Mass Effect: Paragon Lost (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 18-Dec-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Featurette-All Doors Open: A Look Inside Electronic Arts
Featurette-An Inside Look at the Mass Effect Universe
Featurette-Making Of-Directing Effect
Theatrical Trailer-U.S. Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 90:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Atsushi Takeuchi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Henry Gilroy
Laura Bailey
John Burgmeier
Bruce Carey
Justin Cook
Terri Doty
Jason Douglas
Kara Edwards
Josh Grelle
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music David S. Kates
Joshua Mosley
Colleen Clinkenbeard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

  

The relationship between Mass Effect fans and creator BioWare (an EA games company) has not always been convivial. Disciples of the space opera PC (and later other ports) Mass Effect video game can be an extremely dedicated and passionate bunch. You only have to look at the uproar which emerged after the release of Mass Effect 3, with die hard players criticising the lacklustre ending to know that you are dealing with a bunch of people who feel that they have made such an investment into the game world that they are entitled to a say in its course and conclusion. The fans won, to an extent, with BioWare producing an amended ending to the game.

It will be interesting then to see what the true believers make of Mass Effect: Paragon Lost the first animate entry into the Mass Effect franchise. It follows on from comic books and novels which expanded but did not destroy, the carefully worked out Universe.

Written by Henry Gilroy who worked on the Clone Wars animated series it tells the story of a fairly minor character in the mass effect universe. I have to declare that I have, often begrudgingly bought every game product that the Mass Effect developers have thrown at me, but until now hadn't stepped away from the computer screen.

As much as I wanted to joined the stronger of critics who accuse BioWare of cash grabbing the with their regular release of DLC (including the controversial From Ashes DLC which appeared on the first day of the Mass Effect 3 release and was pretty much essential to the main story), I actually found the film, though flawed, to be pretty entertaining.

My advice to the diehard fans is to look at it as an interpretation of the Mass Effect universe and not a definitive product. As a moving comic book perhaps.

The character of James Vega (voiced in the game and movie by Freddie Prinze jnr) was to be found lurking in the shuttle bay section of the Normandy, working on his superior musculature. Those who spent the time to use him and befriend him in the game found that he had a secret anguish dating back to a key moment in his life in the defence of a human colony on Fehl prime. Paragon Lost (the title being a reference to the Mass Effect distinction between paragon (good) actions and renegade(reckless or bad) actions) tells the story of that heartbreaking time.

James Vega is an Alliance marine dispatched with several teams to help the human colony on Fehl prime, a major producer of pharmaceuticals for the Alliance. The colony has come under attack from a Gang of Blood Pack mercenaries led by a Krogan warrior. The fighting is tight and difficult and Vega's shuttle is shot down. He and his team must fight closely together to defeat the invaders.

Two years later and the brash Vega is stuck on the planet, seemingly far away from any action. His only interest is in the affection of Asari anthropologist Treeya who spurns his advances. For her the Alliance grunts just get in the way of genuine research. Things come to a head when they discover a strange alien device which appears to be jamming their signals. Treeya is appalled when the Marines destroy the device before she has had a chance to study it. However, not long after a Collector ship arrives bringing seeker swarms to incapacitate the residents of Fehl Prime so that the drones can take them away for processing.

Once again the team must work together to challenge the enemy. However, this time the enemy comes in many forms, as one of the colonists turns out to be a spy from the shadowy human rights organisation Cerebrus. Ultimately Vega must make a choice, the choice that continues to haunt him through Mass Effect 3, to save one person bearing vital information or the people of the colony.

The above plot description will seem like 50 shades of gobbledygook to anyone not acquainted with the Mass Effect universe. Suffice to say that it tells an interesting story about a missing link in the James Vega story. However, the character of Vega himself in the game was not one of the most popular. He was useful on missions however much to the chagrin of some players he could not be a love interest for female or male Shepard.

