"Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures" Season 4 "The Immobilizers" Review


Title:  "The Immobilizers"
Release Date: November 6, 2021 (Youtube), November 22, 2021 (Netflix)
Running Time: 44 Minutes

Note: A screener of this episode was provided by Hasbro for this review.  BWTF thanks Hasbro for its time and generosity.  You can watch the entire episode in the embed at the end of this review.

During the Peace Treaty Celebration where the Autobots and Decepticons agree to set aside their differences, the planet Cybertron is attacked by a mysterious force, freezing its population in a "time lock".  The attackers turn out to be Mercenaries led by the powerful Soundblaster!  When Arcee and Grimlock return to Cybertron from an offworld trip, they attempt to stop these attackers without success.  When Grimlock meets the four Dinobots, they join him in his mission to free Cybertron.  However, the Mercenaries have more than just a fancy weapon on their side and the Dinobots will have to learn to work together in a new and powerful way to free the planet!

Review (mild SPOILERS ahead)
Cyberverse had a very rough start as a series.  Season one was extremely small in scale and the story failed to excite fans.  However, when season two came about, the scope of the series expanded and by season three it had become an extraordinarily fun galactic romp that spanned planets and even universes.  Unlike previous seasons this is not made up of 10-11 minute episodes.  Instead, this is one episode/movie running 44 minutes, essentially making it four "regular" Cyberverse episodes.

While very much set in its own continuity the show mines a lot of previous lore from G1 to the modern day IDW Publishing comic books for character choices, story elements and of course, Easter Eggs.  I remember being absolutely shocked at how much I enjoyed seasons two and three after binging them and I was very happy to hear last year there would be a season four to wrap the series up.

I am very happy to say that my anticipation was very much justified.  "The Immobilizers" is a super fun, humorous and exciting adventure that pays homage in several ways to the heritage of the Transformers brand while offering its own take on it both in writing and visual style.

The focus of this 44 minute episode/movie are the Dinobots, who have to come together (literally and metaphorically) to save the day.  The "new" Mercenary faction villains act as the counterpoint to the Dinobots, and the result is a smaller scale story that focuses on a small core group of characters similar to the early days of Beast Wars.  While the population of Cybertron is big, most of them are quickly set aside at the beginning of the episode so our heroes and villains can shine.  For the most part, the way the new characters are introduced is very well done.  The voices are distinct, the way the characters act are (mostly) unique and many have very distinct personalities.  One of my favorite examples is Slug's introduction where he basically goes on and on about how burning things will save the day.  This is a direct callback to G1 Slag, but also a nice shortcut to tell us where his brain defaults to in emergencies.

In many ways, the characters in this show both meet and deviate from what you would expect.  Viewers of earlier seasons know that this version of Grimlock is very well spoken in robot mode, but then defaults to a more growly "Me Grimlock" persona in beast mode.  This type of switch up happens with several characters including Swoop, who is a female in this universe and the smartest of the Dinobots.  Trypticon is not a dumb, roaring creature of mindless destruction.  Instead he is also well spoken making him more akin to his Marvel Comics counterpart from the 80's.  I really enjoy these changes as the core of the characters still remain while still offering a fresh take on them at the same time.

The actual story is a fun one because it pits two sub-groups against one another, a type of story I have always enjoyed since the G1 era.  The Dinobots are a fan favorite group who have been getting renewed attention since Power of the Primes and the anniversary of the 1986 animated movie.  The Mercenaries were introduced in the War for Cybertron series and they play a very fun part of the tale.  In many respects the story is a very simple "bad guys do bad thing, good guys have to save the day" tale, but there are some very fun character moments as the adventure moves along.  I was very thankful for these as I consider them the glue that holds the various action pieces together.   The characters had personalities that drew me into being invested in their fates instead of just being literal action figures just going through the motions of battle.  I was most surprised that even Volcanicus was given characterization as a young entity who had to learn how to do things Cybertronians take for granted like walking and running.  Usually Combiners are just treated like giant golems who kind of grunt their way through combat.  It was very refreshing to see one treated so differently.

