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  Directed by
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  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Russian: Dolby Digital Stereo
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    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi, Commentary - English, Commentary - German, Commentary - Italian, Commentary - French, Commentary - Dutch
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • 6 Photo gallery - 69 pics
  • 9 Filmographies

Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles - Hydora Campaign

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 97 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

As with another review for this series, The Tesca Campaign, this ‘film’ is actually made up of five substories within an ‘arc’ of episodes on a single planet. Again we follow the exploits of characters we recognise from the first film (most definitely not from the second). Johnny Rico and Isadore ‘Dizzy’ Flores of Buenos Aires are members of the Mobile Infantry in the war against the Bug Menace. And basically, that’s it. Cue fighting.

As Tesca is episodes 16 through 20, Hydora is episodes six through ten. Jenkins, the nervy psychic, is still with the Roughnecks at this stage, as he disappears into the ‘Skinny’ camp sometime during the next arc of episodes 11 through 15. The show is visually just the same as the previous shows described in my Tesca review. There are shortcuts and liberties taken with the animation, yet some part of me is compelled to keep watching the show. Perhaps it’s that the scripting, while not brilliant, has managed to create characters that are diverse and interesting. Or perhaps it’s just the little boy inside me, wide smile on his face, getting into the mountains of killing and bug corpses.

I remember being a kid. Insects were the first indication that a kid did actually have some Power. The Power of Life and Death. Be it by magnifying glass or stomping an ant’s nest or just picking the wings of flies, it was all fun. Like a crazed God waving a gun over his Creation and doing some good old-fashioned Smiting. So maybe that’s part of the appeal of this show. It’s squarely aimed at boys; I can’t imagine many little girls being thrilled by this gung-ho American bullshit, but this is the 21st century so maybe that’s changed.

At any rate, cheap arse rush job animation aside, this is still a pure action series doing exactly what G.I. Joe, The Transformers and countless other series for boys have done for years: Expending testosterone in lethal doses.

Together, the episodes run simply like this (and each take roughly 19 or 20 minutes):

  • Episode Six: The unit sets down on Hydora to check out a new kind of Transport Bug taking bugs toward Earth. It manages to get away, but the Roughnecks must stay on to fight the bugs already on this water planet.
  • Episode Seven: Rico’s unrequited love Captain Ibanez helps the Wounded from several skirmishes and ends up fighting alongside the Roughnecks, much to Dizzy’s chagrin and Rico’s delight.
  • Episode Eight: Brutto and Rico lead a small party to find a nest of a new kind of Kamikaze Rippler bug through an increasing stronghold of bugs protecting the Ripplers.
  • Episode Nine: After two veteran units disappear, the Roughnecks must try to find out what happened. When Dizzy soon disappears along with many others of the Unit, finding the missing soldiers becomes all the more urgent.
  • Episode Ten: The unit is captured by the enemy and psychic Jenkins realises he knows how to save them, but he’s off planet on the Valley Forge working on something related and can’t get to the planet to help.

If the kids liked the TV show, this stuff is more of the same, but for an adult animator looking at the lesser production values of the animation in this series, it is a little difficult to ignore.

  Video
Contract

The video quality is much the same as the other reviewed release, with a very clear picture devoid of artefacts. Created solely in the computer it would be distressing to see film artefacts here, to say the least. Delivered in 4:3, oddly for a recent animation, the colour and stuff is fine and even, though again there is lighting inside characters mouths to increase the visibility of lip synching. This just looks unnatural however, as does the intricate exaggeration of every single mouth movement associated with lip synch (generally speaking, there are seven mouth positions for the alphabet and most phonetics). People don’t speak in such a method and animation doesn’t need it. That being said, there is a school of thought that states if the animators don’t do each and every lip position for words, they will get labeled lazy. So go figure. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but personally I think it looks more impressive when the lip synch looks natural, rather than intricately eloquent (particularly from a bunch of dirty soldiers in a war on a foreign planet).

  Audio
Contract

We are treated to some fine use of the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround channel mix here with plenty of nice underwater themes and the obligatory surround explosions and gunfire. This presentation is much better than the previously reviewed Tesca campaign, thankfully, with all balances being fairly even and clear. The subwoofer keeps up nicely, supporting the surrounding booms in able fashion as well. Dialogue, while a little bit chock full of schoolboy action lines (‘Scramble ‘em!’) is nonetheless clear, as most animation dialogue is, regardless of the lip synch issue.

The musical score by Jim Latham and Wayne Boon is again a series of re-useable riffs that get pieced in where appropriate and they sound exactly as one would expect from this sort of thing.

  Extras
Contract

Another mixed bag of treats here for after the show with the first being the filmmaker’s commentary. Producer Audu Paden, executive producer Jeff Kline, writer Marcia Griffin and scorer Jim Latham all lend their vox here, although a lot of this is rehashed info similar to the Tesca commentary (and what I imagine is on the middle release). There is some newer and interesting deeper history of the series and its production, creation and storylines though which makes it worth the listen. It’s also a bunch of people who know each other pretty well and they’re having fun, which can make an audio commentary and does so here.

The technical commentary is an assorted bag of people I won’t list who come in periodically to discuss the various bits and pieces of what they worked on. Animators, modelers and background people all swing by and while there are a few interesting bits, this one is far and away less interesting than the other commentary. Too many in-jokes, too much mathematical jargon and the animators have no formal training in animation, they just know how to use the programs, which is why the animation of this series is mostly shithouse. The ability to truly animate is generally learned and practiced, not God-given and the sooner these computer animated productions realise this, the better it will be for everyone. The amateur status of the animators here is more than evident.

A photo gallery holding 69 images of model sheets and concept art under various subheadings follows along with nine cast and crew filmographies. Finally, a trailer for Roughnecks: The Tesca Campaign closes off the extras for 1:48 in 2.0.

  Overall  
Contract

If this series is appealing to your little guys, then this one will be just as well received. With the techie commentaries I wonder if they’re trying to appeal to adults, though the nature of the writing of the series wouldn’t really lend itself to that audience, in my opinion.

The extras don’t really add much weight, so this is a select audience who are gonna soak this up. The series, while slightly less than average animationally speaking, will appeal to the young fellas you know and is a good hour and a half of pure bug massacre. And you gotta love that.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=4166
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      And I quote...
    "More off-world antics from the bug-destroying units of the Mobile Infantry. With crap animation."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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