Draxis Review: Transformers Beast Wars and Beast Machines

Over the past few week, well months actually, I have been catching up on some old cartoons.  The ones I have been watching that I want to take about today are Transformers Beast Wars and then it’s sequel Beast Machines.  I have to say the two shows left very different feelings in me by the time they were over, and it got me thinking….so I want to share these thoughts with you all.

Beast Wars:

Beast_Wars_title_logoThis was one of the first weekly all digital animation shows to ever come out, and it makes sense that a Transformers show should be the one to use all CGI in it. However, what you wouldn’t expect is the fact that Beast Wars does NOT have the usual Robot to Vehicle transformations. Instead, as the title suggests it has become a Robot to Animal transformation.  I honestly do not mind such a thing as it makes for a very interesting twist.

Beast Wars Synopsis:

Megatron has stolen a golden disk from Cybertron and then took a ship with a transwarp drive and fled to a world on this sacred disk that was said to have great energon stores.  A Maximal science vessel led by Optimus Primal is closest and thus sent to stop Megatron.  Both ships crash on this planet and they find that due to the energon being in a raw unrefined state and there being soooooooo much of it they need to take on alternate beast forms so that the energon levels don’t lock up their systems.

The Two Sides:  In previous transformers cartoons, you had Autobots and Decepticons… in this one you have Maximals and Predacons.  The Maximals are descendants of the Autobots and the Predicons descendants of the Decepticons.  After the Great Wars (original transformers comics and cartoons) Cybertron had a “Great Reformatting” which created the Maximals and Predacons.  It seems that the two races are more about our size than the old 2 and 3 story tall transformers size.

Characters:

Maximals:

Optimus Primal- Leader of the Maximals Optimus has the form of an Ape

Rat Trap- Rattrap is a demo expert and takes the form of a rat

Rhinox- Huge tank of a transformer is a gentle soul in the body of a Rhino

Cheetor- Form of a Cheetah, the youngest of the Maximals

Tigatron- Tiger Maximal- Rescued from downed Stasis Pod

Air Razor- Falcon Maximal- rescued from downed stasis pod

Depth Charge- Maximal came from space hunting Protoform X, crashed in ocean and took Manta Ray form

Silver Bolt- One of the Fuzors, has a wolfs body and head but Eagle claws and wings, is a stereotypical superhero character

Predacons:

Megatron- Leader of the preds, starts with the form of a T-rex but ends with a dragon form

Scorpinox- Second in command has a Scorpion alter form

Waspinator- A wasp in animal form, has a tendency of getting scrapped in EVERY episode, a lot like Kenny dying in every South Park Episode… good comic relief

Terrorsaur- Pterodactyl pred, reminds me a lot of starscream in that he wants to take the preds over

Tarantulus- Tarantula alter form, scientific evil genius, secret spy for the tri-predacus council

Inferno- Pod Rescued maximal reprogrammed by Tarantulus to be a pred, has an ant form and the ant mentality overrides the circuits, making him call Megatron “the royalty” or “my Queen”

Quick Strike- Pred Fuzor, a combo scorpion with a cobra head where the stinger should be

Rampage/ProtoformX- Trying to duplicate starscreams indestructible spark the maximals accidentally create protoform X who loves to kill anything and anyone.  Optimus group was tasked with dumping Protoform X on some uncharted barren planet but was called off for the beast wars before that could happen.  This is one stasis pod that crashed that Megatron retrieved.  Protoform X got the secondary form of a Crab and megatron used an Energon knife to cut out half of his spark and keep it in a cage so that he could control Rampage.  So rampage is now a pred but not by choice.

Others:

Dinobot- Pred SiC before Scorpinox, tried to rebel against Megatron and failed and so joined the Autobots bounced back and forth a few times in the series then disapeared was said to be dead and then got cloned by Megatron in a Transmetal 2 form.  Stayed loyal to Megatron as he gained Rampages other half a spark to power himself but at the end sided with the maximals yet again.

Black Arachnea-  First pod rescue by the preds and made into a spiderbot by Tarantulus. Black Arachnea ends up falling in love with Silver Bolt and eventually joining the Maximals.  Fully becomes a maximal when she gains a Transmetal 2 form.

Over all Beast wars is a good show.  The beats forms are very cool looking, there is plenty of action and comedy both in this show.  While the beast forms are great the background could have used more production time to make it look better..landscape is a bit blocky.  They did better once they introduced jungle landscapes.  My biggest complaint in this series was when they started season 2 they did away with several characters…the good guys got interesting death scenes and then by next episode no one speaks of them again.  Bad guys just seem to disappear…their death scenes so fast that if you blink you miss them and then no one mentions them again EVER.  Overall though, I came out of each episode wanting to see more.  There were several interesting twists that anchored this show to the original show but they were few and far between.  Some beast forms change throughout the show some getting neater looking others kinda falling apart. All in all though I would give this show a 3 out of 5.  It was really good but it had many places it could have improved.

Beast Machines-

350px-BeastMachines_Logo

OMG where do I begin for this fiasco.

Synopsis- At the end of Beast Wars we find Megatron strapped to the back of an Autobot escape pod with the Maximals piloting it back to the planet Cybertron.  In the first few minutes of Beast Machines you find Optiumus, Rat Trap, Cheetor and Black Arachnea back in their original beast forms from beast wars instead of whatever form they had ended with and the whole of Cybertron seemingly deserted except for mindless drones out to kill them.  The Maximals have no clue how they got here or how they got these forms or why they can’t seem to transform and as an audience member neither do you.  Eventually they all get a “reformatting” from the oracle and are merged beast and robots in both modes, but they still can’t transform until they come to peace with their inner self.  This means controlling the rage of the beast and the logic of the robot and bringing it into one zen unit.  Then they say in a very peaceful meditative type way “I am transformed” and poof a light surrounds them and they take on robot mode.  It all comes back to Megatron though in what has to be done.  Stop megatron and somehow bring a balance between organic and machine to Cybertron.

