Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Movie Talk - Mass Effect: Paragon Lost

“Is it warm here or is it just me?” I almost said to someone online. In either case, both would be true since Tennessee is getting a bit warmer. It’s not a “summer-warm” since it there are times winter creeps up. Here’s hoping I can enjoy my small vacation from work, Nashville, and anything else.

Today, I’ll be talking about Mass Effect: Paragon Lost which was released in 2012. I’m still on my Mass Effect fix, so watching this anime sort of hit the spot. I’ll get to why I said “sort of” later. This movie was produced by Bioware, Funimation, and T.O. Entertainment. It was made to tie right into the Mass Effect universe by focusing on James Vega, one of Commander Shepard’s companions from Mass Effect 3. Freddie Prinze Jr. reprised his role as James Vega from the game and he was apparently the only one to do so here.  Critically, the movie isn’t regarded too well but that didn’t stop me from checking it out.

The movie starts out right after the destruction of the Normandy SR-1. Vega and his team is sent to the colony on Fehl Prime to help the colonists fight off a part of the Blood Pack. Vega and his squadmates struggle for a bit but are able to take down the gang. Afterwards, Admiral Hackett orders Vega and his team to stay at the colony and build up its defenses. Two years later, the Collectors come to the colony in order to take its people. Lives are lost and many explosions happen as Vega and what’s left of his team do the best they can to save Fehl Prime. Considering what “fehl” means in English, let’s just say it doesn’t turn out too great for James and his friends.

From left: Wolfwood from Trigun, "Random Female Woman, Guy Gardner, Billy the Blue Power Ranger, and "Bland McBighuge". Yeah, I said it!

So, what did think of this full-feature presentation? I have to say that I’m pretty torn on it. It’s not that good but it has its moments. I thought the voice acting was fine. Freddie Prinze Jr. does try to show a different side to Vega here than what we saw in the game. The other actors were fine but it was noticeable when characters form the games showed up with different voices. Admiral Hackett was the biggest one I noticed. Also, this thing can get violent. The games didn’t shy away from being for adults and the movie doesn’t either. Also, the story, while bland, had an interesting ending for those who may not have played the game yet.
Dang, these Collectors must have hit the gym or something...

I did like most of the animation here. The action was pretty cool especially toward the end. Some of the character designs were also good. Seeing the Mass Effect universe show up like this was a little jarring but I got used to it. I’m not a big fan of anime but I do like most anime properties. Plus, I like animation in general. The animators took some liberties with certain races like the Collectors and the krogan but that is artistic license, after all. I wasn’t bothered by those things. There were other things to be bothered with.

As for negatives, there are a few. The story was okay but really lacking. If you’re looking for an anime that is action-packed, this might hit your spot. If you’re looking for more than that, you’ll be  disappointed like I was. The story is pretty much akin  to things like the Alien franchise or the Predator franchise. In other words, “a lotta folk gonna die!” Unfortunately, it’s not well written. Basically, James Vega teamed up with Billy from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, “Random Female Woman,” Guy Gardner, “Hot asari who isn’t Liara,” and Wolfwood from Trigun. That team would probably be cool if they weren’t stuck in this movie. For a movie that is supposed to help us know James better, it really fails at that since we rarely learn anything about him here. I think we learn more about him in the game than here.
"Oh, don't mind me, I'm a guy who kind of may be the reason the Collectors came here," Messner sarcastically says. Seriously, screw this guy!

Another thing that felt weird here was how James himself was portrayed. Even though he was voiced by the actor from the game, his character and personality felt off. I wonder if the writers for the game were heavily involved with the writing of this. I’m not sure if they were or not. James was far from my favorite companions but I did like him in Mass Effect 3. Here, he’s just “Bland McBigHuge.” The rest of the characters here also felt a little bland for the most part.  There were also times where the animation was a bit bland for my tastes.  I wasn’t a fan of the computer-generated stuff here either. It didn’t’ mesh well with the 2-D animation.
Wow... talk about artistic license.

Overall, this was far from a good video game tie-in. It talks about a story that we more or less know about and it doesn’t do anything interesting with that story. The production team did what they could here but I saw why folk were disappointed with this. Whether you’re a Mass Effect fan or not, I don’t know if I can even recommend checking it out. If you are curious about it, go for it. Well, that might be the last ME post for a while but I might have one more in me. Y’all find out later since I have something else I working on. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and “Keelah Se’lai.” Yeah, I’m down with the quorians… or at least Tali.

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