Created by: Hasbro and Mainframe Entertainment
Starring: Gary Chalk, David Kaye, Ian James Corlett and Scott McNeil
A child more so of the ‘90s than of the ‘80s, any sort of fandom I have towards Transformers started with Beast Wars. But does the show stand on its own without my nostalgia filter?
The Beast Wars between the Maximals and the Predacons continue through seasons two and three of Beast Wars: Transformers. Season two starts off with some pretty big changes. Old characters die, new characters are introduced and current characters are given spiffy new facelifts and power-ups called Transmetal.
These seasons are the real fan-service bits for die-hard Transformer fans. The transition from season two to three is the payoff all the old-school Transformers fans have been waiting for – the very direct tie-in of the Maximal and Predacons with their Autobot and Decepticon ancestors. And what a payoff it is. The events of the Beast Wars are made to matter very much so to the events of the ‘80s series without really changing or retconning anything. While these key episodes aren’t without anachronisms a die-hard fan could spot a mile away,
Unfortunately the series is littered with the occasional loose end, particularly in season three as the show is rushed to finish the toy line and the series. From unexplained power sources to spark misplacement, the series forgets plot details that are somewhat important.
The true fun in Beast Wars though is the characters. Most of them have unique and fleshed-out personalities, and their relationships are intricate and realistic. While the Maximal good guys are given the bulk of the character development, the evil Predacons aren’t left out in the cold. The voice actors truly bring life and feeling to their characters, performing excellent jobs to make themselves believable.
With that said, the comedic clichés of some characters become overplayed with some of our newest cast additions. You’ll groan at Silverbolt’s twentieth cheesy speech of honor and chivalry or Quickstrike’s overdone Texan accent.
The series also does a decent job maintaining a serious plotline with comedic bits sprinkled throughout to lighten the mood. This set of seasons contain some particularly poignant episodes as well as some suspenseful arcs, and then you see Megatron with a rubber ducky in a bath or Waspinator cut into literal ribbons.
Of course, Beast Wars is notable for being an early CGI-only animated series, being from the mid ‘90s. It’s pretty obvious how early the work is, with some flat and extremely polygonal backgrounds. The actual Transformers through are pretty well animated. From facial features to body movement, the Transformers actually look and move like you’d expect giant robots to. Seasons two and three try to fix the plan and simple appearance of the beast forms with the easier-to-generate metallic Transmetal forms. While that is achieved, the Transmetal look is a bit too shiny.
All in all, while some of the cheese, continuity inaccuracies, and poor environment graphics are a bit graining, the characters and story are still engaging and fun to watch, showing that Beast Wars is a quality children’s cartoon that holds up to nostalgia’s sugary-cereal-filled goggles.
The Video and Audio
Just as season one, seasons two and three are also in 1.33:1 fullscreen with a clean transfer. The audio is likewise decent enough and clear to hear.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This season collection came with season one (see radically different review here) in a complete series collection. The four discs with seasons two and three are kept in one standard DVD case, as is all of season one in a respective case. Both are kept in a cardboard box that’s as silvery shiny as some of the Transmetals themselves.
The last disc of season three contains a short behind-the-scenes and an interesting retrospective with the two main story editors. It’s an interesting insight into how two guys who hardly knew a thing about a franchise unknowingly added depth and complexity into an established continuity.
Personally, I always like to see a good commentary track if possible though, but this is probably as close as we’ll get.
Embedded with the disc cases is a short prequel comic showing Megatron stealing the Golden Disc and Optimus Primal and crew being sent to capture. It’s a neat extra as well, especially after you’ve watched the entire series. Plus it’s the first time seeing the pre-Beast Wars forms of several of these Transformers.
This series is a great addition to the canon of the Transformers franchise, and seasons two and three definitely maintain the quality of the entire series. For any fan of robots fighting robots, this is a great series to have.
Overall (Not an Average) 8.5/10
The Series 9/10
The Video and Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8.5/10