Halo Legends Blu-ray Review
For Halo Legends, various anime directors made eight short films that explore the universe of the popular video game franchise, just as the shorts in Animatrix expanded on the Matrix features. Although Halo ranks among the top first-person shooter games, the AI narrator of Hideki Futamura’s two-part introductory episode complains about humanity’s violent tendencies: “Like a virus, war is always with you.” “The Duel,” which pits two Covenant warriors in a samurai-like battle over honor, has a watercolor look that recalls Gankutsuou: Count of Monte Cristo. Unfortunately, the effect is applied too evenly, and the characters get lost in the backgrounds. Daisuke Nishio’s “Odd Man Out” injects a welcome note of comedy, as warrior Spartan 337 copes with three difficult children and their pet tyrannosaur. Other Spartans in single fighters attack the flagship of the Covenant fleet in “The Package,” by Shinji Aramaki. The elaborately choreographed space battle is obviously modeled on the attack on the Death Star in Star Wars, but the sequence packs more visual punch than the other films in the anthology. Dr. Catherine Halsey ends this segment with the line, “Something tells me this is just the beginning,” so additional films may be in the works. Halo Legends was clearly intended to expand the audience for the already-popular franchise, but the shorts aren’t strong enough as films to win many viewers who aren’t currently members of the “Halo Nation.” The disc comes loaded with extras, including a standard making-of mini-documentary about each segment. Although the cover bears the warning “Parents strongly cautioned: Violent Content Throughout,” the action in Halo Legends is surprisingly tame. (Rated PG-13: violence, violence against women).
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD50
A collection of 8 animated tales set within the Halo universe, Halo Legends offers plenty of interesting material and enjoyable action, which should be plenty enough for die hard Halo fans to dig. For others though, not so much. Crafted by some of the top anime creators in the business, Halo Legends’ biggest flaw is that the whole affair just feels disjointed, and to put it bluntly, is just underwhelming. However, boasting some nice production values, Halo Legends delivers in terms of its action content (which isn’t nearly as violent as the video games that it has been adapted from) and voice acting, but in the end, doesn’t flesh out any more of the Halo universe that one doesn’t already know. All in all, if you’re a Halo fan, by all means check out Halo Legends, but if you aren’t, then don’t even bother.
Unfortunately Halo Legends doesn’t quite live up to the story it was supposed to portray. Sure, there are moments of fun and cleverness, but through the whole thing I was just waiting to be blow away by at least ONE of the stories, and I kept on waiting until the very last episode was finished. I kept looking for a third disk or something. Nothing. That was it. There are good episodes in this little collection, a few decent ones, and a couple really, really bad ones. But nothing great, nothing that stands out and forces you to take notice.
The first two episodes, Origins, is nothing more than a retelling of the storyline behind the Halo universe, which is great for someone like me not totally immersed in the story from the games, but it surprised me how much I actually did know after all. There’s nothing here that I didn’t know from one place or another, nothing about the Forrunners, the Flood, the Covenant War, was new to me. If this is the case for me I can only imagine how boring and tiresome it would be for someone who’s been following Halo since the very first game, though multiple books, games, etc. Unless you’re a total Halo virgin Origins won’t tell you anything knew. Plus the animation in these episodes is… what’s the word? Cheap. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was cheap. Not a lot of movement, not a lot of frames, just a lot of still pictures without the usual amazing background art that makes anime so great.
Movie Content: 7/10
The print is presented in a 1080p/VC-1 codec with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. While the print is presented in 1080p, some of the picture quality will be a bit of a mixed bag. Colors just pop and are some of the best you will see from an animated film. Blacks look deep and are very good with no hints of softness. The anime look does not fit the Halo universe at all and just comes off not looking right. Then add the issue with aliasing throughout the print which becomes rather a distraction.
Video Quality: 8/10
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. his release is still rather front heavy as it was in both previous releases, but the rears do get their workout here with the move to high resolution lossless audio. The soundfield is rather interesting one with all of the action that is going on and sound effects come through very clean. Both dialogue and the narrated portions of the film are also very clean with no issues in loss of quality. This is a well balanced mix between the sound effects and dialogue portions of the film.
Audio Quality: 9/5
- Audio Commentary with director Frank O’Connor and Halo Legends producer Joseph Chou
- The Making of Halo Legends [HD]
- Gaming Evolved [HD]
- The Story So Far [HD]
- Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Trailer
- Halo: Reach Videogame Teaser Trailer
Special Features: 7/10
I’d recommend this Blu-ray if you are a Halo fan, but even then as a fan you might be disappointed. Don’t expect to be moved to tears or experience some sort of epiphany, but try and enjoy these episodes for what they are. The film is a mixed bag on Blu-ray in terms of video, while the audio is very good for a non-lossless mix.
Overall Rating: 7/10