REVIEW: ‘Transformers: EarthSpark’ Will Hook Transformers Fans Old And New

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Transformers: EarthSpark

Transformers: EarthSpark is a Paramount+/Nickelodeon original series developed by Dale Malinowski, Ant Ward, and Nicole Dubuc. The war between the heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons has ended, but Earth is about to gain a new pair of Transformers. Robby Malto (Sydney Mikayla) and his sister Mo (Zion Broadnax) stumble across a hidden cave in their new hometown of Witwicky, Pennsylvania, and witness the birth of two new Transformers. These Transformers, Twitch (Kathreen Khavari) and Thrash (Zeno Robinson) form a psychic bond with the Malto siblings. With the supervision of Bumblebee (Danny Pudi), Twitch and Thrash train to become Autobots while adjusting to life on Earth.

What makes EarthSpark stand out is its willingness to upend some aspects of the Transformers mythos. As mentioned before, the Autobot/Decepticon war is long over — but in the process, the Autobots have gained a surprising new ally. It’s a twist I never saw coming, but it adds more depth to the Autobots’ team dynamic. EarthSpark also serves as the first time a human character’s been the series’s main antagonist, as the Maltos and Autobots find themselves battling against the mad scientist Mandroid (Diedrich Bader). Named after the giant mechanical arm he salvaged from a Decepticon, Mandroid is hellbent on destroying all Cybertronians, which often leads to Autobots and Decepticons sharing a common foe. The twists and turns laced throughout EarthSpark give longtime Transformers fans something new to look forward to while also serving as an intro to new fans. And it’s proof that Ward has a talent for revamping long-running franchises in animation.

However, the real draw of the series is the bond between Twitch, Thrash, Robby, and Mo. The bond between the siblings and Transformers isn’t just your standard “kid meets giant robot” situation: Twitch and Thrash can feel Robby and Mo’s emotions, and vice versa. Again, this leads to some of the series’ best moments, particularly in the fourth episode, “House Rules.” There, Thrash visibly chafes at the rules laid down in the Malto family, and he rebels leading to him and Mo unintentionally helping a Decepticon agent. It’s a visible difference from how a seasoned Autobot like Optimus or Bumblebee would handle things. But it also adds more layers to the storytelling, as the characters won’t always make the right choices, and the fallout from those choices leads to disaster.

It also helps that the voice cast perfectly matches the characters they embody. Robinson gives Thrash a constantly percolating hyperactivity that fits his namesake, while Khavari is more level-headed while playing Twitch. As for the other Autobots, Pudi gets the lion’s share of comedic moments as Bumblebee, while Alan Tudyk brings the nobility & wisdom you’d expect from Optimus Prime. Tudyk also has the chance to put his own spin on the character and chooses to portray him as more of a father figure than a warrior. This includes his classic heroism and his use of Earth technology — apparently, he uses too many emojis, which is totally a Dad thing to do. Mikalya is the most impressive actor in the group; she actually sounds like a teenage boy while voicing Robby!

Animation for EarthSpark is handled by Icon Creative Studios, who also provided service for Monsters At Work. That series managed to capture the look and feel of the Monsters, Inc world, and in EarthSpark, Icon puts its spin on the world of Transformers. The Autobots and Decepticons may look like robots, but their facial expressions are all too human. And their transformations are a fluid motion; you can barely see the shifting of metallic plates. The human characters are just as detailed, varying in size and skin color; since Robby and Mo are the children of a Black mother and a Filipino father, their skin tones reflect that. It’s also nice to see a cartoon with different styles and textures of Black hair.

Transformers: EarthSpark is a true breath of fresh air for the Transformers franchise, as it upends several elements of the mythos while also managing to be accessible to fans, old and new. And with a new film set to debut next year, it looks like the Robots in Disguise will have plenty of stories on deck for fans.

The first ten episodes of Transformers: EarthSpark are currently available to stream on Paramount+.


Transformers: Earthspark
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Transformers: EarthSpark is a true breath of fresh air for the Transformers franchise, as it upends several elements of the mythos while also managing to be accessible to fans, old and new. And with a new film set to debut next year, it looks like the Robots in Disguise will have plenty of stories on deck for fans.

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