WFC: Earthrise Review

With still little to no Dice Masters to talk about, I decided to do something a little different on the site.  Unless someone from Wizkids wants to share some info on the release of Dark Phoenix… no?  Then let’s move forward as it has been way too long since I have written anything.

One of the original loves of my nerd life has always been Transformers.  I was an ‘80’s kid and grew up with the original G1 cartoon, comics, and toys.  I’ve watched the IP grow and evolve over the years and have enjoyed the fiction that has come along with it… well with the exception of giant robot balls (WTF Michael???).

Last summer, Netflix released the first part of the War for Cybertron Trilogy entitled “Siege”.  It was an introduction to the time before our beloved Cybertronians found their way to Earth.  The war between the Autobots and Decepticons was in full swing.  The Decpticons, led by the ruthless Megatron, were on the verge of victory… while the Optimus Prime led Autobots try their best to prevent that from happening.  This was not your Saturday morning Transformers. 

This story was definitely geared to a more mature audience, with great character build ups and overall arc.  Long story short, the factions raced towards finding the Allspark in order to save their planet in their own ways.  Optimus Prime chucked it into a space bridge to prevent Megatron from obtaining it and may have doomed his home planet in the process.  The series ends with the Ark launching into that same space bridge in order to retrieve it.  Why did you chuck it in the first place Prime?  With the destruction of the space bridge on the Cybertron, we are led to believe that Prime and the Ark Autobots… along with the Allspark, have been lost forever.  Until that stinger ending.

It was a great ride and a great introduction/retelling to the Transformers mythology for a new age.

That brings us to Chapter 2: Earthrise.  This next part of the Trilogy was released over the holidays (December 30th for those keeping score).  I honestly kind of missed the release, and did not rediscover it until recently.  I needed something to fill the void left by the weekly releases of The Expanse (please stop doing this streaming services), and Transformers fit that quite nicely.  I managed to binge this in one evening, which was not hard given the 6 episodes (each bring approximately 25 minutes).  Watching it built on my love for the first series and kind of sparked (heh) me to write this up.

Without further ado… Let’s talk about Transformers War for Cybertron: Earthrise!  There will likely be spoilers, so please take that into consideration while continuing to read.  If you have not watched the series, and are planning to, I might recommend stopping now.

Synopsis

Earthrise picks up pretty much where Siege left off.  Elita-1 and the remaining Autobots on Cybertron continue their rebellion against the Decepticon rule.  Jetfire has made the full switch to the Autobot side, so now they have some air support on their side.  Without the Allspark to power it, Cybertron is on the decline.  The small core of Autobot rebels find that Megatron has taken to imprisoning his own people, his fellow Decepticons.  

We later find out the Megatron has deemed it necessary to sacrifice the weak for the greater good of the Cybertron race.  With the help of Shockwave, Megatron plans to use the sparks of the fallen to power Project Nemesis…  part of his master plan to save the Decepticon empire.

The Autobots stage a jailbreak to save who they can, Autobots and Decepticons alike.  The classic phrase “freedom is the right of all sentient beings” hits home as Elita-1 justifies the saving of enemy Decepticons.

The meat of the series is found on the Ark.  To the surprise of almost nobody, the Ark made it safe and sound through the space bridge… for the most part.  The Autobots are non-functional and boarded by a mysterious vessel.  Here we are introduced to a third faction of Cybertronians, known as the Mercenaries… along with their very own faction symbol.  Led by Doubledealer, we get to see the likes of the Conehead Seekers along with evil versions of Wheeljack and Bumblebee.  I am a fan of seeing some of these lesser known characters finding some love in the Transformers Universe.

The Ark and its contents are captured by the Mercenaries and turned over for a bounty paid by none other than the Quintessons.  When they showed the spiral shaped macaroni spacecraft, my inner child smiled huge.  However, this is not your father’s Quintessons.  We only meet a single one, who is apparently an offshoot of the Quintesson race.  Deseeus, as it goes by, claims to be the one responsible for freeing the Autobots and Decepticons from the rule of the Quintessons.  We really get the multiple personality feel for the Deseeus with its various faces… for a time.  While coming to a “consensus” as to the fate of Optimus and the Autobots, we see exactly how bat-sh*t crazy Deseeus actually is when it removes all but one of its faces.  It was one of the many jaw dropping scenes of the series.

