REVIEW OF EPISODES 1-3 - FIRST ENCOUNTER, METAMORPHASIS, BASE
I'm very impressed with the sequences shown in the beginning when the narrator explains what has happened in the past between the Autobots, the Decepticons, and the Mini-Cons. The animation is wonderful, and the story is exciting and appealing. After the introduction the episode "First Encounter" (which constitutes the first third of the pilot movie) moves on to place the FULL focus on the series' three humans - Rad, Carlos, and Alexis. I want to say that I think it's fun that they have chosen to include a girl this early in the series. Is it just I who think they mirror the leading trio that we meet in Pokémon (Ash, Brock, and Misty)? In any case I like the way they are brought into the story to become a part of the Transformers' conflict, compared to how Koji befriended the Autobots in Robots in Disguise. Rad, Carlos, and Alexis also have a good reason to pursue their association with the Autobots (which they establish in episode three, "Base", which is the last third of the pilot) as they each have a Mini-Con that only they can understand.
To begin with I spat at the fact that the Mini-Cons were to act without real speech, but I feel that they handle it rather well anyway, with the humans as "interpreters". But I'm not comfortable with the enormous spotlight that is placed on the humans, especially the two annoying bullies. The humans get way too much screen time, but I also think it's good that they spend the first episodes letting us get acquainted with them, so that they - hopefully - can shift the focus to the Transformers later on. We can't complain that we don't know anything about the humans, anyway. :)
I think the scene near the end of "First Encounter", with Megatron and Optimus clashing, is fabulous. It's really well animated, and with cool and nostalgic music playing in the background. Good action and good music throughout all three episodes. Although I find it difficult to take a liking to "Base", which started with the final battle of the film, with the rest of the episode spent on the humans' getting to know Optimus and the other two... erhrmm... three Autobots better. "Three," since Laserbeak is introduced to act as a link between the humans and the Autobots for the remaining 49 episodes of the series. Laserbeak is surprisingly small; he fits nicely in the hands of a little girl. I thought he... or it would be closer in size to his evil G1 predecessor.
The animation is sometimes totally wonderful, sometimes quite good, sometimes sufficient, and occasionally really bad. Especially in "Base", which makes me quite disappointed. That's the only thing that I find it hard to accept - there's no reason for a series like Armada to be so poorly animated when it started off so well.
The music is very, very good. It reflects what's happening, and it creates a good atmosphere. The G1 theme is very welcome back. Try to guess which mp3 song I play in my mp3 player all day long? :)
Now I will comment on the voices. David Kaye is totally brilliant as Megatron, who appears to be more evil than ever (the only one more evil is probably Dreamwave's G1 Megatron; we haven't seen much of Dreamwave's Armada Megatron yet). Gary Chalk does a good Optimus Prime; I didn't think his voice would be fitting for an Optimus Prime, but it actually is. Although I would have preferred to see Neil Kaplan do that voice (or Peter Cullen?) since I felt the RID version was a really good Optimus Prime. I was surprised that Starscream's voice didn't sound the least like Chris Latta's version. Doug Parker would have done it excellently, but the important thing about Starscream isn't his voice, but his enormous talent for always aiming for the leadership, which we only see the occasional example of in the pilot movie. The other characters' voices are good as well.
Another thing that I almost want to see as a reference to the G1 series :), is a severe case of size discrepancy. In one of the last scenes in "Base", you can see Cyclonus with his Mini-Con Crumplezone (it is Crumplezone, isn't it?) sitting on his shoulder. The strange thing is that Crumplezone is supposed to be so large in "vehicle mode" that he can become an extra cockpit for Cyclonus' helicopter mode, but here he's like a fly compared to the size he's supposed to have. Strange mistake...
I think the criticism of the majority of the American viewers is a bit exaggerated. I can symphathize with the criticism, but why focus on what's bad instead of what's good? The pilot movie was weaker than expected, but absolutely not bad. Prime and Megatron are really, which I like a lot.
Now the series has started, and now the episodes can only get better. The show would definitely be suitable for Scandinavian television (except for in Finland? :) ), and has potential. You are free to agree or disagree. Post your opinions on the NTFA forums.
Now I'm hoping that Hasbro will produce specially-made Mini-Cons for inclusion in the Kellogg's Cornflakes packages. :)
This page was created by Lars Eriksson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The review was uploaded on September 8, 2002