Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles
Review by Diana, MaceVindaloo, VagBoy
Director: Burnie Burns
Rating: Death Star
Once in a while, fanfiction is far better than anything "authentic" or "licensed" you will find anywhere. It's better than anything the "authentic" folks could ever put out. It's far cooler than you can ever predict from people who play a particular X-box game so much that they can manipulate the game to get the characters and objects to do more or less exactly what they want. It sounds pathetically nerdy, but it's actually so much cooler than even the likes of George Lucas could possibly dream.
The game is called Halo, and it's the most popular X-box game ever, despite the fact that it has a really dumb premise. A cyborg called Master-Chief heads the Armada to the planet Halo, then finds out that everyone on the Armada is trying to kill the humans, so he blows up the Armada and gets killed himself. There are a few guys left, as well as a sort of command center. The guys are dropped into two ends of a box canyon (meaning no way in or out of the place other than by airlift or a fricking bad climb), three men each side (to start). They fight for supremacy of the box canyon, called Bloodgulch. Or something, it may not be supremacy. Only one of us has played the game and he's cowering in the corner at the moment because we have been hararssing him for being hella-lame (though another of us is seriously coveting the game ... argh).
Basically, the biggest dumbest simpletons are the seven men fighting for supremacy of the box canyon, and thus the whole universe. They have massive guns and huge vehicles which never run out of ammunition (unless the script says they do). Some of them seen to be clinically insane, at least one is a ghost possessing a robot, and at least two are really, really dumb but funny. The remaining guys are asses or kiss-asses, a really happenin' crowd.
The fanfiction form / genre these guys have chosen has been dubbed "mechanima." They use a video capture program to film sequences of the videogame, which they create by using the existing game program engines and existing algorithms. Yes, essentially, they play the game to film it. And in some cases, they have to play it a lot to get to the levels they want with particular actions or features they want to film. They spend 50+ hours per episode, between recording voices, playing the games to get the scenes done on four X-boxes, post-production ... How dorky is that?? Do you know how hard it is to get some of those advanced levels?? And yes, they need four separate copies of the game to play them simultaneously.
Why Halo? There is a funny bug or something in the program where you can toggle the heads up and down. So you can make the characters stand and "talk" to one another (they wear full-body armor and helmets, so there are no lip movements or expressions to worry about like in conventional animation). Obviously, this was amusing enough to actually make a movie, plus Halo's status as the most popular X-box game assured a large audience ranging in intensity from curious to rabid.
These guys are so successful that fans buy sponsorship to the site which gives them "advanced access" to the weekly episode postings. There are t-shirts, DVDs, and mousepads and such available. Surprisingly, Microsoft is allowing this to happen, probably because the company called "Rooster Teeth" (a cleaned-up version of their popular "Cockbite!" declaration) really doesn't make any money on this, and it's attracting more fans to Halo, which is ONLY available on X-box. The DVDs cost $20 a season, and you can get it "free" as part of the $20 per season sponsorship fee, which helps them defray the cost of server space and bandwidth so users can download with impunity. They can sell the t-shirts and such because there are no Halo images on them, but they are still very, very desirable among the fangeeks: a tanktop reads "Sheila" on the back (Sheila is the battle tank ... get it? Yeah, it's really dorky), and the "Caboose" t-shirt has a team-type number on the back, "-1" while "Tucker" has the number "½". Believe us, it's actually very, very funny ...
As for the story, it's hard to jump in mid-season or not-from-the-beginning. It's really best to watch from the trailer, then go through all the episodes sequentially, since there is really only one storyline. One of us was shown some random episodes by another of us, and the second person wondered why the first one didn't think it was as funny as they'd thought. It's kind of stupid when you view any episode on its own because you can't tell the characters apart and nothing makes sense (remember, "clinically insane" in many cases); so it's better to buy the DVD so you can watch the whole thing in an uncut manner. But failing that, you can download the back-episodes for free from the www.redvsblue.com website. Not everything from previous episodes is up all at once -- they do a rolling presentation of the archives, partly to conserve bandwidth, but partly to annoy you, too. Which is cool. Really, it is! So you'll have to come back from week to week for a while to get them all. Hey, what do you want for free??
As for the story, it seems simple, but things keep happening that complicate the picture. A character is shot by friendly fire, then comes back as a ghost. A mechanic turns out to be a robot with no vocoder (as opposed to the "strong, silent type"). A mercenary is someone's ex. A dumb character ends up being a crowd-pleaser. A war ends up having a business plan and centralized quartermaster. Robots end up banding together to form their own army, then get mad when other robots serve the humans. It's really too much for the simple-brained characters who are forced to fight in Blood Gulch (which sounds dangerous and sexy, but it's just really, really dumb). And its not like it's two armies pitted against one another ... it's more like three or four guys against three or four guys. Or maybe one or two are girls, hard to tell.
It's a marvelous story and will make you laugh so hard that you'll need to make sure you go to the bathroom before you view it. You don't even need to have played Halo to like or appreciate it. You don't even need to respect gamers. As for all successful films, the story and performances are stellar and that's the part which will make you roll on the floor. And their dialogue and one-liners are quotable and oft-repeated among the faithful, who will laugh uproariously with the geeky friends ... and lest you think this is for pre-pubescent boys, according to the website membership, there are plenty of over-puberty aged men and many girls and women, too.
Is this the future of entertainment? Gee, I sure hope so, and that no fucktards ruin it for anyone! It's episodic and they are currently just about starting their third season. Which means you do have to wait till they're done with the episdoe to view it. Go ahead, get hooked. You'll scream at what brilliant assholes these guys are ... welcome to the club!
Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com.