Bionicle: Mask of Light

Bionicle: Mask of Light

Just terrible. Apart from looking unimaginably cheap, Bionicle: Mask of Light is clearly made with the ethos of a toy commercial in the sense that every character having their cool moment feels like a strict priority over pacing, plot, and structure.

You can definitely compliment the art direction – the style the characters are modeled in is pretty cool and (unlike the toys that just look like robots) captures the story concept that they are supposed to be partly biological and partly mechanical. But you can only tell the ideas work because the later installments use the design language to a much better effect; here, most actual character designs are actively ugly. The environments, often distractingly bad as well, tend to be wisely covered up by dull fog.

And while the assets are unimpressive, the movie looks even worse in motion. Characters jump and fly around so much that you can convince yourself it was done to save the costs of animating a couple of walk cycles. Action sequences mostly consist of guys shooting beams at each other or the ground; for a good drinking game, take a drink whenever someone or something vocalizes while surrounded by a cloud of particle effects. Some scenes, such as the game near the beginning, are so hard to follow visually that it's impossible to tell if the problem is in the direction, animation, editing, or all of them.

The screenplay, to put it simply, makes no sense on its own and is barely more comprehensible in the context of the allegedly surprisingly deep lore of Bionicle. The quest for the seventh Toa is exposited well enough, but after the twist, the movie just gives up trying to explain its conflicts and stakes – it's impossible to tell what the heroes are trying to accomplish and how and why the antagonist wants to stop them. The final confrontation is full of meaningless lines that apparently just refer to unused story ideas from earlier drafts. If this thing was live action, I would be willing to believe that it suffered from constant script changes and a messy shoot that left major scenes unfilmed and that they also improvised like 50 % of it.

Anyway, don't let nostalgia get you; between its incoherent story, annoying protagonists, and impressively bad visuals, Bionicle: Mask of Light is close to unwatchable. At least the score is good!

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