BLU-RAY REVIEW: Halo Legends
There's more to Halo than just Master Chief...
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Halo is a cultural phenomenon. Beyond the three fan-favorite, critically acclaimed video games, the Halo universe includes a series of books and comics, numerous lines of action figures, statues and toys, a variety of clothing, a near endless list of posters, calendars, and prints, and miscellaneous other items like key chains, stickers and more.
However, until now, there's never been a Halo film. Now, Warner Bros. and 343 Industries bring fans of any and all of the above mentioned Halo paraphernalia the latest addition to the Halo universe: the film Halo Legends.
Broken up into 8 short animated features, each with its own specific characters, story, and setting, Halo Legends does an amazing job of helping establish not just a background to the entire saga, but also establish details stories of certain Spartans, characters, and places.
The shorts included on Halo Legends range in subject matter and vary in intensity from the breakneck pace of The Package to the dramatic and almost sad The Duel. This variety provides viewers with plenty of unique opportunities to view the Halo world in a way unlike any previously seen.
The shorts begin with Origins and Origins II, which reveal the history behind the Halo rings, some of the history of the main players, the technology, the threats, the battles to be fought and the Halo universe in general. For those who've played the games, read the comics or novels, this will be a recap of sorts.
Next, the shorts continue with The Duel, which helps establish the background to everyone's favorite Covenant: the Arbiter. With a slightly blurred style of animation and plenty of intense combat and drama, this is one every diehard fan will want to watch again and again.
The fourth on the disc is Homecoming, a look at the personal desires of a female Spartan who, intent on going home, finds herself at a crossroads that she and only she can travel.
The fifth short, Odd One Out, is one of my favorites. A hilarious look at one Spartan's comedic battle against a secret Covenant weapon, this short will remind fans that not all anime has to be action-oriented and humor can and indeed does belong in the Halo universe.
The sixth short is my personal favorite as it's got plenty of action and a solid story. Entitled Prototype, we find a Marine who's considered heartless by his subordinates having to break the rules in order to accomplishing a mission and save his platoon.
The seventh short will make fans of the ODST proud. Entitled The Babysitter, viewers get an inside look at a squad of ODST lead by a Spartan and the ODST's view on having to be "babysat." While there's plenty of action, there's also a solid conclusion that helps demonstrate why Spartans are so important to the UNSC's cause.
Last, but certainly not least, is The Package and it stars everyone's favorite Spartan, John-117 -- the Master Chief. When a small window of opportunity to recover a package is open, it's up to Master Chief and a squad of Spartans to attack an entire Covenant fleet and find the precious cargo. Using CGI animation, the breakneck speed and sheer amount of action is almost an assault on the senses. No doubt this will be many fan's favorite short and for good reason.
Overall, Halo Legends includes no common theme as each short provides the individual creators a completely empty canvas on which to paint their own unique story from the Halo universe. While this makes the overall experiance somewhat disjointed, it also provides - as previously mentioned - a wide variety of unique and specific tales which have never been told before. Personally, I appreciate this as the more the merrier.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray and 2-disc DVD include a wealth of behind-the-scenes featurettes, documentaries, and commentaries totaling over 2 hours. The Blu-ray in particular includes The Making of Halo Legends provides plenty of insight into the creation of each of the stories and the discs as a whole, the short Halo: The Story So Far, which gives fans an encompassing look at - you guessed it! - the story so far right up until the end of Halo 3. The short Halo - Game Evolved shows just how much cultural influence the video game has had over the years since it was first released on XBox and commentary with directors Frank O'Connor and Joseph Chou provide some insight into the shorts themselves.
Overall, if you're a fan of Halo, you won't be disappointed by picking up Halo Legends. There's enough variety here to provide every type of fan some sort of entertainment. And even if you're not a Halo die-hard, there's enough cool sci-fi and story here to attract even the casual fans who'll probably find themselves watching Origins, Origins II, and Halo - The Story So Far in order to gain some insight into the true history behind the phenomenon that is Halo.
Halo Legends is available on DVD, 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, and Blu-ray tomorrow, February 16, wherever fine home video are sold.
Be sure to sign up HERE for your chance to win the Halo Legends DVD!
- Jess C. Horsley
Re: BLU-RAY REVIEW: Halo Legends
Might have to check this out ;)
Re: BLU-RAY REVIEW: Halo Legends
I got the Blu Ray today.
It's ok but definitely not as good as the novels or the graphic novels. There is an mix of both really good episodes (Prototype, Babysitter) and then some not 'so good' (Origins & The Package were pretty bad) I felt Odd One Out was kind of funny, until they started introducing those kids and 'brother & sister'. I like L337's personality but I thought the supporting characters dragged down the experience. I thought 'The Duel' was too confusing and I never really had an grasp of what was going on, that and I hated the art direction they took with the female Elites. 'Origins' was boring as hell and even though 'The Package' featured Master Chief and his group of Spartans the whole thing just felt really kiddy and very 'Star Wars' like, and I wasn't referring to the good Star Wars films.
However the main two that stood out for me was the 'Babysitter' & 'Prototype' I felt that despite them only being 15 minutes long they created enough diverse and unique characters and I felt like they brought something to the Halo Canon. Even though the ending of the 'Babysitter' was just typical cliche anime I still loved it and was still surprised at the ending and it stuck in my head, & the rest of the episode was darn good as well. I enjoyed 'Prototype' mainly because of it's mature take on the Halo canon, watching the Marine change from an stone-hearted soldier to hero was great to watch especially when he makes the ultimate sacrifice. The action sequences were also really fun to watch too.
