Judge Mitchell Hattaway just loves a toy commercial masquerading as a DVD.
Every legend has a beginning.
Darkness threatens the city of Metru Nui in this prequel to the smash hit Bionicle: Mask of Light. Toa Lhikan charges six Matoran with the task of retrieving the Great Kanoka Disks. These Matoran, elevated by Lhikan to the rank of Toa, must battle Vahki Enforcers, Dark Hunters and a madman who is masquerading as Turaga Dume, leader of the world of Bionicle. Will the heroes succeed, and will the real Turaga be found? Does this make your head hurt, or is it just me?
First the bad news: Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui is nothing more than a computer generated commercial designed to introduce the latest additions to Lego's Bionicle toy franchise. Now here's some worse news: your kids are going to eat this up. If they have the toys, they're going to want this DVD, and after watching this DVD, they're going to want the toys, so you'd better start saving your pennies. The good news, though, is this will probably keep them out of your hair for a little while.
There is no real plot or character development in this tale; it's simply a series of episodic incidents intended to introduce the characters (read: toys) and their powers. The four (count 'em) credited writers try to give the heroes some semblance of a personality, but the only surefire way to distinguish them is by color; each character is color-coded, thus enabling young children to remember which they already own and which their parents still need to purchase. The adventures experienced by the Toa are borrowed from other films, most notably the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings sagas, with a dash of The Matrix (not to mention a visual quote from Excalibur) thrown in for good measure. You won't find much originality here.
Technically this isn't a bad effort. The anamorphic picture appears to have been created directly from digital files, and is borderline pristine; a few early scenes are a little hazy, but it's possible this is intentional. The CGI animation itself isn't exactly Pixar quality, but it's a small step up from what you'll see in a television series of this nature. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS; both are primarily screen-centric, but do contain some nice surround action and directional effects, including some steered dialogue. Bass response is smooth and tight, and on a couple of occasions it rattled my windows. There isn't a world of difference in the tracks, but the DTS emerges as the winner (by a nose). The extras are aimed squarely at kids; they include a behind the scenes look at the creation of Bionicle 2, interactive information regarding the characters and settings, and a glimpse into the origins of the Bionicle phenomenon.
If you want any peace during the holiday season, you should pick up Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui right away. Your kids are going to want to watch this again and again, but you won't want to be in the room while they do. (As a preemptive strike, you should probably go ahead and pick up one of the toys, too.) Be warned, though: Bionicle 3 is scheduled for late 2005.
Remember, the judgment expressed here reflects my opinion; anyone under the age of ten will rate it much higher. How can I be so sure? Because if I were that age I would want the bloody thing! My six-year-old nephew knows I have a copy, and at the moment he's trying to strangle me in order to get his hands on it, so court is adjourned!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
• The Making of Bionicle 2
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