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Transformers: Prime – Season Two (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 12, 2012 by  



“Transformers Prime: Season Two” is highly enjoyable, exciting and a series full of action!  The series is well-acted and the episodes are well-written and it helps that you have people who are fans of “Transformers” and respect the past, previous “Transformers” versions but worked to create something enjoyable for older fans and also the new generation of fans who are getting into “Transformers” for the first time.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Hasbro Studios. All Rights Reserved.

BLU-RAY TITLE: Transformers Prime: Season Two

TV RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 10 Hours

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p Anamorphic 1:78:1, English 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Stereo

COMPANY: Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

RATED: TY Y7

DVD RELEASE DATE: November 27, 2012

Directed by David Hartman, Todd Waterman, Vinton Heuck, Shaunt Nigoghossian

Written by Steven Melching, Nicole Dubuc, Joseph Kuhr, Duane Capizzi, Marty Isenberg, David McDermott, Mairghread Scott

Producer: Mandy Safavi, Rafi Ruthchild, Steven Puri

Executive Producer: Stephen Davis, Jeff Kline, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci

Supervising Producer: Duane Capizzi

Animation Producer: Therese Trujillo

Music by Brian Tyler, Matthew Margeson

Edited by Michael William Miles

Casting by Lorena Gallego

Art Direction by David Hartman

 

Featuring the Voices of:

Sumalee Montano as Arcee

Kevin Michael Richardson as Bulkhead

Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime

Frank Welker as Megatron

Jeffrey Combs as Ratchet

Tania Gunadi as Miko Nakadai

Josh Keaton as Jack Darby

Andy Pessoa as Rafael “Raf” Esquivel

Steve Blum as Starscream

Ernie Hudson as Agent William Fowler

Markie Post as June Darby

Adam Baldwin as Breakdwn

Nolan North as Smokescreen

Daran Norris as Knock Out

Gina Torres as Airachnid

Tony Todd as Dreadwing

Clancy Brown as Silas

James Horan as Wheeljack

Alexandra Krosny as Sierra

John Noble as Unicron

David Kaye as Hardshell

Unicron is defeated, but what was thought to be the end of the Autobots’ darkest hour is actually proving to be just the beginning! The centuries-old war rages on, pitting Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and his team of heroic Autobots, alongside their most trusted human allies, Jack, Miko, Raf and Special Agent Fowler (Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters) against Megatron (Frank Welker) and his nefarious Decepticons. The action heats up with a boldly exciting climax you absolutely have to see to believe!

From Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writing team behind the megablockbuster Transformers feature films, and executive producer Jeff Kline comes a brand-new season of the Emmy Award winning series that Crave Online describes as the show die-hard fans have always wanted. Now you can catch all 26 episodes of the outrageous second season!

The award-winning “Transformers Prime”, regarded by many fans as one of the best looking and also best written “Transformers” animated series so far, the series is being planned for a third season release for 2012-2013.

With a Blu-ray and DVD release of the first season of “Transformers Prime” having been released earlier this year, the conclusion left “Transformers: Prime” fans in suspense as the first season concluded with Unicron the Chaos-Bringer attacking the autobots and in a surprising move, Optimus Prime and the Autobots form an uneasy alliance with Megatron.  But in the process, something bad has happened to Optimus Prime, to the point that Optimus Prime has reverted back to his pre-prime identity, the Cybertron librarian known as Orion Pax.

With this second season, the Autobots are tested as Orion Prime now as Orion Pax is being used by Megatron in order to pinpoint areas where Autobot relics may be located.  Meanwhile, Silas of M.E.CH. has targeted both Autobots and Decepticons and found their weakness and try to steal Cybertron T-Cog technology in order to create their own secret army.

Meanwhile, what happens when Starscream and Araichnid go rogue on the Decepticons?  And what happens when M.E.C.H. develops a clone of Optimus Prime known as Nemesis Prime?  Also, what happens when the Insecticons attack the Autobots and who is the newest member of the Autobots?  And what happens when Megatron tries to convert Earth into a new Cybertron?

Find out in “Transformers: Prime – Season Two”!

What is “Transformers: Prime” about?

“Transformers: Prime – Darkness Rising” would take place three years since the Decepticons have lasted attacked Earth and the Autobots have awaited their return.

One day, Arcee and Cliffjumper went to search for Energon near a rock cliff.   But not long after arriving, he is attacked by the Decepticons and in the process, all the Energon is destroyed but Cliffjumper is captured.

Upset about the Energon, Starscream confronts Cliffjumper and kills him.

But by the time Optimus Prime, Arcee, Bumblebee, Ratchet and Bulkhead arrive to help Cliffjumper, they realize they have arrived too late.  But now they know the Decepticons are back and they are the only five Autobots that must defend and protect humankind.

