The Transformers' war continues in an older time, through a new generation. On pliocenic Earth, the heroic Maximals and the evil Predacons battle for survival against each other and against a violent planet.
Ian James Corlett
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The Maximals awaken on their home planet of Cybertron with no memory of how they got there and instead of being greeted by there own kind they are chased by mindless Veicons created by Megatron(II). The Maximals must free Cybertron from Megatron and restore it back to its organic life. Written by
Transforms expectations and Transcends mere entertainment.
Beast Machines is easily an animated TV series which proves that Transformers can be so much more than just entertainment and toy advertisements. This show is one of very few animated series that actually casts aside the more kid-friendly themes and embraces the darker and more intelligent aspects of storytelling.
This series tackles a good bit of philosophy with pseudo-religious undertones. It is not just a battle good vs evil, or of technology vs nature; that is just the surface and sadly that is all that people look at. Under that, there is the theme of "balance", sort of like yin/yang. A balance between cold hard logic and unpredictable primal emotion. One frequent complain by many was the whole "techno-organic concept and the concept of an organic Cybertron. I urge you not to take such concepts too literally. The very nature of "techno-organic" indicates a blending of Technology and nature. It is a metaphor for peaceful co-existence and not an actual literal concept(why do people take things too literally?). As the series moves along, we are shown the negative effects of swaying to either extreme end of the spectrum. Too much reliance on nature and emotion, without the focus of logic, makes one no better than a Neanderthal(as evidence by the Episode 5 "Forbidden Fruit"), savage and warlike. Now take that metaphor and apply it to the concept of "a once organic Cybertron". It makes perfect sense, if taken as a metaphor, in indicating Cybertron's long savage history of war. On the other hand, Sway the other way into cold amoral logic and one becomes nothing more than a mindless drone; Cybertron becomes a cold and foreboding place where individuality is crushed all for the sake of peace.
Metaphors abound in this series, challenging the audience to actually think deeper and not just take things at the literal face value.
Technology and Nature(embodied by Megatron's and Optimus' ideals) are metaphor for the very real-world issue of religious extremism. There is even a scene where Optimus tries to forcibly reformat an unwilling Megatron, similar to how some religious extremists would force someone into joining a cult.
Megatron and his vehicon drones are a metaphor for the amorality of technology. His goal is unity and peace, even if it has to be at the price of the individual selves. Throughout the series, the Maximals also turn technology to their own use, further advancing the theme that technology is not inherently bad, it only depends on who uses it.
These are just a few of the clever, thought provoking themes, so rare among animated series, that the producers decided to throw in.
Another complain was about the change of personalities in the main characters. Do know that the series starts off in the middle of the action with the Maximals already on the run from Vehicons, separated, locked in beast mode, and possessing no memory of what came before. Then the find out that their battles in pre-history was all in vain, and all that they believed in had been shattered.
Such traumatizing events are bound to change an individual and those changes make perfect realistic sense. Optimus had is faith in himself shattered by his humbling defeat, then turned to a new guiding light and principle, only to have that shattered also. RatTrap already had an inferiority complex in Beast Wars, and that is further compounded here by him being stuck in his tiny, non threatening beast mode and then discovering his ineffective combat mode. To see a once courageous warrior cowering in fear only adds to the sense of peril and the great level of threat that the vehicons present. Cheetor grows up, Black Arachnia finally finds her softer side etc. Overall, the good guys are not so "good" anymore. Their quirks and their flaws are more visible now but it all effectively makes them a lot more "human"(oh the irony) and adds to giving them a greater depth and dimension.
Oh and speaking of dimension, the 3D animation has take a huge jump in quality. A lot more detailed and fluid than its predecessors and possessing fully rendered shadows that add to the dramatic effect and the chilling new setting of a "ghost town" Cybertron. It actually holds up to the test of time and still look great even when compared to other more recent CGI in TV series like Transformers galaxy force. Voice acting carries on the high standards set in place in Beast Wars so no complains there.
The only thing that may put off some fans of Beast Wars is the lack of "fun". Beast wars balanced serious moments with more lighthearted comedic ones. Beast Machines however, is 26 episodes without a single laugh; Straight faced and serious all the way.
This is not a show for the kids, but one for fans of animation with the desire to see something more complex than just "good vs evil". The many underlying philosophical themes will keep the more learned ones busy with endless discussion while the casual viewer can still enjoy the serious tone, excellent animation, and intense action sequences.
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