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Featured DVD Review: Robotech: 2-Movie Collection

July 22nd, 2013

Robotech: 2-Movie Collection: The Shadow Chronicles / Love Live Alive - Buy from Amazon

I previously reviewed the Robotech box set and I loved it. Since that show ended, there have been a number of movies released that were set in the same universe. This week, two of these movies, The Shadow Chronicles / Love Live Alive, are coming out on a two-disc DVD. The Shadow Chronicles has been released before, but this is the collector's edition. Meanwhile, this is the first time Love Live Alive is coming out on DVD. Are the two movies worth checking out for fans of the series? Are they a good introduction for neophytes?

The Shadow Chronicles

The film begins in 2044 at the end of the events of the third Robotech series. After the massive spaceship crashed on Earth, scientists were able to reverse engineer the technology, which allowed humans to explore the stars. However, the spaceship also contained protoculture, a very powerful energy source, and a powerful drug to a least a few species. Aliens invaded Earth to get the protoculture and during the third wave, the Invid succeeded. Now years later, the remaining human forces are preparing to retake their home.

At the beginning of the movie, we meet Marcus Rush (Yuri Lowenthal) and his friend, Alex Romero (Arthur Santiago), as they are out on patrol. Marcus Rush has some family history when it comes to being a fighter. His sister, Marlene (Melanie MacQueen) was a fighter pilot, but she and her fiancee, Scott Bernard (Gregory Snegoff), were both members of the Mars forces that were involved in a failed attempt to repell the Invids a couple of years before. While Marcus and Alex are veritech fighter pilots, they are not the best of the best. Maia Sterling, on the other hand, is one of the best and Marcus has a serious crush on her. However, his first attempts at talking to her go poorly. The plan to destroy the Invid and reclaim Earth involves three points of attack. Firstly, the main attack force is to engage the Invid fleet. At the same time, ground troops are to take out the shields. Then the main attack will wipe out the Invid Hive, thus ending the Invids domination of Earth. If this plan fails, the Earth forces are going to fire Neutron-S missiles at the hive, which will destroy it, but also decimate the remaining human population on Earth. It is a risky attack, but the Earth leaders are hopeful. They've made an ally, the Haydonites, who have given the ships, new weapons and a stealth technology that will make them invisible to Invid radar. However, before the battle even begins, there are problems. Admiral Rick Hunter (Tony Oliver) and the SDF-3 are involved in last minute weapons testing, when there is an accident and Vince Grant (Richard Epcar) takes the Icarus to try and find and rescue Rick Hunter and the SDF-3 while General Reinhardt (Dan Woren) and the rest of the Earth forces attack.

At first, the attack goes well, as the new weapons are able to destroy many of the Invid clam carriers before they can even launch their forces. However, the Invid have much greater numbers. Even more troubling, the ground forces were stymied before they can get to their objective. Even with the help of Scott Bernard, who survived the initial attack and has since led a rebellion on Earth, the ground forces will fail in their mission. Meanwhile, the Invid start to overwhelm the Earth forces in space and Marcus's commanding officer, Commander Taylor, is killed. Things look so bleak that General Reinhardt orders the use of the Neutron-S missiles. However...

At this point we run into major spoilers. Heck, I skipped a few key plot points just to avoid spoilers. Some of these spoilers are actually very confusing for people who are new to Robotech. For instance, the Invid have many stages of development. They start looking like soft-shell crabs, but as they grow they begin was walk upright and in the end, they have a very humanoid appearance. They can even take on a full human look. Without this knowledge, one of the major plot points stretches suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. This does limit the show's appeal somewhat and if you are not familiar with the original series, well, the original American series, you might not get into the movie. I think it is definitely worth the effort. On the other hand, as someone who loved the original show, I loved this one as well. There are good characters in the movie, as well as a huge amount of action. The mixture of computer animation and cell animation is well done. It is not the most original story and some of the twists are not really surprises, but overall it is a very good next chapter in the Robotech saga. On the other hand, it has been released on DVD, and Blu-ray, in the past.

The Extras

The DVD is loaded with extras, starting with an audio commentary track, which is in the setup menu, not the special features menu. The Special Features section is broken down into Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Animatics, Trailers, and Galleries. The last two are pretty standard stuff. Featurettes begin with a 45-minute long making of featurette. Up next is an 8-minute score / music video. Up next is a short look at The Shadow Chronicles at the Anime Expo. There is an interview with Tommy Yune, the co-director. There is also a couple short featurettes that look at the canceled series, Robotech 3000. The animation looks worse than Reboot and Reboot started in 1994. There are nearly seven minutes of deleted / alternative scenes, but three-minutes of outtakes. Outtakes are usually the result of wrong lines being used, or the wrong character saying the line. Finally, there are ten minutes of Animatics. Overall, there's a lot of extras.

Love Live Alive

While this film is brand new, it actually takes place before the events of The Shadow Chronicles and focuses on the Invid war, although it is being told by someone from who was a veteran of the war as told many years later, Lancer Belmont. After a brief explanation of how the war started and why the Invid invaded, we learn how Lance went from fighter pilot to cross-dressing freedom fighter. Many of the remaining human forces sided with the Invids, in order to get preferential treatment. When he crashed and the Invid and the villagers were looking for him, he pretended to be a woman to get away. That doesn't really explain why he continued to be a woman after he got away. We are then introduced to the others he ran with back during the Invid war: Rook, a tough fighter in her own regard; Scott Bernard, one of the members of the ill-fated attack mission from Mars; Jim "Lunk" Austin, a mechanic trying to get away from his military past; Rand; a country boy with a great sense of humor; and Annie, a young girl with more courage than most soldiers.

The film is mostly cut from the 1985 Japanese movie, Genesis Climber Mospeada: Love Live Alive and if you've seen the third season of Robotech, you will have seen most of this. It is a clip show. If you haven't seen any Robotech in a while, it will get you caught up to the events in The Shadow Chronicles, which is a bonus. Plus it does focus a lot more on the emotional and character aspects of the story rather than the action and the combat, so that's a strong point. Finally, it does give Lance Belmont a nice close to his story, which was missing from The Shadow Chronicles. It's worth checking out, but I'm not 100% sold that it is worth the price of the DVD.

The Extras

The only extras are a pre-production gallery and a short teaser trailer.

The Verdict

Robotech: 2-Movie Collection costs just $13, which is a good deal for two movies; it's a great deal for two movies. However, The Shadow Chronicles has been released on Blu-ray in the past, while Love Live Alive is mostly a clip show. This Two-Disc DVD is worth checking out if you haven't seen Robotech in a while, but I think fans will already have The Shadow Chronicles on DVD and / or Blu-ray, or didn't like it when it first came out. Seeing this chapter conclude is worth a rental, but fans will still be waiting for a satisfying next chapter in Robotech.

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Filed under: Video Review, Mark Hamill, Edie Mirman, Cam Clarke