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Mass Effect: Paragon Lost (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 29, 2012 by  



An anime film based on a video game series that doesn’t suck!  “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” was an enjoyable, action-packed sci-fi film that fans and even those not familiar with the “Mass Effect” video games can enjoy.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Mass Effect: Paragon Lost

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: 14+

Release Date: December 28, 2012

Directed by Atsushi Takeuchi

Screenplay by Henry Gilroy

Music by David Kates, Joshua R. Mosley

Character Design by Tokuyuki Matsutake

Creature Design by Yoh Yoshinari

Anime Production: Production I.G.

Featuring the voices of:

Freddie Prinze Jr. as James Vega

Bruce Carey as Admiral Hackett

Eric Vale as Essex

Jason Douglas as Archunk

Josh Grelle as Nicky

Laura Bailey as Kamille

Vic Mignogna as Messner

Jad Saxton as April

Justin Cook as Brood

Kara Edwards as Chrsitine

Marc Swint as Mason

Patrick Seitz as Cpt. David Anderson

Todd Haberkorn as Milque

Travis Willingham as Captain Toni

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is the prequel to the highly-anticipated Mass Effect 3 and follows the early career of Alliance Marine, James Vega. Vega 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 soldiers must protect the civilians from a ruthless invasion determined to capture the population for unknown purposes. Learn more about the Mass Effect universe with an unprecedented glimpse into the haunted past of Mass Effect’s newest hero!

“Mass Effect”, the popular and succesful sci-fi RPG/third person shooter from Canadian company BioWare (“Baldur’s Gate”, “Neverwinter Nights”, “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”, “Dragon Age”) released in 2007 would become one of the most succesful franchises in video game history and known for featuring wonderful graphics and storytelling.

The game which would feature the adventures of Commander Shepherd who works hard to stop the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius from leading his army of geth to conquer the galaxy.

In  2010, BioWare released the sequel “Mass Effect 2”, Commander Shepard is forced into an uneasy alliance with the Pro-Human paramilitary organization known as Cerberus in order to discover why human colonies were attacked and how everyone disappeared without a trace.

And in March 2012, the third and final installment titled “Mass Effect 3” revolves around the Reapers returning and trying to purge the galaxy and attacking Earth.  And this time Commander Shepard must race against time to rally the advanced races of the galaxy to make one final stand to fight the Reapers and also to save Earth.

With novels and comic-book series taking place in the Mass Effect universe having been released since 2007, an animated film was announced to be released in 2012 produced by T.O. Entertainment and would be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.  The storyline of the film, known as “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” would be a prequel to “Mass Effect 3” and follow the earlier career of Alliance Marine James Vega who leads an elite Special Forces into battle against an alien race known as The Collectors.

With “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, the story revolves takes place in the human colony of Fehl Prime, a colony known for producing pharmaceuticals for the Systems Alliance.

But the colony is attacked by the Blood Pack mercenaries led by krogan Archuk.  So, the alliance sends out the marines to aid the colonists and during landing, unfortunately, the majority of the alliance sent to Fehl Prime are shot and killed, but one manages to land and its the marine unit, Delta Squad (featuring Kamille, Nicky, Milque, Essex and Mason) led by Lt. James Vega.

The Delta Squad manages to defeat the Blood Pack and Admiral Steven Hackett orders the squad to stay in Fehl Prime to protect the colonists from future attacks.

Two years later and Fehl Prime has a better defense with anti-ship cannons, kinetic barriers and Delta Squad has made an impact in improving the defenses of the Fehl Prime.  But one day, the group receives a jamming signal and Lt. Vega along with asari anthropologist Treeya, the colonist Messner go to investigate and find out that an unknown alien device is jamming signals.

As Treeya wants to protect it from harm, Essex destroys it.  But as the group heads back to the colony, they find out that a Collector ship has flown overhead of the colony and deploys its Seeker Swarms to attack the colony and for some reason are capturing colonists.  But will Lt. Vega and team be able to defeat the Collectors?

VIDEO:

“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  Production I.G. is my favorite animation studio from Japan.  When it comes to character designs and art backgrounds, they are known for detail.  But with Electronic Arts/BioWare involved with the CD animated film for “Dragon Age”, it was great to see that they went for an anime release.  Picture quality of the film is absolutely vibrant.  Excellent shading, art backgrounds were nicely detailed with black levels inky and deep and for the most part, the film not showing any signs of artifacts or aliasing.  Nor did I see any banding during my viewing of the film.

