DVD Review: Transformers - 30 Years of Optimus Prime (1987, 2004, 2008, 2012)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Thursday, April 23, 2015 0 comments

"Transformers - 30 Years of Optimus Prime" is a compilation disc that celebrates Optimus Prime and the Transformers thirtieth birthday.  This compilation features five episodes from across several generations of Transformers and all of them highlight the greatest Autobot of all time, Optimus Prime.  What episodes are included?  Which generation of Transformers are they from?  All will be explained after the jump as I'll be going over all episodes found on this compilation in greater detail.  Transform and roll out.  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

Episode #1 & #2: The Return of Optimus Parts 1 & 2 (Transformers G1, Season 3, Episode #29 & #30, 1987)

First two episodes on this compilation are (appropriately) from the original series of Transformers.  This two-parter opens up with two Earth scientist testing out the heat resilience of a new metal by going to an exploding sun.  During the test they spot a ghost-ship (not filled with literal ghost but wouldn't be surprised if it was) and so they search it out.  On this ship they find the corpse of Optimus Prime and they barely manage to take it off the ship due to the exploding sun.  The tests to see how much heat the metal could take was really good as the scientist came out of the supernova A-OK because of the metal.  When they return home with Optimus Prime, instead of being happy from finding him they instead found Optimus as a burden as some of the scientist are afraid of him due to an accident that involved one of the scientist getting scarred from an lab explosion caused by the Decepticons.

The Decepticons just happen to invade their lab and wreck the place and thus leaving one of their crew disabled.  While at the hospital we see that the Autobots have made a special device to help the disabled scientist be able to walk again.  The other scientists are not amused and are even more angry at the Transformer race as a whole.  The scientists also find an unexpected discovery from their trip in space as they have found a spore that infects living creatures and causes them to attack one another in a very violent way.  The scientist come up with a plan to lure the Autobots to Optimus' corpse and infect them with the spore.  Their plan works but backfires as it infects all human life as well, now they must find a way to revive Optimus Prime and find a way to stop this zombie-like infection.

The story in this one isn't great, the writing was very sloppy and the plot was just plain silly as it's just a zombie horror flick done with Transformers and it doesn't work.  Another problem with the story for this one is one that isn't very clear and you won't get what's going on until the second part of this story.  Why's that?  It is because that at the start of part two there is a recap that explains everything in full detail and does a better job at explaining the story than what the entire first part did.

The story for these episodes did have some potential, the technophobic scientist could've worked well, instead they were treated in a very cartoony matter where we are supposed to treat them as the bad guys instead of seeing them as misguided people.  Optimus Prime returning from the dead was also a very interesting idea and was the most interesting thing to happen in the show.  It is a shame to see that both of those ideas ended up being poorly treated...  Just like a good chunk of season three of G1 Transformers (the season where these two episodes originally appeared in).  Even though the story does have a lot of bad, you will be on the edge of your seats to see how or will they stop the spores and it did leave me a bit worried that even Optimus Prime was worried that they won't be able stop the spores.

The action in these episodes were so bad that it was good as they were so goofy but yet very entertaining.  The art in these episodes had its high and low points, I found some of the art to look good but there's also a lot of art mistakes to where it was so bad that it was good.  The art got so bad to the point to where I made a game out of it.  The animation in these episodes were very cheap looking but not to the point where you won't be able to stomach it.  Voice acting in this episode was good for the Autobots, alright for the Decepticons, and just plain cartoony for the minor characters.  The music in this episode was just fine as it has the classic Transformers feel and we also see "The Touch" by Stan Bush (a song that appeared in "Transformers: The Movie (1986)" make a return.

Seeing as this is a compilation about Optimus Prime, let us judge to see if this episode contains all of the classic Optimus traits to see if this is worthy of being marked as an Optimus Prime based episode.  Well this two parter is a bit lacking of Optimus during the first part but that's understandable as he doesn't get revived until the second half.  Once the second half kicks in we see Optimus Prime as his classic self, you will see him in his full heroic glory to where you'll have forgotten that he wasn't in much of the first half.  This episode is worthy of being marked as an Optimus Prime themed episode but that doesn't mean that it is worthy of an Optimus Prime themed compilation disc.

Overall these are some very laughably bad episodes and should only be watched if you want to be entertained by something that is very bad.  There are many other episodes from this series that revolve around Optimus Prime that I would've picked instead of this one.  Not worthy on being on a compilation disc.

