Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In what is looking like a trend in animation, big time studios such what Warner Brothers did with ‘The Animatrix’ and ‘Batman’, Electronic arts has done with their video game ‘Dante’s Inferno’ and now Microsoft game studios has just done with ‘Halo’, they are farming out work to various animation studios in creating these epic stories to attach to their seminal works, and it’s a trend I hope doesn’t catch on. These stories are all separate segments and some of the segments are cool and some are not but taken together these segments just can’t beat a congruent continuous movie. Today Microsoft Game Studios has crafted ‘Halo Legends’ to augment their insanely popular Halo videogame series and true enough some segments were good and some were okay and as such when taken as a whole the entire exercise was slightly above mediocre.

First thing, don’t do what I did and just plop down and watch the whole thing straight through. Since this is seven separate stories as opposed to a single contiguous story there are seven separate highs and lows and quite honestly it was exhausting. Like watching seven straight Seinfeld episodes or something along those lines. Watch one here, watch one there and then I think you will have a much greater appreciation of the different stories.

Origins I and II directed by Hideki Futamura starts the show off properly as the hologram Cortana laments the plight of the human race while speaking to Master Chief who is in stasis. This story, as the title suggest, features Cortana telling a tale of the origins of man and also of a horrific galactic menace which has spawned the Halo weapon and aside from the lackluster English language voice acting these two tales were very solid, informative in augmenting the Halo universe and were well animated.

The Duel directed by Hiroshi Yamazaki took some getting used to visually as Yamazaki opted for a completely different animation style featuring water colors and images that were almost presented as stills. The story itself telling the side of a Covenant General, for a change, had the most potential but opted instead for heavy action over prose and the brevity of the episodes had the most negative effect on this particular segment since it felt to me that more time was needed to be spent to explore this underdeveloped world that even ardent players of the game know next to nothing about.

Homecoming directed by Koichi Mashimo tells the story of a genetically enhanced Spartan Soldier as she and her crew are pinned down behind enemy lines while she imagines back to what she used to be and her attempts to regain what she lost when kidnapped as a child. It’s a sad story and it does do a better job than 'The Duel' in balancing the action, which it mainly defers to, including the actual story telling, and while both do get shorted in the process it does work.

Daisuke Nishio directs ‘Odd One Out’ which is a very silly ‘Dragonball’ type knock off featuring Spartan 1337 and his goofball attempts to become a better soldier. Probably didn’t really belong here but it did have its charms and this is what happens when you have seven completely different stories in one DVD box.

Prototype directed Yasushi Muraki is the story of an angry soldier named Ghost and his lack of human emotions. This one here was a little heavy on the melodrama and was probably the most incomplete and sketchy of all of the stories in the collection but it was also heavy on the action and the voice acting was probably the best in this version as well.

The Babysitter directed by Toshiyuki Kanno was the lightest on the action of the seven tales and had the most fully realized story line as it features the backlash of a group of hard ass marines and their negative feelings toward the genetically enhanced Spartan Soldiers. All things considered, this tale did spend the time to create a well formed narrative,and this one probably had the best story to tell but it also arguably had the weakest animation.

Finally there’s The Package directed by Shinji Aramaki which takes as little time as humanly possible to craft a halfway decent story giving us just enough to launch our space marines, including Master Chief into a 3D rendered, action filled, completely explosive, gloriously animated finale. Neither smart, clever or intelligent, mainly because I don't think it was trying to be, but this tale was the most fun of all the episodes as one just sits back and watch the pretty pictures pass by and the listen to the explosive sound with the volume turned up loud enough to make your eardrums bleed.

Even though I’m not a huge proponent of these animation anthologies I prefer this style to the what EA opted for with ‘Dante’s Inferno’ which did tell a contiguous story but used vastly different animation styles for the separate segments which turned out to be even more off putting. As far as ‘Halo Legends’ is concerned, as we stated earlier it had its highs and its lows and works better if you approach it as a series watched on consecutive days as opposed to approaching it as movie watched and digested at one sitting.

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