For millions of years a race of military like robots have been locked in a brutal war. The two opposing factions are the heroic Autobots lead by Optimus Prime, and the evil Decepticons lead by Megatron. After years of fighting, both sides are facing extinction due to low energy reserves. Seeking a new power source, the Autobots plan a recon mission, but their ship is invaded by the Decepticon force, which causes their ship to crash into a volcano on earth. 4 million years later, they awaken from their dormant state to continue the war, with earth's resources being the ultimate prize and deciding factor of the war. -summary
The Transformers craze never really died down even after the cancellation of the show in 1987. Various times during the 90's, the franchise would continue to live on through the comic book, toyline, and even its animated sequels Beast Wars and Beast Machines. Towards the end of the 90's, VHS releases began to surface delivering two to three episodes across a total of 14 tapes, along with two Blockbuster Exclusives that could only be rented. Transformers Vol 1: Prime Threat was released back in 1999 containing two episodes that basically focused on the charismatic Autobot Leader Optimus Prime: A Prime Problem and City of Steel. Although I don't believe these are among the best episodes the show had to offer, they're still solid entertainment for the die-hard Transformers fan.
The first episode A Prime Problem begins with Megatron wanting to use a clone of Prime to lure the Autobots into a deadly trap. Optimus Prime is ambushed and replicated, and his clone heads back to Autobots HQ. The real one returns and this throws the Autobots into a state of confusion. This is definitely the better of the two as it combines action, suspense, comedy and characterization. Optimus Prime maintains a cool demeanor on the situation, knowing full well he could be killed by his own troops. Ironhide shines here as well, by stepping up and becoming acting leader until the situation is cleared up. The action segments really do stand out though, with the original Prime clobbering all three Decepticon Seekers single-handedly.
City of Steel follows the Autobots to New York City, as they battle Megatron who has stolen the Empire State Building and replaced it with his own metallic version of it, in an attempt to turn NYC into New Cybertron. While this is going on, Prime is captured and a pretty lackluster story takes place. I will admit that City of Steel probably wasn't the best of picks, but it could have been a lot worse had Prime Target been selected for this release.
The animation is by far the best for the first episode. It has some quick paced action-filled moments, with one segment taking place involving Starscream's clone mowing down a small team of Autobots. The character designs also look the best here, while in the latter episode, they all have a very bland and skinny appearance. In fact, even the backgrounds look pretty generic for this episode. And you can bet there are many animation mistakes such as seeing two of the same character, along with two Autobots, Bumblebee and Bluestreak fighting each other in the background in City of Steel. And as usual, so get used to me saying this, the voice acting is once again in the spotlight with Frank Welker as Megatron, Soundwave, and Mixmaster standing out to me.
This is a decent volume at best, but once again, there's no real sense in ever picking it up, since both episodes can be found on the Transformers Season Two sets. I highly recommend that way before this. The set has about a 50 minute run time.
Pros: -Some good animation at times, A Prime Problem
Cons: -Some lackluster animation as well, City of Steel
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