Starring (voices): Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Jeffrey Combs, Sumalee Montano, Kevin Michael Richardson, Ernie Hudson, Michael Ironside, Peter Mensha
Picking up mere moments after the cliffhanger finale of the second season which saw MEGATRONS (Again brilliantly played by Frank Welker) forces finally locate and destroy the AUTOBOTS base starts with a bang! Now defeated and without a leader, the AUTOBOTS are scattered and in hiding from the DECEPTICON forces. This is beginning of the four part opening story arch for the third and final season of TRANSFORMERS PRIME. The final season, now going by the subtitle Beast Hunters as well as a new opening credit sequence, provides TRANSFORMERS fans new and old with the same thrills that this series has continuously provided over its three season run.
Beast Hunters shares a similar story structure to that of the previous season, as well as tips its cap to the final season of previous series Beast Wars (which also ran three seasons). Like the previous season, the first four episodes follow the AUTOBOTS struggle to once again gain the upper hand in their war against the DECEPTICONS. The following arch focuses on yet another treasure hunt for ancient CYBERTRONIAN artifacts, this time fossils of extinct beings known as PREDACONS. Unlike the last season, this hunt is quicker and serves as a stronger plot device as the fossils help to provide MEGATRON with a stronger and ferocious new ally.
The PREDACONS have been apart of TRANSFORMERS lore since the days of G1, and over the years have been brought back into the franchise in at least three different incarnations, the most popular being the PREDACON faction from Beast Wars. This time the PREDACONS are ancient beast that resemble dragons from CYBERTRONS early years, who have been cloned in the labs of DECEPTICON master scientist, SHOCKWAVE. However the only PREDACON who gets any screen time is the fierce yet noble PREDAKING, perfectly voiced by Peter Mensah. PREDAKING is one of the few, yet cleverly fleshed new characters to join the ranks in this season.
On the AUTOBOTS side BUBBLEBEE and SMOKESCREEN (Nolan North), who early on in the season is hinted at being a possible PRIME candidate, are given paint jobs whilst OPTIMUS PRIME (Peter Cullen) is given a major upgrade courtesy of the FORGE OF THE PRIMES, which gives him a new vehicle mode, weapons and a jet pack. The newest addition to the AUTOBOT ranks is ULTRA MAGNUS (a perfectly cast Michael Ironside), a legendary TRANSFORMER who is probably more familiar with older fans than newer ones, regardless ULTRA MAGNUS adds an interesting dynamic to the AUTOBOT ranks with a by the books attitude that brings him into conflict with the rebellious WHEELJACK.
Regardless of all these new additions, the seasons greatest moments come from two characters who have already been introduced into the series. Fans old and new will rejoice in the return of SHOCKWAVE (David Sobolov) who begins to breed MEGATRON his new PREDACON army. The other great moment that will have older fans screech with excitement is the moment that SOUNDWAVE (Frank Welker) finally breaks his vow of silence and delivers a classic line from the original 1986 animated film.
Beast Hunters is full of references to the original series, one such notable highlight includes ARCEE commenting on if she was coloured pink. The season contains few flaws, which oddly lie in mostly in some of the bigger action sequences which have now began to show a generic formula that usually results in an AUTOBOT victory. The other flaw is that the series finale almost jumps out of nowhere before you realise that it is the final two episodes. However the final episode, Deadlock is quite possibly one of the best final episodes in a TRANSFORMERS series since Beast Wars.
Overall the final season of this phenomenal series is what fans have been waiting for, which still has one final act to finish team Primes story, the film Predacons Rising.
The Australian DVD
Picture and audio quality remain fantastic, although again like the previous season, Beast Hunters did not receive a BluRay release, leaving it to three separate DVD discs. Although these discs do contain some special features that are reduced to trailers for other TRANSFORMERS series as well as audio commentaries on selected episodes which add some insight into the production of the series.
Review written by Christopher Innis
Purchase Season 3 Vol 1 – http://www.madman.com.au/catalogue/view/22743/transformers-prime-season-3-volume-1-battle-for-darkmount
Thanks to Ben and Rachel from MadMan for their support.