Before I get into the body of my review, I'd like to once again take an opportunity to sing the praises of DVD. Not just because of the technical benefits of the format, but because DVD has made so many rare and hard-to-find items readily available to the public. Thusly, many viewers have been able to see movies that they'd read about but never viewed, or better yet, discover something that they didn't even know existed. Such was the case for me with ReBoot V4.0.
ReBoot began life as a Saturday morning cartoon which debuted on ABC in 1994. The story takes place in a city called Mainframe, which is located inside of a computer. The citizens of Mainframe (most of whom have clever computer-related names) perform their daily functions, and run for cover whenever the "User" sends a game into the city. I always thought the show was clever and had a passing interest in it. It wasn't until I watched all of Season 3 (which aired on Cartoon Network in the U.S.) in its entirety that I really got into the show. That season became quite dark and contained a surprising amount of drama. But, as the story came to a conclusion, I assumed that this was the end of ReBoot. I had no idea that two movies, "Daemon Rising" and "My Two Bobs" (both 2001) had been made, and that these basically comprise Season 4 of the show. These two films are included on the newly released ReBoot V4.0 DVD from Anchor Bay.
"Daemon Rising" easily picks up the story from Season 3 of the show. Having vanquished their greatest foe, Megabyte, the inhabits of Mainframe are attempting to lead normal lives. This all changes when a super-virus called Daemon (voiced by Colombe Demers) attempts to access the city. Bob (AKA Glitch-Bob, as he merged with his code key, Glitch) (voiced by Ian Corlett), the Guardian of Mainframe, leads the battle to protect the city, where he is aided by the gun-wielding Matrix (voiced by Paul Dobson) and AndrAIa (voiced by Sharon Alexander). Meanwhile, back in the principal office, Dot Matrix (voiced by Kathleen Barr), the de facto leader of Mainframe, is attempting to deal with two major surprises; First, her father, Welman Matrix (voiced by Dale Wilson), who was assumed to be dead, has returned in the form of a slug-like null creature, and the formerly evil virus Hexadecimal (voiced by Shirley Millner), who had been banished from Mainframe, arrives in the city with a new, helpful personality. All of these elements will come into play as Bob and Dot must find a way to stop Daemon and to save those who have already been infected.
(MILD SPOILER WARNING: Discussion of "My Two Bobs" will give away the ending of "Daemon Rising". But, the title "My Two Bobs" should have already revealed the plot-line to you.) These events lead directly into "My Two Bobs". "Daemon Rising" ends with a second Bob (voiced by Michael Benyaer) arriving in Mainframe just as Dot is confessing her love to Glitch-Bob. This new Bob looks like the Bob that Dot new before Bob was forced to merge with Glitch (got all of that?) Now, Dot is very confused. Is one Bob the real thing and the other simply a copy? How can she choose between them? One looks like the Bob that she originally fell in love with, while the other is someone who she has fought along-side for quite some time. As Dot makes her decision, a dark secret will be revealed which will place all of Mainframe in jeopardy.
These two films offer 3 hours of programming and thus, can be viewed as a 10-episode mini-season of ReBoot. And it's not just movie's length that constitutes this claim, as they both offer a level of action and drama which very nearly parallels Season 3. No matter how you slice it, "Daemon Rising" and "My Two Bobs" contain all of the elements which makes ReBoot so enjoyable. All of the old familiar characters are here, even if some of them, such as Hexadecimal, have gone through some changes. And we get new characters, like Daemon and Welman Matrix. And, as usual, there are plenty of computer in-jokes, which you don't have to be a computer expert to understand. (You're fine as long as you get the joke that everyone's name is linked to computer science, save for Bob, the main character.) The games, which are often good for a laugh, don't disappoint here, although the Austin Powers reference now feels a bit dated. The animation from Mainframe Entertainment (known for other projects such as The New Animated Spider-Man series, the recent "Barbie" CGI movies and Transformers: Beast Wars) is top-notch and shows a tremendous amount of detail. Granted, it isn't Pixar quality, but given the resources involved in this show, ReBoot: V4 looks very good.
But, the heart of ReBoot: V4 is the story. The two movies pack in more drama and characters than the average soap-opera, and they rarely slow down to take a breath. The stories show a nice balance between the action, comedy, and drama, and the viewer can't help but get sucked into the story. However, all is not perfect in Mainframe. "Daemon Rising" hits the ground running and assumes that the viewer has seen Season 3 of the show and knows exactly what is going on -- there is very little in the way of backstory. Also, there are some odd gaps in the narrative in "Daemon Rising" and when the show returns from a fade-out which would signal a commercial break, the action has often moved to a new location and/or introduced a new series of events which the viewer knows nothing about. Strangely, these leaps don't occur in "My Two Bobs". (The two movies were directed by two different people.) Despite these trivial complaints, ReBoot: V4 is still very good and will delight fans of the original series.
ReBoot: V4 downloads onto DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. This DVD is a flipper with "Daemon Rising" on one side and "My Two Bobs" on the other. The films have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. OK kids, get ready for another demo disc, as the transfer on this DVD looks very good. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain or any sort of film element defects. (I'm not sure if this was a digital-to-digital transfer.) The image has an incredible amount of depth and the CGI animation takes on a nearly 3-D quality. The colors are outstanding, as ReBoot mixes pastels with darker, richer tones. There is no bleeding of these hues and the darker colors look very true. I did notice some fleeting edge enhancement problems, but these won't distract most viewers. I wish that all of the episodes of ReBoot could be re-mastered to look like this!
Both "Daemon Rising" and "My Two Bobs" carry a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. These tracks provide clear dialogue, music, and sound effects with no indication of hissing or distortion. The stereo effects are quite good (there is always something flying from one side of the screen to the other) and the surround effects are equally fine, as the battle scenes seem to envelope the viewer. The track provide a nice, deep LFE response, which adds a nice touch to the action sequences. All-in-all, this DVD has a very nice audio/video package.
The only extra on this DVD is a Character Gallery, which contains text bios for the major character in both movies. This Gallery appears on both sides of the DVD.
ReBoot: V4 was a very welcome sight to this viewer, and it was great to re-visit Mainframe and all of the familiar characters from the show. My greatest complaint is that "My Two Bobs" ends with a cliffhanger! When asked if there would be anymore sequels, Mainframe Entertainment responded, "...it was ended with a cliff hanger so that the viewer could let their own imagination run wild." Oh well, here's to hoping that we'll see Dot and Bob again very soon.