As Arcee goes to town to let off steam after her friend Cliffjumper has died, a human named Jack Darby who works at a burger shop sees a motorcycle (which is Arcee) and hopes to purchase one when he makes enough money.  And as Jack gets on the motorcycle, he is unaware that Decepticons have arrived and are going after Arcee.

So, now Jack is brought into the fray and Starscream wants both Arcee and Jack dead.  But while trying to escape from the Decepticons, two more humans: a young genius named Rafael “Raf” Esquivel and the mouthy foreign exchange student Miko Nakadai see all the action taking place and now their lives are in danger.

Optimus Prime now wants these three to be protected as the Decepticons are after them as they are thought to be assisting the Autobots.

But while Starscream is intent of leading the Decepticons, Megatron, who has been missing for three years, has returned.  And this time, he has Dark Energon and plans t use it to raise an undead army of Cybertronians in order to defeat his nemesis Optimus Prime and the Autobots.  Will five Autobots be enough to defeat Megatron or the Decepticons?

Fortunately the Autobots have some help from their human friends Jack, Miko and Raf, while Agent William Fowler occasionally calls in the Autobots whenever he is in need of help.

But meanwhile, Starscream and his Decepticons is doing all he can to make sure they get the Energons and to find the secret location of where the Autobots are hiding.

As the Autobots take on various new Decepticons who have shown up on Earth, they quickly learn that there are humans, just as dangerous as the Decepticons known as M.E.C.H., a terrorist organization led by Silas who has been in search of “living technology”.

As for Megatron, despite his body being out of commission, he is trying to be revived by his fellow Decepticons, but will the power-hungry Starscream allow it? And an unforeseen nemesis by the name of Unicron returns.

With season two, what will happen when Megatron tries to set his plans into motion, meanwhile Starscream and Araichnid turn rogue?  As Optimus Prime and the Autobots try to stop the Decepticons from finding any Autobot technology, together, they must work as a team as they must deal with new recruits, Decipticons plus the now, powerful M.E.C.H. who have been successful in their attempts to neutralize Autobots or Decepticons and steal their technology.

“Transformers: Prime – Season Two” featured the following episodes (spoilerless summary) on four Blu-ray Discs:

  • EPISODE 27 – Orion Pax, Part 1 – Optimus Prime has reverted back to his previous self Orion Pax, The Autobots try to find out a way to bring Orion Pax back!
  • EPISODE 28 – Orion Pax, Part 2  – Orion Pax starts to doubt Megatron.
  • EPISODE 29 – Orion Pax, Part 3  – Jack and Arcee are attaced by an Insecticon.  Meanwhile, Orion Pax discovers Megatron’s lies!
  • EPISODE 30 – Operation: Bumblebee, Part 1 – M.E.C.H. steals Bumbleebee’s T-Cog which allows him to transformer to vehicle mode.
  • EPISODE 31 – Operation: Bumblebee, Part 2 – It is learned how Bumblebee lost his voice and the Autobots tries to get back his T-Cog.
  • EPISODE 32 – Loose Cannons – Wheeljack pursues Dreadwing, but he starts to show his recklessness in battle.
  • EPISODE 33 – Crossfire – Megatron sends Airachnid on a mission, but also orders Breakdown and Dreadwing to kill her.
  • EPISODE 34 – Nemesis Prime – M.E.C.H. creates a clone of Optimus Prime known as Nemesis Prime.
  • EPISODE 35 – Grill – Agent Fowler must convince General Bryce that the Autobots are good.
  • EPISODE 36 – Armada – Bulkhead is trapped in the Decepticon warship, the Nemesis.
  • EPISODE 37 – Flying Mind – Jack, Miko, Rafael and Agent Fowler must save the Autobots who have been frozen in stasis.
  • EPISODE 38 – Tunnel Vision – Four lacon relics have been hidden around the globe and the Autobots must split up into teams and find them.
  • EPISODE 39 – Triangulation – Optimus Prime tries to find the second lacon relic in Antarctica.
  • EPISODE 40 – Triage – Ratchet calls Wheeljack to help him find the third lacon relic.
  • EPISODE 41 – Toxicity – Bulkhead goes to a volcanic island on the Equator to find the fourth lacon relic.
  • EPISODE 42 – Hurt– Bulkhead is in critical condition after a fight against the Insecticons.
  • EPISODE 43 – Out of the Past – Miko is growing angry that Bulkhead is taking too long to recover, so Arcee tells her a story about Cliffjumper
  • EPISODE 44 – New Recruit – The Autobots bring in a new recruit, Smokescreen.
  • EPISODE 45 – The Human Factor – What happens when Silas is merged with Breakdown’s body.
  • EPISODE 46 – Legacy – The Autobots look for the relic, The Star Saber.
  • EPISODE 47 – Alpha/Omega – Megatron goes to Cybertron to create more trouble for Optimus Prime.
  • EPISODE 48 – Hard Knocks – Optimus Prime and the Autobots try to look for the second Omega Key.
  • EPISODE 49 – Inside Job – Smokescreen is brought on board the Nemesis and Megatron finds out that the final Omega Key lies within him.
  • EPISODE 50 – Patch – Starscream tries to approach Megatron and call for a truce, but will Megatron allow him to join with the Decepticons.
  • EPISODE 51 – Regeneration – Dreadwing does something unexpected.
  • EPISODE 52 – Darkest Hour – Megatron tries to convert Earth into Cybertron, can the Autobots stop him?

