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