Wednesday, 7 January 2015

BIONICLE: Mask of Light: Gathered friends. Listen again to our legend

Forewarn: If anything is confusing, read these: 2001 2002 2003

Side Note: Yes, everything written in Matoran is also in English below the paragraph itself. This is just fun and how I'll handle the BIONICLE reviews.

Ah yes, BIONICLE, one of my all time favourite toys as a child. The concept was simple enough, build your own action figures, but the lore it has is stunning even to this day, confusing for newcomers, but still stunning. With a 5 year hiatus and it making its return this year, I thought it would be interesting to see how well the 4 films hold up, in celebration of its return, BIONICLE: Mask of Light.
Forewarn: If anything is confusing, read these: 2001 2002 2003

Side Note: Yes, everything written in Matoran is also in English below the paragraph itself. This is just fun and how I'll handle the BIONICLE reviews.

Ah yes, BIONICLE, one of my all time favourite toys as a child. The concept was simple enough, build your own action figures, but the lore it has is stunning even to this day, confusing for newcomers, but still stunning. With a 5 year hiatus and it making its return this year, I thought it would be interesting to see how well the 4 films hold up, in celebration of its return, BIONICLE: Mask of Light.
So what is the story of this movie? Well... Unless you knew what it was about, confusing. While this may be the first movie, its not the start of the story. The story itself actually starts two years prior to Mask of Light, with three arcs in between launch of the toys, and launch of the film, as such it can be confusing to people who have no idea about what's going on. Its a common problem with Direct to DVD films and using the last two I reviewed, Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks as an example, the difference is that there's no other way to learn about the characters except for reading the lore, in this case, the books. BIONICLE didn't have its own TV show to provide you with the back stories of the characters, that was saved for Greg Farshtey stories. Why am I saying all of this? Because there is a strong chance this next part could get very confusing very quickly.

So what is the story of this movie? Well... Unless you knew what it was about, confusing. While this may be the first movie, its not the start of the story. The story itself actually starts two years prior to Mask of Light, with three arcs in between launch of the toys, and launch of the film, as such it can be confusing to people who have no idea about what's going on. Its a common problem with Direct to DVD films and using the last two I reviewed, Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks as an example, the difference is that there's no other way to learn about the characters except for reading the lore, in this case, the books. BIONICLE didn't have its own TV show to provide you with the back stories of the characters, that was saved for Greg Farshtey stories. Why am I saying all of this? Because there is a strong chance this next part could get very confusing very quickly.
While skipping the pre title scene (next review), the story opens with Jaller, captain of the Ta-Koro Guard trying to find a fellow Matoran named Takua who has wondered off right before a Kohli match (see what I mean). Takua is crossing a river of Lava at the time to investigate a stone on the other side of the river. An earthquake as a result of the stone being removed from its pedestal causes Takua to drop it and it rolls into the Lava, where the stone dissolves and reveals the Kanohi Avohkii: The Great Mask of Light (more on that later). In the Kohli Stadium, the Mask of Light falls out of Jaller's Bag and, with the help of Takua, the mask shines it light onto Jaller, convincing everyone in the stadium that he is the Herald of the seventh Toa, who will bring light to the shadows and reawaken Mata Nui (their equivalent of God). As a result, Makuta (for those searching for these, his full name is Makuta Teridax) releases his "sons", the Rahkshi onto the island of Mata Nui to claim the Mask of Light, so that his shadows can be permanent. Each of the six Rahkshi cause destruction wherever they go in search of either the Mask of Light or the Herald of the 7th Toa eventually leading to Takua donning the mask, turning into Takanuva. Insert a final battle with Makuta and you have the movie in a nutshell (minus one or two details). I told you this may be confusing (and this is before I mention the other six Toa, The quest for the Masks, the Bohrok, Bohrok Kal and more).

