Bionicle – Mask of Light

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Jason Michas as Takua/Toa Takanuva
Andrew Francis as Jaller
Scott McNeil as Toa Tahu, Toa Onua, Graalok the Ash Bear
Lee Tockar as Makuta/Pewku
Christopher Gaze as Turaga Vakama
Kathleen Barr as Toa Gali
Dale Wilson as Toa Lewa, Turaga Onewa
Michael Dobson as ToaKopaka, Hewkii
Trevor Devall as Toa Pohatu
Lesley Ewen as Turaga Nokama
Chiara Zanni as Hahlii

Special Features:

Behind the Scenes – The Making Of Bionicle: Mask Of Light

“Mata Nui Explorer” – Insights about the World and Characters

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary

Bionicle Trailers

Directors’ Commentary

“Wall of History” – Enhanced Viewing Mode

Storyboard To Film Comparison

Sneak Peek Into The Next Bionicle Storyline

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
Running Time: 74 Minutes

Synopsis:
This movie is based on the Lego Bionicle toys.

On a fantasy island of Mata Nui on a distant planet, a race of bio-mechanical beings lives in peace. Created by a mystical god, they live in various communities throughout the island. With powers based on fire, ice, air, water, and other elements, each is unique. Each community is guarded by a “Toa”. A prophecy says that one day a 7th Toa will be discovered and resurrect the god and defeat his evil nemesis and brother, Makuta.

One day when Jaller and his friend Takua find a magical mask of light, they realize that it can lead them to the 7th Toa. In order to fulfill the prophecy, the two friends go on a quest to see where the mask will lead them. Unfortunately, Makuta wants to stop them before they can accomplish their mission. He sends the evil Rahkshi after them to steal the mask and capture the herald. As they destroy the villages and wreak havoc, the Bionicles realize they must unite in order to help Jaller and Takua fulfill the prophecy.

Bionicle – Mask Of Light is rated PG for action violence and scary images.

The Movie:
As a child of the 80’s, I’m a big fan of cartoons based on toys. I was a big follower of Transformers, He-Man, Mask, GI Joe, Thundercats, Centurions, etc etc etc. So I really don’t have any bias against cartoons made from toy lines. That being said, I didn’t really enjoy Bionicle – Mask Of Light. Since I don’t really know much about the toys, I went into this film with no background at all. In very short order I was lost and never caught up again.

The movie is not really clear for people just jumping into the world. Are the Bionicles robots? Living beings? Are their powers magical? Where are they from? At first the short ones appear to be children, but later on it becomes apparent they are more or less adults in the Bionicle civilization. The film starts out with a really convoluted, abstract telling of the mystical origins of the characters along with ramblings about a prophecy and other mumbo jumbo. I tried my best to follow it, but ended up being rather lost through the whole thing. About the only thing that was straightforward were the scenes where the bad guys chased the good guys. That was more or less easy to comprehend. Confusion aside, the story is very similar to Lord of the Rings. Two little heroes go on a quest with a mystical object to save the world. The main bad guy sends all sorts of horrors after our little heroes, yet a group of powerful friends holds them off just long enough for the underdogs to save the day. I guess if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. Unfortunately, that basic plot is bogged down with a lot of extra baggage that makes it inaccessible to the uninitiated.

While the plot was not that great, the movie looks really good. The computer animation isn’t the quality of Final Fantasy, but it’s better than your typical TV CG fare. The characters look like the toys come to life. The environments are imaginative and impressive. They have just the right mix of realism and fantasy to make them interesting. The action is pretty well choreographed with an eye towards extreme sports. The final result is a visually impressive movie.

The Extras:
This DVD comes with a fair number of extras. Here are some highlights:

Behind the Scenes – The Making Of Bionicle: Mask Of Light – This is a brief “making of” video for the film. You see the creators talking about the development process, character design, and voice casting. You get to see a little behind the scenes footage of the actors recording the dialogue, but none of them are recognizable. The video also details how they communicated with animators in Taipei who made the movie. Overall, it’s a brief but interesting look at the making of the film.

“Mata Nui Explorer” – Insights about the World and Characters – With this feature you can click on a map of the island and get details about the various villages and their Toas. You’ll get character descriptions, 360 degree views of the characters, and more.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary – There are a handful of deleted scenes on the DVD. Most of the scenes are unfinished and they lack sound effects or dialogue. None of them are particularly noteworthy or revealing. You can also watch them with director’s commentary.

Directors’ Commentary – The two director’s provide commentary for this movie. They are really rather dry and they take a while to get rolling. Most of their discussion involves the technical aspect of the film such as CG animation, effects, and more. They also talk about the look of the film and working with Lego on the designs. The fact that they focus more on the look of the movie rather than the story seems to be revealing.

“Wall of History” – Enhanced Viewing Mode – You can watch the movie and text windows with bits of trivia will occasionally pop up. For those unfamiliar with the Bionicle world, the trivia may help you understand better what’s going on. It gives a fair amount of background info that helps bring you up to speed.

Storyboard To Film Comparison – This is one scene from the movie where they show early storyboards alongside the final product. It’s amazing to see how closely the final product follows the original envisioning of it.

Sneak Peek Into The Next Bionicle Storyline – The producer of the film pops in very briefly to tell you the next film will give more information on the origins of the Bionicles. There’s no footage shown from it.

The Bottom Line:

In the end, this movie only has limited appeal. It’s not for general audiences. I would only recommend this movie for young boys, fans of Lego’s Bionicle, and CG animation aficionados. There’s not much here for anyone else.

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