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Monday, June 27, 2016

RED VS. BLUE: THE CHORUS TRILOGY -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

If you ever got tired of actually playing a videogame and starting fooling around with it--that is, making up your own storylines and dialogue, having the characters engage in activities that they weren't originally designed for, etc.--then you'll most likely understand the appeal of the web series from Rooster Teeth entitled "Red vs. Blue." 

In this rollicking sci-fi/action adventure, the characters and settings from the popular HALO games are repurposed in a sweeping saga about heavily-armored soldiers in an interplanetary civil war who overcome their initial mistrust of one another in order to join forces against a common enemy. 

Rooster Teeth's 3-disc limited edition steelbook Blu-ray collection RED VS. BLUE: THE CHORUS TRILOGY contains seasons 11 through 13 of the long-running series, following the events that occur after the Reds and Blues crash-land on the planet Chorus and struggle to convince two warring factions there to unite against their true enemy, a power-mad political leader known as "The Chairman" whose deadly army of mercenaries threatens to destroy them all.

Despite joining most of this in-progress, it didn't take me long to settle into the story and grow accustomed to its novel presentation.  I used to watch a lot of Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network, particularly shows such as "Sealab 2021" in which the animation from a "serious" old cartoon is reworked to create a surrealistic comedy, so it's not exactly a strange new concept for me. 

In this case, the pre-existing animation is a videogame that can be "played" by the show's writers to conform to their brand new stories and salty dialogue, augmented by new artwork inserted here and there and also a good deal of motion-capture. 

This ensures that the show is visually interesting and at times downright spectacular, especially during the imaginatively-staged battle sequences.  In fact, one of the most appealing aspects of "Red vs. Blue" is seeing how cleverly the HALO elements are used in each new scene and setpiece in the saga.

The only drawback to this technique is that the soldiers are all permanently encased in their battle armor and are thus faceless, making it difficult to tell them apart sometimes.  (They also must carry their weapons poised to fire at all times.)  Still, the voice actors do a masterful job of creating individual personalities for them, and they're written in ways that make them incredibly appealing.
Even more noteworthy is the fact that these characters are versatile enough to be used in situations that range from dead-serious drama to hilarious situation comedy and back again.  This gives the writers enormous freedom to explore everything from straight drama to nuts and bolts sci-fi action to gut-busting farce, and even all-out slapstick, without breaking their stride. 

Each dialogue-heavy episode indulges in plenty of sitcom humor that allows the funnier characters such as resident idiot Caboose (who sounds exactly like Adult Swim's "Brak"), the humanoid robot Lopez who's programmed to speak only Spanish even though nobody else does, and the comically gung-ho veteran Sarge (later promoted to Colonel Sarge) ample opportunity to make us laugh.

Meanwhile, the more serious story elements underlying it all eventually culminate in furious, sustained battle sequences (enhanced with the occasional mind-expanding sci-fi concept) and made all the more suspenseful by the inclusion of two ruthless super-soldiers, Locus and Felix, hired by the Chairman to wipe out the Reds and Blues at any cost.

The three Blu-ray discs from Rooster Teeth and Cinedigm Entertainment come in a sleek steelbook case with a clear plastic slipcover.  Each disc features a season of the show (almost 8 hours total) complete with commentary tracks and several more hours of informative behind-the-scenes featurettes, outtakes, and trailers.  The feature presentation is in 16x9 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 audio.

With surprisingly three-dimensional characters (even the comic-relief ones have their moments) and engaging sci-fi situations along with raucous comedy, RED VS. BLUE: THE CHORUS TRILOGY is total genre goodness for gamers and non-gamers alike. 



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