Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy Review
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In its own odd way, Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy works as a condensed history lesson for the long-running web series and the growing studio behind it. Rooster Teeth started as a couple of guys using a process called machinima and a bunch of linked Xboxes playing Halo:Combat Evolved to create a loosely-animated parody of the popular gaming franchise. Now they’re a major player in online entertainment, with several animated and live-action series and even a feature film to show for all the work. Red vs. Blue remains their flagship series, and The Chorus Trilogy collects seasons 11-13 as a complete story arc that shows how far both the lovably moronic characters and their clearly more intelligent creators have come.

After seasons 9-10 flashed back to the origins of the deadly Freelancer mercenaries, the mixed schlubs of the Red and Blue squads have finally escaped the backwater planet where they served as cannon fodder for Freelancer battle simulations. Unsurprisingly, they don’t make it very far, crash-landing on the planet Chorus only to end up caught in a planet-wide civil war and manipulated by a pair of deadly secret agents. From there, it’s a wild ride that includes a number of call-backs to previous eras and a chance to set the stage for whatever’s coming next.

  
 
The history aspect appears both in the plot and in the creative team’s approach to each season. Season 11 goes back to the series' roots in the first five seasons, largely eschewing big battle sequences in favor of letting the characters just hang out and get on each other’s nerves. If it goes on a little too long, that’s forgivable, considering how sharply defined the characters have become over the years. A big part of the show’s longevity is how much fun it is to hang out with these guys as they rip on each other.

Season 12 follows the tonal shift of seasons 6-8, as the Reds and Blues get drawn into the larger conflict on Chorus. The jokes are still plentiful, but there’s a greater sense of both danger and mystery as the teams get mixed up and split onto both sides of the civil war. The animation gets a little crisper as the machinima begins to give way to fully animated sequences and more action.

Season 13 leans into that shift and hits the accelerator hard. Evoking the slick choreography of the Freelancer seasons, Rooster Teeth throws considerably more resources at the trilogy’s final leg, using a variety of animation techniques, including motion capture, to amp up the action. The result is a more fully realized series that’s transitioned from jokey send-up to full-on sci-fi epic.

If this is your first trip into RvB, I do suggest seeking out at least some of the preceding seasons online. While The Chorus Trilogy does mostly stand on its own, there’s an awful lot of the past creeping up into its present. For longtime fans and even some of those who’ve drifted away in the 13 years since the series debut, it’s a great way to get caught up with the best-worst space marines on this side of the web—as well as the lunatic crew that keeps them coming back.


Blu-ray Review:
With three seasons to draw from, you’d expect a fair amount of extras and bonus content, and The Chorus Trilogy carries a whopping near-12 hours’ worth. The majority focuses on behind-the-scenes material, along with plenty of outtakes and “PSAs” cut by the voice talent. While the approach is more breadth than depth, it’s still a satisfying look into a growing media form.

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