Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost Review

 The hardest thing a hero will ever do is live with the choices he makes.

Here’s a funny story. I bought this for Hasteaguy for Christmas, even though it wasn’t suppose to be released till after. However, it came early in the mail along with Kino’s Journey, Princess Tutu, and Ghost Hound. So I guess that means I can be one of the first to review it before it comes out.

*sees it was released earlier on Xbox and Playstation*

........ Damnit

Paragon Lost is a 90 minute film produced by Bioware, FUNimation, T.O. Entertainment, and Production I.G. Based on the video game series, it follows the early career of Alliance Marine, James Vega as he leads an elite Special Forces squad into battle against a mysterious alien threat known as the Collectors. Stationed at a colony in a remote star system, Vega and his troops must protect the colonists from the alien invaders bent on abducting humans for unknown purposes. Outmanned and outgunned, Vega must rally his squad to defend the colony at all costs − even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

It can be pretty! So very pretty!
So starting with the animation I have to say it’s not really Production I.G.’s best work. I’ve seen a couple things they’ve done better such as a few episodes of Ghost in the Shell: SAC; and Psycho Pass has been garnering some attention as well. However, I can’t say this is average animation either because you can tell where the real work was put in, at times. Considering the immense amount of fight scenes this film has, it’s completely understandable. It’s also exciting to see the characters and creatures of the video game come to life in an anime film like this. I have played the video games and enjoyed them immensely, but I’m not a die hard fan like other people I know. Speaking of excitement, the soundtrack for this film is a lovely reminder of the video game series as well. With it’s familiar orchestral sounds and blood pumping beats (now I sound like a rapper....), the music fits the mood of the film where it’s needed most.

Now, I’ve been hearing some interesting rumors involving the story. Some people aren’t exactly thrilled about this being about James Vega and wished for something different. Here’s the thing. If you want to make a film in the Mass Effect universe and use one of it’s characters, it’s not an easy thing to pull off and here’s why. Mass Effect isn’t just a first person shooter, it’s also an RPG game where the fate of some characters are completely decided by the actions you make. Try finding a space of time where you can follow a character’s story and they aren’t dead, or, hell, not in a relationship with Shepherd. Not an easy thing to pull off, huh. Vega is probably the easiest to put a story together for, not just for this reason, but because we don’t know much about him since he’s a Mass Effect 3 character. He mentions his service record to Shepherd early on in the game, and then it’s not really brought up again. For the die hard fans, this is a chance to see what happened to Vega on Fehl Prime.

You might wanna run from these guys.....
The story itself worked, and I did enjoy it. I’m not a huge action person, and when I see a film with constant action it can be boring. In the case of Paragon Lost, it just works. You have a group of Marines trying to out run Collectors and try to save civilians. There is bound to be a good amount of action when you add two and two together. Now, if you’ve played the game then you already know what the end result will be for this film. If not, then I won’t spoil it for you and I ask that other readers refrain from spoiling it as well. But the film does lead up to the final moments rather well and leaves almost no plot holes in it’s wake. A sign of decent story telling.

This team kicks so much ass!
As you would expect from the characters, the focus is always on Vega. This is his story, after all, and film does a good job on keeping not only the physical aspects on Vega, but the mental and even psychological aspects as well. Especially in the story’s climax does the mental and psychological shine through. As for the rest of the characters they are, for the most part, rather likable but stereotyped. Some have less screen time then others which makes me question why they wanted to keep some and get rid of other important characters in the story. I mentioned there weren’t a lot of plot holes, but there are some pieces of character development I wouldn’t have minded seeing. Such as the romances of Mason and Kamille and Vega and Treeya. The first one for the simple reason of it just happens with no explanation. If there was a little more to that romance then there wouldn’t be any complaints from me, considering there is a certain scene in the film that makes me a little upset because this romance isn’t developed enough for the viewer to really care too much. As for Vega and Treeya, that romance has some development to it, but I would have loved to have seen a little bit more. And as for little miss April, it would have been nice to see a little more of her and give more depth to Vega’s mental and psychological states. As for the other Marines in the film, again, they each stick to a personality type, not really getting anywhere from there. I will say, though, that Essex stole some of the better moments of the film. Geez, Vega, step your game up.

