Judge Sandra Dozier wonders...Halo, is it me you're looking for?
Our reviews of Red Vs. Blue: Reconstruction (Season 6) (published August 9th, 2010), Red Vs. Blue: Recreation (Season 7) (published September 30th, 2010), and Red Vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (Seasons 1-5) (published July 1st, 2010) are also available.
Simmons: "To Qualify for vacation, you have to work forty
The world of Halo and the world of slapstick humor meet in Red vs. Blue (RvB), a machinima produced by Rooster Teeth using the popular 3D game Halo (specifically, for season 8, Halo 3) to animate the characters in the story. The series revolves around two teams of soldiers, the Reds and the Blues (for their armour color, naturally!), who are constantly at war with each other, and with any interlopers who get in the way. They are usually located on some remote base where they must fend for themselves and try to eliminate the other team at the same time.
Season Eight is the final part of a trilogy known as The Recollection, the continuation of the Red vs. Blue (RvB) storyline after the original Blood Gulch Chronicles ended. It is not the end of the series, but it closes a specific story tangent in the RvB universe.
We last left our band of misfit soldiers with the Reds and Blues (except Simmons, who stays at Red Base with Donut and Lopez) stumbling upon an illegal dig for artifacts at a temple. They meet up with Tucker, and Epsilon Church (Church's memories in a computer sphere) has been awarded God status by a band of aliens, who worship artifacts. Unfortunately, Agent Washington and the Meta have arrived at the Red Team base, and Washington takes out Donut and Lopez, holding Simmons hostage to lure the rest of them back.
Season Eight opens with "Doc" (Medic DuFresne) arriving at Red Base. When he checks in with command, he says, "I've arrived at Freelancer Program Simulation Outpost 17." The viewer is only given a few seconds to digest this somewhat strange base description before Doc is reunited with Simmons. Of course, he doesn't know that Washington and The Meta have forced Simmons to summon him. Meanwhile, Epsilon Church and the remaining Reds and Blues are regrouping, and Epsilon Church starts regaining his memories.
There are twenty chapters in this season:
• Chapter 1: For Those of You Just Joining Us…
The entire Recollection series has had good direction and some nice visuals, but this season in particular has some awesome animations, including a couple of action-packed fight sequences that I had to watch a few times just because they looked so cool. At one point, the Warthog bursts through a wall and slams into Washington, who crawls over the top of the hood, only to be thrown back and have his weapon snatched out of his hands, midflight and in bullet-time, by Sarge. I completely did a comic book double-take. As the commentary and the visual featurette will tell you, the new animation is due to a combo of utilizing the custom environment build ability of Halo 3 and motion capture animation by Monty Oum. It's important that there be plenty of the verbal slapstick that makes RvB so funny and watchable, but punching up the visual element is a welcome innovation. In addition, there are some nice plot points in this season, and the storyline manages to wrap everything up nicely, harken back to earlier seasons for in-jokes and fan nods, and somehow end everything right back at square one. Nice work.
Also included on this DVD is the holiday mini-series "Holiday Plans." This Three part, 10 minute mini-series is about the Reds and the Blues getting relocated to a more "festive" (i.e. bitterly cold artic wasteland) location during the holidays, while Sarge fulfills his mandatory vacation requirement for the year.
On par with the rest of the Recollection trilogy, the video and audio for Season 8 are very good. I can watch this on a large screen TV with very little distortion, and the sound quality is good, with some decent stereo separation. As usual, there is a payload of extra features on the DVD, starting with an audio commentary for the main feature, which provides an in-depth peek into how the animation is done and a few behind-the-scenes trivia nuggets. Then there are outtakes (4 minutes), deleted scenes (7 minutes), and 20 minutes of special videos ("Halo Deja View," "Off The Charts," "Game On," "Pro-Tips," "Upgrading," and "Iron Sarge"). There are also two behind-the-scenes featurettes, "Behind the Visual Effects" (6 minutes) and "The Ladies of Red vs. Blue." (5 minutes). Though the featurettes are somewhat short on time, there is a lot of good stuff here, including some clips of the new animation process that shed a lot of light on just exactly how they got those cool fight scenes. I also appreciated seeing the featurette with the girls—I love Tex, and it's cool that the woman who voices her is also a tough girl, herself. Sheila/Filss is demure and sweet in real-life, too. Great casting! Another extra is to wait and watch for a while on each menu for a little easter egg, a different one on every menu.
If you haven't checked out seasons six or seven yet, you can also get the entire box set in Red vs. Blue: The Recollection, which will hit streets on 9/14/10.
This season is bound to leave fans hungry for more, especially with the new
innovations in animation that up the visual interest of the series. This is a
must-see for anyone interested in machinima in general, and RvB
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
• Holiday Mini-Series
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