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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Battles > Videogames > Internet > Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (2010/New Video DVD)

Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (2010/New Video DVD)

 

Picture: D     Sound: D     Extras: A     Episodes: B-

 

 

“Machinima” (machine cinema) is the term for a new mode of filmmaking utilizing a commercial videogame’s built-in graphics engine in place of actors, sets, cameras, or traditional animation.  While the technique has been in use since the 1980s, it took a group of guys who called themselves Rooster Teeth Productions to raise machinima out of complete obscurity and into relative obscurity with their web series Red vs. Blue.

 

Based on the popular Halo videogame franchise, Season One of Red vs. Blue went online in 2003 and quickly gained popularity among the gaming community.  The plot revolves around two teams of soldiers (the Reds and Blues) pitted against each other in an isolated canyon, locked in a stalemate of ineptitude.  The humor is derived largely from characters bickering with each other, and as the plot progresses it twists and turns in increasingly bizarre and outlandish directions.  The guys at Rooster Teeth are certainly not highbrow humorists, but remember that the series originated on the Internet, where cats with poor grammar skills are the primary source of entertainment. 

 

Fortunately the writing, audio quality, and graphics improve significantly over the life of the series.  Eventually the characters settle, though I don’t know that I’d use the term “develop.” Picture quality (16:9 widescreen) is at the mercy of the games that the series is based on, and when production jumps from the first Halo game to the sequel, Halo 2, the graphics quality jumps with it.  As for audio quality, the early episodes are clearly recorded on low-quality microphones. As the series became more popular better equipment was brought in and audio quality increases, though it never quite progresses to anything you could call “good.”  The discs are encoded with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio.

 

The collection includes six discs, one season on each plus a disc of bonus content.  The seasons are each around 20 episodes and vary in length anywhere from one to two and a half hours.  Add to that several hours of bonus material and the total run time of the collection is almost 9 hours of content.  The bonus disc, divided into three menus, has a wide collection of promo videos, mini spin-off series, behind the scenes info, and other goodies.  Plus, a few bonus features are included with each season on discs one through five. 

 

I must admit that watching Red vs. Blue again after a few years was a bit disappointing. It wasn’t as funny as I remember it being while I was in college.  However, Red vs. Blue remains a tremendously important artifact in the history of emerging media and the role that technology continues to play in the evolution of entertainment.  On top of that, the series is an interesting barometer of fan culture.  The show began without any expectation of commercial success, but it found a niche within popular culture.

 

 

-   Matthew Carrick


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