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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Action > Animé TV > Transformers: Armada (Best Battles/Flashbacks)

Transformers – Armada:  Best Battles + Flashbacks


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: C-



The third time was not the charm for Hasbro’s Transformers franchise.  Armada (2002) is the latest series based on the surprisingly popular toy series of the mid-1980s.  Instead of being the original that took place in a somewhat believable world, or its Beast Wars sequel (reviewed elsewhere on this site) totally in the computer animation world, this one is the most colorful and infantile of the three, a tired and sad revival that is lame like nothing since the now-defunct Group W Productions gave us Flash Gordon on a skateboard!


Like the recent Masters of the Universe animated series, the toys far outweigh the show that goes with them, which really does play like the obvious, stereotypical TV-show-as-half-hour-commercial.  The directing is lame, the dialogue is atrocious and an insult to kids and adults alike, the animation is substandard for TV animation at any time during the color era, and the idea that the giant robots are from an ancient time is beyond stupid.


The voice actors are also very weak, sounding more like airheads with naïve optimism than being part of any exciting world of robot battles.  Even the transformations are lame.  If this had been the original show, it would have bombed big time.  Next time Hasbro wants to revive a successful franchise, have it done by people who liked the original or forget it.


The ironically-titled Best Battles offers the episodes Metamorphosis, Base, Confrontation, and Decisive Battle.  Flashbacks tries to incorporate what looks like older footage and offers Prehistory, Trust, and Past in two parts.  It plays like those many “cheat” cartoon shorts where the characters would talk about past adventures, but Warner Bros’. Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies did this kind of thing far better, as did The Jeffersons.  With DVD and the original series four seasons worth on disc, this seems like a dated idea.  It also reminds me of how much better the Japanese Star Blazers and especially Battle of the Planets were than in their American “revision” versions where a show with some edge was castrated and sanded down beyond kids-safe.  Too bad these do not have Japanese soundtracks with better dialogue, but I suspect this series does not even have that going for it, and an original would have footage edited out anyhow.


The one thing the full frame images on these DVDs have is exceptional color quality, their only saving grace.  Except for the flashback footage of the older hand-drawn show, which has some detail advantages, the color is good and makes up for lesser definition overall.  The rubbery form of the actual animation is like a subdued version of a Fleischer cartoon, but this has nowhere near the character.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is shockingly lacking any kind of surround sound, which is unbelievable for a TV show currently in production.  That is lame.  Not surprisingly, there are no extras.


Of course, there will be completists and die-hard fans who will want these and they will at least have a good picture, but if you have to see any Transformers, you should consider the other series first before dealing with Armada.  You can even just go out and see the toys.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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