Episode #3: A Tale of Two Heroes (Transformers Energon, Season 2, Episode #5, 2004)

Our third episode takes us to the second generation of "The Unicron Saga (2002 - 2005)".  In this episode we have Optimus Prime meeting up with a very old friend by the name of Rodimus Prime but sadly things go sour as they have a huge disagreement.  Meanwhile we have Kicker and Ironhide set out on a dangerous mission to check out Rodimus' spaceship but find themselves in danger as they get attacked by a lot of Terrorcons (yep, the episode is really that simple).  Will Optimus and Rodimus kiss and make up?  Will Kicker and Ironhide get out alive?

The story in this episode was very hard to follow as it is an episode that takes place in the middle of a huge story arc, because of that this episode feels very out of place.  I have seen the whole story while watching the first volume of Transformers Energon (you can read my review to that box set right here) and found this choice of episode to be very odd as it is also a filler episode.  There is barely any story in this episode and with what story they had, they stretched it out to the point where the episode was very dull.  I'm guessing not even the people that made this episode even cared for this one as the title of the episode is misspelled during the opening of the show as they spell it "A Tale of Two Heros" instead of "A Tale of Two Heroes".

The drama in this episode did have potential when it came to Optimus and Rodimus but they barely focused on that at all and turned into an episode where Kicker and Ironhide just float around and wait to attack.  There is action in this episode and it was alright but lacked oomph due to the lack of story and made the action scenes useless.  This is also a very forgettable episode and I'm sure you can guess why...  Yep,  it's because (sorry to repeat myself) they don't focus much on the story.

The art for this episode/show uses a mixture of 2D and 3D art.  The human characters and the backgrounds are all (or mostly) in 2D and they look fine but don't have that much detailing but that didn't bother me.  There were some moments where the 2D art did look a bit off to the point of being a little creepy.  The Transformers are done in 3D and it has not aged very well but there are some cool designs for the Transformers.  Voice acting in this episode was passable and I have no problems with it.  Music was also passable and I had no problem with it.

Another thing that's out of place with this episode is that Optimus Prime isn't really the focus on this episode and barely appears.  This episode is defiantly not worthy of being deemed an Optimus Prime focused episode and feels really out of place in being part of this disc and not just for that one reason.  This is also a show where I can name episodes that deserve to be on this disc over the episode that ended up being on the disc.  Weakest choice on this disc.

Episode #4: Along Came A Spider (Transformers Animated, Season 1, Episode #9, 2008)

In this episode from the "Animated Generation" (I know that sounds weird but it's the best I could come with) we have the Autobots celebrate their first ever Halloween on planet Earth.  Sadly the Autobots have no idea what Halloween is and so Sari teaches them what the spirit of Halloween is all about.  This holiday can also be a bit overwhelming for Optimus Prime as seeing spooky rubber spiders reminds Optimus Prime of an Autobot named Elita One whom he lost to a cave of giant alien spiders.  Sari also takes Bumblebee and Lugnut out trick or treating and get spooked as they've seen a ghost but not a literal ghost (again, wouldn't be surprised if it was) but a Transformer they thought was lost.  That's right folks as they spot none other than a new and improved Elita One...  Only she has gone under a new name, Blackarachnia.  Blackarachnia also manages to trick Sari into helping her with her evil plan.  Now Optimus Prime must face his fear's and confront Blackarachnia and save Sari.

I found the story in this episode to be pretty interesting, seeing the Autobots celebrate their first Halloween was surprisingly cute and charming, while the element of seeing Optimus Prime's past was dark and serious.  The two styles of storytelling mixed together pretty good and made for a good balance and you won't see any clashing of styles.  While I did enjoy the story, I did find some flaws with this episode and that's how some scenes were really trying to force an intense element in some spots as there were some scenes that also tried way too hard to be a little dark and edgy.

The characters in this episode were likeable and they did have their charms but it is a little sad how we do not get to see Megatron.  When this show wasn't trying to force intense drama down our throats, the drama was very decent and got you interested.  I was mixed on the action as it suffers the same problems as the drama as it can come off as forced but there was some decent action.  Some of the action in this episode was surprisingly dark and did have me a bit worried that the Autobots were going to lose a close friend.