While skipping the pre title scene (next review), the story opens with Jaller, captain of the Ta-Koro Guard trying to find a fellow Matoran named Takua who has wondered off right before a Kohli match (see what I mean). Takua is crossing a river of Lava at the time to investigate a stone on the other side of the river. An earthquake as a result of the stone being removed from its pedestal causes Takua to drop it and it rolls into the Lava, where the stone dissolves and reveals the Kanohi Avohkii: The Great Mask of Light (more on that later). In the Kohli Stadium, the Mask of Light falls out of Jaller's Bag and, with the help of Takua, the mask shines it light onto Jaller, convincing everyone in the stadium that he is the Herald of the seventh Toa, who will bring light to the shadows and reawaken Mata Nui (their equivalent of God). As a result, Makuta (for those searching for these, his full name is Makuta Teridax) releases his "sons", the Rahkshi onto the island of Mata Nui to claim the Mask of Light, so that his shadows can be permanent. Each of the six Rahkshi cause destruction wherever they go in search of either the Mask of Light or the Herald of the 7th Toa eventually leading to Takua donning the mask, turning into Takanuva. Insert a final battle with Makuta and you have the movie in a nutshell (minus one or two details). I told you this may be confusing (and this is before I mention the other six Toa, The quest for the Masks, the Bohrok, Bohrok Kal and more). 
To those who noticed a trend with some of the words, a decent portion of the terms used in the lore are based on real world cultures including the New Zealand Māori, Latin and Fijian languages.

To those who noticed a trend with some of the words, a decent portion of the terms used in the lore are based on real world cultures including the New Zealand Māori, Latin and Fijian languages. 
While the story itself is confusing, to say the least, what it lacks in a plot anyone can understand, it makes up for in its animation. Even to this day, the animation is gorgeous in this movie. Dated and at points it hasn't aged well (lip sync being the key problem), but with breathtaking worlds, I can forgive the lip sync, at least the mouths are open when the character is talking. The characters themselves are also quite faithful to the toys. Are they one for one? No, but they made artistic changes and for the most part, they work quite well. My only problem is with the Kraata inside the Rahkshi (though it might be because I'm not a fan of snakes period so to see "snakes" like the ones in the movie). Even if the story isn't in your tastes, watch the movie for the animation.

While the story itself is confusing, to say the least, what it lacks in a plot anyone can understand, it makes up for in its animation. Even to this day, the animation is gorgeous in this movie. Dated and at points it hasn't aged well (lip sync being the key problem), but with breathtaking worlds, I can forgive the lip sync, at least the mouths are open when the character is talking. The characters themselves are also quite faithful to the toys. Are they one for one? No, but they made artistic changes and for the most part, they work quite well. My only problem is with the Kraata inside the Rahkshi (though it might be because I'm not a fan of snakes period so to see "snakes" like the ones in the movie). Even if the story isn't in your tastes, watch the movie for the animation. 
Voice acting wise, its about on par with other films of the time. The acting is fine and the voice actors for Jaller and Takua do a great job, but there are also actors that I wish would stop talking, I'm looking at you Lewa Nuva, not for the actor, but for the script. It's hard to explain, but look it up if you can, you'll see what I mean when I say the language of the Le Matoran and Lewa Nuva as a result is cringe worthy. There's also a lot of cheesy lines spread throughout the movie so if you're not a fan of cheesy dialogue, you're not going to like this.

Voice acting wise, its about on par with other films of the time. The acting is fine and the voice actors for Jaller and Takua do a great job, but there are also actors that I wish would stop talking, I'm looking at you Lewa Nuva, not for the actor, but for the script. It's hard to explain, but look it up if you can, you'll see what I mean when I say the language of the Le Matoran and Lewa Nuva as a result is cringe worthy. There's also a lot of cheesy lines spread throughout the movie so if you're not a fan of cheesy dialogue, you're not going to like this. 
At the end of the day, the movie has aged respectably over the years. There's a lot to like if you're willing to put in the effort, but at the same time, there are several aspects that do show the age of Mask of Light. For parents looking at this and comparing it to the new sets, the series got a full reboot so you don't need to consider this if you want to buy the sets. Up next though, time to look at the sequel, that's a prequel. BIONICLE 2: Legends of Metru Nui.

At the end of the day, the movie has aged respectably over the years. There's a lot to like if you're willing to put in the effort, but at the same time, there are several aspects that do show the age of Mask of Light. For parents looking at this and comparing it to the new sets, the series got a full reboot so you don't need to consider this if you want to buy the sets. Up next though, time to look at the sequel, that's a prequel. BIONICLE 2: Legends of Metru Nui.

Until next week, but keep an eye on Blaster's Projects for Friday :)

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