With that being said, I did feel the animation and character design were suited for a western audience.  I’ve seen Production I.G. go all out before in anime such as “Eden of the East” and “Ghost Hound” and while animation and art backgrounds from the studio tend to be magnificent, “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” looked great, but just not magnificent.

AUDIO:

“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  An as one can expect from an action-driven film, the film utilizes the surround channels and LFE effectively.  Great dynamic range and immersiveness when it comes to explosions, fights against monstrous enemies to the zipping of energy blasts.  Lossless audio is very good.  Voice acting is well-done and it’s interesting to see Freddie Prinze, Jr. doing the voice of James Vega.    Unfortunately, there are some characters that with overacting! But for the most part, the English dub is very good.

Unfortunately, for those wanting a Japanese voice acting soundtrack, there isn’t one.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” comes with the following special features:

  • All Doors Open: A Look Inside Electronic Arts – (8:36) Pat O’Brien, Vice-President of Electronic Arts gives people a tour of the studio.
  • An Inside Look at the Mass Effect Universe – (12:39) The creators of “Mass Effect” discuss the design of the characters, creation of the characters, creating the music and integrating them to the game.
  • Directing Effect – (24:18) BioWare’s Casey Hudson (Executive Producer of the “Mass Effect” franchise) discusses the guidelines of the “Mass Effect” universe and the collaboration with FUNimation and work with Japanese animators.
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:17) FUNimation trailer for “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”.
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the animated series.

At first, I was a bit hesitant if I would be able to understand what is going on with “Mass Effect: Lost Paragon”.

As a gamer who owns the games (and have yet to beat any of them), I’m not exactly an erudite on the whole “Mass Effect” story.  So, I worried that I may be lost when it comes to the “Mass Effect” storyline.

Fortunately, the writers kept the story simple.  A group of colonists are being attacked and the marines from the Delta Force Squad must protect the colonists from any harm but also help them protect their colony with defensive weaponry.

But there are enough complexities to make the storyline incorporate clever plot twists, action but also emotion, as one leader must make the decision of sacrificing soldiers and colonists for the better future of tomorrow or to sacrifice data and information that would serve the better good of the people in the future to save soldiers, the people right at that moment.  A crucial decision that has to be made, which one would you pick?  And similar to the game, which is about making choices, Vega had to make a decision that no matter which one he picked, lives would be lost.

If anything, the animated film gives new insight to the the disappearance of the colonists of the third game but also gives us details of the character, James Vega.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality and lossless audio were fantastic.  Some may not be used to seeing the characters in anime format and there may be some who prefer seeing the CG style that was utilized for “Dragon Age”.  But it’s all subjective and for me, the fact that Production I.G. was involved tells me that Electronic Arts wanted the best and they got one of the best (in my opinion, is the best) anime studio for the project.  Voice acting for this anime series was well-cast and Freddie Prinze, Jr. did a wonderful job portraying Vega.

Most of the time, anime that was inspired and based on a major video game franchise, typically does not translate well as an animated film or OVA.  If anything, most often, these films or OVA’s based off video games tend to suck.  But with the collaboration between the major video game companies in America, utilizing American writing but Japanese animation work and style, these collaborations have been good so far.  I enjoyed “Dragon Age” and I enjoyed “Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”.

At first, I thought the film would be another “Starship Troopers” type of storyline and while there is a lot of chaos and a large body count, along with the action, you have a smart and effective storyline.  It’ s not all popcorn action, the decision that Vega must make was very difficult and you can easily sympathize with the character, especially to when Vega must confront the true reality of the decision he made.  It’s quite heartbreaking!  But you understand why he did it.

An action-packed sci-fi film that captures the soul of the “Mass Effect” video games and the difficult choices that must be made for the many, not the one.  And for the character of James Vega, we get to see how one man’s decision will have an major effect on the alliance, and a decision that will affect this character.

“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost” was an enjoyable, action-packed sci-fi film that fans and even those not familiar with the “Mass Effect” video games can enjoy.  Recommended!






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