Directed by: Shinji Aramaki, Hideki Futamura
Starring: David Wald
Anchor Bay has been releasing animated films that tie into videogames such as Dead Space and more recently Dante’s Inferno. Now the big guns are in play giving this cross pollination a shot with Microsoft, Bungie, and Warner Brothers coming together to release Halo Legends.
Anytime a new gadget hits store shelves, whether it be a blu-ray player, a gaming console, or even a media device such as an iPod or the upcoming iPad the success of said device hinges on content. When the first XBOX came out Microsoft seemed like the underdog in the videogame battle. Then Microsoft bought a little company named Bungie that was crafting what would be one o the most influential games in videogaming history: Halo. Halo joined ranks with Castle Wildenstein, Doom, and even Duke Nukem’ as innovators in the world of videogames. Then came Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo Wars, and Halo 3: ODST all cementing the franchise as one of the biggest in the world and establishing the XBOX and the XBOX 360 as important gaming consoles. Before the release of the latest entry in the franchise, Halo Reach, hits store shelves this fall we’re getting some new Halo stores in the form of Halo Legacy.
Rather than being a movie set in the Halo universe Halo Legacy is a group of short stories produced by top notch creators in the world of anime. The game isn’t anime inspired at all so the visuals of Halo Legacy are substantially different than what we’ve seen before. The armor is in place, some of the weapons and set pieces are also in the films but it all looks a bit different than the classic Halo universe. Anime is hip with the kids these days so it’s obvious who Microsoft and Warner Brothers are hoping to target with this film. Also for the most part these short films assume that you’ve played the games and know the stories portrayed in those games so if you don’t know those stories you’re going to be a bit lost watching this blu-ray.
The films are a mish mash of interesting stories and really terrible ones, gorgeous animation and more bland presentations. Not much is consistent here at all. While Origins Part 1 & 2 attempts to catch us up on literally everything that has happened in the Halo universe it is so dry and blandly paced that it’s a tough watch. Fortunately Duel is a much more dynamic viewing experience. The story is simple but entertaining and more importantly this film is really gorgeous. The short film Odd One Out stands out as being the most out of place film in the bunch. This film is a goofy comedy piece that manages to spoof the game as well as many of the tropes of anime in general. Sadly the humor mostly falls flat and again it just doesn’t work for Halo. There are super powered kung fu kids, there’s a dinosaur, and other mistakes too numerous to mention. Possibly the best film in the group is the final tilted The Babysitter a story focusing on ODST characters. There solid action and cohesive story, good stuff. There are several other films also sprinkled in of varying quality but all of them bringing a unique visual flair to the proceedings. Along with Duel and The Babysitter, Prototype is solid installment.
Taken all together these films are fairly entertaining for fans of the games and of anime. There’s a lot of action and the animation is across the board fantastic. There are two episodes in particular that drag the whole thing down a bit but if you skip Origins 1 & 2 and Odd One Out you’ll be very happy with the other short films, assuming you are a Halo gamer and anime fan.
Overall this presentation is fantastic. The video is in full 1080p at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Colors are vibrant and black levels are inky dark but not to the detriment o detail. Since these films were all crafted outside of film there’s no film grain here. In one or two of the films there is some aliasing in some scenes creating jaggy lines in some scenes. The transition between the films and the varying styles is handled solidly here and for the most part.
The audio is restricted to a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation on this blu-ray. Where’s the TrueHD option? The dialogue, score, and sound fx are crisp and cleanly mixed throughout the various films. Overall the disc features nice dynamic range but it’s surprisingly short directional audio. For the most part the overall sound is just spread amongst the entire sound stage rather than offering up much positional audio. There is some positional audio but not as much as you’d expect.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The first major bonus feature is an audio commentary with the film’s producer and the franchise development director. The commentary isn’t particularly energetic or entertaining but it is highly informative. These two guys together seem to know literally everything there is to know about the Halo universe. They discuss each film in depth and share tons of information about the world of Halo.
The Story So Far is a catch up featurette that attempts to encapsulate everything that has happened in the Halo universe so far. It’s not detailed enough for newcomers who have no experience with the games but fans can appreciate this featurette as a tool to remind them of things they may have forgot.
Gaming Evolved is a featurette that focuses on the influence of Halo on gaming in general. There are interviews with many folks involved with the game included interviewees from Bungie and Microsoft.
The biggest bonus feature on the disc is an hour long documentary simply titled The Making of Halo Legends. This feature can be viewed as one long film or as several small featurettes. This documentary covers everything from the creation of the project to the visual fx.
There’s a surprising amount of good stuff in these bonus features. Between the commentary and the feature documentary you could get everything you’d hope to from behind the scenes of this film but the smaller featurettes are icing on the cake.
There are a few weak films on this disc but the good ones make this collection of short films a must but for fans of Halo.
Overall (Not an average) 8/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8.5,10
Overall (Not an average) 8/10