Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series Tor Helmstein and Ian Kirby

Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series Tor Helmstein and Ian Kirby
Having progressed far beyond documenting player speed trials in games like Doom and Quake, Machinima — a portmanteau of Machine Cinema wherein real-time 3-D videogame engines are used to render computer animation — branches out into mainstream narrative with a minor Terminator tale. Here, we get a back-story on Blair Williams (voiced by Moon Bloodgood), the sassy resistance fighter from Terminator Salvation, as she searches for the source of the increased threat to humanity's defences. In between battles with Aerostats and T-600s, Blair stumbles across Laz Howard (Cam Clarke), a man with the ability to scramble Terminator signals, rendering them temporarily defenceless. While this technology certainly proves handy, it also incapacitates Resistance communications, leaving Blair to wonder if Laz might be in league with the machines. Divided into six episodes, this animated series runs for just over an hour, featuring mostly voiceover and broad arguments, when robots are not running around, blowing things up. There's nothing particularly interesting or engaging about the story, which is unfortunate, as the lifeless game engine animation doesn't add a great deal of humanity to the characters. Watching the series is much like watching someone play a sub-par videogame for an hour, only with more exposition and less active involvement. While this is indeed an interesting experiment, and touches on the technology to come, the tech simply is not evolved enough at this point to make for dynamic viewing. Mouths hang slack during segments with spoken dialogue, while backgrounds and character movement have a choppy, unfinished aesthetic. The creative team clearly took time to establish thoughtful shots and edits within this environment but couldn't compensate for the many other shortcomings. Included with the DVD is a "making of" supplement that gives a background on the style of animation and the team over at Machinima.com. A brief interview with Moon Bloodgood is also included, giving some insights on her character's journey. (Warner)