As discussed in my review of Bionicle: Mask of Light, the whole Bionicle franchise is a dead toy-centered mythology from the mid-2000s that literally saved the LEGO company from complete insolvency during the advent of gaming consoles.
Bionicle invented the “constraction” line of LEGO product that later evolved into Hero Factory, which was bullshit. Each bi-yearly “wave” of figures comprised of six buildable action-figure heroes, six villains and several higher-priced sets to round out the shelves around the holidays. I own every set released in 2004, the year of Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui. I also got my first girlfriend that year.
Like Transformers and G.I. Joe before it, Bionicle launched a series of films to advertise their toys’ excessively complex storyline. Like the Star Wars prequels and other bullshit from the early-to-mid 2000s, Bionicle nostalgia is an ever-flowing fountain from which memes burst forth in certain corners of the internet. Most of the memes concern the convolution of the storyline.
Really, that convolution started in story year 2004, the first half of the Metru Nui saga, as chronicled in Bionicle 2.
Like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before it, Bionicle’s second film is actually a prequel to the first. Unlike Temple, this is directly set up at the end of Mask of Light, when Makuta’s defeat allows the noble Matoran and their heroic protectors, the Toa, to travel underground and return to their homeland. The first three years of Bionicle took place on the tropical island of Mata Nui; 2004 shifted back in time to tell the story of how the Matoran ended up there from their technological metropolis, Metru Nui.
FYI: The Toa all have a different color scheme and corresponding elemental power. Red for fire, blue for water, white for ice, etc. They wear Great Masks of Power that confer a specific ability on the wearer — invisibility, night vision, strength.
Why is Metru Nui underground? That’s a question the mythos deigned to answer for another half-decade, but I’ll spoil it here: Turns out the island of Mata Nui was a fake island designed to hide the face of a giant robot built to travel the stars. This robot, Mata Nui, was built by a species of organic creatures who had blown up their planet, which split into three pieces. Mata Nui (the robot) was filled with biological / mechanical creatures called Matoran, who kept him running like little blood cells. The heroic Toa were like white blood cells, built to defeat illnesses that came in the form of other biological / mechanical creatures. Metru Nui is the brain of Mata Nui (the robot). The events of Bionicle 2 lead to Mata Nui (the robot) crashing on Aqua Magna (an ocean planet), where his decoy island deploys and becomes Mata Nui (the island), which the Matoran escape to and live for 1,000 years, unaware of their original homeland.
Bionicle 2 is pretty sweet, all things considered, and is by far superior to its predecessor. Six Matoran are turned into Toa Heroes and must learn to control their powers and work together to stop the insidious Makuta from taking over Metru Nui. There are some decently directed action sequences for a direct-to-video CGI film for kids, in particular the initial Colosseum battle. Personally I could’ve used a little more time spent on their initial quest fetching Great Disks to defeat the giant plant Karzhani. But that story is told well in the comic series, so it doesn’t matter. The team-building from that story arc is shoehorned into the Colosseum battle. Whatever.
Unlike the first film, Bionicle 2 creates organic situations for the six new Toa to try out their elemental and Great Mask-related abilities. Each Toa has a chance to shine, which made me appreciate all my toys a lot more. I still own all of them, stuffed away in giant totes somewhere in the garage. From time to time, I’ll take my figures out and invent my own Toa — taking special care to match their personality with a fitting mask power and elemental color scheme.
It is incredibly relaxing.
It remains my shit.