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BABYLON 5: THE MOVIE COLLECTION

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As a fan of BABYLON 5, I am delighted that the entire five-year series has found its way to DVD. Despite having been envisioned as a five-year story arc by series creator J. Michael Stracznski, the BABYLON 5 universe managed to expand outside the confines of a weekly series to offer a few self contained television movies featuring the same characters, which added embellishments to the series mythos. BABYLON 5: THE MOVIE COLLECTION ($60) comes to DVD in a five disc set that features the following five BABYLON 5 television movies: THE GATHERING, IN THE BEGINNING, THIRDSPACE, THE RIVER OF SOULS and A CALL TO ARMS.

THE GATHERING was the BABYLON 5 pilot movie that successfully launched the series into its five year run. As a pilot movie, THE GATHERING is a bit exposition heavy as it has to introduce the viewer to the characters and situations of the BABYLON 5 universe, but it is still highly entertaining nonetheless. THE GATHERING is set in the year 2257, deep in neutral space, on board space station Babylon 5, which was designed to promote a peaceful coexistence between numerous worlds. Unfortunately, the arrival of the ambassador from a mysterious race of aliens known as the Vorlons is marked by an assassination attempt that threatens to destroy Babylon 5 and its mission of peace. IN THE BEGINNING is a prequel to the events of the BABYLON 5 television series, which chronicles the dire situations and war that actually lead to the creation of the Babylon 5 station.

THIRDSPACE marks the discovery of a huge ancient artifact in hyperspace that predates most known civilizations. However, when the artifact is brought back to Babylon 5 for further study, it begins to have a bizarre effect on the inhabitants of the station and it may hold the key to a deadly secret that exists beyond hyperspace. THE RIVER OF SOULS features an appearance from a race of aliens known as soul hunters, who preserve the souls of important individuals, and sometimes, entire races at the moment of death. However, the mission of the soul hunters is called into question, when a globe containing an entire extinct race ends up on Babylon 5, seeking vengeance on those that imprisoned them for all eternity. A CALL TO ARMS sets up the situations for CRUSADE, the short-lived television series that was a sequel to BABYLON 5. Taking place well after the Shadow War has ended, a race that once served the Shadows plans on exacting revenge on those who drove their masters away.

Warner Home Video has made BABYLON 5: THE MOVIE COLLECTION available on DVD in their appropriate aspect ratios; THE GATHERING is formatted for 4:3 full screen, while the remaining four films are formatted for a 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation. THE GATHERING looks quite similar to its previous DVD release, the image is solid and highly watchable, but there is some softness and other inconsistencies owing to the production techniques used to complete the special effects. As for the other four films, they are similar in quality to the look of the episodes contained on BABYLON 5 season sets. Unprocessed film sequences are pretty sharp and nicely defined, but all special effects shots appear somewhat soft as they were digitally reformatted from the 4:3 masters. Colors are generally good across the board, but again, unprocessed film sequences fair best. Blacks appear accurate, whites are solid and contrast is good for television caliber productions. There is some noticeable film grain and blemishes here and there, but nothing too objectionable. With each film coming on its own disc, digital compression artifacts are never a concern.

All of the films that comprise the BABYLON 5: THE MOVIE COLLECTION have been upgraded to a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. As with the television series sets, the remixed soundtracks would appear to be derived from the pre-matrixed surround elements, and therefore, the tracks pretty much maintain the character of the original television broadcasts. Still, the tracks do sound quite good for television productions. However, it should come as no surprise that the sound mixes do tend to favor the forward soundstage, with the surround channels being utilized for ambient sounds and musical fill, as well as a few active effects. Fidelity is generally quite good for a television level production, with the music producing a strong presence and sound effects coming across in a convincing manner. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and is always completely understandable. The bass channel is solid and effective for a television production. No other language tracks are provided for the episodes, although subtitles are offered in English, French and Spanish.

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Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. Each film features an introduction by series creator J. Michael Stracznski, as well as select members of the cast and crew. Additionally, each film also features running audio commentaries with Stracznski, plus various cast and crewmembers relevant to that particular film.

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Being a long time fan, I am glad that the BABYLON 5: THE MOVIE COLLECTION has arrived on DVD to supplement the release of the television series. Warner has done their usual good job with the collection, offering solid presentations, in addition to a few extras that please fans. If you are a devotee of the universe created by J. Michael Stracznski, you’ll want to add the BABYLON 5: THE MOVIE COLLECTION to your personal library. Recommended.

 

BABYLON 5: THE MOVIE COLLECTION 


Babylon 5 - The Movie Collection

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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