*very minor spoilers for Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege below
When I was offered the chance to view a screener of Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege on Netflix, I immediately leapt at the chance. Few know this about me, but I was actually a pretty big Transformers fan when I was a kid (watched all the G1 cartoons growing up), enough of one that I sat through the first few Transformer movies when I was older. Thus, when I learned of a Transformers prequel series that was set entirely on Cybertron, I just had to check it out.
Divided into six episodes, War for Cybertron: Siege details the closing days of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons that traditionally ends with the Autobots crash landing on Earth in the Ark. That being said…if you go into Siege expecting a familiar story then I’ve got news for you: this is not quite the story you thought you knew. Sure, all of the recognizable figures are there: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Starscream and yet…they’re not quite the same.
It’s hard to explain, but it’s done so well that I need to try. As an example, Megatron is, as expected, the tyrannical ruler of the Decepticons and he practically rules what’s left of Cybertron. And yet, despite his tyranny, Megatron’s motives for starting the fight were pure: he wanted to liberate himself and his brethren from pre-programmed oppression. On the flip side, Optimus Prime is recast in a way that makes him seem like Megatron’s mirror image. Both are driven towards an identical goal, to the extent that the code phrase for ultimate victory “Till all are one” is used on both sides (but obviously with VERY different implications). The Autobots, for their part, are described as having lived “above it all” before the war started, something that really makes you reconsider what you think you know about the Autobot/Decepticon war.
Please don’t think that these differences take away from enjoying the story of War for Cybertron: Siege, because they don’t. In fact, the episodes flow together very seamlessly and I found myself surprised several times that I’d reached the end credits already. What I enjoyed the most about this story is how it takes the story elements that longtime fans know (the Autobots fleeing Cybertron on the Ark) and explaining in detail how they got to that point. Newcomers to the Transformers story should have no trouble following along, as plenty of backstory is dropped throughout to give context to certain developments.
There are a number of Easter Eggs harkening back to Transformers over the years. The classic “transforming” sound appears throughout, the Ark is practically identical to its G1 appearance (and includes Teletraan 1), and there are even references to Alpha Trion, another character from the G1 series, just to name a few examples. Even with the differences, War for Cybertron: Siege definitely feels like part of the Transformers universe. And the best part of all of this? It’s set entirely on Cybertron!
Cybertron is a place I felt we didn’t get to see enough of in earlier incarnations of the Transformers story, so I was very excited to see the planet partially explored in this series. Having gone through a planetary war, much of the architecture is in ruins, but there’s just enough left to give you an idea of what Cybertron was like in all its glory.
I was also pleased to see Elita-1 given such a prominent role in the story. I don’t remember that much of Elita-1 in the original G1 cartoon, but I do know I absolutely love her design in this series. Considering most of the Transformers characters are male, it’s nice to see a female character be relatively prominent.
As an introduction to the origin of Transformers, War for Cybertron: Siege gets the story off to a rousing start, but it ends in a way I didn’t expect. There’s a surprise waiting for anyone who thinks they knows how Siege ends, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s good to leave the audience guessing as to what will happen next, and that’s what this ending certainly does.
I highly recommend Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege, which premieres on Netflix on July 30th, 2020.
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