Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Transformers Marathon II; TF Beast Wars: People say this looks prime... why?

Welcome to the second Transformers Marathon, with the subtitle of Revenge of the Bay. But because I can't put the whole title into a tweet along with the link for the site, Transformers Marathon II in the title it is. While the first marathon primarily focused on the origins of the franchise, what I personally grew up with and the live action incarnations. This time it'll be focusing on what I never got into, in terms of the shows, and post bayformers shows... I kinda ran out of movies (to my knowledge). Six shows are up this time, the Japanese exclusives are for another time. Beast Wars, Beast Machines. Robots in Disguise 2001, Animated, Rescue Bots, and Robots in Disguise 2015. Some of these are going to be more Opening Impressions rather then reviews mostly just due to time, I am still working on the trailer after all. One of them being what's up first, the Beast wars. Time to find out what the whole Team Monkey> Truck thing is all about. Oh and as a side note, I've got nothing to say on the recent things happening in the IDW comics, so don't ask for my opinion on Onslaught x Blast Off.

I'll start off with what I liked about it, as I admit there was a lot that I did. First is the voice acting as overall I did think it worked well. It also helps that it played an unintentional nostalgia card with to my knowledge the first appearances of Garry Chalk and David Kaye, the voice actors for Optimus Primal and Megatron, who would continue to be their voice actors (well when turning Primal into Prime) for the Unicron trilogy. I actually really like Megatron in this compared to the trillogy, as he comes off here more "deliciously evil" rather then just power hungry, like TF Prime Starscream only with the power to back it up. The rest of the voice acting is pretty good overall considering the source material. The only one that was getting annoying was Terrosaur (Waspinator barely spoke and I already knew what to expect thanks to memes). While the voice acting was fine, I hated Rat trap's personality in this. I mean it makes sense considering he transforms into a rat, but even still.

I will also give credit to the sound design, as the background music is really nice, a lot better then the generic intro that wouldn't be out of place in modern cartoons. Still not as bad as English XY&Z though. It does also compliment the story which is basically the same as the G1 cartoon, only set in the past, at the time of the stone age. There's no ridiculous space age tools here (well, I mean things like mind control helmets and Kremzeek), so the story is more focused on the act of survival, which is interesting and something the G1 cartoon was missing. But, I do have to bring up the one thing that was keeping me from getting into the show before, and a thing that still bugs me now. The visuals. This cartoon looks disgusting, both by standards back then and modern standards. The reason for that is that it uses 3D CGI, which on a TV show budget back then will not look good compared to 2D animation. The world feels bleak thanks to textures not really being a thing back then, well complex textures anyway. What doesn't help is that I'm not a fan of beastformers. While I like the G1 designs as they look like robotic animals, the beastformers here try to look like the real animals, they try to look realistic which I'll admit doesn't look as bad as say the Cybertron Jungle Planet flesh looking metal, but thanks to the technology at the time makes them look terrifying, and I'm dreading the episode that has Transmute in it because I've heard horror stories about that episode.

I honestly think I might like it more if it was done with today's technology, but at the same time I think I'd hate it more because of the beast designs (something that if a rumoured Beast Wars live action movie is actually a thing, I don't believe anything until I see a trailer, might help test). It is genuinely in that weird middle ground for me of "There's a lot I like about this, but I hate looking at it". I admit I was expecting worse then what I saw, so I am pleasantly surprised by the rest of the components of the show overall. But I can say with confidence that you will never convince me that this show looks good, that visually it's impressive. The cheep CGI just kills it for me. I will probably go back to continue watching it for the rest of the components once this marathon is done though, so is that a good thing? See you next week for Beast Machines.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your article. I'm nitpicking here, as I don't know what "standard" you are going by, but aesthetically I find Beast Wars a bit ugly now, and back in the day when it first aired. So I agree in part there, I'm NOT a fan. However, if you are talking about the standard of CGI, it was the highest it could be, on TV at the time, even with unlimited money, it would not look much better, as it was new technology at the time. Beast Wars was the SECOND ever all CGI animated TV show, the first was ReBoot, both shows were made by Mainframe entertainment. Even though Beast Wars was more advanced (2 years) in tech and textures etc, I always loved ReBoot, but did not really care for Beast Wars. But it literally was the best it could possibly be at the time.
    The only thing else from that era that was full CG, and not just add on effects like TRON or other 80's films was the first ever TOY STORY movie, which most people agree looks like crap today, try watching a clip from the first Toy Story, compard to part 3. Both films used the best of the best tech available, but as technology marched on, around 1999 and psot 2000 polygon counts went up dramatically, rendering and processing power took a big leap, and it kept improving until we have the standard of today that most Dreamworks / Disney / Pixar movies where everything looks smooth, and backgrounds are much more highly lushly detailed, improved textures etc.

    You can see a timeline of the the uses of CG in TV and cinema here (particularly the 80s and 90s, which are the only contemporaries / 'Standard" to judge the Beast Wars CG quality by.