Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Broken Saints is a slow building science fiction animated comic based on internet flash episodes that basically deal with all of life's biggest questions through the various characters it introduces. This is sort of vague, I know, but the thing is massive, and no 'plot summary' could do it justice.
Is it good movie?
When this boxed-set bad boy hit my mailbox a few days ago, I was hoping that it'd be as special as it looked. The packaging is beautiful and unique, and promises something original. In fact, beautiful and unique are two excellent words to describe the Broken Saints series.
It began years ago on the internet in Flash episodes, and that is in fact what these are, some of them have been redone, and all of them have been given simply pristine dvd treatment, but the fact remains, they were designed in flash and originally broadcast on the internet for a hungry fanbase. Also, voice tracks were added for the first time, and for the most part, really seem to sync up well with the comic's text balloons.
Don't get me wrong here folks, Broken Saints isn't a movie. Nor is it a static comic book, but more of a mix between the two, as the project's founder calls it, it's "cinematic literature", and definetely takes some getting used to. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed as the story took so long to finally build itself into a climax, but let me tell you this: it is worth it.
The story of Broken Saints is rather convoluted and drawn out. The four disc set spans over 700 minutes, that's almost TWELVE hours! It's constructed rather well though: the first disc introduces the characters to us, and shows their 'raison d'etre', and the second disc begins bringing them together while showing off some of their backstory. Disc three continues the story along, and disc four absolutely caps things off with the awesome conclusion, and some of the longest chapters in the 'comic'.
Watching this was a real experience. There's nothing else like it. The art is so unique and at times, jaw-dropping in its awesomeness. It's a technical marvel. The sounds and voices don't quite match up to the visuals, but this is completely forgiveable. These chapters look absolutely marvelous on the screen. On top of this, this set will make you think. It's heavy on philosophy and introspection, it'll scare the crap out of you and may even move you to tears.
I could write tons about Broken Saints, the story alone, but there's so much more to this set guys. Read on.
Video / Audio
We are treated to a flawless presentation of Broken Saints in 1.66:1 widescreen. So, so nice.
We get a fantastic 5.1 dolby theater sound presentation which is also simply perfect.
So. Much. Information.
Want to tweak this bad boy so it sounds perfect on your system? Go ahead, this set's got a neat AV optimizer.
Each disc has one episode which gets an Audio Commentary with creators Brooke Burgess, Andrew West, and Ian Kirby, the most knowledgable subjects on this stuff, and they're quite good, although sometimes they can tend to have the long pauses with 'ooh, watch this part' problem going for them.
Next, we get a Production Featurette which goes in-depth for about twenty minutes on how this one was put together. More good stuff.
The first disc also has some trailers for the Prophecy, The corporation, the Da Vinci Code Decoded, a Broken Saints online trailer, a Broken Saints Game trailer (ooh!), a Features Trailer for the extras on the DVD (I can see why), and the 'Flash Forward' trailer for Broken Saints.
Want to know how the audio is composed and how voices get laid down? don't worry, the Voice-Over and Audio featurette's got you covered. It runs over 20 minutes, and shows that lots of work has clearly gone into the production of this work of love.
We also get to see the Broken Saints Benefit Concerts Collection. As BS was based on an internet comic, they hit a hard spot and wanted to see the show released on DVD, and as such held a few concerts to raise funds and keep their dream alive. This is contained in over an hour of footage and shows many of the show's creators playing a few tunes and the fans who love BS. What an extra, even if it runs over an hour long!
We get animated video credits too, highlighting Production, Background, Voices and Music.
You'd think that would be enough, but we also get more on Disc 2.
We get a phony Biocom Website. When you watch BS, you'll know what this is. Neat.
Also presented is Brooke Burgess' Walker Lecture, where you basically find out everything you need to know about this guy in a half an hour. Really interesting stuff, but that half hour runtime sort of stretches things. Make sure you watch the Q&A at the end of this though, it's pretty interesting.
In the Buzz secion of the DVD, where we get press bits of media coverage of the show from Canada Now, CBC Vancouver, My City Radio and a press Slideshow that shows printed articles. These guys clearly left no stone unturned.
Disc 3 features something called a Tarot Tree, which essentially shows each character as a tarot card, which I thought was really neat, and when you see the episode that inspires it, you'll think so too.
Broken Saints, as you may guess, has fans. These fans have a showcase here on Disc 3 and features 7 fan film creations, from Lego, to Flash, to live Action films, ranging from the hilarious to the atrocious. A fan art slideshow rounds out this section.
Disc 4, the last disc, also has end comments for the final chapter of this series, which runs about 4 minutes, besides the commentary.
Another Broken Saints documentary follows here, and still manages to pack in even more information that you thought was possible. Yes, this too is worth checking out.
The Sundance Featurette chronicles the project's creators as they journey to and from the Sundance Film festival, and is played mostly lightheartedly and for laughs. Doesn't add much, but is pretty fun to watch.
If you stick Disc 3 in your DVD-Rom, you'll get the first 12 Chapters in rough, flash form, wallpapers, MP3s, what else do you want?
I am absolutely wiped after watching all of this stuff. There's nothing more to say really, I think that Broken Saints is a fantastic and original labor of love that really deserved to get good treatment on DVD. The result is hands down, the most feature-packed, well produced DVD i've ever seen. You'll be sick of the series by the time you watch all of the extras, absolutely everything that you could ever want to know about Broken Saints has got to be included on this disc. I wholeheartedly recommend you check this set out, if not for the source material, to see how DVD anthologies should play out.