Halo Legends (2010)
By: James Gillett on February 6, 2011  | 
DVD
Madman | Region B | 1:85:1, 1080p | English DD 5.1 | 119 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Directors: Shinji Aramaki, Hideki Futamura, Toshiyuki Kanno, Tomoki Kyoda, Koichi Mashimo, Yasushi Muraki, Daisuke Nishio, Hiroshi Yamazaki
Country: Japan
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
In the tradition of The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight, Halo Legends presents a series of 7 unrelated short films from 5 different Japanese animation houses, all set within the Halo universe. For those who aren't too familiar with the brand, Halo is a popular series of mostly first person shooter games set in the 26th century in which humans are at war with an alien alliance know as the Covenant. The titular 'Halo' is a large ring shaped mega-structure/super-weapon built by an ancient alien race with the power to destroy all life in the galaxy.

You won't really need to know that going in as the opening two-part episode Origins does a pretty great job of bringing you up to speed. Covered is essentially the entire Halo story in broad strokes from the time of the ancient's all the way through to the conclusion of Halo 3. Doing a great job of surmising the Halo story, and doing so in stunning anime style, Origins is one of the stronger episodes of the bunch, setting Halo Legends off to a great start.

Which makes the following short The Duel seem all the more mediocre. Here we follow an Arbiter (Covenant super solider) who turns his back on the Covenant Religion in a time long before the Human-Covenant War. Playing like an old-school samurai story it mostly engages, and its water-colour art style is interesting, but nevertheless it feels like the creators just wanted to make a samurai short and not so much a Halo short, resulting is a story that feels shoehorned unnaturally into the Halo universe.

Better is Homecoming. This time we following a female Spartan (Human super-solider) trying to evacuate some Marines in trouble, during which we learn about her troubled past through a series of flashbacks. Action packed and heartfeltm Homecoming is one of the more interesting episodes.

Next up is the bazaar comedic Odd One Out, which looks and feels exactly like a Dragon Ball Z episode as a Spartan goes up against a Covenant Warrior Machine. Personally it wasn't to my taste, in fact I'd say it's easily the weakest short here, but just maybe Dragon Ball Z fans will have some fun with it.

Prototype sees Halo Legends back to more dramatic territory as a Marine disobeys a direct order in an attempt to save his platoon from a heavy Covenant attack. Pretty good, if slightly forgettable, this one delivers the action even if it's a little on the simplistic side.

The Babysitter, a step up again, sees a squad of four accompany a Spartan sent to assassinate a Covenant Profit. When the Spartan is injured it falls to one of the Marines to take the all important shot. A decent story with a nice blending of traditional and GC animation styles, The Babysitter is generally pretty satisfying.

Which brings us to the final short; The Package, which could be considered Halo Legends' star attraction, even if it's not necessarily the best. Completely CG, this final episode sees the Halo Trilogy's Master Chief on a mission to retrieve an important package from a momentarily trapped Covenant spacecraft. Action packed and flashy, it's enjoyable enough, though the CG lacks a certain charm held by the Anime shorts. Fans of the game should still enjoy watching the Master Chief in action, along with the quick reference to the first-person shooter style of the game series.
Video
Presented in 1080p at 1:85:1, with the exception of Origins which is framed at 2:35:1, Halo Legends looks as great as you'd expect, with a special mention going to the final CG episode; The Package.
Audio
A strong Dolby Digital 5.1 track, though the omission of a lossless audio option is a little disappointing.
Extra Features
We get an Audio Commentary with directors Frank O'Connor and Joseph Chou along with two featurettes. The first of which Halo: Gaming Evolved (23.56) explores the history of the game series and its impact on the gaming landscape, while Halo: The Story So Far (21.46) takes a detailed look at the Halo universe, and specifically the events that played out during the games.

There's also a trailer for the game Halo: Reach and animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.
The Verdict
With a bunch of different contributors all bringing their own vision the results are always going to be mixed, but all things considered this isn't a bad effort overall. Naturally it's geared towards fans of the Halo games, and to a lesser extent Anime fans in general, so those with a pre-existing interest should feel right at home with the tales of Halo Legends.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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