Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise Review
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Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise Is Jam-Packed With Action And Backstory

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BY April 12, 2021

The latest Netflix original anime Transformers: War For Cybertron trilogy releases its newest part, and there’s a lot to unpack. The new anime took the existing Transformers lore and revamped with it some new origins and a new perspective on some of the characters. Things go to the next level in this second part with even more fleshing out of the iconic Transformers characters. They even go as far as humanizing one of the most legendary fictional villains of all time, Megatron. So find out why you should not be sleeping on this show in my Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise review. 

Transformers: War For Cybertron: Siege Recap

Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise portal. Image via Netflix.

The newest trilogy comes from Netflix and is an anime iteration of the classic Transformers franchise. The series explores the traditional Transformers origin story with a three-part trilogy. Siege was the first part, that introduced us to all the major players, along with the brand new status quo of the world. Cybertron is a world in ruins with two warring factions of mechanized robots called Transformers. The Autobots are at war with the Decepticons. The Decepticons, led by Megatron look to be in the majority, while the Autobots led by Optimus Prime are more like a group of rag-tag rebels. Siege deals with a turning point in the war where Optimus must find the Allspark the source of power for the world. He must do this to prevent Megatron from using it to commit genocide. 

My biggest issue with Siege was that, despite showcasing this war in mid-swing, it was never developed further. The motivations of the villains and heroes and the general backstory were always lightly alluded to. But it was never satisfyingly explained. There were references to both Prime and Megatron being friends at one time, rising against a common enemy, but we never knew who that was. Or how the landscape or hierarchy of leadership on Cybertron was before this war. I’m glad to say that those issues are completely gone in Earthrise, as the entire story of this second part is about those origins. While setting up what’s next to come in the finale of this trilogy.

The Past Is Now In Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise Review

Fight Image via Netflix.

Last we saw everyone at the end of Siege, Optimus had boarded a ship called the Arc and traveled through the Space Bridge in search of the lost Allspark. All Deceptions, along with a handful of Autobots remained on the now dying Cybertron. So Earthrise very much begins with three separate stories; the adventures of Optimus’ crew, the remaining Autobots led by Elita-1 on Cybertron, and Megatron’s growing desperation at losing the war. Things get much darker in Earthrise, as we see everyone desperately trying to hang on. 

Optimus comes face to face with a character whose origin is very much tied to the origins of Cybertron and Prime himself. But escaping that one situation less our space-bound crew to another place where Optimus has to face a dark past, to determine Cybertron’s future. It’s very cool to see the always calm and collected Optimus show some cracks. Throughout this season, he has to struggle with holding on to his principles. Or abandoning them to save his world. He screws up a lot, and it’s almost humanizing. Or would it be ‘robotonizing’?

Megatron’s Redemption Is In Earthrise. Kind Of.

Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise review action. Image via Netflix.

One of the more darker storylines is obviously Megatron’s. Left on Cybertron with no source of energy and no war to fight, Megatron turns on his own people. He begins harvesting Decepticons sparks (life force) for a larger plan that allows him to chase down Optimus. However, he seems to struggle with his methods, but his hatred does get the better of him. It’s always cool to see a bad guy doubt his reasons for being a bad guy. Villains with an existentialist crisis that always draw the wrong conclusions from their journey, is always interesting to see. More so when it happens to be one of the more arrogant and remorseless villains in fictional history.

We learn that Megatron, Optimus, and Ultra Magnus rose from slaves, and overthrew their oppressors, leading a revolution to take back Cybertron. Ideological differences tore them apart, leading to the current civil war between them. In Earthrise, we get to see just how lonely Megatron really is, and how he questions his own motives. But the tragic hate in his own spark prevents him from moving on. It’s really insightful and makes you almost feel sorry for the guy. Almost. 

The Spirituality Of Earthrise Is Surprising For a Show About Robots

Deeseus Image via Netflix.

There’s a lot more blurring of the lines between spiritual and technological in this Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise review. We experience other realms and dimensions where Transformers have to use their minds to invoke true power. There are vision quests and sentimentality, not to mention, love? During his vision, we see Optimus Prime with Elita-1, and it’s kind of obvious that he cares for her romantically. Which was kind of implied in Seige, and all but spelled out now in Earthrise. 

Megatron and Optimus both also have their own respective vision quests, allowing them to put aside all their doubts. Both emerge with more resolve about their actions and goals, albeit, with contrasting endgames. It’s intriguing to see how the machine element of their being still allows room for the fantastical and unexplained. 

The Flagrantly False Marketing Or Earthrise Is A Little Upsetting

Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise Galvatron. Image via Netflix.

My one gripe with Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise, is with its kind of false advertising. As mentioned, when the trailer released, many of the big reveals centered around the appearances of Galvatron, Unicorn, and possibly Nemesis Prime. All characters that are pretty huge in Transformers lore. While I right away called Nemesis Prime as more of a vision of the future than an actual appearance, the others were very disappointing. There’s also a misdirected Easter egg from the first Transformers animated movie.  The whole thing felt very click-baity in principle.

When the Earthrise trailer showed the appearance of Galvatron, a future version of Megatron, everyone’s ears perked up like a dog seeing a squirrel. I even wondered how could appear on screen unless time travel was a part of the story. And sure enough, it was. As cool as Galvatron’s appearance was, we got more questions at the end than answers. And the third part of the trilogy does not look like it will answer those questions at all. Galvatron advises Megatron that he needs to kill Optimus, before getting snatched back into the future by Unicorn, who is basically like the Transformers franchise’s Galactus. But what Galvatron gives Megatron before he leaves, definitely sets up the finale of the trilogy. 

Earthrise Is A Ideological Fight More Than Robots Clanking

Transformers: War For Cybertron: Earthrise bridge. Image via Netflix.

The coolest thing that Earthrise manages to accomplish, is taking huge battling robots, and making their war more about ideas than metal clashing. Both Optimus and Megatron are rivals, not due to archetypes of good or evil, but due to clear political differences about what’s best for their people. Megatron tries to reconcile his past as a literal, gladiator who rose to power. While Optimus has to deal with the reality of his naivety. Both men collide in their individual quests, intersecting with one another, and become transformed during it. Pun, very much intended. 

There’s also a huge underlying subtext throughout this War For Cybertron series of freedom and peace. The subjugation of any species, or rather ‘sentient beings’ as they refer to multiple times, is a big deal. This is especially interesting given that the original Transformers franchise began when the Autobots and Decepticons came to Earth during prehistoric times and stayed dormant until the ’80s. When they awoke, the Transformers could easily have conquered Earth given their superior technological advancements. However, it’s probably this same belief, now framed against the backdrop of a new planet of innocent biological beings that further fuel their war in the future. I can’t wait for the third part of the Transformers: War For Cybertron franchise, Kingdom. 

Both parts of War For Cybertron is now streaming on Netflix. 

Do you think this new Transformers anime will be a seminal series for the entire franchise? Sound off in the comments below. 

Featured image via Netflix. 

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Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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