Beast Wars: Transformers - The Complete Series
Shout Factory // Unrated // $49.99 // June 7, 2011
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted July 12, 2011
M O V I E
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R E V I E W S
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Beast Wars:
Transformers
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">was
created in 1996 as a joint venture by Hasbro and Mainframe
Entertainment. The
series was largely approached and considered as a reasonable candidate
for CG
animation wizardry due to the success of the popular and fan-favorite
series ReBoot, which was also created by
Mainframe. Hasbro must have wanted to see the creation of a show which
could
help sell toys while also entertaining audiences of a new generation.
Luckily for
everyone involved, the writers and artists behind the new Beast
Wars
series ended up trying to make the show appealing to
both returning and new fans. This successful ongoing franchise was
trying a new
approach and it wasn't long before it was finding its own path to
success.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Beast
Wars
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> isn't
necessarily a Transformers series that fits the same
expectations audiences might place on each story placed within this
universe.
The style is also unique in comparison to some of the other attempts to
bring
these characters to television screens.  One
can start by noticing the CG animation.
Yet it's the emphasis on character interactions that stands out the
most.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Season
1 introduces the audience to the Maximals and Predacons. The Maximals
were the
good guys of the bunch with a strong and compassionate leader with
Optimus
Primal and the Predacons were led by the ruthless villain Megatron.
Unsurprisingly,
the largest focus in the series surrounds a war between these two
conflicting
sides. There is also (of course) the interesting element of characters
switching sides and presenting some layers of gray in
the program thematically. The series introduces a surprisingly
wide variety of characters from the start. One thing the show also
managed to
do was also introduce many new characters throughout the subsequent
seasons.
This was no doubt in part due to Hasbro's toy-lines, but the writers
try and
often succeed at making these some charming characters that can appeal
to
long-time Transformers fans and those
with childlike affection for animals (that can naturally also morph
into robots).
The first season featured some decidedly mixed writing/direction and
sadly
dated animation. It was a nice trip back to the nostalgia-well even if
it came
up a bit short of expectations. The full season one review can be found
here.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Beast
Wars
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">sadly
features some
notably dated animation and battle scenes seemed less invigorated as
they once
did. Part of it was the approach to how these sequences were animated
in the
first place. The characters might be charming and appreciable during
the show
but when it comes down to the fights - one of the main reasons anyone
watches
it - they just don't seem as intense as they did 15 years ago. There is
a very
obvious feel to the designs that makes it seem as though the program is
focused
on showing toys battling each other. This was, in my own words,
"Awesome!" as a
child but less interesting now. Mileage may vary for those with a
stronger
nostalgia kick or affection for the Transformers
saga in general.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">One
element that sets this series apart from many children's series is the
high
number of deaths and the emotional impact that was had on the audience
when the
episodes originally broadcast. These intensely sad moments will still
impact
fans today and it makes the show more mature than most viewers were
probably
expecting when they first began to invest their time in the program.
The series
also manages to tell a story over the course of its three seasons: not
every
program is capable of accomplishing that level of writing unity.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Over
the course of the series there are many efforts made to transform (pun
absolutely intended) what started off as a separate entity entirely in
the Transformers canon into something that could
make everyone a bit happier and excited with this series creation.
Without
giving anything away to new viewers the series blends the original saga
into
this one in a surprising and eventful way that brings a greater scope
to the entire
saga.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Season
2 was a nice improvement in quality over the first season (particularly
because
the storyline seemed slightly more focused and moved away from some of
the
weirder elements found at the end of the first season - at least in
this writer's
opinion). The characters were also becoming more interesting and
enjoyably familiar
because the writing was improving. Some of the most loved characters in
the
series grew and even changed in surprising ways.



