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This sweeping science-fiction saga delves into the rich Halo universe with seven exciting short stories(told in eight parts) focused on Master Chief's mysterious origins, the Spartan's advance combat capabilities and the tense rivalry between Spartans and Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST's). created in collaberation with some of the world's leading animators from Japan, Halo Legends draws you into the circle of humankind's ongoing battles with the Covenant, dynamically depicted in cutting edge animation styles that deliver breathtaking visuals and gripping adventure. Go beyond the game - and join the roll call of Halo Legends
For more about Halo Legends and the Halo Legends Blu-ray release, see Halo Legends Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 4, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Emily Neves, David Wald, James Faulkner, Andy McAvin, Deke Anderson, Shelley Calene-Black
Directors: Shinji Aramaki, Hideki Futamura, Frank O' Connor, Joseph Chou
» See full cast & crew
Halo Legends Blu-ray Review
Limited as its appeal might be, 'Legends' offers a dose of fun franchise spelunking...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 4, 2010
If you've never taken out a shield-packing jackal with a 400-yard headshot in the middle of a Covenant-infested valley, if you've never blindly fired a shotgun at a swarming horde of pursuing Flood, if you've never felt the rush of sweet relief that comes in the wake of surviving a firefight on Legendary difficulty, Halo Legends probably isn't for you. Aimed squarely at the rabid fanboys who've eagerly sworn blood oaths to the once-burgeoning, now-prevalent Halo videogame series, Legends makes a number of ill-advised moves sure to prevent it from landing in the hands of anyone but UNSC diehards and caffeine-addled thumb jockeys. It not only opens with a dense two-part overview of the franchise mythos, it examines the culture of one of its more adversarial species, touches on the tragedy that has haunted the evolution of the series' armored warriors, indulges in a bit of madcap DBZ-esque comedy, and ends with the sort of cutscene insanity gamers have been munching pretzels through since Halo: Combat Evolved first rocked their home console worlds. However, if you, like me, have felt the wind whipping through your hair while turning a Warthog on an oh-so-slippery dime, stormed an ancient Forerunner facility in the hope of thwarting an unstoppable menace, or cried out "schticky boooomb!" after planting a plasma grenade directly on a grown man's virtual visor, Halo Legends has a lot to offer.
Comprised of seven animated shorts produced by five talented Japanese production houses, Halo Legends rarely repeats itself and never descends into redundancy. Studio 4░C's aptly titled two-part opener, "Origins," picks up where Halo 3 left off: with Master Chief resting in cryo-stasis and Cortana, an aging AI construct, dutifully watching over him. As she reflects on the events that drove the videogames forward, she compiles a history of the Halo universe from various sources, filling in any blanks she encounters with logical precision. She describes the Forerunners' first encounters with the Flood, their construction and implementation of the Halo rings, the mounting conflicts that plagued humanity over the years, the arrival of the Covenant, the resurgence of a dormant threat, and the subsequent peace the UNSC forged with their sworn enemies. But don't be fooled, "Origins" isn't simply a rote tour of fictional history; it's an incredibly relevant commentary on the nature of war and the persistence of conflict. Oddly enough, it's also one of Legends' finest, gracefully weaving endless plot points into a manageable whole and providing a fitting introduction to everything that will follow. While it seems like a strange way to open what many expect to be an action-packed animated extravaganza, it sets the somber tone of the film and represents a brave declaration of its filmmakers' intent.
Next comes one of Legends' most intriguing shorts -- and without a doubt my favorite -- "The Duel," a haunting tale of love and honor set on the Covenant homeworld; one that's presented with a jaw-dropping animation style that allows the chapter to resemble a living, breathing Monet painting. Solid edges and discernible form are left by the wayside as Production I.G's painterly brush strokes are used to capture the mood and essence of the tale long before tackling the swordfights and battlefield clashes that ensue. But it's the story itself that resonates the most. While amber-eyed aliens and lumbering worm-giants take center stage, it's the soul of the piece that makes its characters and their philosophies so mesmerizing; the pain and heartache that accompanies their sorrow so captivating. Immersed in elements of ancient samurai culture, pulsing with a distinctly Japanese timbre, director Hiroshi Yamazaki's stunning tragedy is still lingering in my brain, and is arguably worth the price of admission alone. Production I.G's "Homecoming" follows suit, exploring the genesis of the Spartans as Halo fans know them, but skips past the obvious rocket launchers and 'splosions to focus on the bitterness and turmoil affecting the men and women beneath the armor. Leaping back and forth between the realities of a hopeless war and flashbacks of a terrible experiment, it serves as a welcome companion piece to "The Duel," striking many of the same chords and echoing the sentiment of the series' most prevailing themes.
"Odd One Out" suddenly arrives on the seven-segment scene with an abrupt and jarring thwang (created by Dragonball alum Daisuke Nishio and Toei Animation), but its slapstick comedy and self-effacing jabs prove to be a welcome bit of brevity that suggests the Halo suits don't take their complex mythos too seriously. With rapidfire hilarity, it chronicles the misadventures of Spartan 1337, an arrogant freedom fighter forced to go fist-to-fist with an electricity-spewing Brute who comes gunning for his head. The Spartan isn't alone though. With the help of three kids, their laser-packin' Momma, their pet dinosaur (yep, a dinosaur), and their high-kicking big brother and sister, 1337 plants a firm boot on the face of his enemy. I know, I know. Some of you will absolutely loathe "Odd One Out," but I found it to be a charming, breezy, outright funny break from the dramatic norm that made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Studio Bones' "Prototype" and Studio 4░C's "The Babysitter" are more of a return to form, offering viewers a one-two-punch look at the way the genetically altered Spartans are perceived by their human compatriots. With hints of pathos and just enough melodrama to grease the minigun-toting wheels, the pair serve up some exciting action, a number of compelling characters, and two rather dark stories that expand the Halo universe whilst paying homage to everything that has made it so popular amongst its fanbase.
