Details are beginning to emerge about Transformers: Titans Return, the sequel to Machinima's Combiner Wars web series from last year. Titans Return is getting a noticeable upgrade in voice actor talent, as several luminaries from past Transformers productions have joined the cast of the upcoming series.
Machinima's Combiner Wars series, ostensibly aimed at an older audience than Cartoon Network's Robots In Disguise (the current traditional Transformers cartoon TV show), was a worldwide success, despite a decidedly-muted critical reception and numerous production delays - ones that saw the series debut long after the Combiner Wars toyline had left store shelves.
One of the chief criticisms of Combiner Wars was its scattershot voice acting, which it appears is about to be corrected in a big way for Titans Return. Among the newly-announced cast members is Peter Cullen, the original and most iconic voice of the Autobot leader, Optimus Prime. He'll be joined by Star Trek: The Next Generation alums Wil Wheaton and Michael Dorn - Wheaton will portray Autobot scientist Perceptor, while Dorn will take on the massive Autobot Fortress Maximus. Longtime Power Rangers star Jason David Frank will voice Emissary, and Young Justice veteran Nolan North will portray Metroplex, one of the titular Titans.
Perhaps most surprising and delightful of all is the addition of Judd Nelson as Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime. Nelson originated the hot-headed young Autobot in the 1986 animated feature film The Transformers: The Movie, but the role was recast for the proceeding animated series, as Nelson was a highly in-demand movie star at the time. The Breakfast Club star has rarely revisited the world of Transformers (he made a very brief cameo as Rodimus in the much beloved Transformers: Animated series), so it is a bit of a coup that Machinima have been able to coax him back.
While the assembled voice cast for Titans Return is impressive, it remains to be seen if Machinima can overcome the myriad issues that plagued Combiner Wars. Aside from its underwhelming voice acting, the series was roundly criticized for the jerky, low-res quality of its animation, as well as its lack of basic narrative structure; characters often acted in wildly different ways from episode to episode with no real explanation. As mentioned, the series also suffered numerous production delays. While Machinima is promising a November start for Titans Return, fans will likely be skeptical until they actually see footage of the battling robots. Hopefully the voice cast upgrade is an indication that Machinima has the kinks worked out this time.
Transformers: Titans Return premieres on go90 in November 2017.
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