It's ok, Freddy, we still love you and you lack of anime knowledge.
Someone remembers the Normandy.....
Guess that leads me into the dub, where there is a very strong cast. First we have Mr. “Japanmation” himself, Freddy Prince Jr. (Scooby-Doo, I Know What You Did Last Summer) reprising his role as James Vega. He is every bit as cool as I remembered him from the game. However, I can’t help but get the feeling that there are a few forced moments in his performance. It’s not enough to make this a terrible performance, but it isn’t a ZOMG THAT WAS AMAZING kind of performance either. Monica Rial (Soul Eater, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt) as Treeya was a pleasant surprise for me because what I’ve heard from her lately has been almost the exact same voice every single time. I’m glad I got the chance to hear a different side of Rial’s vocal work, and she is certainly among my favorite voices for the film. Rial and Eric Vale’s (One Piece, BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad) Essex. All parts cocky and hot headed, Vale gives this Biotic some life. Todd Haberorn’s (Sgt. Frog, [C]- Control) role as Milque is a nice touch as well. I almost didn’t catch him in the role until I looked it up during the movie. Josh Grelle’s (Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Clannad) Nicky was nerdy and tech based, while Laura Bailey’s (Fruits Basket, Soul Eater) Kamille was badass and strong; a rare voice to see from Bailey. Justin Cook (Evangelion: 2.0, Trinity Blood) as our resident Krogen, Brood, was reminiscent of Wrex, Marc Swint (Dragon Ball Z: Abridged, Hellsing Ultimate: Abridged) was a nice touch since we need some new blood at FUNimation, and Travis Willingham (Full Metal Alchemist, Mushi-Shi) as Captain Toni is always fun for the ever awesome Mustang. Then you have Patrick Seitz (Monster, Deadman Wonderland) and Bruce Carey (Walker Texas Ranger, Friday Night Lights) as Captain Anderson and Admiral Hackett, respectively. I was against the idea of using different voice actors for this film for these roles since I saw the trailer online. However, considering the amount of screen time these two get I’m not going to go full out rage and just say Seitz and Carey do well in their roles.

Am I missing someone? No, I don’t think so......

Nope, I remembered everyone.

Ok, fine. I guess I’ll talk about Mignogna’s performance now. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. Vic Mignogna (Level E, Vampire Knight) plays our lovely Cerberus operative, Messner. I know I have to give credit to voice actors who will stray outside their normal voice acting roles and try for something new, and I have to give Mignogna some credit here. This is the third time I’ve heard him in a much different role then he’s normally played; the other two being Le Chevalier D’Eon and Dream Eater Merry. As much as I want to give him more credit, this is close to standard Mignogna stuff and I can’t help but dock him for that. At least in Le Chevalier D’Eon he was an old man and in Dream Eater Merry he was crazy and made it all the more awesome!

By the end of the battle, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is a film that gives fans of the Mass Effect franchise something to praise over. Even though the game series is done and over with, they will have Paragon Lost to tide them over until the next big thing from Bioware comes rolling through. As a moderate fan of the video games, I liked the film. It told the story of a character that some people do care about. It’s not top notch work from I.G. or FUNimation, itself, but it does what it’s supposed to do and give you Vega’s story. That’s all fans are really going to care about. Watch the film if you’re a fan of the video games franchise, and if you know next to nothing about the franchise you can still enjoy this film because you won’t need to know a lot of details going into it. Overall, I say hardcore fans go watch it and everyone else is more of a tentative watch.

Next time, we go back to our roots and......

Oh for fuck’s sake.....

Until next time, otaku on my friends.


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