Transformers: Prime – Season One: Limited Edition (Shout Blu-ray Set) + Transformers: Prime – Darkness Rising + Transformers: The Japanese Collection - Headmasters + Beast Wars:
Transformers – Season 1 + G.I. Joe:
Real American Hero Series 2 – Season One (Shout DVDs)
Transformers: Prime – Season One:
Limited Edition (Shout Blu-ray)
Picture: B Sound: B Extras: C+ Episodes:
Transformers: Prime – Season One proves that the Transformers franchise is alive and
well. Even after three Transformers films and multiple other
interpretations of the series since the 1980’s long time fans and newcomers
can’t get enough.
Transformers: Prime is a new series created with CGI
animation technology. This series uses
the same premise as other Transformer series
have, as the Autobots led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen; who voiced Optimus in
the Michael Bay films) search for the Energon [The Transformers’ life
force]. Again the Autobots live in
secret here on Earth, only divulging their secret to a few humans (Jack, Miko,
Raf, and Special Agent Bill Fowler).
Interestingly Agent Fowler is voiced by Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame. The Autobots are battling the Decepticons led
by Megatron and must use their human allies to defeat the Decepticons once and
The series has solid animation that is beautifully
constructed; though a tad too clean cut for my taste. The storylines are deeper than previous
incarnations, but that isn’t hard to do and though they attempt to heighten
continuity and depth the ‘Saturday Morning Cartoon’ feel is still there.
Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are the creators/writers
for the series and gained much of their experience in the Transformers universe working on (writing) the Michael Bay
feature films. Many B-List celebrities
lend their voices to the series; including that of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,
John Noble (Fringe), and Gina Torres
The first 5 episodes of the series are its shining moment
as it establishes many of the relationships and gives the most detail. As the series moves forward that depth and
detail are lost and are replaced with ‘story of the week’ adventures; where the
Autobots and Decepticons battle it out for an artifact or weapon. Really how do they keep discovering these
things at the same time?! They must be
buying their intel from the same robot…
The weakest parts of the series are the humans. I find them mostly annoying and whereas they
are a crucial part of the storyline, most of the time they are in the way and
out of place. Transformers are the real
heroes, why these series incest on adding a human element I will never
I think Transformers:
Prime is worth a look as it is not nearly as mind numbing as other takes on
the series. Hasbro’s original intention
was to sell toys (and sell they did), but somehow created a generation of
diehard fans who will stop at nothing to get another taste of their
intergalactic, robotic heroes.
The extras available on this set are as follows:
- Original Graphic Novel [96
Page paper printed novel]
- Original ‘Making Of’ Special
- 14 Audio Commentaries [14 out
of the 26 episodes this Season have well thought out, enthusiastic
commentaries with a host of voice actors, writers, producers, and toy
execs making appearance. Very well
done when you see other big series only getting 2-5 (unenthusiastic)
- Toy Featurette [Don’t be
fooled, this is only an extended advertisement for the new toy series, NOT
- Season Two Preview
Transformers: Prime – Darkness
Rising (Shout DVD)
B- Sound: B- Extras: C- Episodes: B
belabor the point, this release (on DVD) is merely the first five (5) episodes
of Transformers: Prime, which
establishes characters, relationships, and what is to come. As mentioned in the review for Transformers: Prime – Season One (Blu-ray) the
first 5 episodes are certainly the best in the Season One.
all this is a budget title that is intended to draw fans in and watch more of
the series later on; or perhaps it can be for those fans who only liked the
first 5 episodes. Either way this
release does not stand up in quantity or quality when compared to the Season One release of Transformers Prime on Blu-ray.
extras on this set are weak as they only offer fans two galleries featuring
some of the characters and sets. Not
worth anyone’s time; stick with the Blu-ray full season release.
Transformers: Headmasters – The
Japanese Collection (Shout DVD)
B- Sound: B- Extras: C- Episodes: C
an interesting (odd?) take on the Transformers
legend, Transformers: Headmasters takes
place after the ‘Return of Optimus Prime’ and ignores all subsequent storylines
Season Four ‘Rebirth’). Whatever, I guess if Hollywood
can do it with all of the superhero films, why not here or umm in Japan.
episode series is presented in its original Japanese audio with English
subtitles. This is a rarely seen series
as it was released in Asia exclusively for
many years. Now fans get to enjoy the
Autobots battle the Decepticons in a whole new way…well similar, but different!
series takes place millions of years in the past. As the Planet Cybertron has fallen a group of
Autobots flee with the help of robot named Fortress to a harsh, dangerous
planet called Master. Due to the harsh
conditions the Autobots are forced to build large, shell-like/inanimate bodies
called Transectors. Transectors allow
the Autobots to change their form into a ‘head’ that when merged with that of
the Transectors create one huge, powerful being; hence the term Headmasters. This in turn makes them commanding beings,
who have time to refine their skills. Some
of the Autobots taking on much more powerful forms once the Transectors are in
no Transformers’ series would be
complete without the Decepticons, so not before long the Decepticons (led by
Scorponok) arrive to wreak havoc. On the
planet Master the Transformers (as always) are split in to good and bad;
eventually returning to Cybertron and joining the ranks in battle.
