Mass Effect: Paragon Lost (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
DVD + Blu-ray
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Fans of the ground-breaking Mass Effect franchise shouldn't miss this stunning motion picture experience born of an epic collaboration between the legendary Bioware and visionary Production I.G (Innocence, Kill Bill: Vol.1 (Animation Part), BLOOD-C The Last Dark (2/6/2012 Theatrical Release).
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!
The feature Mass Effect: Paragon Lost (2012) presents the backstory of James Vega, one of the characters in the long-running Mass Effect video game series. When their commander is killed in action, Vega has to lead a squad of Alliance Marines into battle against a force of evil reptilian Krogans on the planet of Fehl Prime. After their daring attack carries the day, things are peaceful for two years, then the even nastier Collectors arrive. Most of the film is devoted to the battle that pits Vega and his surviving squad members against the insectlike Collectors. The film concludes with Vega leading another charge somewhat later, setting up a possible sequel. Mass Effect: Paragon Lost plays like an animated reworking of a minor Sylvester Stallone or Steven Seagal movie. The heroes alternate between noble posturing and devil-may-care throwaway lines like, "Let's dance!" as they charge into battle. Freddie Prinze Jr. reprises his role from the game, but Vega isn't a very articulate fellow. He listens while the other characters try to fill in the gaps in the complicated but well-worn plot. The flashy, constantly moving CG spaceships and special effects make the minimal animation of the drawn characters look even stiffer. Director Atsushi Takeuchi uses rapid cutting to infuse some energy into the combat sequences, but they're badly staged and it's hard to tell whether the heroes are advancing or retreating. Mass Effect: Paragon Lost may appeal to devotees of the games, but viewers unfamiliar with that universe will quickly lose interest. (Rated TV MA: violence, violence against women, grotesque imagery, alcohol use, profanity) --Charles Solomon
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Top Customer Reviews
Bottom line, the movie is enjoyable. I don't regret the money I spent, and what it sets out to do, it does well: give James Vega (a character that didn't get enough screentime in Mass Effect 3) compelling development and a fleshed out backstory. Hints of James Vega's past excursions and adventures on Fehl Prime were mentioned in Mass Effect 3 but largely glossed over because hey, Reapers. There were hints at a larger story but there was never a payoff, and that's where Paragon Lost comes in. The subtitle foreshadows the movie's inevitable conclusion very well, and I won't spoil it here, but I honestly really liked the final moments of the movie highlighting Vega's inner conflict and turmoil. For a character that was relegated as 'Jersey Shore trash' by much of the fandom when he made his debut in Mass Effect 3, it goes a long way towards redeeming his character, narrative-wise.
The other characters are mainly a vehicle for Vega's development and are really just kind of one-dimensional. If this had been a series I could see them getting really good development a la Full Metal Panic (one character even acts like Kurtz, which I found immensely amusing), but as a movie they're little more than generic NPCs to drive the plot. Some important characters from the games make short cameos, and while it's nice to see them, it'd have been nicer if they had gotten the original actors to reprise their roles - the substitutes do an admirable job but Patrick Seitz can never replace Keith David as Anderson.
Those invested in the Mass Effect lore and story, however, will notice glaring inconsistencies. Some come at the very end, so I won't spoil them here, but other minor-to-major lore hiccups are rather obvious and bizarre. As an example, Collectors (which, as shown in Mass Effect 2, are of roughly human size) tower over the main cast, with some - but not all - standing at almost three stories tall. Biotics need 'power cells' to fuel their attacks (which should be a natural extension of their nervous system). There are more minor ones, but those who heavily invest themselves into the lore of the series will find a lot to dislike about the movie. It's not as bad as, say, Mass Effect: Deception, but like I said, glaring mistake that any fan of the series will notice. For my part, I don't really mind and take it as the writers being not entirely familiar with the source material, as the movie is all about Vega. I imagine BioWare gave the writers an outline of what the story should be about and let them write the rest themselves. On one hand, creative freedom! On the other, mistakes aplenty.
The aesthetics of the movie are hit-or-miss. Mass Effect as a whole doesn't really lend itself well to anime, being hyper-realistic hard sci-fi, and some of the downright absurd gymnastics and physical feats that the characters perform in the movie may fit well in anime, but does not really fit into the Mass Effect mythos. Animation is smooth and decent, but honestly, could have been better. The art style is okay, but I have seen better, and I'm not a fan of how Vega was drawn in the movie. The other characters look great though, especially the Asari character Treeya, who I found to be the most well-drawn character in the movie. The music is great but I found a startling lack of any of the Mass Effect themes - I would've liked if they had played the ME1/ME2 ending theme at the very end of the movie, it would've been fitting. The lip-syncing can get weirdly off at times, which confuses me, because I assume this was voiced in English first, so there shouldn't be any problems of that sort.
All in all, it's not a failure - but it's not exactly a resounding success, either. The production values seem a bit low for a Mass Effect movie, but the storytelling - which, let's admit it, is one of the bigger draws of the Mass Effect franchise - is compelling and well-written. It adds depth and development to a character that desperately needed it (because seriously, we can't all be Garrus Vakarian, bro-ing it up with Shepard over the entire trilogy), but in the process leaves some seriously head scratching lore and story inconsistencies. The animation and sounds could honestly be a lot better, considering what we've seen come out of the Mass Effect franchise.
My opinion? Buy it. It's honestly a decent movie. But BioWare, you need to improve from here on out. Next time you release a Mass Effect film/movie/animation/whatever, I might not be so charitable.
The animation style is ... well, generic is probably the best way I can put it. Older anime (the original Record of Lodoss War, the Sunrise Dirty Pair, Ranma 1/2, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) all were very distinct in style and tone.
This seems very generic, compared to them. That might be animation on the cheap, or simply the new style. No points for it, no strikes against it. It just wasn't breathtaking animation.
Storywise, you know going in what is going to happen with Vega and the colony (again, spoilers from ME3, Vega tells you he sacrificed the colony to get information on the Collectors, which your character rendered useless because you likely destroyed the Collector Base and the Collectors).
Vega's squad is pretty generic, you've seen these characters before. You have your flashy showoff, a no-nonsense type, a brainy type, etc.
Same with the idea behind the colonists. Of COURSE there is a cute little girl and her mom. No romance there (no, Vega seems interested in someone else), but you know they will wring pathos out of the little girl, right?
I will say this, part of the reason it seems Vega did what he did really didn't ring true for me. In making his choice to save the information collected on the Collectors, it appears he also might have done it for more of a self-serving reason (to save the Asari woman he seems interested in).
I don't know if that was supposed to make the decision MORE complex, or more suspect, but it did strike me odd.
It's a nice little diversion (at least, until Vega's laughable breakdown when he sees the plaque memorializing the deceased colonists -- that seemed WAY over the top for me), and it does fill in the blanks on the newest member of the Normandy crew, but I wouldn't consider it a must-have.
It's a good way to kill an hour or two, but don't expect anything earth-shattering in this.