Netflix is on a serious roll right now! It seems to roll out hit after hit with its original programming. Its streak did not stop with this weekend. Netflix just dropped Transformers: War for Cybertron – Siege. Fans have been waiting for something of this quality for 32 years. Not only does it not disappoint, but Siege is WAAY more than meets the eye!
Siege Is Waay More: G-1 Quality Through and Through
Back in the mid-2000’s when Michael Bay worked on the very first live action Transformers, fans split on new designs Bay & Co came up with. Bumblebee went from a little VW bug to a Camaro. Prime went from the flat nosed Peterbilt to a Freightliner with flames. Other Transformers were converted into entirely different looks. As the films went along, the designs drifted further and further from the cartoon looks.
With Siege, the Transformers revert back to their Cybertronian G-1 and comic book designs. Of course Megatron is slightly different, but that is to be expected. From design to story, for the first time this FEELS like the real Transformers.
While the voice cast is entirely new, they all nail their characters. The only one that truly felt off was Ironhide. The rest fit their characters well.
Siege Is Waay More: These Are the Characters We Missed
From the design to the voicing to the scripting. James Barbatano and Drew Hopper did a wonderful job using the characters in way that fit their personalities. They did take a few risks with some changes, but I loved them. That and this is an origin story, so they should not be where we know them to be later.
Bumblebee and Ratchet were the two biggest changes. Bee is not the loyal warrior we think of him. He scavenges energon to survive and wants nothing to do with either side of the war. Ratchet is not the lead medic. That falls to Red Alert for now. He walked away from that with a reputation for being able to fix anything. Both need convincing to join the Autobots.
Beyond that the characterizations were spot on. Shockwave led the Decepticon science labs. Starscream scrambles for more power, butting heads with Jetfire constantly, and Jetfire’s role was true to form. I really love what they did with Elita-1 and Prime. They have always been lovers, but this show does a nice job of making the feelings obvious but low key.
What I think I appreciated most revolved around Prime, Ultra Magnus and Megatron. While the philosophies parted ways and drove them apart, a link of brotherhood and past friendship remains. Prime blows a bridge to get away. Instead of getting mad, he coolly says to himself “Well done, Prime. Well done.” In a last ditch attempt at peace, Ultra Magnus appeals to Megatron, hoping that feeling of brotherhood might stop the war.
Siege Is Waay More: Beautifully Designed
Those following the toy lines notice that Hasbro simply battle damages previous models and reissues them as something new. It may seem like cheap marketing, but it fits the series. All of the transformers are beat up, scarred and battle damaged. Even the mighty Megatron and Prime are scarred and filled with cracks. It helps accentuate the battle weariness of the transformers on both sides.
The bodies and cinematics are both well done. The designs of all the robots match what we know from comics and cartoons with very slight alterations to make them more Cybertronian. It comes down to something as simple as Bumblebee’s body being flat and squared of.
The only thing found annoying was the ‘organics’ of the bodies. They seem to move and bend in weird places and you see windows and cockpits growing and shrinking, but otherwise the look of the robots and Cybertron were all top notch.
Siege Is Waay More: Right Ideas. Wrong Structure
My only complaint deals with the show being only six 23 minute episodes. They do a magnificent telling a full and complete story in that two hours, but fans are going to want more than six episodes. The saving grace is that it truly is a full and complete story at six episodes.
If the second and third arcs are this way, they should have gone with a movie format. This is a two hour movie, not an episodic series. Every episode picks up and drops off where the last left it.
Siege Is Waay More: A Sense of Real Stakes
One thing I love about Siege is the brutality. A show has not been this brutal since the 1987 animated movie. Starscream pisses Jetfire off (Leader of the seekers), so Jetfire slices his hand off. When a Decepticon ambush gets counter-ambushed we see a Seeker’s head get blown off his body. Many transformers have arms and legs torn apart several times. The halls of the ARC are littered with Autobot bodies and wounded, and at one point we see a field of Autobots impaled on stakes.
At the same time, the violence, death and maiming is all done low key. There is nothing overly graphic or disturbing. There is however one death I wont go into detail on, but it was pretty brutal. Viewers will see it coming, which also helps.
Siege Is Waay More: Final Thoughts
In a tweet a little while ago, Netflix released the name of the third installment of the series – Kingdom. It appears it will tie into or become the Beast Wars/Beast Machines. Did we get a sneak peak? Bumblebee goes ‘cosmic’ in a meeting with an old Autobot leader. In the scene Bee stands on a bunch of hexagons, but out of some of those hexagons are tufts of long grass. Could this be a hint towards the organic future of the Transformers?
This series continues Netflix’ streak of hot releases. Transformers: Siege does not disappoint in the least. Of course there is an ‘after-credit’ scene despite not having end credits. Cant wait for the next season!