With the help of the Mercenaries, who are unhappy with their new employer, the Autobots are able to escape Deseeus and continue their quest to recapture the Allspark.  They trace the Allspark to a distant system that they do not have the current resources to reach.  The Ark Crew comes up with a plan when they find a nearby abandoned space station with an operational space bridge.  Who left that on?

Back on Cybertron, Megatron has become aware that the Ark survived its journey through the original space bridge.  He knows they are searching for the Allspark, and uses the very souls of his own people to make Project Nemesis operational.  This is the beautiful purple spacecraft that we all know and love from the original series.  The producers are nailing the nostalgia in this series.

Prime and the Ark Autobots arrive to find the space station stuck within the space bridge, which explains why it was still operational.  Knowing that the portal is their shortcut across the universe to find the Allspark, Wheeljack devises a plan to cut the station in two in order to make it safe to take the Ark through.  This leads to one of the lines that actually made me LOL and gives you an insight into the “mad scientist” aspect of Wheeljack.  Not crucial to the pacing of the series, but you really felt for poor Sideswipe in that exact moment.

Turns out that the station is not quite as abandoned as everyone thought.  We learn that there is a single survivor, who is suffering from the long isolation and is a little bit mad.  This poor fellow is a gigantic robotic scorpion known as Scorponok.  While he does not refer to himself by this name, G1 fans will immediately recognize him.  Interestingly though, he refers to himself as the “last of the Scorponok”, which leads us to believe there is some story to explore there.  There is a definite connection to the Quintessons here, but we unfortunately do not get the opportunity to dive into the backstory here as there is an Allspark to find.

The Nemesis has made it to the station by this time and the Autobots and Decepticons must join forces in order to overcome the Scorponok threat.  With the charges laid, the Autobots make a break for the Ark in order to blow apart the station so they can traverse the portal.  We get to dive a little deeper into the Optimus/Megatron relationship here, when Optimus Prime refuses to leave Megatron behind as all Cybertronian life is valuable.

Starscream acts all starscreamy when he makes it back to the Nemesis, and fires upon the station in hopes of destroying both the Autobots and Megatron.  This flips the Autobots plan on its head and ends up destroying the space bridge while sending the Ark into the Dead Universe.  

Here we meet Sky Lynx, who is not the noble Autobot from the original cartoon.  This guy is a prick who believes he should have the power of the Matrix.  In a flashback sequence we see where he tries to acquire it from Alpha Trion and is banished to his current prison.  He has been here long enough to reflect and helps Optimus find his path to the Allspark.

Optimus is not the only Cybertronian to find someone to offer words of wisdom.  Megatron is visited by none other than Galvatron, who is trying to change his future.  Nostalgia alert again!  This is the future Megatron trying to break free from his servitude to his master Unicron.  Oh… did I mention we get a glimpse of the golden disc?  Chills, I tell you.

We get to see more character development of both of the faction leaders like never before.  Optimus realizes he cannot succeed without putting an end to Megatron.  Megatron realizes he needs the Matrix in order to defeat Prime.  The once two brothers realize that one shall stand, and one shall fall.

The crippled vessels both escape the Dead Universe, only to find themselves floating above the planet Earth.  The powerless Nemesis manages to ram the Ark to join the two ships as one.  The invading Decepticons board the Ark and begin to hunt their Autobot prey.  Optimus Prime and Megatron have their reckoning, but it is unfortunately interrupted by the return of the Merceneries.  They are now under the control of Deseeus, who is less than happy with its last interaction with the Ark Autobots.  A battle ensues where the Autobot and Deception crew are forced again to work together to take down the common threat.  

