"Transformers Animated - Transform and Roll Out" DVD Review
June 26, 2008 by Zach Demeter
In this day and age an animated tie in for a film that may possibly appeal to younger audiences is the norm. In fact it’s often strange if there isn’t some animated tie-in of sorts and that it took Transformers this long to return to the animated venue is the real surprise. Already well into its second season, Paramount saw fit to wait until now to release the three-part “Transform and Roll Out” series premiere on DVD. Few extras accompany this disc, but is it worth purchasing solely for the animated feature itself?
Taking place in 22nd Century Detroit, the autobots are woken from their stasis to find that the “organic life forms”, aka humans, are under attack from the evil villains of the world. Seeing this as their call to duty, Optimus Prime and his young team take on the task of protecting the humans and to also protect the Allspark, the most important artifact in Transformers history, from the evil Decepticons. With all of the big-time Transformers making their appearance, including Optimus Prime, Prowl, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Ratchet and more, Transformers Animated promises to be fun for all ages.
I wasn’t even born when the original Transformers flooded the market and I only went to see the movie because I wanted to see giant robots beat the crap out of each other, although Megan Fox was a pleasant bonus, so I didn’t take much interest in the new animated series when it debuted shortly after the theatrical film saw a DVD release. The art style didn’t seem particularly engaging to me and I just passed on the whole season altogether; I’d heard good things about it and been meaning to check it out at some point, but with the second season almost finished, I decided to hold off until the DVDs started rolling out. Unfortunately Paramount doesn’t want to release season sets, apparently, so I’m stuck with only the first three episodes of the series.
One thing I immediately noticed was that the series looked remarkably like the Teen Titans animated show from a few years back. This is for good reason, as the art direction from Teen Titans and Transformers Animated turned out to be helmed by the exact same man: Derrick Wyatt. I immediately felt at home with the animation, which made the transition into the series easier from a visual standpoint. The only hurdle I had to get over now was the writing.
I’ve recently run into a barrier when it comes to animation. I simply do not enjoy the majority of animated shows that litter the air anymore; the dialogue and writing is simply too juvenile and I end up feeling like I’m doing nothing but wasting my time with the whole thing. Thankfully I was able to dig into these first three episodes with relative ease and the childish dialogue and humor didn’t seem to faze me as much; it still wasn’t something I was entirely comfortable with watching, but I kept reminding myself that it’s Transformers and you shouldn’t be too concerned with anything other than robots fighting one another.
Once I decided to focus less on the story and more on the characters, I began to enjoy the series more. It won’t win anything for characterization, but the animation here is remarkable. The transformations and smooth and fluid and the actual fighting between the bots are quite enjoyable. It’s nothing as impressive as the Michael Bay film in term of visuals, but it still was relatively pleasing to the eye. If nothing else, animation has stepped it up in terms of quality over the past decade, even if the writing in general has gone down to levels suitable for five year olds.
Overall I’m not a huge fan of the product and only got into it from the live-action film, but I can see the appeal of the animated Transformers. Having said that, only the most die-hard of fans will want to check it out…there’s really nothing here that we haven’t seen in other series that makes it worth checking out for the average viewer. Recommended.
The DVD release unfortunately houses only the first three episodes of the series, “Transform and Roll Out”, but it’ll make for a nice, cheap gift for the young one in the family. The set itself comes in a standard DVD case with a colorful cover and disc art and menus in the 4x3 aspect ratio. Video for the release is also 4x3, but is a nice progressive transfer that allows the animation to come through beautifully. Why this wasn’t made to be a widescreen release (I no longer accept the “kids prefer fullscreen!” excuse) I don’t know…seems like such a waste. The accompanying audio tracks, available in English and Spanish stereo, are loud and clear.
The only extra on this set is an “Animated Shorts” (2:52) which I assume are actually just clips from the series. Having only seen these first three episodes I can’t comment too much on it past what they have here.
Overall this is a weak release and will serve only the most die-hard of fans who need to own every piece of merchandise. The sixty-eight minute run time for the three episodes just isn’t worth the price of the DVD, no matter what you can get it at. Watch the series on TV, but don’t bother with this release. Skip It.