Universal // 2009 // 71 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // September 15th, 2009
"Fire is your elemental power. The Mask of Life has simply ignited it. You have become a true Toa." -- Mata Nui
This plot summary may not be entirely accurate since my post-graduate degree isn't in Advanced Bionicle Studies, but here goes: Bionicle: The Legend Reborn concerns the adventures of Mata Nui (Michael Dorn, Star Trek: The Next Generation), a Bionicle (part organic, part robot creature) who used to be an island and/or a giant guardian who stood motionless in the sea, protecting the Matoran Bionicles who lived on him. Eventually, he was defeated by an unnamed evil that enslaved his people/worshippers (I'm sure this was explained in previous Bionicle movies that I'm happy to have never seen). But Mata Nui's soul escaped in the form of the Mask of Light (or Kanohi Ignika), which drifted through space until it finally landed on a Tatooine-like planet called Bara Magna, where it reconstituted Mata Nui into a humorless yellow Bionicle on a mission to fight honorably, not get other Bionicles' jokes, be a bit of a wet blanket, and maybe someday rescue his enslaved people if he can figure out how to become an island/giant guardian again.
On Bara Magna, Mata Nui makes a pet of a Scarabax beetle named Click that has the power to turn into a shield, which comes in handy when Mata Nui is attacked by a scorpion-like Vorox. Soon enough, Mata Nui meets a trio of Glatorians named Ackar (Jim Cummings, The Tigger Movie), Kiina (Marla Sokoloff, Dude, Where's My Car?), and Gresh (Mark Famiglietti, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines). The Glatorians prevent war between Bara Magna's fractious Agori Bionicle tribes by settling tribal disputes via hand-to-hand combat with each other at the Vulcanus arena. They want to recruit Mata Nui as a Glatorian but he resists, not wanting to be distracted from his goal of becoming an island again. Eventually, he and his new friends discover that enemies of the Agori called Bone Hunters and Skrall are joining forces to vanquish all of the tribes and take over Bara Magna. The Glatorians must unite the tribes in order to defeat their common enemy. Things look bleak, until the team discovers that the Mask of Light has the power to bring out the hidden potential of the Glatorians by transforming their crappy weapons into really flashy weapons...or something like that. Epic combat between armies of part organic, part robot creatures ensues.
Bionicle: The Legend Reborn is slightly more baffling and surreal than your average David Lynch flick. The screenplay sounds like it was written by a crew of MMORPG-playing nerds during a late night hotel bull session at Dragon Con. It's riddled with incomprehensible dialogue like: "Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him, that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!" Okay, that was actually Rick Moranis from Ghostbusters, but that's pretty much how every line in Bionicle: The Legend Reborn sounds; only it's not supposed to be funny. The voice work throughout is decent, though not good enough to transcend the needlessly convoluted script or jargon-heavy dialogue. Michael Dorn's baritone has the proper heft for a morally upright hero/one-time land mass, but the deadpan seriousness with which he approaches the role only makes the silly dialogue sound sillier. A few of the other Bionicles deliver some much needed comic relief, but not in large enough quantities to lend the flick any universal appeal. This one is strictly for fans of the Lego toy line. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.
The movie's computer-generated 3D animation is pretty solid for a direct-to-DVD feature based on Legos (did I really just write that sentence?). Textural detail is impressive, colors are bright, and lighting is attractive. The characters and weapons lack any sense of weight, so all of the combat looks like it is taking place between small toys, but maybe that's the point. The DVD offers a strong 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that reproduces all of the animation's color and detail with no sign of digital artifacts.
Audio is presented in an unremarkable Dolby 5.1 mix. There are also Spanish and French dubs.
Supplements include an alternate ending, a few deleted scenes, a music video for "Bye Bye Babylon" by frequent Lego collaborators Cryoshell, and a character gallery that provides text-based background on about a dozen of the Bionicles.
If you're a huge fan of Bionicles, then Bionicle: The Legend Reborn is just for you...as is my pity.
This court finds Bionicle: The Legend Reborn not guilty by reason of complete insanity.
Review content copyright © 2009 Dan Mancini; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended Ending
* Deleted Scenes
* Character Gallery
* Music Video
* Bionicle Official Site