Meanwhile, the Cybertronian Autobots make a final attack on the Decepticon stronghold.  They manage to destroy the facility, but at perhaps the cost of Elita-1.  We are left no knowing what has happened on planet.

Megatron manages to take the Matrix from Optimus Prime, but is not successful in killing him thanks to a little sting from Bumblebee.  He escapes to the Nemesis and prepares to make a break to continue his hunt for the Allspark.  A catastrophic failure on the Mercenary ship lead to an explosion that incapacitate both the Ark and Nemesis.  They crash towards the planet Earth where we see the prehistoric age.  A perfect copy of the Beast Wars Dinobot model emerges from the bushes to show us this age, and leaves us with this.

Holy sh*t!  They spent no time setting up the final chapter in the War for Cybertron.  I cannot wait for Kingdom to hit later this year.

Production

I am a huge fan of the animation style of this series.  It brings me back to the Beast Wars days, but with a BIG upgrade in quality.  The character models bring the associated toys to life on screen.  You can really see the wear and tear on each of the characters which pulls you into their world.  The environments are well designed, and I love how the details start to show up on other planets.

The voice acting definitely has the same issues as Siege had.  Overall, it is serviceable… but I do find myself missing some of the more classic character voices.  Honestly, I feel like it was less of an issue in this chapter of the series.  Maybe it was just getting used to the changes?  I would still take an Optimus Prime voiced by Peter Cullen or Garry Chalk any day of the week.

If you liked what you saw in Siege, you will like Earthrise as well.  There is nothing new going on with this series… which is actually great.  I like the continuity and really gives the series a feel of one cohesive cinematic experience.

If you did not like what you saw in Siege, you probably stopped reading this a long time ago.  If you are still reading… Thank you.

Summary

Earthrise is an excellent middle chapter to the War for Cybertron Trilogy.  It narrows the story focus significantly from Siege and I felt this helped actually move the overall arc along nicely.  While the Cybertron story is important, I cared more about the Ark Autobots.  I wanted to see how they made it to Earth.  What would happen when they get there?  This is the stuff that I loved.

The depth of character building, specifically of Megatron and Optimus Prime, was incredible.  I found myself wanting to know more and more of their backstory in this Universe.  The build up of Bumblebee from a neutral party in the war to a full blown Autobot soldier was well handled.  Setting him up for a leadership role was interesting as well.  I know he has held that in the IDW comics, but I am not entirely sure where they are heading with this.

Holy crap, the nostalgia in this series was off the charts.  Long time fans of Transformers will be giddy with the amount of things in the series.  Qunitessons, and Galvatron, and Unicron… oh my!  Young jourdo was incredibly happy with what he saw in Earthrise.  I’d give it a solid 4.5 compasses out of 5.  Most of my complaints are likely nitpicky in nature and probably not that fair.

Netflix is doing a great job with this story and I am anticipating the final chapter later this year.  I feel like they could cover even more of the stories if they so desired.  Who knows what will happen.

Have you checked out either Siege or Earthrise?  What did you think?  Was this a worthy second chapter?  What do you see happening in Kingdom?  Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and thank you for letting me branch off a little bit from the “normal”!  You may start to see more content like this show up on the site when the mood strikes.  I hope you enjoy it.

– jourdo

Developed by Rooster Teeth Studios, Transformers: War for Cybertron – Earthrise features the voice talents of Jake Foushee as Optimus Prime, Jason Marnocha as Megatron, Linsay Rousseau as Elita-1, Joe Zieja as Bumblebee, Frank Todaro as Starscream, Rafael Goldstein as Ratchet, Keith Silverstein as Jetfire, Todd Haberkorn as Shockwave & Red Alert, Edward Bosco as Ultra Magnus & Soundwave, Bill Rogers as Wheeljack, Sophia Isabella as Arcee, Brook Chalmers as Impactor, Shawn Hawkins as Mirage, Kaiser Johnson as Ironhide, Miles Luna as Teletraan I & Cliffjumper and Mark Whitten as Sideswipe & Skywarp. The series is now streaming on Netflix.

 

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