Prime spends the 35 episode season leading the Autobots against Scorponok (the
bad Headmaster) and the Decepticons. The
initial premise though odd is quite impressive and establishes a good story
arch for the rest of the series to build off of; too bad they don’t.
series quickly becomes a downward spiral as the episodes are the classic Transformers’ battle of the week format
and where as there are some interesting, shining moments; mostly it is merely
All Transformer fans MUST add this to their
collection as it is canon and seen as an ‘in between series’ that falls
somewhere between USA
seasons 3 & 4. Season 4 took a different spin on the Headmasters, but both have
their merits and downfalls.
only one extra on this set, which is a Conceptual Art Gallery. This is sad because it would have been nice
to hear the original creators give some insight into why they decided to
derivate from the USA
Beast Wars: Transformers – Season
1 (Shout DVD)
B- Sound: B- Extras: C Episodes: C+
they are robots that transform (this time into animals), Beast Wars in my opinion IS NOT Transformers…at least not in the classic sense.
a whole new lingo to learn as the good guys are Maximals and the bad guys are
Predacons. Once you got that part down
the series does follow in suit with the classic good versus evil Transformers battle stories. Taking it a step further the leader of the
‘good guys’ is Optimus Primal *rolls eyes* while Megatron *rolls eyes again* is
the leader of the Predacons. So anyone
can see the extreme amount of effort and creativity which was put in thus far…
series was created at a time when CG animation was at its infancy and it shows
here. Whereas I respect the series in a
nostalgic way and what it was for its time, by today’s standards the series
would be considered a joke. In fact we
often see on TV and the internet jokes centering on bad CGI like this featured
here. We can blame the brilliance of
Pixar for that.
Beast Wars: Season One was a clear attempt to one
revitalize a dying series (created prior to Michael Bay’s films) and two sell
some more cool toys that transform into animals. Interestingly enough, both of these goals
were accomplished as Beast Wars is a
beloved series by Transformers’ fans. Many do think that Beast Wars made the greatest attempt of all Transformers series to make a coherent, meaningful storyline that
embraced continuity and larger story arches.
Sadly even with that attempt by today’s standards the series feels over
simplified and mostly falls flats.
nostalgic standpoint I quite like Beast
Wars, but from a pure animation/story perspective it is a failure.
extras include one almost 20minute featurette entitled ‘Maximized! Creating a
New Breed of Transformer.’ It is a nice
featurette as it has plenty of information/interviews from a variety of sources
including writers, directors, and even Hasbro execs. The other two extras are an Art Gallery
and Original Character Models, neither of which are too exciting.
G.I. Joe: Real American Hero
Series 2 – Season One (Shout DVD)
B- Sound: B- Extras: D Episodes: C-
the box says ‘American Hero’ the tag line is ‘International Hero;’ why is the
world so PC. Can’t GI Joe just fight for
the home front? Moving on…
is picking up where Cobra Commander left off as he picks up the pieces and
attempts to make the Cobra organization the evil powerhouse it was once
again. Too bad they couldn’t make this
series a powerhouse again! GI Joe Series Two is pure
dreadful. The series takes place shortly
after GI Joe: The Movie but fails to
pack the same punch as all of the key GI Joe characters are gone and only a
handful of the Cobra team is there. On
top of all of this the storylines are appalling as they are a mix of nonsense
and idiotic action sequences. The
animation is also suffering this time around (Dic took over) as the series
became a low budget, quick buck venture with little heart or soul. The color palette teeters between seizure
inducing and laughably bright, with uniforms clashing and action sequences
being a flat out blur.
not the GI Joe I remember and if it
wasn’t for a somewhat similar premise and reoccurring characters I wouldn’t
know it was GI Joe at all. The stories leave much to be desired to the
point I would call them unwatchable.
Perhaps a younger less critical audience may enjoy this series, but I
would say there are better things to watch.
are non-existent, but then again for such a weak series what did we expect?
Transformer: Japanese Collection, GI Joe, and Beast Wars sets are very similar in presentation quality. Each released on DVD they are presented in a
1.33 X 1 Full Frame that has merely adequate colors, contrast, crispness, and
clarity. One reason is due to the low production
values to begin with, but secondly no care was taken to preserve or restore
these series. There is a degree of
dirt/debris throughout each and many sequences appear washed and/or
blurry. The disappointing picture is
followed with adequate sound. Beast Wars and Transformers: Headmasters are presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0
stereo that might as well be the same as the Mono track that is found on GI Joe as all three come blasting from
the front. The presentations are clear
enough, but they also have many instances in which they can sound distant or
muffled. Depth just isn’t there and a
5.1 track would have served these action series better.
Transformers Prime series on Blu-ray
you would expect to be excellent, but falls somewhat flat. The picture on both the DVD and Blu-ray is a
1.78 X 1 Widescreen presentation. The
Blu-ray demonstrates the 1080p High Definition nicely, but has aliasing and
compression issues here and there. The
colors and black levels are sharp and framing upgrading the image, but not
totally helping dismiss its shortcomings.
The sound is a 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio that is ambitious but at times
feels off balance. Not weak or distorted,
it just does not pack the power the series should demonstrate. Clarity is slightly off as well, though fans
will not be up in arms by any means. The
DVD is a clear downgrade in its Dolby Digital 5.1 track, being weaker than the
DTS track and not nearly as well rounded.
all of these sets have there own merits; whether it be nostalgia or pure
creativity. I recommend all fans take a
look and enjoy; I will proudly display all of these series…no matter how bad
- Michael P. Dougherty II