Written by: El Puerquito Magnifico
Watching the 68 minute pilot for the new Transformers cartoon was a lot like one of those old Frosted Mini-Wheats commercials: The adult in me appreciated the fact that the series had an updated storyline that would appeal to kids, but didn’t alienate the old school fans. I enjoyed the manga-influenced animation style and the since I’m a Michigan native, I especially liked the fact that it’s based in Detroit. The kid in me just loved the fact that The Transformers are back!
The new Transformers Animated series combines elements of the classic 1980’s series and the recent Michael Bay blockbuster film to create a continuity all its own. In this series, the Cybertronian Wars are long-over and have been relegated to the arena of myth and legend. Optimus Prime leads a very small group of Autobots who are basically an outer space cleanup crew. They stumble upon the All-Spark, get chased by Decepticons, and end up on Earth at the bottom of Lake Erie.
50 years later, Detroit has become the leader in cybernetic technology, due to a local professor’s discovery of Megatron’s head, which was severed in the explosion that put the Autobots in stasis at the bottom of the lake half a century prior. Starscream discovers that the Autobots (and the All-Spark) are on Earth, and high-tech hi-jinks, action, and adventure ensue.
I wasn’t sure about this new Transformers series when I first heard about it, but it’s definitely grown on me, and I actually like it quite a bit. This is mainly because of the interaction between the characters. The Autobots aren’t written as battle-weary soldiers; instead, they’re presented as a ragtag group of misfits who don’t always get along. As they wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons, the Autobots learn how to function as a team, and what it means to be a hero. It’s got a good message for kids, but it isn’t too heavy-handed that adults will want to wretch. The subplots involving their human friends and the foreshadowed return of Megatron are interesting enough to keep both child and adult entertained.
The few problems I have with Transform and Roll Out are really just nitpicky geek stuff. I don’t like the fact that the Autobots operate out in the open and are essentially a team of robot superheroes. To me, this goes against the very idea of “robots in disguise”, but it’s really a pretty minor gripe. Also, the feature felt more like three episodes smooshed together rather than an actual movie. I’m guessing this is because it actually was just three episodes smooshed together. Again: not really a big deal.
In addition to the feature, there are also two shorts on the DVD, each about 5 minutes long. These are basically little comedy spots focusing on the individual personalities of the Autobots. They’re actually pretty funny, and I’m sure the kids in your household will enjoy them. All-in-all, Transformers Animated: Transform and Roll Out is a welcome continuation of the Transformers franchise, and in my opinion, should appeal to old and new fans alike.