DVD REVIEW: Transformers Beast Wars The Complete Series
The entire epic series together for the first time...
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The Emmy Award winning series, Beast Wars, debuted on television in 1996, taking the Transformers in a new and much needed direction at the time. The popularity of the brand as a whole had decreased significantly by the end of the 80s and was almost dead by the time the 90s rolled around so something was needed to be done to refresh and reintroduce the line. So Hasbro created a new theme with characters descended from the original Autobot and Decepticons, continuing their age-old war in a distant future where they must take animal and dinosaur forms in order to survive on a strange new world. While Hasbro largely controlled character and story development themselves, the animation was done by Canadian company Mainframe Entertainment, who was responsible for the highly popular Reboot television series. The Transformers Beast Wars The Complete Series collects all three seasons of the exciting series across eight discs with an assortment of special features and a collectible comic book. While the packaging looks nice, the set is actually the two season sets in their individual boxes packaged with a fancy slipcase, so whether you buy them individually or together, you get the same stuff.
The main plot of Beast Wars finds the Maximals and Predacons engaged in a space battle as they search for new sources of Energon. In the course of their engagement, both ships become damaged and crash land on a mysterious planet (with many similarities to Earth) that holds a rich new source of Energon. The Energon is so potent, in fact, that the resulting energy is deadly to their robot forms in long-term exposure. So both factions scan the local animal life and take on new forms in which to explore their new surroundings. The Maximals, led by Optimus Primal take mostly mammal-based forms, while the Predacons, ruled by Megatron take insect and dinosaur forms. While their majority of the first season has the robots fighting over the Energon supplies, there are several times when rescuing life pods containing dormant Maximals becomes a priority as Megatron can reprogram them into Predacons. And hinted at earlier in Season 1, but coming to play more near the end is the alien race known as Volks, which end up being a danger two both sides as well as the planet in the end.
In Season 2, we find out that several of the characters has changed into new Transmetal forms giving them new powers and abilities. New characters are introduced including Fuzors, which have parts from two different animals. The Maximals must also fight to protect pre-human lifeforms on the planet from the Predacons in order to keep them from allying with the Autobots in the future. Near the end of the season, a surprising turn of events reveals that Megatron came to Earth to find the Autobots’ Ark and destroy Optimus Prime, thus wiping out the Maximals and altering time.
Season 3 begins with the Maximals desperately trying to repair the damaged Optimus Prime and save themselves. While keeping his ancestors spark safe, Optimus Primal mutates into Optimal Optimus. The Maximals make there new base around the mountain housing the Ark and continue to focus on protecting the pre-humans. Megatron unites with his predecessor’s spark as well and becomes a giant red dragon. In the end of the season (and series), a crazed Megatron takes control of the Decepticons’ ship, the Nemesis, and begins killing anything in sight, friend or foe. The Maximals defeat Megatron in the end and take him prisoner, leaving Earth and returning to Cybertron.
The DVD release of the series includes a small amount of bonus features sure to excite fans of the series. Both Season 1 and the Season 2&3 sets include The Art Gallery, a collection of concept art for many of the main characters that appear in the show and The Original Character Models showing 360º turnarounds, transformation sequences, voice animation and more for several of the show’s characters. Season 1 includes a short featurette entitled Maximize! Creating A New Breed Of Transformer. The program talks with several people involved with the creation of the toy line and show about the development of the property and the production of the series. The Season 2&3 set includes two featurettes, Remembering The Spark, which interviews voice actors and creators about the legacy of the series and Original Making Of Beast Wars, an interesting, but dated look at the production of the show from the 90's produced by Mainframe.
The show ended up lasting over three seasons and fifty-two episodes and was transitioned over and continued in Beast Machines for another two seasons. While Transformers fans were certainly divided when the show first aired, it has since become a beloved and popular part of the overall Transformers canon, proven by the characters induction into the Hall of Fame two years in a row. Transformers Beast Wars The Complete Series is available now through Shout Factory’s online store, as well as most major retailers nationwide.
Review by Michael Klein