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Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Hydora Campaign

Columbia/Tri-Star // PG // February 19, 2002
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Earl Cressey | posted February 9, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Review:
Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Hydora Campaign

Movie:
Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles is a CGI TV series that debuted in August of 1999. Based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein that inspired the movie, Roughnecks adds more anti-bug campaigns than were featured in the movie, effectively filling in some gaps and adding some character development. Fans of the film will recognize Rico, Flores, Ibanez, Jenkins, and Razak. This DVD contains episodes 6-10 of the show, which is the entire five part Hydora Campaign.

When the transport bug flees Pluto, the SICON forces follow it to Hydora, a world that is 91% water, in the fleeting hopes that the bug homeworld is located there. To their dismay, it isn't, but Alpha Team quickly discovers a new insect – the Kamikaze Rippler. The roughnecks are charged with finding their nest and wiping out the mother and the eggs, as well as locating a heavily guarded and hidden brain bug.

After seeing The Pluto Campaign on DVD, I anxiously awaited the release of more of the series on the DVD format, and was slightly disappointed that Tesca came out before Hydora, which was chronologically next. Thankfully, this has now been corrected. As with the other episodes, I thoroughly enjoyed The Hydora Campaign and look forward to viewing Tophet, which is next in line.

Picture:
Roughnecks is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, as it originally aired on TV. While much of the CGI is exceptional, some of it is a bit jerky, and not all of it is of the same quality. Scenes taking place on the Valley Forge, for example, tend to have less detail and the characters are a bit stiffer. There is also some slight grain throughout the episodes, though it is easily overlooked.

Sound:
Roughnecks is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and Dolby 2.0 Surround in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The surround track is amazing, especially when considering that this was originally a TV show. Throughout the episodes, the front surrounds stay almost constantly active, both with the sounds of war and the series' music. Front to rear surrounds, while somewhat infrequent, are terrific and add immensely to the experience. Dialogue throughout the episodes is crisp and clean, with no distortion that I could detect. Subtitles are also available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

Extras:
The main extras on the disc are the two screen-specific audio commentaries, a filmmaker's commentary and a technical commentary. Much like the commentary on the Tesca DVD, the participants rotate during both.

The filmmaker's commentary is hosted by Audu Paden, who is the only participant that remains for all five episodes. Joining him are: Jeff Kline (co-executive producer), Marsha Griffin (story editor), and Jim Latham (composer) for episode six; Griffin and Vincent Edwards (director) for episode seven; Griffin, David Hartman (director), and Michael Smith (editor) for episode eight; Susan Blu (voice director), Rino Romano (voice of Rico), and Jamie Hanes (voice of Razak) for episode nine; Sam Liu (director) and key designers Ray and Vince for episode ten.

The technical commentary is again hosted by Audu Paden, who is the only participant that remains for all five episodes. Joining him is a wide variety of people involved with the process for animating these five episodes, including the animation directors. Each episode averages four to five participants.

Of the two commentaries, I enjoyed the filmmaker's one the most. The numerous participants are clearly enjoying themselves, and share quite a bit of information. The track starts by recapping some of the important and introductory information from the Tesca commentary. During the course of the commentary, the participants talk about the motivations for choosing arcs over individual episodes, comparisons between the final episodes and the storyboards, the importance of Hydora in the series, the editing process the film went through, changes that were made between the script and the finished episodes, character motivations and development, the process of designing backgrounds, and much more. Like in the Tesca commentary, Paden also lets viewers know where the episodes begin and the numbers.

The technical commentary delves more into how the show was animated. The participants discuss the puppets, sets, designs, and the challenges associated with filming a CG television show.

One of the best things I enjoyed about the Tesca commentary was Romano's participation, and he reappears here, joined by Hanes. On future Roughneck commentaries, I'd love to hear some of the other voice actors join them, perhaps on a separate track.

Also rounding out the disc are: a photo gallery featuring lots of concept and design sketches for the backgrounds, bugs, characters, props, structures, and vehicles that appear in Hydora; filmographies for seven of the voice actors and two of the producers; and trailers for The Pluto Campaign and The Tesca Campaign.

Summary:
For fans of the series, February is a great month, as both Hydora and Tophet arrive on DVD, filling in the missing arcs between the previously released Pluto and Tesca campaigns. This disc is a must-own for anyone who enjoyed the series on TV or got their feet wet with Pluto. With not one, but two great commentary tracks, and a wealth of production designs, The Hydora Campaign is Highly Recommended!

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C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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