Bionicle: Mask of Light
|Bionicle: Mask of Light: The Movie|
|Directed by||Terry Shakespeare,
|Produced by||Sue Shakespeare,
|Written by||Bob Thompson,
|Music by||Nathan Furst|
|Edited by||Craig Russo|
|Creative Capers Entertainment
|Distributed by||Miramax Films
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
|Release date(s)||September 16, 2003|
|Running time||70 min.|
Bionicle: Mask of Light (also known as Bionicle: Mask of Light—The Movie) is a 2003 direct-to-video fantasy film based on the Lego toy series Bionicle, produced by Creative Capers Entertainment and released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Miramax Films. It has sold over 40 million copies worldwide since its release.
The movie revolves around the latter half of the 2003 storyline, on the island called Mata Nui, home to six tribes of biomechanical creatures. The spirit protecting the island was put into a deep sleep, and only the Mask of Light, in the hands of two Matoran who are assisted by six Toa, can return it to the Toa of Light, who is predicted to defeat the Makuta.
The direct-to-video sales made Mask of Light one of the top selling DVDs of 2003 in the United States, and has helped the development of three more movies in the franchise. It was praised for its visual effects and sound direction, but thought to be average in its storyline and character development. The movie was followed by the two prequels Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui, Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows and one sequel Bionicle: The Legend Reborn.
The story begins with Turaga Vakama retelling the original BIONICLE legend; long ago, the Great Spirit Mata Nui descended from the heavens to an island paradise, bringing with him the islanders known as the Matoran. As they were without purpose from the start, the Great Spirit united them with three virtues: unity, duty and destiny. In gratitude of these gifts, the Matoran named their island in his honor. Yet their peace and harmony didn't last, as Mata Nui's envious brother, Makuta, betrayed him by casting a spell over the Great Spirit, causing him to fall into a deep slumber. With his brother struck down, Makuta had free rein to spread his evil across the island.
The story then shifts to the fortress village of Ta-Koro, located in a lake of lava, as a Ta-Matoran named Jaller is looking for his Kolhii (a lacrosse-like game) teammate, Takua. He soon finds him inspecting a warning totem next to a lava flow. Just before they leave, Takua picks up the totem, unwittingly setting off a booby trap, and dropping the artifact into the lava, revealing a Kanohi mask that was embedded in the totem. At that moment, a wave of lava begins to rush through the chamber at Takua, who throws the mask to Jaller and tries to use a lavaboard to cross the lava. Just as he is about to be killed, he is saved by Tahu, the Toa of Fire. Takua and Jaller then rush to the Kolhii field, and Jaller puts the mask in his pack. After the match ends (during which Takua tried using a new move he had practiced before the match, with no success), the mask Takua found falls out of Jaller's pack, shining when in contact with Takua, who tilts it towards Jaller. The Turaga reveal that this is the Mask of Light which is to be worn by a legendary Seventh Toa that will defeat the Makuta. The Mask of Light will lead its herald to the Seventh Toa, but Takua, who was thought to be the Herald, is unwilling to admit it so Jaller is mistakenly believed to be so. Unfortunately for Takua, he still has to come along to chronicle Jaller’s quest. Pohatu, the Toa of Stone, leaves to spread word about the Seventh Toa, while Gali, the Toa of Water, departs to ponder the situation, noticing a seventh spirit star in the sky. The two Matoran leave Ta-Koro the next day and follow the mask’s light to the jungle region of Le-Wahi.
Deep beneath Mata Nui, Makuta is fully aware of what is happening above. Speaking to a large statue of a Kanohi Hau, which he refers to as his brother, Mata Nui, he decides to release three of his spawns of shadow, the Rahkshi, to find and destroy the Herald. On the surface, Gali is meditating at Kini-Nui, the Great Temple, when the Rahkshi burst from the center of the temple and attack her. She narrowly escapes by hiding in the river. Realizing the Rahkshi are headed for Ta-Koro, she hurries there to warn the villagers. The Rahkshi burst through the walls of Ta-Koro, using their powers of fragmentation (Panrahk), disintegration (Guurahk), and poison (Lerahk) to eventually destroy the village. Fortunately, all the Matoran escape unharmed. In the fight, Tahu's mask is accidentally damaged by Gali when she tried to get Lerahk off of him, leaving a sickly green scratch. However, he is more concerned about his village's destruction just after he and Gali abandoned the place by lavasurfing.
Meanwhile, Takua and Jaller are traveling through the jungle of Le-Wahi, going where the Mask of Light shows them to go. Attacked by a Graalok ash bear, they are rescued by Lewa, the Toa of Air. He gives them a faster way of traveling, a Gukko bird, which quickly carries them to the frozen region of Ko-Wahi. Upon their arrival, they learn of Ta-Koro's destruction, and Lewa flies to Ta-Wahi to learn more, leaving Takua and Jaller behind. They get caught in a blizzard where they encounter a squad of Bohrok that are frozen, and run into Kopaka, Toa of Ice. Upon arriving at Ko-Koro, they are attacked by the Rahkshi who had already ransacked the village, and escape down the side of a mountain. Kopaka is knocked out in the escape, and Takua tries to lure the Rahkshi away across a lake. Just as the Rahkshi close in, Kopaka awakens and freezes the Rahkshi in the lake. Kopaka then leaves to see to his village and the Matoran leave for the underground region of Onu-Wahi.