The bonus features are forgettable and are an waste of time. I found myself getting angry at 343 Industries as they bragged about how good the Halo franchise is. Especially when they started to compare themselves to Half-Life 2. In fact it only makes you angrier at 343 and made me turn off the thing all together.
If your an absolute die-hard Halo fan that was pumped for this series as soon as it was announced back at Comic-Con then you should definitely get this. If you also enjoyed the previews on Waypoint a few months ago then you should also check this out. If you've had any doubts about buying this then do yourself a favour and don't bother. The bad just outweighs the good by a lot. 2 episodes at best stood out for me, the rest were either mediocre or just were generally bad.
Now there's an real Review :p
Re: BLU-RAY REVIEW: Halo Legends
Surprised you didn't like The Duel - it was one of my favorites and really stood out because of the art direction and style of animation. Likewise, I'm surprised you didn't like The Package either. I agree it was very Star Wars-ish at times, but it provided a good story featuring Master Chief and provided a bit of background as to why they are so close to the Doctor.
You're right, Prototype was for me the highlight. It was a great action short with plenty of solid drama. I could have a short twice as long about the same characters and stayed entertained.
Personally, I loved the bonus material. 343 should be able to brag about Halo - heck, if I was one of the original creators, my head would be that big too - you're right that they seem to boast a lot, but they also talk about a lot of interesting details, like why the novels were written, what Eric Nylund had to go through to write them, and the ideas behind setting up the stories, background, etc - again, I thought they were good. Too, the recap of the entire story is helpful for those who haven't played Halo, Halo 2 or 3 and they really help those who have played the games - but not for months! - remember what the whole story is.
Re: BLU-RAY REVIEW: Halo Legends
I didn't really like The Duel because it was pretty hard to keep up with the story. From what I gathered it was an Arbiter who was the previous leader of an Elite Clan before they joined the Covenant. The Arbiter doesn't like this so basically rebels against the Covenant which in turn gets his wife killed and then himself killed. Still I had to watch three times before I actually got an sense of what was going on. I also felt the Art Direction was too Japanese in an sense. They're meant to be aliens but they're living in an heavily-inspired japanese village, which dragged me out of the experience.
The Package was just cringing to watch, I couldn't take it seriously. It just reminded me so much of the first sequence in Star Wars Episode 3. In fact it was like they took that idea and then replaced everything with Halo. Palatine was now Halsey, Dooku was the Red Elite etc.The character of the Master Chief was just so horribly done and they butchered the character. They killed off 2 of the Spartans so damn quickly that by the end you'd forgotten that there had been 5 Spartans to begin with. Oh and then they found Halsey who just started blerting out nothing but Cortana Quotes. Sure it was cool when referenced the Chief's luck but then she started shouting out random quotes for absolute no reason which had no real purpose. Then the ending, "I need to be Stronger!" "We all need to be stronger!" Oh please, Cut me some slack. I haven't had chance to read the books but from that episode I now don't like Halsey, despite her being an important character to the fiction.
I have no problem with the people saying how good Halo is, expect for the fact no one there was from Bungie. Only Eric Nylund had an right to say how big Halo was because he has actually written a lot of the backstory. The other people haven't made any worthy contribution to the Halo Franchise and it was simply Microsoft being total pr**ks and taking credit for something Bungie created.
Re: BLU-RAY REVIEW: Halo Legends
My quick thoughts SPOILERS INSIDE!:
The Babysitter: The most honest expression of the game mythos, even though the surprise female Spartan reveal had a been-there-done-that quality, having already been played out in the HALO graphic novel collection.
The Duel: The animation style took awhile to get used to, but it grew on me and ended up being the most unique episode of the collection. I do agree, however, that the story was hard to follow and that the Japanese themes were a little bit strong for my liking. The "Elites in ancient Japan" felt too Earthly and familiar, destroying the impression that these are a warring intergalactic species.
Prototype: While it was nice to see some of the episodes focus on calm storytelling, I felt it was overdone with this collection. Only Prototype and The Package really captured the hyper action of the game. The prototype armor, while slightly extreme in power, gave off a nice Japanese mecha vibe while still staying relatively safe in the confines of the HALO universe. Most well-rounded episode of the collection.
Origins 1 and 2: Fascinating to see the Forerunner history explored, but the overall result came off feeling simple and cheap, utterly destroying the fantasy for me. Like seeing a video for a band you like and seeing that it is pure garbage. Destroys your image of the band. This was best left a mystery and not explained.
Homecoming: Loved the animation style and the brief action injection was nice, but the overall story was weak. The teddy bear charm killed it for me too. Again, I understand that Japanese animators created these, but I was looking for unique Japanese animation to express HALO (aka Animatrix), not modern day Japanese objects and culture to express HALO.
Odd One Out: While the goofy Spartan jarred me at first, I grew to appreciate the character and the parody being conveyed. HOWEVER, the liberties the artist took by inserting these random silly anime characters of his (a dinosaur!?? BamBam wanna be?!? This ain't the friggin anime Flintstones!) blew the entire experience. This felt like the artist doing one of his own anime creations and slipping in a Spartan just to justify the HALO experience. For shame.
The Package: Yes, it felt very Star Wars-ish, but I found the animation and action the most enjoyable of the entire collecton. I appreciated the over the top combat situations. Similar to the novels, they really conveyed just how powerful (yet mortal) the Spartans are. Fun episode.
Overall, enjoyable, but lacking, primarily the jolting freedom given to these artists to interrupt the license. I am all for exploration of HALO's look and mythos, but within boundaries already extensively established for the game. Certain artists here crossed that boundary.