Transformers Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection

A "those above the age of 20” caveat: this is not the Transformers you have come to know and love. Revised and updated for a new breed of fans wanting cleaner imagery and a brand of robots in disguise they can call their own, Transformers Cybertron — 22-minute episode cartoons spread out over seven discs — follows the same general outline of the original series, albeit with liberal twists. In this world/ incarnation, the important Transformer elements are consistent: Optimus Prime still leads the Autobots, while Megatron controls the Decepticons; the two are engaged in war; and Earth becomes a battleground for these mechanized beings. That said, this is where the similarities stop and a new story takes hold. Few characters from the original program have been brought into the fold and the ones who have been kept are vastly different. Prime is now a fire truck, as opposed to a tractor-trailer, new ’bots replace standards such as Jazz and Bumblebee, etc. Factor in oddities such as Autobots having a special "super-mode” that isn’t clearly explained but gives them extra power and this isn’t Kansas, Dorothy. These elements are miniscule and quickly forgotten once this package unfolds. Boasting interesting writing, The Ultimate Collection focuses on the Autobots’ desperate search for a set of cyber keys that will unlock Cyberton, turning it into the greatest Transformer of all, thereby saving it from annihilation by a black hole. Naturally, the Decepticons want said key in order to rule the Universe. Cue the warfare. Here, character development is substantial for an action cartoon and the occasional adult-oriented quip is endearing. Strengthened by crisp CGI rendering, as opposed to ink-and-pencil drawings, the images are incredibly detailed (you can see the ’bots’ gears) and the odd special visual effect adds "wow” factor for the kiddies. While somewhat startling initially, with its stunning visuals and strong scripting, The Ultimate Collection wins over even the hardest of original series proponents. There are no extras, however. (Paramount)