The biggest complaint from Mass Effect fans may well be that the animation in this film is closer to TV animation than the rich and superbly detailed interactive cut scenes from the game. The Vega from Paragon Lost doesn't really look like the Vega from the game. The Asari and Blood Pack Vorchas are pretty similar but the Krogans also don't look the same as the game.

Is that a big issue? After all, plenty of people like the Clone Wars animated series without the animation looking anything like the films. The difference perhaps was that the the Clone Wars presented an entirely stylised version of the characters whereas these are just simply animated. To this extent they are probably closer to the series of comic books based on the Mass Effect universe.

As said, this film looks more like a made-for-TV effort rather than a serious attempt at representing Mass Effect. The Mass Effect story itself is one of the most complex in gaming and, hiccups aside, represents the pinnacle of video game storytelling resulting in a superior work of art. Any attempt to seriously film the story would require an astronomical budget and perhaps a series of films. Paragon Lost is not that movie. It is an entertaining diversion and viewers approaching it on that basis will not be disappointed. Anyone looking for a defining Mass Effect experience better fire up the PC.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

  

Paragon Lost comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The movie has only had limited cinema showings and is designed for home video viewing.

The Blu-ray presents a stable viewing experience.

The colours are well handled although it must be said that this is not a dayglow experience. Most of the action takes place in battle, on a space station or in the collector ship. All of these are fairly dark environments without a great deal of embellishment.

The animation is a combination of hand drawn animation for characters and CGI ships and multiple backgrounds.

As said, this is more of a TV animation film rather than a richly detailed, high quality presentation. The backgrounds are often sketchily drawn or computer-generated making it less visually pleasing than the game itself whether in cut scenes or in play.

The lines are tight with any evidence of aliasing.

There are no technical defects with the transfer.

There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

  

The soundtrack for Paragon Lost is an English 5.1 Dolby True HD track.

As this is a Japanese animation one would have thought that there would be a Japanese language version but I suppose given that it is a US game product the animators kept with the English language of the game.

The voice acting is decent enough without being spectacular.

Freddie Prinze jnr manages the tough guy and sensitive guy aspect of the character and there is a nice performance from Monica Rial as the Asari Treeya. Interestingly, in the extra material, the director talks about his favourite character being the young girl who Vega swears to defend. I would be surprised if anyone else felt this way as her character is pretty annoying. It may have been intended to reflect the young boy from Mass Effect 3 but if so it didn't achieve anywhere near the level of pathos.

In any event, the dialogue can be clearly heard throughout.

The surround sound is used to good effect in the battle scenes and the sub-woofer goes off with every explosion. The soundtrack is active throughout.

Music for the film is provided by David Kates and Joshua Mosley. Kates provided music for the Mass Effect games and there are some nice themes running through the show.

There are no technical defects with the sound.

Extras

All Doors Open: A Look Inside Electronic Arts (8.36)

The head of EA games Pat O'Brien takes us through EA games, the home of BioWare. We shall a few games in production including Dead Space 3 and the latest Sims.

An Inside Look at the Mass Effect Universe (12.39)

This featurette is divided into four parts headed Character Modelling, Character Animation, Gameplay Design, Sound Design. Each short segment gives one of the technical people a chance to talk about their contribution to the game.

Directing Effect (24.19)

This is the major feature. Once again a fair chunk of it is devoted to the game. It is also divided into mini sections. Fans of the game will enjoy the details about the origins of some of their favourite species. So far as the film was concerned it was a balancing act between ensuring the film was consistent with the Mass Effect universe but at the same time the director would be allowed free reign to exercise creativity.

Director Atsushi Takeuchi talks about his involvement in the project and his favourite aspects of the finished film. As said he liked the little girl - go figure?!

U.S. Trailer (1.17)

The trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The product in Region A is the same as our product in Region B. Buy local.

Summary

   

Paragon Lost isn't a bad film but it could have been better. As said, come to it as another take on the franchise and you won't be disappointed. Another point, there is a long unskippable trailer for Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker which precedes the film.

The Blu-ray is of good quality but the an

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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