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|Specifics: Screen captures|
Transformers: Beginnings is an animated (sort of) version of IDW Publishing's Transformers Movie Prequel (aka Prime Directive) mini-series. It was available on a Wal-Mart exclusive bonus DVD with the 2007 Transformers live-action movie in October 2007 and features some of the (voice) actors from the 2007 movie, voice actors from the Generation One cartoon who didn't make it into the movie, and substitute voice artists for the rest of the characters.
Bumblebee sends a message of the highest urgency to all sentient beings in the universe, telling them the tale of the All Spark (Movie). It had once helped the planet Cybertron flourish under the rule of Optimus Prime and Lord High Protector Megatron, but eventually something corrupted Megatron, and he attempted to use the All Spark for his own twisted purposes. Bumblebee was one of the warriors loyal to Optimus Prime, so he tried to protect the All Spark from Megatron. Eventually the Autobots launched the All Spark into space.
After destroying Bumblebee's voice capacitator, Megatron follows it and eventually tracks it down to prehistoric Earth, where he ends up trapped in ice.
Four million years later, an expedition headed by Captain Archibald Witwicky discovers him, but after unearthing his discovery, he ends up in a mental institution. There, he is visited by two employees of Sector Seven, who are interested in alien designs he drew on more than a hundred sheets of paper before going blind. Upon returning to their headquarters, they prepare for an expedition to the Arctic Circle. In 1902, they're preparing to excavate Megatron there, when other employees of Sector Seven discover the All Spark in a lake in Colorado.
33 years later, one of the Sector Seven agents that were present when Megatron was excavated oversees the construction of the Hoover Dam together with a younger agent, and predicts the arrival of more of the "Mega-Man's" kind.
In 2003, Bumblebee arrives on Mars, which is noticed by the Hubble Space Telescope and quickly catches the attention of Sector Seven. Two weeks later, he lands on Earth, but when Sector Seven investigate the site of his impact, he's gone, with the I-64 nearby. Satellite surveillance footage reveals that a yellow Chevrolet Camaro had suddenly entered the interstate only moments after an identical Camaro had passed the position, which causes Sector Seven to conclude that "N.B. E.-2" is a "mimic".
Around the same time, Sam Witwicky learns from his father about the legacy of his great-great-grandfather. His ancestor's glasses don't particularly interest him, and upon learning that Archibald Witwicky had ended up in a mental hospital, he freaks out. Meanwhile, Bumblebee discovers information about Archibald Witwicky on the internet, while Sector Seven prepare a trap for him, headed by a specialist, Agent Simmons.
In the meantime, the Decepticons Starscream, Blackout and Barricade set foot on Mars and destroy the Beagle 2 Mars Rover. Soon afterwards, they arrive on Earth. Starscream destroys an F-22 Raptor fighter jet and adapts his body to transform into a replica of it. Blackout and Barricade also report having assumed local camouflage.
In a former Cold War bunker in new Mexico, Sector Seven prepare their trap for Bumblebee, using an artificial isotope made to give off the same sort of energy signature as the All Spark. Meanwhile, Bumblebee arrives at the mental asylum where Archibald Witwicky had spent the last years of his life, but finds it abandoned and in ruins.
Two days after Sector Seven set up their trap, Bumblebee is sighted in the area, with Barricade in pursuit. Just as Sector Seven realize that the "local law enforcement" is actually "N.B.E.-3", Blackout shows up and attacks the bunker, soon joined by Starscream. Blackout quickly discovers that the real All Spark is not in the bunker, but also figures that the humans must know where the real All Spark is if they were able to simulate his energy signature. As he tries to hack into Sector Seven's database, Simmons orders his people to cut the connection to the S7 mainframe.
Blackout, having been unable to dig up more than the name "Sector Seven", is about to consider it a dead end as Barricade reports having encountered Bumblebee. He suggests letting Bumblebee lead them to the All Spark.
Credited voice actors
- Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime (also voiced the character in the movie)
- Frank Welker as Megatron (auditioned for the character in the movie, but Hugo Weaving got cast instead)
- Mark Ryan as Bumblebee (also voiced the character in the movie)
- Patrick Hallahan as Starscream (voiced by Charlie Adler in the movie)
- Brian Stepanek as Blackout (no speaking part in the movie) and as Agent Simmons (played by John Turturro in the movie)
- Kevin Dunn as Ron Witwicky (also played the character in the movie)
- Patrick Viall as Archibald Witwicky (played by William Morgan Sheppard in the movie)
- Harold Hayes, Jr. as bald Sector Seven agent
- Additional voices by Justin Foley, Patrick Hallahan, Kenny Luper, Ryan Pfeiffer and Patrick Viall
Differences with the comic version
- Beginnings starts with a voiceover (initially also supported by the same text being displayed on the screen) by Bumblebee. The introduction is not featured in the comic version, but the voiceover soon switches to directly reciting captions from the comic (but occasionally omits a few words and lines here and there).
- A large portion of the content of issue 1 of the comic version is skipped by Beginnings. This includes all appearances by Arcee, as well as most of Bumblebee's encounter with Megatron, dialogue among the Decepticons and appearances by Swindle, Dreadwing and Payload. Instead, the comic instantly skips from Bumblebee's introduction to the launch of the All Spark into space and Megatron's mutilation of Bumblebee, with only a brief monologue by Optimus Prime (shown as a flashback in the comic version) in between. Another voiceover by Bumblebee that was also not featured in the comic version summarizes the events.
- Megatron's arrival on Earth is also shortened significantly as compared to issue 2 of the comic version. In particular, his internal monologue is drastically trimmed.
- A caption identifying the planet as "prehistoric Earth" is added that was not seen in the comic version.
