Wednesday, October 12th, 2005 at 12:20am by Kelly, BZPower Co-Owner
The little LEGO theme that could is still going strong. After five years, the Bionicle line looks as powerful as ever with the release its third animated film. Toa Vakama and the rest of the Metru Nui gang are back in this pre-sequel(?) from the talented animators at Creative Capers Entertainment, with new bad guys/gals and some twists slipped up its finely crafted sleeve. Oh yes, it has Visorak too - and if you thought they were cute, think again.
Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows
The animation quality of the Bionicle movies has continued to improve. The animators bave honed their craft to create truly eerie opening scenes and some moody, foggy, indistinct yet all-too-creepy sequences. Directors Terry Shakespeare and David Molina take this film in a darker direction - literally, with indistinct backgrounds at times barely visible in the gloom. One of the more effective scenes involves approaching Visorak waving their forelegs in the distance... their mysterious, wavering outlines fully as effective as any extreme closeup of drooling pincers (which we also are privileged to see).
The result is a properly tense atmosphere for a story of Toa Metru who, overconfident of their recent victories, return to Metru Nui to find their city transformed into a creepy haven for spiderish Visorak. Captured almost immediately by slavering Visorak minions, the Toa heroes are slung from webs crisscrossing the city and transformed into the beastly Toa Hordika. So great is their change that Matau doesn't even recognize his fellow Toa for a bit. And yes, Matau still has some of the best lines.
Visorak: Not at all cuddly or nice
Toa Hordika Vakama snarls
The story winds through familiar themes of fellowship, fealty, loyalty, and of course duty. Angered by their new situation, one of the Toa Hordika abandons his crew and newly-discovered Rahaga allies, and allows himself to become allied with two new villains: Sidorak, self-proclaimed "king" and his scheming fiance, Roodaka. It doesn't take long for everyone but the low-wattage Sidorak to figure out that Roodaka has more schemes in her talons than anyone can decipher. The pair of villains are very similar to their plastic counterparts, the animators have done an excellent job of bringing the toy sets to life. Sidorak, pompous and egocentric, is easily guided by the far more intelligent Roodaka. Their movements are flowing and more natural than previous characters in the Bionicle movies.
The Toa Metru
Meanwhile, the rest of the Hordika, aided by the grandfatherly Norik and the rest of the Rahaga (including a silly Iruini) search for the possibly-mystical rahi Keetongu. Only Keetongu can change them back to Toa heroes, and then only when he wants to.
The story leads up to more epic battles against the nasty ol' Visorak hordes (and we do mean hordes) as well as multiple confrontations with the bad guys and an eventual resolution to the dissaray within the group of Toa. Without spoiling any ending, it's safe to say the story returns full circle and will leave most Bionicle fans satisfied.
The DVD extras are fun, although not quite up to the level of excitement from Bionicle 2, where we were treated to sneak peeks of the 2005 sets. No such luck here - although the standout addition this time is the animated comic. Parts of existing comic books had an "animatic"-style of animation added, complete with sound effects and voiceovers from some of the movie cast. Anyone who read the comics would get a kick out of this feature. Other extras include some sneak peeks at other movies; a B3 explorer with details on characters; some of the web-based Flash movies presented on Bionicle.com earlier this year; and some music.
In all, this video/DVD completes what we hope to be the first Bionicle trilogy. Here's hoping for more in the years to come.
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