the way out is more complicated than just immediately begin blasting at each other. Prime’s steadfast principles are contrasted with Megatron’s opportunism, and the result is legitimately dramatically compelling.

Unfortunately, the show is not perfect. Most of the other characters are not particularly deep and as such not particularly compelling (one noted exception is Starscream, ever the conniving cheat). The voice acting is … strange. There isn’t much emotion most of the time, and the facial expressions tend towards dull surprise. There are also a good number of awkward pauses that are there for no discernible reason. Frankly, I can sympathize with those who were angry that they didn’t use the traditional voice actors.

Ultimately, Earthrise is good. Not great, but good. It’s certainly worth watching if you enjoyed Siege. I can confidently say it is neither the best or the worst thing that has happened to the Transformers franchise (and no, the Bay movies were not the worst). It’s certainly good enough for me to want to watch the concluding series of this little trilogy.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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