New Video // 2008 // 117 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // August 9th, 2010
A new enemy, a new hero, the same bunch of Rejects.
The Red Vs. Blue floodgates have opened. With seasons 1 to 5 collected in a handy, affordable boxed set, Season 6 drops as a stand-alone DVD release. Where Blood Gulch ends, Reconstruction begins, but is this long in the (rooster) tooth series still as fun as it once was?
Agent Washington has a mission; He must find and eliminate a powerful AI known as "The Meta." His only aid is the same old bunch of misfits and morons that make up the Red and Blue armies. Old friends return, new foes appear, and it all starts to make sense...sort of.
I was there at the beginning. I can't rightly recall my first experience with Red vs. Blue, but I can tell you that I was there when season one hit, and hit huge. As bite-sized nuggets of downloadable videos, the series was a riotous skewering of all things Halo, a laugh filled attack on the concepts and familiarities that filled your average First-Person shooter. The beginnings may have been humble, but, much like Penny Arcade, another web-based, gaming-centric enterprise, it wouldn't be long before the guys at Rooster Teeth were giving up their day jobs and making their living on doling out hilarious chunks of irreverent satire.
For five seasons, and 100 episodes, The Blood Gulch Chronicles spun the yarns of the hapless morons of teams Red and Blue, and their struggle over flags, AI-powered super tanks, and the battle over a small box canyon called "Blood Gulch." The series was supposed to end after that. I'm sure Burnie Burns and his cohorts feared that too much of a good thing would surely turn bad; that the rampant success and universal acclaim would eventually lead to a critical backlash, or perhaps, they just felt at the time that things had run their course. It's fortunate for all of us that none of the above turned out to be the case, and we were blessed with Season 6.
Season 6, dubbed Reconstruction, picks up some time after the end of Season 5, and the focus shifts to the Freelancer, Agent Washington, a character presented in a few side stories and bonus videos that had popped up on Xbox live. Any fear that the humor would be tired or stale is quickly dismissed, and several old characters return in pretty short order. Much like South Park, these characters are amazingly endearing, and it's an testament to the voices and creative minds at Rooster Teeth that we can get so attached to what is essentially a collection of identical character models with different coloring. Church, Sarge, Griff, and Caboose are as well known to many as Kyle, Stan or Cartman, and for some of us, me included, are infinitely more amusing.
It would have been easy for the writers to coast along with the same shtick that earned millions of fans, but Reconstruction not only evolves the presentation, but narrative as well. The script is ambitious and incredibly well written, full of sci-fi tropes about AI rights, feuding shadow organizations, and at least one jaw-dropping revelation about a character that's been with us from the beginning. What's better, is that the narrative weaving builds on afterthoughts and ideas that have been present since early in the first season, and does so with the skilled precision of your better than average sci-fi TV show. This isn't some parody or gaming satire, Reconstruction takes everything that came before, and gives it all meaning, makes it all relevant, gives it all a soul far beyond what humor alone could. This is a two hour sci-fi epic. Of course, it still cleverly strikes out at Halo and gaming mythology without resorting to parody or insult. It remains a love letter to the gurus at Bungie and the world class work they've done on the Halo universe, and it is still hilariously, riotously, spray-milk-out-of-your-nose funny!
The Disc is a great effort. No, the visuals don't quite look like the game in motion on a HD display or anything, but they are are crisp and clear, with no evidence of authoring issues. When you're looking at this type of unique presentation, it makes things a little tougher to call. At any rate, the footage looks as nice as, or even nicer than it did on the website when it was broken into chunks. The audio is strong, but front loaded. The filtered voices of the characters come through loud and clear, and the gunfire and explosions all pack a suitable punch.
For extras, the disc is loaded. We're given some great commentaries, a few featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes presented in the now traditional Pixar style, and best of all, a smattering of hilarious bonus videos. (The video on Achievements had me laughing for a good half hour or more.) Another highlight is the short animated film, which is extremely well executed and gives us a glimpse of what our favourite goofballs would look like if they were a chapter on the Halo: Legends collection.
When all is said and done, Red Vs. Blue is still a series put together by a few guys with some Xbox360s and a copy of Halo 2, and in some sequences, Halo 3. You're essentially watching what amounts to 2 hours of comedic science fiction cobbled together from the multiplayer guts of a video game. If you don't savvy the Halo, the appeal is definitely dampened somewhat. The visual quality is also up and down as the setting jumps around from locations cribbed from the second game (on the original Xbox hardware) to the Xbox360 powered Halo 3 locales. The writing is still tip top, and with The Blood Gulch Chronicles behind them, the guys at Rooster Teeth have made the show more accessible than ever.
The plot is pretty labyrinthine at times, with name drops and references to episodes past, and it throws more than a few curveballs. Even long time fans may need to be slightly more on their toes. This isn't the mindless humor of early seasons.
What started as a riotously funny riff on capture the flag has evolved. The mad geniuses at Rooster Teeth have evolved from comedic whiz kids to bonafide sci-fi storytellers. Red Vs. Blue: Reconstruction is an amazing continuation of the saga spawned by too much Halo and more free time than brains.
*BLEEP BLOOP* Achievement Unlocked! 1000G! Not Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2010 Steve Power; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Bonus Videos
* Official Website