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Steve watches Halo Legends!

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Halo Legends.

If you are living and breathing today, chances are you’ve heard of the insanely popular video game franchise that is Halo. What originally started as a top secret Mac exclusive title, Halo has become one of the most lucrative investments in gaming history. Spawning two direct sequels, three spin off titles, and propelling two separate generations of Microsoft hardware into the stratosphere.
None of this however, would be possible without the support of some very dedicated fans. And to say that Halo fans are dedicated, would be the biggest understatement of this twenty first century. Doubt the validity of that previous statement? Do a Google search for Xbox Vs PS3. When you’re done sanitizing your eyes from exposing them to so many poorly formulated opinions, and profane statements rife with spelling and grammatical errors, you’ll have come to a singular concrete conclusion. Halo fans are absolutely nuts. And if you are still somehow holding on to a shred of doubt, then the following story of how some enterprising Harvard students turned John Harvard into Master Chief, will likely remove it.

Despite the spectacle, the press, and the attention, there are people who know absolutely nothing about Halo, or the universe it takes place in, outside of the fact, that people play it on Xbox. And I’d be willing to hazard a guess that there are those who know even less than that. So when it was announced that not only would the future of the Halo franchise be handled by a new team in the form of 343 Industries, but also that they had decided to team up with some of the most prominent Japanese animators to create a series of animated shorts based on their newly adopted child, eyebrows were raised. How would these animated interpretations fare when put under the scrutiny of the hardcore Halo devoted? And would these shorts appeal to the uninitiated, or would they be so full of fan service, that only the devoted would truly understand their content? And just what the hell were these new guys thinking?

Halo Legends succeeds immensely, and amazingly does so without making so much as a single compromise to the integrity of the universe it portrays. For those who know absolutely nothing about Halo, or it’s lore, there couldn’t be a better singular starting point. But interestingly enough, it finally gives a visual representation of elements of the Halo story that have only been referenced in the games themselves. With Origins Parts I, and II Halo Legends tells you, anything, and everything you could ever need to know in order to enjoy Halo, and does a remarkably good job of summarizing the expanse of the major plot points of the series. Interestingly enough Halo Legends also gives a rare glimpse into the doomed existence of the most pivotal beings within it’s lore, The Forerunners. What’s beautiful about this, is that in the context of lore, the movie starts at the actual beginnings of the Halo series. This equal starting point creates immediate accessibility that should easily pull in leagues of new fans who suddenly find themselves intrigued in discovering more.

But Halo Legends does not simply carry itself on that one caveat. As the rest of the shorts are handled with just as much respect for the series. With “The Duel” we are treated to a Covenant exposition into the universal themes of love, loss, honor, and duty. While “The Duel” is a treat for it’s ability to humanize an alien race, it’s also important for fans of the series for it’s decision to open a window into a period of civil war in terms of Covenant history. Without a shadow of a doubt however, the shining examples of excellence are “Prototype” and “Homecoming”. “Homecoming” perhaps goes the deepest into the myth of the Spartan soldiers that populate Halo. Without writing spoilers in this review, “Homecomings” reveals the excruciating pain and sacrifice that are required to serve as a Spartan, and is deeply affecting for it’s surprisingly morose twist. It’s a move that makes “Homecomings” come off as something of a shock, albeit, a smart and decisively involved one. If anything, it makes the short “Odd One Out” really seem like just that, as the movie transitions from “Homecomings” to the aforementioned short. Which isn’t bad of it’s own accord, but the Toei Helmed Featurette doesn’t stand up to scrutiny when compared to the company it keeps, instead it ends up feeling like a Dragon Ball Z send up at worst, and comic exploration at best.

For all of “Odd One Out’s” excesses, “Prototype” feels spot on. It’s easily the crowning jewel in the film, and encapsulates every theme explored not only in the film itself, but in the entire Halo series. Telling the tale of a demolitions specialist who is ordered to destroy a prototype combat suit, it quickly becomes a complex tale of loss, heartache, and redemption that ends with a resonating concussive blast, both literally, and allegorically. But “Prototype” succeeds at something much more defining than that. It creates a complex character full of subtleties, in a remarkably short amount of time, which ultimately is critical to enjoying the full blown shock of it’s gut-wrenching final reveal. It’s haunting.

Halo Legends isn’t only easy for me to recommend. It’s essential. With it’s heavy regard for the integrity and history of the Halo saga it should be required viewing for the Halo faithful, but also standing on it’s own merits as a piece of meaningful animation and entertainment, Halo Legends is an astounding success.

Steve Sawyer
Editor in Chief

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Updated 06-09-10 at 07:55 by SteveSawyer

Microsoft , Editorial


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