If you've already seen the original Zeta Gundam series and liked it, please press "add to cart" and skip this review. If you haven't, read on...
First off, I am not new to Gundam. I've watched all of Mobile Suit Gundam, Char's Counterattack, War in the Pocket, 08th MS Team, Stardust Memory, Gundam Wing, Endless Waltz, 00, X, Turn A, Igloo and Unicorn. Every other series (except Zeta, Double Zeta, F91 and Victory) I watched enough episodes to determine I wasn't interested.
I wanted to experience Zeta Gundam, and I chose to go with the movie compilation over the original TV series because I no longer have the time to dedicate to a 50-episode series. I'm not sure that this was the right decision. I'll get straight to the point: It was all kinds of confusing.
Trying to boil down 21-22 hours of TV series into a 5 hour movie trilogy just doesn't work that well, even when a lot of the original scenes are re-done. The problem is that, while you can easily read a summary or watch a recap, trying to watch massively cut scenes that are presented as a coherent story is stupendously taxing on the brain. Even if you know where you came from while watching a scene in the Zeta movies, you're not likely to be given even the briefest moment of reflection before you're suddenly in a totally different location and a new plot point is shoved into your face, accompanied by dramatic music saying, "Stop thinking, pay attention to THIS scene!"
Of course, trouble keeping up with the plot can be solved by hitting the pause button or pressing back for the previous scene. The director made sure that the main plot is all there. What can't be fixed, however, is the brutally truncated human story and character development. If you are like I was and haven't seen Gundam Zeta, you will be frequently wondering things like "Who is this person?", "Why are those two pissed at each other?" and "What happened to so-and-so?"
The end result is that I now know what happened, I know who the important people are, I enjoyed sopping up the Zeta suits/tech, and I was impressed by the new animation (especially the well executed battles). But watching this trilogy was strenuous and ultimately left me feeling nothing for the characters other than "Oh. So that's how it ended." Not a very fulfilling experience.
So, if you haven't seen the original Zeta series, or ESPECIALLY if you aren't familiar with Gundam, I highly recommend you don't watch this yet. If you *have* seen Zeta, buy it now. I'm positive you will be blown away by the new animation.