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"Clerks meets Star Wars" (Village Voice) in this smash-hit comedy series. Using officially licensed video from the blockbuster videogame Halo, Red vs. Blue adds hilarious voiceover. In the Chronicles, the story centers on two opposing teams of soldiers fighting a civil war in the middle of a desolate box canyon, in a parody of first-person shooter games, military life, and science fiction films. The most luckless bunch of soldiers in the universe must fight the least likely war ever, in the most ridiculous way they know how.
Though this irreverent animated series from Rooster Teeth Productions is inspired by the blockbuster Halo video game franchise, one doesn't need to be familiar with the game--or gaming in general--to appreciate Red vs. Blue's skewering of action tropes, military bravado, and science fiction in general. A prime example of the modern art form known as machinima (the use of video game graphics engines to create new animation), Red vs. Blue is also essentially a sitcom set in the eponymous Halo scenario, with two teams of soldiers in constant pursuit of each other's flag, yet completely unaware of the reason for the competition. Stuck in a repetitive and pointless scenario from which they appear to have no escape, the Red and Blue teams become embroiled in an absurdly elaborate game of one-upmanship that involves a Spanish-speaking robot who falls in love with a sentient, trigger-happy tank; a short-tempered talking bomb; frequent flashes backwards and forwards in time; an alien savior; and constant bouts of possession by various artificial intelligence. If this sounds like the densest chunk of science fiction ever presented, keep in mind that it's all delivered in rapid-fire bursts of snarky, slapstick humor over the course of 100 five-minute episodes; think a futuristic version of Stripes, not Dune.
Since Red vs. Blue was created for web broadcast using the Halo engine, image and quality tends to be somewhat low resolution, but picture-perfect visuals aren't what fans are expecting with this five-disc set. Rather, it's the chance to have the entire series run in one set, along with an impressive collection of extras. Chief among the latter are multiple audio commentaries from the cast and crew for each season (all have been featured on previous releases), including a new anniversary commentary recorded for this set. Two special productions--the Xbox Live miniseries Out of Mind and Recovery One--are also a highlight, as are a barrage of special videos, including the show's hilarious public service announcements, voice-over outtakes (many of which have been deliberately flubbed), and deleted scenes. Faux DVD menu content, including fake FBI warnings and nonsensical language options, is evidence of the appreciation for the show's fans that went into this set, as is a new sixth disc of rarities, including early dialogue recordings, award-show footage, and even a version of the series executed completely with Legos. It's hard to imagine a show that plays on paper like Red vs. Blue deserving such a deluxe presentation, but the sheer quality of the imaginations behind the program clearly warrant this impressive set. --Paul Gaita