One of the thoughts I kept having as this movie played out in front of me was how the tone managed to stay light and fun the entire time.  It was not overly dark and dour despite the planet-spanning crisis the story presented.  For the entire length of the story I felt like I was on an adventure and it was delightful.  I laughed at some of the humor, I gasped at some of the reveals (like when Trypticon came stomping out of the ship) and I cheered when our heroes won.  Sure this is an artifact of the show being aimed at a younger audience, but even an old timer like me can find a lot of enjoyment in this romp on Cybertron.

Speaking as a long time fan, I was deeply appreciative of just how much this movie dug into the lore of Transformers.  The Enigma of Combination was introduced over a decade ago into Transformers lore and it was great seeing an artifact of the 13 Primes playing such a crucial role in the story.  The Dinobots themselves seem to reflect shades of the Junkions as they were inspired by Grimlock's ancient transmission out to the galaxy down to reciting Grimlock's mantras over and over.  Character choices were also surprising including Afterburner, a reference to a little known Decepticon from Generation 2.  The bottom of this write up has a list of the Easter Eggs and references I picked up on and as a fan from way back it was fun to tease them out as I wrote this review.

"The Immobilizers" is a very enjoyable adventure that introduces some new characters into the Cyberverse world while showing us some favorites from previous seasons. However, you will note that a lot of the footage from the trailer at the top of this review is not from this episode but rather from the follow up movie "The Perfect Decepticon".  It will be interesting to see how the Autobot/Decepticon Alliance holds up under the threat of an invading force!

Easter Eggs/Homages/Lore References
Cyberverse leans heavily on pre-existing lore, creating a kind of "nu-G1" continuity.  This movie is no exception.  Here are the references I caught, but there are likely more I missed:

  • The title of this episode "The Immobilizers" is a reference to Soundblaster's weapon, but also may be a homage to the G1 episode "The Immobilizer".

  • The giant bird egg rolling at Arcee and Grimlock is a fun callback to a similar scene in Indiana Jones where the titular character is running from a boulder.

  • The tomb Arcee and Grimlock raid is dedicated to Nexus Prime, who was one of the original 13 Transformers known for change and being the first Combiner.

  • It is appropriate that Arcee and Grimlock find the Enigma of Combination in Nexus Prime's tomb.  This ancient tool was used by the Prime to (among other things) help merge Cybertronians together into a Combiner form, a critical part of this episode.

  • The "Single Horn" toys at the Cybertronian festival are likely callbacks to Battle Unicorn, a Beast Machines> toy who transformed from a unicorn to a robot. The creature also shares a color scheme with the My Little Pony character Rarity!

  • The cube being thrown around the celebration is from the Cybertronian sport of the same name introduced in season one.

  • The giant vehicle the Autobots ride in on around the 3:50 mark has design similarities to the truck that was included with "Action Master" Optimus Prime as well as the "Bot Shots" Optimus Prime trailer released many years later.

  • The Mercenary faction introduced here is an alternate version of the one introduced in the Netflix "War for Cybertron" trilogy.  Having Soundblaster as the head of the group (albeit not its ultimate leader) and Bug Bite on the team reinforces this connection.  They even share the same faction symbol from the trilogy.

  • Bug Bite uses the term "Conehead" to refer to teammate Afterburner, one of the many examples of fan terminology making its way into official fiction.

  • Bug Bite's deliberate reference to Buzzsaw being "back" might be a reference to the character's absence from the toy line despite Laserbeak having received a few toys over the last six years or so.

  • Afterburner is the "Cyberverse" version of a Decepticon first introduced in "Generation 2".  Both share the same basic colors and both transformed into jets. 

  • Nightbird is the "Cyberverse" version of the ninja robot from "G1", even sharing some of her colors and having a "mask" over her mouth.

  • Doublecrosser is an alternate take on the Battle Master from "Earthrise" who also had two heads and shared the same color scheme featuring grey, purple and red colors.

  • Swoop uses the Cybertronian version of Wikipedia but refers to it as the "Witwicky" database, a callback to the Witwicky families that played a part in both the original 80's cartoon and the live action film franchise.

  • In the flashback showing Soundblaster and Soundwave's history, we get to see some dead and/or departed characters from previous seasons including Bludgeon and Slipstream.

  • The scene where Soundblaster kicks Soundwave is a callback to a similar scene in the film "300"

  • Having the Dinobots fight Trypticon is a (possibly unintentional) reference to issue #27 of the Marvel Comics series where the Dinobots faced off against a fairly well spoken Trypticon.