Logo for Byte Magazine at Ball State University

'Transformers: War For Cybertron: Siege' is an ambitious reboot that falls flat

by Emily Guffey The Transformers series has had a wide variety of interpretations over nearly 40 years, each iteration taking its own spin on the characters, plot, and world. Transformers: War For Cybertron: Siege is another attempt at a reboot, this time trying for a more serious tone compared to previous animated iterations. Sadly, Siege is a flawed attempt at reviving this long-running franchise. With only six episodes, the series is unable even to find its footing, leading to rushed character arcs and unresolved plots. The animation and voice acting also suffer from this lack of groundedness.

Wasted potential

Image from IMDb
In the show, characters switch sides in an instant or provide little to no actual relevance to the plot. It’s difficult to connect with characters within such a small time frame, and much of the show depends heavily upon one’s knowledge of other Transformers iterations to understand what is going on. One thing I can commend the series for is taking certain characters into different directions unique to this series: Bumblebee is given a bit more background and personality, and Skyfire was completely reworked and given a new role in the main cast, which has been divisive amongst fans as his new personality is much more hostile than he was originally. I also enjoy the fact that what can only be described as D-tier characters (such as Spinster or Red Alert) actually get a little bit of screen time. Then there is the actual story. Plot devices are introduced and destroyed within 20 minutes, and the same happens with superficial connections among characters. It’s even worse when many of these plot devices were created exclusively for Siege, but do nothing for the plot, and even open a few extreme plot holes that damage all involved motivations.

More than meets the eye

The animation itself is very hit or miss. Aerial fights can be very thrilling and high in action, but lack variety in attacks or creativity. When it comes to close combat, though, the animation takes a massive nosedive in quality. It often feels that certain frames are missing, creating janky fight scenes with very little flow. During more calm scenes, the animation can be a bit stilted, but it’s less bothersome in these moments. Voice acting for a series like Transformers is daunting, as fans have very particular feelings about how certain characters should sound. The voice acting is decent, and there aren't any outstanding performances, good or bad, to report. Jake Foushee, the new voice actor for Optimus Prime, is the only one I’d like to commend, as his Optimus Prime voice has significantly improved since working on Transformers: Cyberverse, going from a bad impression to a decent interpretation.

The bright side

Image from IMDb
There are a few things I can commend the series on. I can also say I’m happy to see a focus on creating a more mature version of the series. There have been attempts at this before, such as the IDW comics, or the War For Cybertron video games that, while sharing the same name as this new series, are not related in any way. This is the first mainstream animated series to attempt this, and I would say that it got a lot right in the way of world building. It understands what it wants to be, but doesn’t understand how to make itself that. Overall, I think the series needs a lot of work. Since this is meant to be a trilogy, one can only hope the next arc, Earthrise, will bring story and animation improvements, or may be given more time to flesh out its story.
Featured Image: IMDb Images: IMDb