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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Heavy Gear #2: Battle For the Badlands (2002)

"Let's make Dragon stew!!"
- Gunther (Nicolas Guest)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: October 24, 2002

Stars: Greg Ellis, Charles Shaughnessy, Lukas Haas, Clancy Brown
Other Stars: Michael Chiklis, David DeLuise, Sarah Douglas
Director: Vince Edwards, Alan Caldwell, Patrick Carroll

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for pervasive action violence.
Run Time: 01h:39m:00s
Release Date: August 10, 2002
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-A-B+ B

DVD Review

The second volume of Heavy Gear brings viewers back into the battle-ridden world of Terra Nova, where giant combat robots are about the best thing there is. As with the previous volume, most of the disc is concerned with the fights between the Shadow Dragons and the Vanguard, two of the fiercest teams on the Terra Nova surface. In specially arranged Gear tournaments, they sock it to each other using missiles, swords, lasers, giant machine guns, and pretty much anything else that's handy. Here, things begin with a duel on the so-called Towers of Terror, where Gear pilots have to climb giant towers while fighting each other at the same time. When Marcus Rover, our young hero from the first disc, unintentionally makes a mockery of the talent of the Vanguard, he sets the stage for the tournaments to come. The Vanguard (and one member in particular) focus totally on revenge for their embarrassment at the Towers, which leads to serious problems for the Shadow Dragons.

As the Gear tournament makes its way across Terra Nova's worst deserts, the Vanguard decide to sabotage the giant hover train they're all traveling on, and abandon the Dragons to the desert. Since the train also contains the annoying creator of the Gear tournament, he decides to declare the whole thing as part of the games, which means their performance during this act of treachery is actually counting towards their final scores. While the action is fast and fierce, I have no problem admitting that the stories here are weakening. It's a repetitive cycle where the Shadow Dragons win some form of victory against the Vanguard, but then the Vanguard just cheats (again) to catch up. The lack of honorable combat begins to get annoying. While this set the stage for characters on the first disc, here it seems like treading too much on familiar territory, sacrificing the possibility of more interesting stories as well. Why aren't there any other Gear teams on the show? It's implied there's dozens, but we only see the antics of the Vanguard.

Still, that's not to say Battle For the Badlands is not entertaining, it just lacks solid plotlines. It makes up for this, though, in fast-paced action, with plenty to pay attention to. Unfortunately, some of the other characters in the show take a backseat here, which I think is probably a bad decision as it breaks the feeling of team unity the first disc managed to set up. At this point, the characters are more familiar, though, and there's no question that the character of Greco is based on 'Oddball' from Kelly's Heroes. Heavy Gear stays loose and fun, it just lacks the story development we usually see from producer Audu Paden.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1:78:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Widescreened at 1:78:1, the image is near-perfect, although probably not directly from a CG render. Still, it's clean and sharp, delivering precisely what the show deserves. While there is some slight sharpening issues (moire and dot-crawl here and there), they're pretty minor and really have to be looked for to be noticeable.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The primary Dolby 5.1 track is pretty effective, but isn't as explosive as a lot of 5.1 tracks you might be used to. Still, it delivers a very clear and spatial front soundstage, with occasional surround channel material. There's a little bit of low bass here and there, but nothing very noticeable. The on-screen action is complimented by the audio, and the mix makes a nice improvement from the television format.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues
Subtitles/Captions in ENglish, Spanish, French with remote access
0 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, Cowboy Bebop, Metropolis
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by (1)Producer Audu Paden, producer Richard Raynis, writer Mark Hoffmeier, writer Mark Seidenberg, and more (2)Producer Audu Paden, animation director Steven Wendland, associate producer Kevin Gamble, animation , director Will Lau, designer Shawn Frewe
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Conceptual art gallery
Extras Review: As with the previous Heavy Gear volume, there are two incredibly thick commentary tracks here. The filmmaker's commentary features the producers and some members of the writing staff. Producer Audu Paden moderates the whole discussion very well. Pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about the evolution of these episodes is here, and the discussion is simply brimming with anecdotes and information. On the same level is the second 'technical' commentary, which contains contributions from animators, directors, and even a few voice cast members. It's got quite a lot people on it, way more than you might be able to keep track of for the average commentary, but it's worth a listen for anyone who enjoyed the disc. Things are finished with a conceptual gallery of technical drawings and some additional trailers.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

For sci-fi action fans, Heavy Gear's second disc should certainly satisfy. Despite a weak story, the excitement it taut and clever. Check it out.


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