BLU-RAY REVIEW: Transformers Prime Season Two
Action-Packed Second Season Takes Transformers to a Whole New Level...
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Transformers Prime proved itself with fans in the initial miniseries and first season (our review HERE), but that was nothing compared to season two. Airing on Hasbro’s HUB network for most of this year, season two of Prime has been a long, exciting adventure that’s finally coming to DVD and Blu-ray (for an abbreviated selection of season one and season two episodes see our review of the Transformers Prime One Shall Stand DVD HERE). Continuing the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons here on Earth, these stories cover everything from new recruits to the death of old soldiers, quests for lost artifacts, ancient Cybertronian history, and much more. In the next two weeks the second season of Prime will be available on Blu-ray and DVD everywhere.
Picking up where the first season left off with the epic battle against Unicron, season two sees an amnesiac Optimus Prime working for the Decepticons in the three-part “Orion Pax” storyline. Unlike a lot of “kids” shows Prime doesn’t hold the viewer’s hand, jumping right into the story and expecting you to catch up if you didn’t see the first season (or don’t remember what happened). The second season also features several multi-episode arcs and an overarching story that ties the whole thing together: continuing from last season, both factions are hunting down Cybertronian artifacts buried on Earth in a desperate arms race. The big twist, revealed in episode #21, is that the final four relics are in fact Omega Keys that can regenerate Cybertron! The humans play a somewhat smaller part in this season, but still serve to ground the Autobots in their life on Earth and play important roles in their mission for peace; on the other hand, Silas and his M.E.C.H. are always nearby to cause trouble.
The season two Blu-ray has 26 action-packed episodes ranging from the rescue and return of Optimus Prime to a standoff on Cybertron and a shocking cliffhanger that’ll leave you wanting more. Both Autobots and Decepticons gain allies with the appearance of Starscream clones (you might call them “Seekers”), Nemesis Prime, Smokescreen, Alpha Trion, and Insecticons along with rogue factions like Silas and M.E.C.H. and the return of Wheeljack. Some of the particularly cool episodes in this season include “Operation Bumblebee” and its follow up which deal with the inner workings of Transformers and their T-Cogs, the “Tunnel Vision” quartet of episodes covering simultaneous relic missions around the world, “Hurt” dealing with the horrible aftermath of battle and difficult recovery, “Alpha;Omega” that balances crazy action scenes with prophetic visions, and the final “Regeneration” and “Darkest Hour” duo that will change the status quo of the war forever.
The CG of Transformers Prime is state of the art, but to enjoy it fully you really need to see it on Blu-ray (though even the DVD is much better than the usual Hub feed). All of the Transformers get their time to shine, even Ratchet, in both action and story. If anything the combat and fast-paced intensity of season two is heightened above season one! Smokescreen especially never stands still, always leaping and dodging and transforming on the fly. Other new characters get to show off their cool moves like the hulking Insecticons and the brutal Nemesis Prime. The coolest fights are the ones between Optimus Prime equipped with the Star Saber and Megatron (with Solus Prime’s arm) wielding the Dark Saber! There’s also some really cool new sound design especially in battles, all of which is particularly enjoyable on the Blu-ray.
Also like in season one, the second season features a great voice cast with some all star guest appearances. All of the main characters are back: Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), Megatron (Frank Welker), Arcee (Sumalee Montano), Ratchet (Jeffrey Combs), Bulkhead (Kevin Michael Richardson), Starscream (Steven Blum), Jack Darby (Josh Keaton), Miko Nakadai (Tania Gunadi), Raf Esquivel (Andy Pessoa), Special Agent Bill Fowler (Ernie Hudson), June Darby (Markie Post), Breakdown (Adam Baldwin), Airachnid (Gina Torres), Wheeljack (James Horan), Knock Out (Daran Norris), and Silas (Clancy Brown). Bumblebee and Soundwave still communicate via noises, and new “faces” include Smokescreen (Nolan North), Cliffjumper in a flashback (Billy Brown), Hardshell the Insecticon (David Kaye), Dreadwing (Tony Todd), and Alpha Trion voiced by the incomparable George Takei!
A little lighter on special features than the previous releases, the season two Blu-ray still comes with some neat bonus content. A series of round table interviews with the creative team take you behind the scenes, covering everything from writing to production, art, and even playing with toys. You’ll learn all about the process of creating the show as well as the specific challenges involved therein. The big new feature is “Optimus Prime: Up Close and Personal,” an interview/panel with Larry King and Peter Cullen recorded at San Diego Comic-Con this year. In it Peter talks about his long career and the evolution of Transformers, with anecdotes from the original series in 1984 all the way through to the blockbuster films and the current Transformers Prime franchise!
With the second season having just recently ended on TV, it’s great to be able to back and watch the whole thing (especially since season two debuted way back in February). This four disc set will be available next week (November 20th) on DVD and the following week (November 27th) on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. The 26 episodes will have to hold us over until the next season, re-branded as “Beast Hunters,” comes to Hub in the Spring!
Review by Scott Rubin
Review Sample Courtesy of Shout! Factory