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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Season
3 seemed to continue that trend in the beginning by continuing to seem
even more
thrilling and immersive as a series. Unfortunately, the final few
episodes seemed
to speed through to a conclusion that is action-packed but
underwhelming with a
feeling of being a bit rushed as a resolution. While the end of the
series
should leave most fans satisfied to some extent there are just a
few too
many feelings of 'filler episodes' in the final run of the season to
make it
wholly satisfying from start to finish and the pacing could have been
improved by
removing moments that detracted from the remainder of the story.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">When
all is said and done this is a series that should still appeal to
long-time Transformers devotees. I remember
growing up with the show and with little experience or knowledge of the
entire
universe that can be found within the original Transformers
series. To experience Beast Wars as an adult was
somewhat eye-opening. Everything I loved
about the series was still there but in a sense I feel as though I grew
out of
this series somewhat and yet many viewers will likely experience their
own
nostalgic connection to the series and may enjoy the thrill-ride more.
It was
also much clearer to me that many efforts were made to please both
original
audiences and a new generation of viewers like myself (when I first
experienced
the show on television). This was one of the few series to make CG
animation
become a more mainstream and impressive field for artists to work in
and for enthusiasts
to enjoy. For that reason it will always be remembered and not
forgotten. Anyone
who considers themselves a fan of the Transformers
franchise should be sure to give this one a chance. It's full of action
and
adventure. It just might not be exactly
as you remembered it.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">style="font-weight: bold;">Please Note: Select portions of my
Season 1 DVD set href="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/48576/transformers-beast-wars/">review
were utilized for this Complete Series set review. style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
DVD:
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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Video:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Beast
Wars: Transformers
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> arrives
on
DVD in a generally pleasing 1.33.1 full frame aspect ratio which
preserves the
original broadcasts more than adequately. While the animation might
seem dated
compared to newer CG productions, the extensive work still shines
through on
this DVD set. The colors seem slightly muted, yet also saturated enough
that it
makes the presentation pleasing given the selection of characters that
morph in
a variety of visually appealing ways. The image isn't as sharp as it
could be
and there are some slight compression issues when viewed on large
televisions,
but fans should remain happy in knowing that the show at least looks as
good as
it did when it first aired many years ago.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Audio:style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
2.0 English Language audio isn't particularly impressive to behold. The
presentation is adequate for the series but lacks the kind of extra
"oomph" an
action-oriented series such as this would have benefited from. Dialogue
is easy
to understand and the many sound effects used from beginning to end are
interesting
and inventive as well. The biggest drawback is the lack of surround
sound and
truly immersive sound. There aren't any additional audio options on
this
release (and no subtitles are provided for viewers either).


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Extras:


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Season
1 extras:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The main
draw for Season One in the bonus material
department is an approximately 18 minute long featurette entitled Maximize!
Creating a New Breed of Transformer
, which is an engaging
collection of
clips featuring interviews with producers from Mainframe Entertainment
and even
the Vice President of Hasbro. The interviewees briefly discuss style="">Transformers history in action figure
and television form and give views on the creative process behind
deciding on
the new series Beast Wars, and also
how it impacted the team behind the show (and continues to today). The
brevity
of the piece is a bit disappointing but the speakers are intelligent,
insightful, and easy to listen to (making it easy to recommend to
serious fans
of the series).  An art gallery
and original character models video is also included with
season one.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Season
2/3 extras:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Included
on disc four of the season two/season three
box-set release are some enjoyable extras that succeed at surpassing
the
quality and amount of content provided with the previous set. These
extras are
also complimentary to the featurette found on that set. Perhaps the
best extra
for the entirety of the complete series release is found here as Remembering
the Spark
is an engaging featurette with many interviews with
creative
staff members who were heavily involved behind-the-scenes. Most
interesting is
the revealing details about how the series was often written without
careful
planning or understanding of the original Transformers
series and characters when it first began. The story editor became much
more
heavily invested in trying to tie things together when fans started
discussing
the show and theorized its plotline. Other Mainframe-affiliated
individuals are
given time to discuss the show and its impact on television and the
Transformers saga. It's a must see feature for fans. An Original style="">Making Of Beast Wars featurette is
also included and it gives some brief interviews with some of the voice
actors
on the show as well as animators and other technical artists as they
actually
worked on the show (and thus the feature actually shows how some of the
design
work was actually done). It's an older production so viewers actually
get to go
on the (relatively brief) guided tour around Mainframe's production
house. An
art gallery and brief video of some of the original character models
help to round
out the extras included on this S2/S3 set.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Inside
of the Complete Series box (housing both the
individual S1 and S2/S3 DVD releases) are some well-appreciated bonuses
as
well. The booklet contained within gives brief episode details in the
form of
short descriptions, episode titles, and writer/director credits. The
presentation makes it easy to see the order of the episodes but the
only thing
missing seems to be actual production numbers listed besides the
episodes. The
booklet also contains a few nice images from the series throughout. style=""> Lastly, a Transformers
Timelines
comic is included which serves as a Beast
Wars
prequel. It's a nice little bonus at 22 pages in length.
(Please Note: While these inclusions were placed next to the separate
box sets
included within this complete series box, I found it easier and safer
to store
them using the booklet hubs included in one of the individual sets. I
would recommend
that other fans do the same thing to store them).


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style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Final
Thoughts:


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Transformersstyle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> fans
will find this a series worth exploring even
if it won't appeal to every fan of the classic series in quite the same
way.
This complete series release contains every moment from every episode
in a
gorgeously designed box which holds the two individual box-set's (style="">S1, S2/S3).
The extras aren't particularly bountiful but they are informative and
entertaining. While it may be best for viewers to rent the series first
(as it
won't hold up for everyone) this is an impressive release that is sure
to
please most fans. Recommended.





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