Review: Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom Completes Anime Trilogy With Beast Wars Reboot
The Transformers: War For Cybertron anime has been doing something very special on Netflix. It’s taking the entirety of the Transformers lore and creating something new with it. With two installments already released, the third part of the trilogy is now finally, on Netflix. As I’ll discuss in this Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom review, the show introduces us to another aspect of the fan favorite franchise. From a war-torn Cybertron in Siege, and then a mysterious adventure in hidden corners of space in Earthrise, Kingdom brings the characters to Earth. But it’s a different one than they were expecting, and one that we the audiences, are used to. Check out how the stage is set for the series to come to an end, in my spoiler-filled Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom review.
Please note that this Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom review will be spoiling the entirety of the original anime series, all three parts. Check out the series on Netflix, and return here for the review.
Transformers: War For Cybertron Siege And Earthrise Recap
Image via Netflix.
The first two parts of this new Transformers original anime on Netflix acted as very slow burns, with some stand-up-and-take-notice moments. But the concepts put forth in this series were really interesting enough to hold the audience’s attention. Siege introduced us to a different kind of Autobots; war-torn, ravaged, and completely down on their luck as fugitives on the run from the powerful Megatron and his Decepticon crew. They fleshed out the origins of the Transformers with a history between Megatron and Optimus Prime, further developing the universe and characters. That part ended with Optimus removing the Allspark, the life force of the Transformers, from their home planet of Cybertron. Plunging the planet, and the future of the Transformer race, in jeopardy.
The second part, Earthrise, was more of a madcap space adventure that went to some very weird places. Chasing after the Allspark, now needed to restore life to Cybertron, The Autobots and Decepticons embark on a chase through odd parts of space. Meeting new kinds of Transformers, and having weird spiritual experiences, Earthrise enhanced the stakes of the story. The rivalry between Megatron and Optimus deepened, with realizations on both sides. And the larger story of the series came to light, when a future version of Megatron, Galvatron, reached out to his former self, in order to manipulate the timeline in his favour. All of this leads to both groups finding the Allspark on a primitive planet. One that already seemingly housed Transformers. It was the cliffhanger of Earthrise, and it’s exactly where this Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom reviews things picks up.
Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom Review Is All About Beast Wars!
Monkey-bot. | Image via Netflix.
The third part of Transformers: War For Cybertron is the most anticipated because it teased the arrival of another Transformers franchise, Beast Wars! The original Beast Wars was a 90’s reboot/sequel of the Transformers franchise, that saw the machines transform into animals, instead of vehicles or other mechanized objects. It was a blip in the larger Transformers franchise, but one that has its own massive fan following. Paying homage to that by bringing those characters into this new anime iteration, only made sense. But the execution of it left something a little… wanting.
Earthrise ended with both Autobots and Decepticons crash landing on a new planet. One that is organic and populated by living, breathing fleshy beings. Or so they think. War For Cybertron: Kingdom begins with our Autobots coming to terms with their crash landing. But upon their arrival, they meet a new group of, what is later revealed to be, a new generation of Transformers. The characters of Beast Wars show up, initially as a group that come to odds with our Autobots, but later on, they obviously became allies.
The Beast Wars Characters Feel Out Of Place, But Not Why You’d Think
The new and old, working together. | Image via Netflix.
There’s an element of having the Beast Wars character show up in a show with other classic Transformers that I didn’t think about. And that is the voice cast. The Beast Wars versions of Transformers characters were very much based on the classic characters. So Optimus Primal was meant to be an iteration of the original Optimus Prime. While Peter Cullen voiced Prime in the classic shows and even new movies, Primal, voiced by Garry Chalk was basically a template of that original character. It’s the same with Megatron. The original character was voiced by Frank Welker, while his namesake in Beast Wars, was voiced by David Kaye, with homage to Welker’s choices.
With both versions of these characters now interacting with one another in Kingdom, obviously, the voices have to be separate and distinguishable from one another. And this is a problem. Because this Optimus Primal does not sound like the character from Beast Wars and neither does the Beast Wars version of Megatron. And while the logistics behind the difference makes sense, as a fan of that iteration of the show, the completely different voices were very jarring. It took a while to get over too. This is all subject to taste, of course. Though I wonder if my fellow OG Beast Wars fans feel the same?
This isn’t even the first time that the voice-cast for this new series was an issue, given the casting controversy during the release of Siege. And let’s not even get into how the Beast Wars version of Megatron here is a completely different character altogether. It’s these small, but significant changes that make the Best Wars characters seen in this show more of a reboot, than a continuation of the series from the 90s.
Spoiler Filled Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom Review
Evil Optimus. | Image via Netflix.
Ultimately, even despite that glaring complaint on my part, Kingdom works wonderfully. I am continuously astounded at the more deep-seated themes of this series, such as the spiritual tones, the destiny vs free will discussions, and the debates around perpetuating war. It’s a lot more philosophical and abstract than you would expect from Transformers.
Landing on a future version of Earth, the Autobots quickly realize that the Maximals’ existence and the ravaging of Cybertron, was in many ways, their fault. Vowing to get the Allspark back and restore the timeline, both Transformers fight against the bad guys, now led by two Megatrons. Galvatron’s plan also comes into focus, as Megatron finds out that he is reborn in the future as a slave to a larger and older being known as Unicron. Galvatron was attempting to manipulate the events of the past, to prevent this future of his as a slave. The rest of the story of Kingdom is dizzying and jam-packed with so much. But it never feels rushed or taking away from all the setup.
How Kingdom’s Ending Leaves Us Wanting More
There are three versions of the hero and villain in this series. | Image via Netflix.
In many ways, the ending of this original anime series on Netflix opens the door for possibly a newer franchise that tells even more amazing Transformers stories. The climax sees reluctant peace on a now restored Cybertron between all Transformers. But one that is fragile, and may not last that long. There’s also a bit of an almost post-credit scene that features Unicron, and his newfound desire to be a conqueror, implying that there are more threats and conflicts to come. If the anime continues beyond this original trilogy.
But the cool thing is that none of these breadcrumbs at the end felt gratuitous. It fits in the larger story and felt organic with what was going on. Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom stayed true to the trilogies more abstract concepts and gave us an ending that was worth the wait.
All parts of Transformers: War For Cybertron is now streaming on Netflix.
How did you feel about the ending of this new Transformers anime? Do you want a sequel trilogy coming next in this world? Let me know in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix.
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.