VIDEO

“Transformers: Prime – Season Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic). The CG animation for this film is absolutely wonderful as we can see details on the metal of various robots. You can see scratches on the metal, the reflection of light and also glass windows and the reflection. But one thing I want to add is that watching this Blu-ray release, there are details that I never saw on the DVD. You can actually see particles, dust, smoke much clearly. You can see scuff marks and even dirt on the robots much more clearer.

The keyword for this Blu-ray release is detail. Having reviewed the original DVD version, having watched the series on television and now watching it in HD, the colors are vibrant, they pop! The CG for mountainous terrain, buildings, sunlight, overall surroundings are just incredible for a television animated series. For one, Polygon in Japan really did a fantastic job with the CG animation but most importantly, as the series progresses, not only does the series get better but there is also an improvement with the overall CG.

From Optimus Prime’s glass windows on his chest showcasing reflections to Megatron’s steel body, I was quite pleased with how this series looks! But also the amount of detail that was put into this series.

Many TV Series tend to keep things within their budget, especially with the amount of time they have for production. But I was quite thrilled to see how the quality but also hearing the enthusiasm of the staff (as heard on the audio commentary) in the production of “Transformers: Prime” and how they listen to their fans.

With that being said, I will say that the series does have its fair share of banding, so videophiles who are expecting pristine quality may be disappointed. Fortunately, not enough to deter people, as majority of fans and children will probably not care. Also, these scenes with banding are short and not long. Typically seen during orange/red backgrounds primarily.

But overall, picture quality is very good. Plenty of detail can be seen on Blu-ray and the clarity is outstanding but most importantly, black levels are nice and deep and colors are absolutely vibrant!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Transformers: Prime – Season Two” is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo. For a series with this much action, I admit that I, personally was hoping to hear a more immersive soundtrack. But while there are some ambience that can be heard through the surround channels, and some booms that can be heard at times, it’s not as powerful or as immersive as I was hoping for it to be. The lossless soundtrack does provide crystal clear dialogue and the musical score sounds incredible but the soundtrack does sound very good, moreso during the action sequences.

The voice acting is terrific and the fact that voice talent Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron) of the original “Transformers” animated series are back for this series…Fantastic!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Transformers: Prime – Season Two” comes with the following special features:

Disc Three:

  • Brand New Interviews with The Creative Team (22:37) Interviews with the Hasbro Studios crew about the making of season two and what they wanted to do differently from the first season.
  • Optimus Prime: Up Close and Personal – (28:04) A San Diego comic-Con International 2012 featurette with Peter Cullen being interviewed by Larry King and a Q&A with the audience.

EXTRAS:

“Transformers: Prime – Season Two” comes with a cardboard slipcover.

After season one, I proclaimed “Transformers: Prime” as possibly the best “Transformers” animated series yet.  But great series can be awesome for the first season and easily tank by the second season.  So, does “Transformers: Prime” pass the test?

The answer is a resounding yes!

There are major differences that are seen in the second season of “Transformers: Prime” and that is more focus on the Autobots/Decepticons but also showcasing the second antagonists, M.E.C.H. and less reliance on the three human characters, who played a big part in the first season.

No doubt that the first season was trying to establish the characters and also trying to test out the waters of what is working and what is not but also what are fans responding too.

Season two of “Transformers: Prime” kicked off things with a bang!  With Optimus Prime reverting to Orion Pax, it definitely made you anxious to see where the writers were taking this storyline.  Will something bad happened to Optimus Prime once again?  We have seen how the character has been treated in a various of series in order to capture the attention of audiences.

