Judge David Johnson shook hands with a Ghost the other day. He left ectoplasm all over the place.
The Future Soldier prequel.
Ubisoft, the large-scale video game developer of franchises like Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia, and Rayman, recently resurrected Ghost Recon franchise, the studio's tactical third-person military shooter. After a few years and a few billion dollars worth of Call of Duty profits, Tom Clancy's well-regarded series is back in orbit and New Video is ready to pump some hype into its release with a brief direct-to-DVD prequel.
And I mean brief. Ignore what the disc packaging tells you. Ghost Recon: Alpha is not fifty minutes long. That number is either a combination of the feature and the making-of documentary, or…I don't know what. Regardless, twenty-five minutes is what you're looking at and I can tell you this much: there's not nearly enough content to validate a full retail price.
If, however, you are such a mammoth Ghost Recon fan and your attention span is so diminutive that 25 minutes is about all you can stomach before drifting off to sleep, then you'll be relieved to hear that Ghost Recon: Alpha is actually well-done. With time being a premium, there isn't much plot and character development to chew on here. Essentially, you get the Ghost squad dropped in the forest and tasked with tracking down and taking out a war criminal.
Once they get to the bad guy's headquarters, our heroes uncover a diabolical plot that will result in a weapon of mass destruction being used to obliterate a boatload of innocents. They spring into action and gunfire endues.
Which is the meat of this offering. The setup is brisk enough and adequate in showing us our heroes' faces (so we know who to root against getting shot) and laying out the stakes. The rest is straight action and it's surprisingly cool.
The shaky-cam is minimized, the violence is loud and protracted, and everything is delivered in R-rated glory. Lots of dudes getting pounded with assault weapon fire. The directors keep the action moving well, building on the beats until they get to the centerpiece of the show: a giant killer soldier robot.
Remember, this is the future, so giant killer soldier robots are old hat. I have to admit, for a microfeature that almost certainly had a lightweight budget, this piece of CGI wizardry is impressive. There are a few moments when the robot's animation and rendering suffer hiccups, but overall it's a nifty piece of visual effects work and a legit point in the win column for Ghost Recon: Alpha.
Which brings me back to the value proposition, and it's just not there. The brevity of the film just doesn't make it worth it. What's worse, it ends on a cliffhanger that is (presumably) resolved in the game. This couldn't have been an exclusive unlockable on the game disc?!
The Blu-ray tech: an attractive 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen, a disappointing DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mix, and a making-of documentary that's longer than the film it's documenting.
Slick but pointless, Ghost Recon: Alpha looks like a genuine film,
when it's really just a breezy commercial.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
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