New Video // 2010 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // September 30th, 2010
Buried beneath the sand is the answer to a mystery more dangerous than anyone could possibly understand. And no one is better at not understanding things than the Reds and Blues.
Although this series is based on, and uses animation from, the popular Xbox game Halo, you don't need to so much as pick up a controller to enjoy Red vs. Blue. The protagonist of Halo, Master Chief, and the storyline the game revolves around, is nowhere to be found in the Red vs. Blue series; instead, all the action takes place at a remote outpost where two support teams (the Reds and the Blues) are stationed. The Reds, led by gruff commander Sarge, must flush out and defeat the Blues, lead by the wily but impulsive Church, who has a bad habit of getting killed all the time. The team name comes from their uniform colors. They all have varying shades of Red (pink?) or Blue (purple!) to denote their allegiance.
It's Red team versus Blue team, and every man is in it for himself.
Blue Team: In this season there is only Caboose, who began Season One as a fairly normal guy, but quickly devolved into an accident-prone simpleton with an inability to grasp reality on most days. Somehow he is able to get an artificial intelligence of Church (his former leader) working, though with a flawed understanding of past events, as evidenced by his belief that Caboose is his best friend.
Red Team: Sarge (the only one wearing true Red) is military through and through, but his years of service have made him punchy and reckless; he often exhibits a lack of forethought in his hare-brained schemes. Long suffering Grif (in yellow) doesn't want to fight, maintain weapons or equipment, or do much of anything Sarge wants him to do, so he spends most of his time thinking of ways to get out of work. Simmons (maroon) is the golden boy, doing what Sarge wants and hating Grif for being lazy. The unfortunate Donut (in "light red" which is really pink) is eager to prove himself, but he has never lived down his armour color or his gullible nature. Finally, there is Lopez (in dark armor), a robot Sarge assembled, but then clumsily botched his speech center install so that he only speaks in Spanish, and bad Spanish at that. As the only intelligent one on the team other than Simmons, Lopez has it the worst of all, since no one can understand a word he says (usually, though some have "selective understanding" going on).
The DVD main menu contains a 4-part mini-series, "Relocated," which should be watched first.
Also listed as a stand-alone on the main menu is "Recreation Trailer" -- this is really a prologue to the season, providing a transition from the events of last season and establishing where Season 7 begins. Watch this before the regular season episodes.
There are 19 chapters in the season:
Chapter 1: Don't Get Me Started
Chapter 2: Free Refills
Chapter 3: Visiting Hours
Chapter 4: Catching Up
Chapter 5: Local Host
Chapter 6: One New Message
Chapter 7: Bon Voyage
Chapter 8: Directions
Chapter 9: My House, From Here
Chapter 10: Lay of the Land
Chapter 11: Dumb Cop, Bad Cop
Chapter 12: Well Hello
Chapter 13: Called Up
Chapter 14: The Installation
Chapter 15: Watch The Flank
Chapter 16: Retention Deficit
Chapter 17: Trust Issues
Chapter 18: Hang Time
Chapter 19: Think You Know Someone
Red vs. Blue (also known as RvB) is perhaps the most well-known machinima on the Internet. Machinima, animation produced using three-dimensional graphics engines such as games or virtual worlds, was not new in 2003, but I can't remember really paying attention to the genre before I saw my first Red vs. Blue. From the first episode, they were a big hit, and creators Burnie Burns, Geoff Fink, and Gus Sorola have since created hundreds of episodes, eight full seasons, several mini-series, and dozens of special videos, far exceeding their initial plans an expectations for a single season story arc.
I really dig the sense of humor in Red vs. Blue -- seeing the idiotic situations these guys entangle themselves in, their petty bickering, and the verbal beatings they give each other has me in tears sometimes from laughing so hard. It's a verbal slapstick -- what they can't express with facial expressions, they must do with words, which is harder than it sounds. The creative force behind the series is amazing -- great writing, excellent voice talent, and superb direction. Considering that the Reds and Blues spend most of their time running back and forth from Red base to Blue base, a lot rides on the dialog and voice acting to give emotional depth to the story. This is married smartly to the animation direction. Did I mention they have to use a video game to animate everything? It is a huge undertaking, and I have great respect that these episodes manage to have a compelling cinematography as well as humor.
To get a true RvB experience, watch all the episodes (available at the Rooster Teeth website) from episode one in the Blood Gulch Chronicles. At the very least start watching Season 6, Reconstruction, since Season 7 is the middle part of a trilogy that involves a new character, Washington, and a new story arc about the Freelancer project that Tex was a part of. Caboose does fill in some backstory, but...c'mon, it's Caboose, how helpful is that, really?
The DVD packaging and menu design is well done -- bursting with color, and each of the menus are animated and have an easter egg if you wait around for a minute or so. Overall, a very professional production. The quality of video and sound is excellent, as well, especially considering that this is an Internet based machinima. The voices of the characters are all tinny (by design, since they are talking into their helmet comm units), but there's a lot of good stereo separation for sound sources. The video is also very clear, even on the big screen. There is obviously some in-game video pixellation, but the quality of the transfer is what counts, and this is good.
The DVD menu offers the standard Chapter Selection, and a "Play Movie" option for watching the main season episodes. However, before you do that, check out "RvB: Relocated" and "Recreation Trailer" (in that order), also accessible from the main menu.
RvB: Relocated (20 minutes)
This is a mini-series that actually takes place before the events in Recreation Season 7. It establishes the return of Donut and the underground holographic imaging room you see in the main season episodes. I love the wide-open feel of the direction here -- a lot of scenery and backgrounds are included, and there are some nice wide shots and overheads that gave this a very theatrical feel. In the commentary, they point out that Gavin Free entirely directed these.
Recreation Trailer (2 minutes)
This is more like a prologue to Season 7, featuring Church and Tex (who do not actually appear in Season 7) and setting the scene for events about to unfold. Watch this before watching the season episodes.
Play Movie (1.5 hours)
I really like that when you play the season episodes, they play seamlessly, instead of as a series of short episodes with individual introductions, so you get an hour and thirty minutes of uninterrupted entertainment.
Here you can access the Audio Commentary for the main season episodes, Outtakes from voice recording sessions, Deleted Scenes (including a sneak appearance by Doc!), and Special Videos (formerly known as PSAs) "Halo-ween," "Thanksgiving 2008," "You Had Me At Halo," "Add It Up," and "Where There's Smoke..." -- each are about two minutes long. Do not miss the deleted scene where Lopez repeatedly suggests that he get an English voice processor, but Sarge doesn't understand him and keeps insisting on increasingly crazy schemes to defeat the Blues.
Grif would tell you to check this out, or not, it doesn't matter. Sarge would say that watching would be the perfect plan, like facing down a platoon of Green Berets! Caboose would probably misunderstand the question and repeat it to himself a few times, and Donut would make you a cup of tea and invite you to relax and enjoy the movie. My advice: watch it, love it.
Not guilty simply for that scene where Sarge makes Grif climb dangerously
high and he cries like a girl the whole time.
Review content copyright © 2010 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site