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Featured TV on DVD Review: Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising

December 5th, 2011

Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising - Buy from Amazon

Transformers as a franchise has been around for more than 25 years and one of the latest incarnations is a TV show called Transformers: Prime. It is making its DVD debut this week with the opening Mini-series, Darkness Rising. Is this show worth checking out for old school fans of the show? Will it attract new fans?

The Show

The series begins with Cliffjumper and Arcee talking over the radio while on patrol. They are looking for Energon and Decepticons and Cliffjumper finds both. He gets in over his head and is first captured by the Decepticons, before being killed by Starscream, their new leader. While blowing off steam, Arcee goes for a ride, but is spotted by a couple Decepticons as well. She first loses them by parking at a fast food restaurant. It's here she draws the attention of Jack Darby, a 16-year old high school student, who gets up and pretends the bike is his. Unfortunately, he's still pretending when the Decepticons show up again and Arcee has to take off with Jack still riding. Getting a human involved in the battle between Autobots and Decepticons is strictly against the rules, so Arcee, and later Bumblebee, lead them out of town to fight, only to get another boy, 12-year old Raf Esquivel, involved. The next day, when Arcee and Bumblebee are sent to retrieve Jack and Raf to tell them to tell no one else, Arcee is spotted by Miko, a 15-year old Japanese exchange student.

This whole keeping a low profile isn't going so well.

Meanwhile, Starscream has been collecting Energon preparing for the return of Megatron, which happens sooner than he would like. (Without Megatron there, Starscream's in charge.) When Megatron comes back, he's got a new weapon, Unicron Blood, a.k.a. Dark Energon. He believes this Dark Energon will be just what he needs to defeat Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots by...

Now we are hitting major spoilers.

This is the fifth or sixth TV series based on the Transformers toy line and I've seen almost all of them. In my opinion, Generation One is still the best. While overall I like Beast Wars better than this show, I do have to admit that Transformers: Prime is more accessible than Beast Wars was. It's got a strong storyline, plenty of action, the old characters are needlessly tampered with. The new characters, the three kids, are obviously there for the target audience to relate to, but like most such characters, they are the weak link in the show. Perhaps as the characters are developed, and Miko's dangerous enthusiasm is toned down a bit, they will be more of an asset than they are right now.

The voice talent on the show is better than most cartoons with recognizable voices in many roles, including Peter Cullen as Optimus and Frank Welker as Megatron. Plus there are some good guest actors as well. The Animation is good for a TV show with solid detail levels and smooth animation, but don't expect feature-length quality going on.

The Extras

Extras include five minutes of character design, four and a half minutes of location design, plus you can watch the first episode in animatic form.

The Verdict

Transformers: Prime is arguably the best Transformers show in about 20 years and definitely the best in more than a decade. The five-part mini-series, Darkness Rising, is a great start to what should be a great series. The DVD has enough extras to lift the overall value to a solid purchase.

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