Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles Volume 6
Continuing the reviews of Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, an animated series made for television and based on the live action movie version of 60's sci-fi best-selling book, Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein. While it's not directly translated from the movie version, you'll recognise some familiar scenes throughout and you can check out our review of the movie version here as well as reviews of the other campaigns in the series…
Continuing the reviews of Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, an animated series made for television and based on the live action movie version of 60's sci-fi best-selling book, Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein. While it's not directly translated from the movie version, you'll recognise some familiar scenes throughout...
The series follows Razak's Roughnecks, a Mobile Infantry platoon that's always in the front line of the action. In particular, it follows a group of four ex-schoolmates as they progress from rookies with romantic visions of travel and adventure into battle-hardened soldiers.
The series was broken down into groups of five episodes, each roughly 20 minutes long, and based on a single planetary campaign. What we get on each DVD is a composite of the five episodes that form each campaign. Even though this DVD is labelled as Volume Six, it is actually the seventh campaign and comprises episodes 32 and 34 to 37…
Volume Six - The Homefront Campaign
The Bugs have been defeated on their homeworld of Klendathu and. as far as S.I.C.O.N. is concerned, the war is over. The Mobile Infantry has returned to Earth for some well earned R&R and everything looks just peachy for our heroes...or is it?
As I've said before, there are no episode breaks on the DVD but here's a brief plot breakdown of each…
Episode 32 - Among Us
After the victory on Klendathu and the assumption that the Bug Queen has been terminated, the team are back on Earth. Everyone except Carl thinks the war is over but he's adamant that the Bugs are on Earth and before the team is deployed offworld on a routine repair mission, he convinces Lt. Razak to make a small detour to check out some unusual subterranean heat signatures in the small North Dakota town of Little Butte. Initial surveys show nothing out of the ordinary but the soon begin to notice that the townfolk are behaving a bit oddly, even for small town Americans and it's not long before the Roughnecks are in a fire fight with guess what? The Bug war has come home!
Episode 34 - Hide N'Seek
The Bugs are indeed on Earth and the war is back on. Buenos Aires has been almost destroyed by a devastating surprise attack and they're fighting street by street to try and retake it but it's not going well. Intel has discovered a massive Bug colony just north of the city and it's getting bigger as the Bugs mobilize for a major assault. All attempts to destroy it with air strikes have failed due to massive Plama Bug defences. So the Roughnecks get to go in on a covert ground mission to take out the Plasma Bugs so an air strike can succeed. During all this Dizzy is becoming more and more at odds with Rico attentions and when he tells her he loves her she reminds him of his rank, citing inappropriate behavior.
Episode 35 - Requiem
Seven months after the bugs invaded Earth, the entire planet is basically a battlefield. Intel have discovered that the Bugs are intending to take over San Francisco. There's a network of bug tunnels under the entire bay area and S.I.C.O.N intend to take them out with a massive nuclear strike, regardless of civilian losses. Lts. Razak and Walker have an alternative plan to blow the tunnels simultaneously with toxic charges and wipe out any Bugs that surface to escape the poison - but they only have 12 hours to do it or the city and it's inhabitants will destroyed by their own side. Unfortunately for the team, Lt. Razak is killed by a Water Tiger and the Roughnecks are left defeated and leaderless.
Episode 36 - Funeral For A Friend
With the loss of Lt. Razak, the Mobile Infantry plan to disband the Roughnecks and Carl has already been reassigned. The rest of the team, still deveasted by their loss and, before being broken up themselves, plan to bury Razak according to his wishes. So as a final mission, they head off into the Colorado mountains to spread his ashes over Luna Lake at sunrise. On the way, they're joined by the now disabled Sgt. Brutto and General Redwing, an old friend of Razak since their basic training days. However, even here they can't escape the war and it's soon obvious that the area is infested with Bugs. When the General and Higgins are taken prisoner, the team must rescue the General before she is interrogated by a Brain Bug knowing that, if they fail, then they'll have to kill her.
Episode 37 - Spirits Of The Departed
After their success in rescuing the General, the team are kept together with Rico promoted to the new Lt. While on route to S.I.C.O.N HQ in Honolulu, they are joined by Sgt. Zim, their old drill instructor, and Sgt. Brutto's son Max, who have been assigned to the team. The Roughnecks are posted as an advance guard on a small island to the north and it's not long before they spot a massive Bug force heading for Honolulu. While they try to send a message to HQ, the Bugs try to overrun the island and stop them. Meanwhile, Max has some issues with T'Phai and Rico has doubts about his leadership abilities, especially now that Zim is in the team. Against such a huge force, their only recourse is to destroy the facility and take out as many as they can. However, the war is far from over…
I've mentioned the DVD and TV sequence disparity before and this one is no exception. It skips over the Zephyr Campaign completely because, at the time of this DVDs release, that one was still on the shelf. However, Volume 7 - The Zephyr Campaign, which contains information about how Zander is transformed into a Bug, has been released on Region 1 DVD so here's hoping it gets to Region 2 soon (or I'll have to buy a mismatched NTSC version). Also, Region 1 is getting the missing Episode 31 - Trackers as well and I believe it's coming with some more episodes as well. As for the missing Episode 33 - Homefront, it was never made as the producers felt that, given that it was set almost entirely in Buenos Aires, the costs of animating it would be way too high.
Anyway on with the review - as before, great visuals and sound effects all round presented in fullscreen mode. As with Volume 5 and the production budget contraints, the sound has been downgraded from 5.1 to three channel surround, except for the Russian track (strangely). If you listen to the commentaries you'll also get the feeling that money was definitely much tighter, which also probably contributed to the length of time it took to get Volumes 5 and 6 released. It'll be interesting to see what picture and sound quality are like on the Zephyr Campaign and Trackers DVDs.
This particular campaign, as the seventh in the series, is pretty good, although maybe not up the quality of Volume 5 as there not much in the way of new Bugs. Again, there's loads of action and simply hordes of Bugs, especially the airborne Kamikaze Ripplers. There's also the added dimension of Rico and Dizzy's relationship and of course, the loss of Lt. Razak.
Foundation Imaging again producing the goods with motion capture and CG animation - great detail and great light and shading effects, especially in the Hide N'Seek episode where the team are hiding under camoflage netting. The one thing I didn't like was the grass - very sparse and constantly windswept and not realistic at all.
Again, slightly fewer extras on this DVD, by which I mean no picture gallery or trailers, so no great loss.
Filmmakers' Commentary - Producer Audu Paden talks with co-executive producer Jeff Kline and story editor Marsha Griffin. These are joined by various other participants, such as directors, writers and actors, throughout the episodes. They also talk about episode 31, which covers the space battle following the Bug Queen to Earth, and the the never made episode 33, which covers the loss of Dizzy and Rico's home town of Buenos Aires.
Technical Commentary - Director and producer Audu Paden gets together with animation director Kevin Kipper and some of animators and technical staff from Foundation Imaging. If you like to know about the detail involved in creating an animated film, then you'll find this pretty interesting.
Filmographies - of some of the cast and crew. Exactly the same as that presented on several previous volumes.
If you've read the book or seen the movie, then this series is a very good addition to the experience. If you haven't done either, then it's still worth watching as the storylines are very good, the character development is excellent and the quality of the animation is superb. Aside from the repeated extras on some volumes, the two excellent commentaries adds some excellent rewatch value to the package. If you like sci-fi and animation, then you won't get much better than this.
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