The only short that falls... erm, short is Casio Entertainment's "The Package." Yes, it gives button-mashers a healthy dose of explosive dogfights, ship to ship skirmishes, and shootouts, but it also feels like a videogame cutscene rather than a fully realized animated marvel. With its polygonal Spartans and plasticized personnel, it simply lacks the weight of its more traditionally animated brethren. Don't misunderstand, other chapters certainly incorporate CG animation, but they tread carefully, wisely recognizing the fact that a computer-generated expression fails to evoke the same raw emotion as a shimmering eye lovingly drawn by a talented artist. Still, the action is fast and fierce, and I'm sure many a Halo junkie will wish the entire film played out with such intensity. As is the case with most animated short collections -- The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight, among others -- Halo Legends will strike most people as a hit-or-miss affair that rises and falls with its diverse chapters. Personally, Legends worked for me, earning it a comfortable home on my shelves. However, other Halo enthusiasts, particularly those pining for a quickfire shoot-em-up reminiscent of the series' videogames, will be less enamored with its oft-times slowburn wares. My advice? Give it a rent and see where you land.
Halo Legends Blu-ray, Video Quality
While many a viewer and reviewer will simply slap a perfect score on Halo Legends' admittedly striking 1080p/VC-1 transfer, banding and aliasing once again hold back an at-times gorgeous presentation from such high praise. Color and contrast are a sight to behold, blacks are exceedingly inky, and primaries pop with the intensity of a plasma pistol blast. Whether it's a Covenant warrior framed by brilliant skies or a Spartan emerging from the darkest shadows, Legends revels in stunning visuals and artistic legitimacy. Detail is rewarding as well, lending sorrowful textures to the swirling paint streaks of "The Duel," crisp lineart to shorts like "Odd One Out" and "Homecoming," and impeccably rendered starfields and ship hulls to "Origins" and "The Package." Moreover, the image doesn't suffer from artifacting, unintentional noise, or other compression anomalies, nor does it show any signs of instability. Sadly, the banding that appears is quite obvious and aliasing interferes with the film's finest lineart (particularly in "Origins Part I" and "Odd One Out"). That's not to say Legends is cursed with a faulty presentation, mind you, just that two mildly distracting issues persist from beginning to end. As I mentioned though, there will be those who shrug off these shortcomings and declare the transfer to be the second coming of high definition animation. The final say, dear readers, is yours.
Halo Legends Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Let's be clear from the outset. Warner's Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track (640kbps) is not a mediocre offering. Dialogue is clear and well-prioritized, rear speakers activity is commendable from short to short (albeit overly restrained at times), LFE support is noteworthy (despite being a bit pinched in the most chaotic scenes), pans are decent, and directionality is fairly convincing. But it's clear from the earliest arrival of the Flood to an enraged Arbiter's clash with an army of Covenant; from the rat-a-tat-tat of an assault rifle to the whimsical fight that erupts between a Spartan and a Brute; from the kik-cha of a sniper rifle to the film's explosive space-faring finale that Halo Legends would have brought down my home theater if given a proper lossless mix. I'm not sure why the studio continues to hobble the majority of its direct-to-video and television releases with standard lossy tracks. I can't wrap my head around the reason they stubbornly remain the only major studio still releasing titles without TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio support. But I can't help but count myself among the disappointed. Ah well. Warner's shortsightedness certainly shouldn't prevent anyone from purchasing and enjoying Halo Legends -- it's a competent mix that handles most everything it's given with ease -- I just wonder how much better it might have sounded with a full-throttle lossless track.
Note that the film's title sequence and opening credits are presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. The disc does not engage its Dolby Digital 5.1 track until "Origins" begins.
Halo Legends Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Halo Legends rockets onto Blu-ray with a fairly generous, four-hour supplemental package; one that should appeal to animation enthusiasts, filmfans, and Master Chief zealots alike. Better still, all of the video content (minus one of the trailers) is presented in high definition.
Halo Legends Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While Halo Legends will confuse and confound franchise newcomers and leave audiophiles in a foul mood -- What? Another standard Dolby Digital track? Humbug, I say! -- its highly anticipated Blu-ray release is nevertheless a strong one. The majority of its animated shorts are excellent, Warner's video transfer is impressive (barring two minor issues), and its supplemental package boasts four hours of absorbing analysis and candid behind-the-scenes information. Not every Halo addict will share my sentiments, but I was fairly pleased with the results.
Halo Legends: Other Editions
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Halo Legends Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Halo Legends on Blu-ray in February - November 5, 2009
Stop press! Soon you'll be able to play Halo on your PS3 ľ well, actually play a Halo BD on your PS3. Warner Home Video is set to release 'Halo Legends' on Blu-ray on February 9, 2010, day-and-date with the DVD. The Blu-ray will include several hours of special ...
• Halo Legends Coming to Blu-ray in 2010 - July 23, 2009
While Microsoft may be holding back on Blu-ray for their Xbox 360 video game system, they will allow a new seven part anime series based on the popular Xbox-exclusive game Halo to be released on the high definition format. 'Halo Legends', which is currently being ...
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