Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows

Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows ★★

Darker, edgier, and hornier, the finale of the trilogy (that is actually the second one chronologically due to the baffling overarching structure) represents a bold move towards new storytelling directions, but does not stick the landing completely.

Visually, there are some notable regressions. The character designs of the protagonists are not able to elevate the ugly toys they are based on, and the environments, again filled with ugly greenish fog, are back to looking pretty cheap. The supposed point of the whole story arc – seeing the locations from the previous movie ruined by invading spider monsters – is not emphasized enough visually to really sell the feelings of desperation felt by the characters. At least the animation looks decent most of the time.

Writing, on the other hand, is solid but imperfect. It's kind of unsatisfying that the whole cast doesn't get a lot to do; this one is laser-focused on the conflict between these two guys, and it's just simply not as compelling as the internal dynamics of the entire group. The final battle, while the best of the trilogy, mistakes scale for stakes and features a lot of consequenceless action against a horde of nameless enemies. The antagonists are really good, though, and in Roodaka, Bionicle even manages to come up with a female character that has a personality other than "the mom friend".

While Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows has a lot going for it in theory and is uncharacteristically well put together for the franchise it belongs to, many of its ideas are less compelling in practice. Not good in any actual way, but infinitely more watchable than Mask of Light or the cinematic horrors I dare not speak of that the franchise produced next.

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