I was not a fan of the art-style of this show as most of the Transformers do not look like Transformors at all.  Most of the Transformers looked like masked wrestlers and rejected "Ben 10 (2005 - 2008)" transformations and it stuck out for all the wrong reasons.  The human characters in this episode also looked weird as there was no consistency between them and they all looked blobish and barely resemble looking like humans.  This show also uses a faux-anime look just like that seen in Ben 10 and it could've worked but it just looks odd. 

Animation can get a bit cheap looking and for some reason we see shaky-cam effects in the action scenes and they were just awful.  The voice acting in this episode was decent and the voices worked well with most of the characters although there were some voices that didn't work with the characters.  The soundtrack for this episode was forgettable and I found very hard to remember a single track and just barely remember what the opening theme song sounded like.  From what I did remember of the opening theme is that it sounded decent and did go along with the show.

This episode does have problems but I will say that this is a very appropriate pick from this series to put on a compilation disc.  This episode does highlight Optimus Prime and the show very well and is one of the few early Transformers Animated episodes that I did find enjoyable.  Overall this is a very appropriate pick and is worthy on being part of this collection.

Episode #5: Loose Cannons (Transformers Prime, Season 2, Episode #6, 2012)

Last and certainly not least we have an episode from a more modern generation of Transformers.  In this episode we see the return of Wheeljack, he is after a Decepticon that has made their way to Earth.  This Decepticon is named Dreadwing and this Transformer is not a force to be messed with as he is a master of making explosives.  Since Wheeljack is back that means that Bulkhead is very excited as they are the best of friends.  Wheeljack also needs some help to put a stop to Dreadwing and so he asks Bulkhead to go along with him.  Optimus Prime doesn't like this at all as he knows that Wheeljack is very reckless and will sure to put Earth's civilians at risk of being in danger.  How will this literal explosive battle go for the Transformers?

The story in this episode was pretty good as it had a very nice structure and balanced all the main elements (action and drama) really well.  The story was also very entertaining and it kept my eyes glued to the television set.  The drama was done very well and it helped you to get to know the characters and you will really find yourself supporting the characters.  Action in this show was very intense and I was surprised to see this show get away with so many explosions in this post September 11, 2001 world.  The explosions were used in a way where they made sense, so you don't have to worry that it'll be like explosions in a Michael Bay film.

Speaking of Michael Bay, some of the character designs are from the Transformer films done by him and while I wasn't a fan of those designs in the movies, they were used very well in this show.  This show doesn't just have designs lifted from the live action films as you'll also see designs from all the past Transformers series.  The mixture of designs worked really well and do not clash one single bit.  This show is also a 3D computer animated show and it looks very good as it is very clean.  The detailing on the character designs are good but you won't find anything that will make you go "wow" but the designs are anything but basic looking.  There is no doubt that this look is going to age but I do see this show looking good regardless.

Animation in this show is very smooth and very consistent to where you will not find any bad animation.  The voice acting in this show is great as not only do all the voices match the characters but they got the original voices for Optimus Prime and Megatron to reprise their roles.  Soundtrack in this show has a more serious tone and it does work but some tracks come off as a bit too cold sounding for my liking but far from being terrible sounding.

While this is a fabulous episode for story and action, this episode is a bit lacking when it comes to Optimus Prime.  You will see a really good rendition of Optimus Prime but this episode isn't really about Optimus Prime as it's about Wheeljack and Bulkhead.  If this were a straight up best-of Transformers disc then I'd be fine but this episode isn't a very appropriate pick for this compilation.

Overall this disc as a whole isn't a great compilation and just feels like that they were picked at random without much thought put into it.  There are better Transformers compilation discs out there but this is the case where the episodes that were picked just don't work.  As a side note, there was also a 30 Years of Bumblebee compilation released but I don't have anything to say about it since I haven't seen it (might have to review that one soon).  In the end the kids might get a kick from this but full grown Transformer fans will not like this one one bit.  I didn't like this compilation and I'm not going to recommend it.  Not a good collection.

Title: Transformers - 30 Years of Optimus Prime
Studio: Sunbow Productions, Marvel Productions, ACTAS Inc, A-Cat, We've Inc, Studio Galapagos, The answerstudio Co Ltd, MOOK DLE, Hasbro, Studio 4C, Cartoon Network Studios, Digitalscape, K/O Paper Products, Darby Pop Productions, Polygon Pictures 
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Running Time: 100 minutes
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Rating: PG (Mild animated violence)
Price: $14.95
Recommended: No


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