But the second season tries to bring some of the classic traits of the characters but also bring something new.  Wheeljack as a reckless Autobot was quite interesting to see, to see Megatron intent on killing one of his own was quite surprising and you had some of the Autobots face grave danger with substantial injuries.  You also have a few new characters show up and join the Autobots and the Decepticons and for the most part, building on its storyline and making things a slight bit more mature for the old school fans, but also including Jack, Miko and Raf a bit in order to reach out to a more younger demographic.

So, for the Autobots, there are quite a few things that made things intriguing such as Sylus and the M.E.C.H. now becoming more familiar of Autobot technology, to the point where Sylus now has the upperhand.  You have Starscream doing things on his own once again and almost a nod to the 2005-2007 “Transformers: Cybertron” series, the search for keys and relics.

So, suffice to say that season two of “Transformers: Prime” has been highly entertaining thus far!

But I know I’m among a small group of fans who have grown up with the series back in the ’80s and still have admiration towards the various incarnations of the “Transformers” series, still buy the toys occasionally and are passionate about the storyline and how various studios treat the characters and to not stray too far of what fans have come to love about the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons

While the storylines of “Transformers” tends to change from series to series, the storyline of a battle between Autobots and the Decepticons still remains. Especially between Optimus Prime vs. Megatron. And as a father who has a child who is just as passionate as I was growing up with the series, I have to say that for me, “Transformers: Prime” is wonderful series.

By saying that, of course, G1 will always be true to my heart because I loved the amount of characters (especially the amount of toys produced) and several years ago, I gushed about how much I loved “Transformers: Cybertron” because of how many characters were integrated.

With “Transformers: Prime”, I admit that I was weary at first because of the few characters featured. Similar to “Transformers: The Animated Series”, we had a core group of Autobots and Decepticons but I’m so used to more characters, the merrier.

Fortunately, as the series progressed, the series not only provided newer characters (even if they appeared in a standalone episode), but what I loved is the modern progression of the series. There was a lot of thought that went into the series rather than just creating a series around the toyline. For example, for the episode “Predatory”, this was unlike any “Transformers” episode I have seen. It was darker, but it fit the character of Airachnid.

For anyone who remembers her character, she has always been deadly and menacing, but this time around, we get to see how dark this Decepticon was in actually torturing the Autobots. And how she collected the heads of those she killed, in a very “Predator” (for those old enough to remember the movies) way, as a form of trophy. I admit that I was surprised that the writers were able to pull it off, considering that “Transformers” is watched by many youngsters.

But there are other stories that were crafted as if they were targeted towards the older crowd, but safe enough that children can watch it.

And as mentioned earlier, the CG animation for this series is great! Typically, there are a lot of shortcuts taken on TV series but the creators of the series definitely made sure there was a lot of detail on both the Autobots and Decepticons but also various objects and environments. So, animation for “Transformers: Prime” was much more than I expected for an animated series but I admit, it is the most ambitious “Transformers” animated series yet but the crew managed to pull it off with great efficacy.

And as for the voice acting, the voice acting is wonderful! I was surprised was how many big names they brought in to do voices for the characters. Legendary Optimus Prime voice actor Peter Cullen and legendary Megatron voice actor Frank Welker (“G.I. Joe”, “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends”) are back. They are joined by Steve Blum (Logan/Wolverine for “X-Men”) as Starscream and Ernie Hudson (“Oz”, “Ghostbusters”) as Agent Fowler. But for any longtime “Transformers” fan, the fact that Cullen and Welker are back to do the voices for Optimus and Megatron is fantastic!

As for the Blu-ray release, the animated series looks great on Blu-ray!  I didn’t notice any major scenes that had too much banding nor did I see any major use of edge enhancement.  I do wish the audio was much more immersive in terms of LFE (subwoofer usage) and more use of audio (ie panning audio or surround sound usage) during the action sequences, but once again, that is me being picky. Otherwise, the lossless soundtrack is still very good for a TV animated series.

If there was one thing that was a bit of a bummer for “Transformers: Prime – Season Two” on Blu-ray, it was the lack of an audio commentary (which the first season had).  But fortunately you do get interviews with the Hasbro Studios production staff and the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con interview featuring Larry King and Peter Cullen, which was a lot of fun to watch!  But it would be great to have more audio commentary included.

Overall, as a longtime “Transformers” fan, and as a fan who has appreciated every series, “Transformers Prime: Season Two” is highly enjoyable, exciting and a series full of action!  The series is well-acted and the episodes are well-written and it helps that you have people who are fans of “Transformers” and respect the past, previous “Transformers” versions but worked to create something enjoyable for older fans and also the new generation of fans who are getting into “Transformers” for the first time.

If you are a fan of “Transformers” or a father who wants to experience the series with their children, I highly recommend “Transformers: Prime – Season Two” on Blu-ray!

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