Maximals:

Optimus Primal- Maximal leader now has an ape form that looks like a cross between a Silver Backed Gorilla and an Orangutang. I give the beast mode a 2 star rating and his new robot mode a 1

Black Arachnea- Is now a speckled black widow spider beast mode gets a 4 out of 4 from me, robot mode gets a 3. Her root mode could have been great if they made the legs look human instead of spiderish.

Cheetor- Now the SiC of maximals beast mode 3 robot mode 2

Rat Trap- Couldn’t master the robot mode till most of the way through 1st season, once he did I wished he never had. Beast mode 3 robot 1

Night Scream- A Cybertron native that when Megatron’s virus hit the world fell down a well and found ancient DNA remains in some bones.  A Clue that Cybertron used to house organic life.  Night Scream takes on the form of a bat, robot and beast get a 3

Botanica- Introduced in season 2 Botanica is from another Maximal ship that had landed on a planet that had no animals so they took on plant forms since plants ruled there.  Seems to have no trouble transforming once reformatted and doesn’t have to say the stupid “I am transformed” thing either.  Both forms look like a plant animal hybrid.  will give both forms a 3

Predacons-

Megatron- Ruling over Cybertron his goal is to wipe out all Biologicals and rule a perfect robotic society, of course this means he must devour every spark other than his own because everyone has to be mindless robots for there to be true peace.

Vehicons-  Lifeless robots can’t defeat maximals because they have no spark so Megatron makes the Vehicon generals

Thrust- A cycle droid, somehow has the spark of waspinator, no good reasoning how Waspinator got back to Cybertron given.

Tankor- Has the spark of Rhinox who then decides that Megatron is right but that Megatron is not fit to rules as he has a beast part and so Tankor must rule.

JetStorm- A wise cracking jet droid Jetstorm eventually finds out he has the spark of Silverbolt and eventually gains a maximal form and joins the maximals…his new form a vulture.

Obsidian- a new helicopter jet type droid to replace JetStorm once he became Silverbolt again

Strika- a new deluxe tank droid that replaced tankor

So the Story Line opens with Megatron in control of Cybertron and the Maximals all in their original forms running away. Great job and taking series one and saying “F*&K what you guys did we’re starting over”  Watching this series half the time I felt lost as to what was happening because it had no grounding in anything that went before.  The biggest problem was that even the Maximals had no clue what was happening which just fed viewer confusion as well.  Not until the end of season 1 really do the Maximals find out what had happened and within 4 episodes it doesn’t matter anyway.  Start of Season 2 takes what was accomplished at the end of season one and says “hey guess what we’re screwing you again HA!”  and all was for naught.  Everytime one good thing happens several bad things happen so that a lone Megatron can almost always win against several Maximals.  Sure Megs has the Vehicons but of the first 3 only 1 stayed loyal and then the new 2 while they help some the vehicons in general just don’t do anything.  I think they were added in because no one believed that Megs could be a good baddie all by himself.  The animation quality from Beast Wars to beast Machines went REALLY downhill in my opinion.  In Beast wars all I had problems with were the backgrounds.  In Beast Machines I had problems with the animations of everything other than the beast modes.  The Vehicons were shoddy squarish models, the planet of cybertron itself was blocky and mostly one huge silhouette.  When there was flame it looked more like orange water or a piece of red orange silk being crumpled in front of a camera to make the effect.  Smoke looked like someone was dangling grey wool in front of the camera.  Most of the animation looked like something I could do if given a good graphics program, and considering I can’t draw that is just scary.

The philosophy of Beast Machines made me want go gag.  I don’t mind there being some sort of philosophy to a show…but don’t ram it down the audience’s throat every second of the show.  This show was very Zen and it does not work in transformers.  But here to transform they have to be at one with themselves, combining both robot and organic sides and not letting either have sway.  Then the whole saying “I am Transformed” to actually transform, blech!  Then the whole goal is not to defeat megatron but to bring a balance to cybertron of organic and cyber lifeforms.  I can almost see this except for the part that cybertron did not have organic lifeforms before it became a cyber planet…it always was a cyber planet.  Honestly I kept watching Beast Machines to see if it would shape up and get better and all it did was suck more and more the longer I watched it.   Soooooo very glad it is over.

Show gets a 1 out of 4 stars

Photos Courtesy of:

Beast Wars Logo: Wikipedia.org

Beast Machines Logo: tfwiki.com

6 thoughts on “Draxis Review: Transformers Beast Wars and Beast Machines

  1. I remember someone told me a while ago to try this cartoon: Beast Wars Transformers but he could not remember the name of it.. After reading your article I asked him about the name and there you are.. THAT’S IT !! I will start watching it so thank you for posting this.

  2. I love the way you explain all the story in brief and then explain a character one by one. I never seen such detailed explanation of any show anywhere. You are very good at this! You should do more review about other shows too. BTW I’m not big fan of Beast Wars or beast machines but I loved your article!

  3. I vaguely, very vaguely remember Beast Wars from when I was a kid. I think they were airing it on Cartoon Network in our country and it was one of those shows all the kids in the block gathered to watch together. It was never one of my favorite shows when I was little, but I might give it another try some of these days to see if the second impression is different. It would not surprise me.

  4. Beast wars was an awesome show! I love your breakdown, I’ll be showing this to people I need to convince to watch them both. I mean, to have their kids watch.

  5. Oh my, you have sent me on a speed trip back to my childhood with this review! I remember watching transformers and I remember this show too. It wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t the worst so I enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing this great memory with the rest of us!

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