Transformers Prime: One Shall Stand (DVD) Review
One Shall Stand should top the watch lists of everyone who claims to be a Transformers fan.
For the better part of this decade, Transformers fans have had more outlets for their beloved robots than ever before. The three movies smashed box office records (despite featuring, in parts two and three, the most annoying characters to hit the screen since Jar Jar Binks, Skids and Mudflap), new animated shows came out of the woodwork, as did re-issues of the 80's original, toys clogged every store shelf and video games came out at what felt like a pace of two or three per year. Now that the Transformers movies are done (for the moment, anyway) and the ride has opened at Universal Studios, things have been cooling on the Transformers front.
One Autobot/Decepticon product still going strong, though, is the Transformers Prime CGI animated series. Currently going into its third season, Transformers Prime has met and exceeded fans' expectations with darker, more violent storylines, often spread out in multi-episode arcs. The first, Darkness Rising, served as yet another tutorial on the Autobot/Decepticon battle, though it was handled with a certain skill not seen since the original series from the 80's. The second multi-episode arc, One Shall Stand, takes the Transformers cast in a completely new direction, providing one of the most intriguing tales I've seen from the franchise in a long time.
First, let's discuss the DVD. We'll get to the story in just a minute. The seven episode One Shall Stand arc is presented on DVD as one long, seamless film, rather than seven separate half-hours, similar to how Darkness Rising was released not too long ago. Normally I rally against any TV program being released as anything but complete season sets, but presenting Transformers Prime's multi-episode arcs as films, rather than separate shows, just works. The episodes flow together seamlessly and present the story in a way that heightens the impact; if you've ever skipped Lost or 24 for a few weeks so you could watch a handful of episodes back-to-back, then you'll probably be just as impressed with this DVD as I was.
My only issue with this is that these episodes fall in as season one ends and season two begins. One Shall Stand essentially bridges the seasons together, meaning if you spring for the Transformers Prime season-by-season DVD releases, you'll end up with this group of episodes in your collection twice. If you choose to go with just this release, you'll be missing the post-Darkness Rising episodes in season one and everything past One Shall Stand in season two. It's not Sophie's Choice or anything, just something I thought you should know before deciding on your purchase.
With that stuff taken care of, we can finally get to One Shall Stand's plot. Remember, these episodes fall at the end of season one, during which Megatron has been mostly out of commission. After a mishap with the Space Bridge and Starscream's takeover as Decepticon leader, Megatron returns to his position shortly before the events of One Shall Stand. Understanding this is pretty important going in, and those who get this self-contained set might not pick up on the eluded-to past events. Anyway, in a move not seen since 'Big Jaws (points if you get the reference),' Autobot leader Optimus Prime and Megatron must briefly join forces to combat Unicron, the ancient bringer of destruction fans remember from the original Transformers animated film (we all know Orson Welles provided his original voice by now' pick up some other obscure trivia to impress friends and fellow nerds). Of course, the Autobots and Decepticons eventually triumph over Unicron, but this team-up ends with far-reaching consequences that my eyes (and heart) could scarcely believe as they flashed across my TV screen. As much as I'd love to expound on just how unexpected and awesome these turns of event are, I'm going to leave it out. Just go get the DVD; chances are you'll be as shocked and impressed as I was, especially if you've been a Transformers fan for as long as some of us have.
One Shall Stand really impressed me. On paper, it had all the things that usually lead to my personal distaste: CGI visuals over hand drawn animation, episodes plucked from two complete, separate seasons, no Christopher Latta as Starscream (R.I.P.)' all things that have lost points in the numerous past Transformers DVD reviews I've put together. But One Shall Stand is something special. It remains close to the spirit of previous Transformers triumphs while also dragging the characters into a new and totally unexpected plotline. And its got the fan-favorite, all-powerful Unicron as an antagonist, though who is good and who is bad at the culmination of the battle is cause for alarm and celebration. As a self-contained film, One Shall Stand should top the watch lists of everyone who claims to be a Transformers fan, though after viewing this DVD, I imagine you'll end up getting the season sets as well. Few stories are worth paying for twice, though One Shall Stand might just be one of them.
Transmitted: 9/20/2014 11:59:00 AM