- The text "4 million years later" indicating the time passed since Megatron's arrival on Earth and his discovery by Archibald Witwicky was also not seen in the comic version.
- The caption "Boston Secure Hospital, 1898" for Sector Seven's visit to Archibald Witwicky was changed to "Boston - one year later" for Beginnings.
- The scene where Archibald Witwicky foresees the battle in Mission City, with Ratchet, Jazz, Starscream and Brawl present in their alternate modes and Megatron's silhouette looming in the background, was originally part of the opening scene of issue 3 of the comic version. In Beginnings, it gets taken out of its original context and edited into Sector Seven's visit to Witwicky that was originally featured in issue 2 of the comic version.
- A caption identifying "Sector Seven headquarters" as such is added that was not seen in the comic version.
- The scene depicting Sector Seven starting to excavate Megatron is identified by a caption as "Arctic Circle, 1902" instead of 1899, like in the comic version. The following scene, where another Sector Seven employee discovers the All Spark in Colorado, which is set in 1902 in the comic version, is therefore presented as part of the same scene in Beginnings.
- Several scenes from issue 3 of the comic version are put in chronological order with the scenes from issue 2: Following the discovery of the All Spark in 1902 (issue 2), Beginnings continues with the construction of the Hoover Dam in 1935 (issue 3; accompanied by text stating "33 years later" that was not seen in the comic for obvious reasons), then switches to the Hubble Space Telescope detecting Bumblebee's arrival on Mars in 2003 (issue 2), and then continues with Sector Seven examining the site of Bumblebee's arrival on Earth (issue 3). For the last scene, the introductory caption "Virginia, 2003" has been changed to "Virginia, 2 weeks later".
- Further voiceovers by Bumblebee (accompanied by on-screen text) that announce his arrival in the Milky Way Galaxy (considering Optimus Prime's opening narration for the movie, he might have actually been referring to the Earth's solar system), confirm that the All Spark's energy signature is at its heighest on Earth, and establish that he found "an alternative way to communicate" were also not featured in the comic (there's no internal monologue by Bumblebee after issue 1).
- The scenes featuring Simmons joining the Sector Seven agents pursuing the Bumblebee case and Bumblebee accessing the internet from an internet café are reversed in order.
- Yet another newly added voiceover (again accompanied by on-screen text) confirms that the Decepticons have arrived in the Earth's solar system.
- In the comic version, the Decepticons' destruction of the Beagle 2 Mars Rover and Simmons explaining his plan to the other Sector Seven agents are set concurrently, switching back and forth between the two scenes. In Beginnings, the two scenes are shown separately, in sequence.
- Starscream's change from his Protoform body to his Earth form is lacking the transitional panel from the comic, making for a rather abrupt change.
- When Bumblebee arrives at the former mental hospital where Archibald Witwicky had spent the last years of his life, a caption identifies it as "St. Jude's Mental Asylum". In issue 4 of the comic version, the same hospital was identified as "Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Psychopathic Institute for the Long-Term Insane".
- Another part of the opening scene of issue 3, Archibald Witwicky predicting the Transformers to arrive on Earth, is shown as a flashback when Bumblebee scans the hospital (taken from issue 4).
- A scene with Bumblebee stopping by a roadside in Colorada is missing, as is a scene between Sam and Miles where Miles suggests Sam sell his great-great-grandfather's belongings in an online auction. The former scene appears to be a follow-up to an additional prequel comic originally produced as part of a cooperation with Target. Since Bumblebee's seemingly damaged state is unexplained in the original comic version (the Target prequel comic is not referenced), the scene comes off as somewhat weird, which is why it might have been cut from Beginnings.
- After Bumblebee managed to ditch Barricade who was pursuing him, he plays Tubthumping on his radio. In the comic version, he played the song in the aforementioned earlier scene that is missing from Beginnings.
- At the very end, a city sign identifies Sam's home town as "Tranquility", but the name of the state (Nevada) listed below it in issue 4 of the comic version has been removed for Beginnings.
- The footage for Beginnings consists entirely of panels from IDW's Movie Prequel comic mini-series that are enhanced by various new coloring effects. "Animation" is limited to zooming and sliding the entire panel across the screen, and occasionally separating elements (such as characters) from the background and zooming or sliding them across the screen independently from the background.
- The background music featured in Beginnings is taken from Steve Jablonsky's score for the 2007 movie, specifically the versions included on the Transformers: The Score album, most notably the piece Optimus (played during the ending credits) that was not used in the actual movie in this version.
- Faction sigils, occasionally flipping, accompanied by the classic transformation sound effect, serve as scene transitions at several points, similar to the Generation One cartoon.
- As the lyrics of the songs played on Bumblebee's radio are based on, but not quite identical to those of existing songs in the comic version (possibly to avoid licensing issues), Beginnings features made-up songs using the exact lyrics from the comic version. The original songs are:
- I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2
- Ghost in this House by Shenandoah
- Tubthumping by Chumbawumba
- Everyday Is A Winding Road by Sheryl Crow
- Bumblebee's voiceover stating that he "arrived in the Milky Way Galaxy" (which is not taken from the comic version) would place Cybertron in another galaxy.
- The scene depicting the destruction of the Beagle 2 Mars Rover features sound effects from the original teaser trailer for the movie (which are also used when the scene is shown in the movie).
- The letters "GRAVESEN" shown on Simmons' computer while waiting for Bumblebee to show up, originally a password for the Sector Seven alternate reality game, was not removed for Beginnings.
- Colorist Josh Burcham's name is misspelled as "Burchman" in the end credits.
- In a bit of blatant false advertising, the back cover of the DVD case claims that the story is narrated by Peter Cullen. Actually, Cullen has one paragraph—30 seconds—of dialog and that's it. The narration is performed by Mark Ryan.