Legends of Metru Nui
Review by Ed Nguyen
by: Christopher Gaze, Alessandro Juliani, Michael Dobson, Paul Dobson, Brian
Drummond, Lee Tockar, Tabitha St. Germain
Directors: David Molina, Terry Shakespeare
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and DTS 5.1, French
Video: Color, anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Buena Vista
Features: Making-Of featurette, Metru Nui explorer, The Legend Revealed, promos
Length: 75 minutes
Release Date: October 19, 2004
into Toa, Toa into Turaga, Turaga into legend!"
little boys love toy soldiers. From
G.I. Joes to Star Wars creatures to Transformers, each generation has had its
own favorite action figure. For
children of the twenty-first century, the latest fad is the LEGO phenomenon of
Bionicle«. LEGO "action
figures" used to be little firemen, cowboys, or policemen with smiley faces
and cute little caps. But times
have changed, and now the new LEGO Bionicle action figures all resemble large
metallic insects and vaguely amorphous robots.
2003, the film Bionicle: the Mask of Light
used the Bionicle franchise as the basis for an epic CGI animated tale.
Young fans gobbled it up, making the film one of the year's top DVDs.
Subsequently, Bionicle merchandise sold like hot cakes.
A sequel was inevitable, and so, in time for the holiday seasons, Bionicle
2: Legends of Metru Nui has now been released.
This second CGI animated film is actually a prequel that chronicles the
early mythology of the Matorans, a race of cute, living robotic plebs in the
film is narrated by the Turaga Vakama, who tells the epic story of a land before
the existence of Mata-Nui. In this
pre-historical time, towering heroes named Toas protected the Matorans until a
dark evil named Makuta began to creep across the land.
It defeated all the Toas save one, Toa Lhikan.
This last Toa, before his fall, managed to retrieve six sacred stones and
deliver them to chosen Matorans in each Metru, the subdivisions of the Matoran's
giant city of Metru Nui. The chosen
few were the toolsmith and archivist Whenua, the scholarly Nuju, the racer Matau,
the carver Onewa, protodermis protector and teacher Nokama, and most
significantly the mask maker Vakama himself.
with the stones, these Matorans met in the sacred temple of the Great Spirit.
Therein, the Great Spirit used the power of stones to transform the
diminutive Matorans into six new giant Toas.
And now, these new heroes must utilize their hidden powers to recover six
sacred discs hidden throughout Metru Nui. These
pure Kanoka discs hold the secret to defeating the great evil, which has assumed
the guise of the Metru Nui city leader, Turaga Dume (while the true leader lies
dormant in captivity).
key to victory lies in the creation of a great Kanohi mask, the Mask of Time.
In the hands of evil, such a device would surely destroy all that is
good. In the hands of the Toas, it
will help them to vanquish evil and to save the Matorans and their beloved city,
Metru Nui. But time is running out to stop Makuta's grand plan to shut
down all Matorans and later to revive them like a mystical (but still evil)
savior demanding god worship.
the new heroes, Toa Vakama possesses a prophetic sight that will help him to
eventually become the natural, if reluctant, leader of the Toas. These heroes must navigate treacherous protodermis waterways,
brave the arid wastelands ruled by roaming Kikanalo beasts and avian Vahki, and
defeat Makuta's two evil Dark Hunters - Nidhiki, a spidery villain, and Krekka,
a muscle-headed brute. The Toas
must search the Place of Unending Whispers for their missing comrades before
assembling together for a final confrontation with the great Evil on Mount Doom
(actually, it's called the Metru Nui Coliseum but we're not fooled).
Only the courage and perseverance of the Toas will determine whether the
Matorans will awaken to a dark future enveloped by evil or a hopeful, new
existence upon the isle of Mata-Nui.
all that? Hey, don't roll your eyes
at me! It's not my fault, I'm just
the messenger. Bionicle 2 is technically in English, though it might as well be in
Japanese for all the comprehensibility of its pseudo-mystical mumbo jumbo and
scientific psychobabble. The
strange thing is the children will instinctively grasp the entire storyline
while adults will just stare blankly at the television in bewilderment.
be perfectly blunt now. Bionicle
2 is a sleek, 75-minute infomercial masquerading as a movie.
Its true agenda is to promote and sell LEGO toys.
Since holiday consumers can hardly be accused of possessing rationality
or insight, Bionicle 2 will almost certainly sell by the bushel as young boys
nationwide clamor with increasing persistence for this DVD.
But at least the film's themes are honorable, being about overcoming
one's fears and finding strength and courage within oneself.
Sure, the film is fairly derivative in its storyline (borrowing freely
from Attack of the Clones, the Lord
of the Rings, various Ray Harryhausen films, and Ecco the Dolphin video games, just to name a few).
But honestly, if I were still a little boy, I would be totally salivating
as well over Bionicle 2, which has
admittedly great production values and a heroic and uplifting story.
a direct-to-DVD CGI animated film, Bionicle
2 looks quite fantastic. The
details are crystal clear and the colors jump out at you.
There are no compression defects at all, although the animation is
somewhat blurry at times and not quite up to the theatrical standards of Pixar
films. Still, Bionicle
2 compares quite favorably with most other CGI efforts.
2 excels in
its dynamic DTS 5.1 track, which rumbles at every opportunity and establishes a
truly immersive audio environment. The
English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is practically as good as the DTS one,
and anyone with a powerful enough home audio system should be quite satisfied
with the reference quality of these two tracks.
An optional French track is also available.
features included with the Bionicle 2
disc are aggressively directed at pushing Bionicle toys, action figures, and
even shoes! The packaging is quite
nice and features a Velcro-opening slip-on jacket.
But don't expect anything of great merit among the DVD's actual bonus
is The Making-Of Bionicle 2 (9 min.).
This featurette shows the various animators and creative artists behind
the Bionicle toys and the film itself. If
you watch until the end, there is a also a preview of some of the new LEGO toys
now available for the Bionicle franchise.
(5 min.) is a short question-and-answer session that provides a brief FAQ about
the movie, the franchise, and the history and future of Bionicle.
This feature is only for diehard fans.
gives a tour of the Matoran city Metru-Nui and its individual sub-divisions. This is the most extensive bonus feature, providing details
about the city core and the six sub-cities with their respective Toa protectors.
Again, this feature will appeal mostly to diehard fans but casual viewers
might find it interesting, too.
sneak peeks are available for Power
Rangers: Dino Thunder, The Incredibles,
Spider-Man: the Venom Saga, Bionicle:
the Mask of Light, the Aladdin
Trilogy, and Jetix.
The most significant previews are those for the excellent My
Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso, and Nausicań of
the Valley of the Wind, all films by Japan's greatest animator, Hayao
round out the remaining supplements. There
are various promos for the Bionicle website, stories, and also the LEGOLand
theme park in California. Don't
forget the LEGOLand coupon inside the
DVD case, either; it gives a discount on admission.
And last but not least, there is a quick reminder about Bionicle
3, coming out on DVD in the Fall of 2005!