Takua gets lost in the Onu-Koro Highway, an abandoned network of tunnels connecting Ko-Wahi and Onu-Wahi. He is surprised by Makuta, who appeared before him in the form of two glowing red eyes, who warns Takua that if he does not give him the mask, Jaller will die. Takua refuses, but panics and leaves Jaller and the mask behind. He arrives in the village of Onu-Koro in time to find Pohatu and Onua, the Toa of Earth, telling the village about the Seventh Toa. However, three more Rahkshi—with the power of fear (Turahk), anger (Kurahk), and hunger (Vorahk)—appear, sent by Makuta in response to Takua's refusal of his good will and quickly incapitate the two Toa. As the Matoran are forced to flee from their village, Takua feels that this was his fault as the Rahkshi are after him for being the true Herald. Tahu, Gali, and Lewa arrive to defend the village, but Tahu is hit by Kurahk’s anger energy, the poison from earlier and the anger completely infected him, causing him to attack Gali. He is stopped when Kopaka arrives and freezes him. Meanwhile, Pohatu and Onua cause a cave-in, and the other Toa are forced to flee the village. Gali, Kopaka, and Lewa later bind Tahu to a rock and free him from his madness.
Takua finds Jaller and after warning him about the second wave of Rahkshi and the fact that the Rahkshi were after the Herald rather than the mask, the two head for Kini Nui, where the mask says the Seventh Toa would be found. However, the six Rahkshi caught up to them. at which point Takua finally admits he is the Herald. The Toa arrive and, united, defeat all the Rahkshi except Turahk. Turahk then tries to kill Takua, only for Jaller to take the blow instead. As the dying Jaller tells Takua how he was "always different", the Chronicler realizes that he wasn't the Herald, but rather the Seventh Toa himself. Takua puts on the Mask of Light and becomes the Toa of Light, renaming himself Takanuva. He destroys Turahk, and then builds a vehicle out of the Rahkshi’s armor, called the Ussanui - powered by the discarded Kraata of the Rahkshi - and flies down to Makuta's lair.
There, Makuta challenges Takanuva to a game of Kohlii (played using a ball made of a substance called protodermis) with the agreement that the Toa of Light would try to awaken Mata Nui if he won or relinquish his mask if he lost. Takanuva prevails, using his special Kolhii move from earlier to knock the Makuta clean through a wall. Makuta, however, rises again and claims he will protect Mata Nui from the Toa of Light - stating that "sleep spares him pain. Awake, he suffers" and this duty is to his Mask of Shadows. When Takanuva tries to rip the mask off of Makuta's face, they fall into a pool of energized protodermis and emerge as Takutanuva. The combined being leads the Matoran, Turaga, and Toa (who had been led down to witness Makuta's defeat by Hahli, a Ga-Matoran and close friend of Jaller), through a gate in the Kanohi mask statue. Takutanuva, who is holding the gate up, resurrects Jaller by transferring part of his life energy into Jaller’s mask. However, this transfer weakens Takutanuva and the door crushes him, with only the Mask of Light remaining. They then proceed to attempt to awaken Mata Nui, reviving Takanuva in the process, and his light makes a hole in the cavern, revealing the long lost city of Metru Nui.
- Jason Michas as Takua/Takanuva, & Takutanuva, the Ta-Matoran Chronicler and the Seventh Toa.
- Andrew Francis as Jaller, the Captain of Ta-Koro's Guard, who is mistakenly designated the Herald of the Seventh Toa.
- Scott McNeil as Tahu Nuva, the headstrong Toa of Fire, Onua Nuva, the wise Toa of Earth, & Graalok the Ash Bear, a Rahi from Le-Wahi.
- Dale Wilson as Lewa Nuva, the light-hearted Toa of Air & Turaga Onewa, leader of the Po-Matoran.
- Kathleen Barr as Gali Nuva, the Toa of Water.
- Lee Tockar as the Makuta (Teridax, though this name is not used in the film), the main antagonist, Takutanuva, & Pewku, Takua's pet Ussal Crab.
- Christopher Gaze as Turaga Vakama, the leader of the Ta-Matoran.
- Lesley Ewen as Turaga Nokama, the leader of the Ga-Matoran.
- Michael Dobson as Kopaka Nuva, the solitary Toa of Ice & Hewkii, a Po-Matoran kohlii player.
- Trevor Devall as Pohatu Nuva, the Toa of Stone.
- Chiara Zanni as Hahli, a Ga-Matoran and a close friend of Jaller's.
- Julian B. Wilson as the Ta-Matoran Guard, & the Rahkshi (vocal effects), the "sons" of the Makuta.
- Doc Harris as Kolhii Announcer.
Miramax and Lego made a partnership in 2002 to develop and distribute three Bionicle movies. The directors Terry Shakespeare and David Molina noted that there were several already existing interpretations of the Bionicle look, including the flash web comic, comic book, and CG commercials, and eventually decided to base it on the CG commercial look. After attending several days of "Bionicle school" in Denmark, they were given a grounding in how they were developed. Several features were redesigned for the movie, including the introduction of a movable mouth to allow for a more human character. Also, the characters such as the Toa Nuva were redesigned, beginning with the creation of a skeleton and muscles. The main change from the original models was the inclusion of hands, which was a necessity if the character performances were to be made realistic. For the design, Shakespeare noted that "The first film had primary colors that were coded to the areas and a younger feel." The voice actors and their performances were chosen so they would not sound like they came from a specific area of the world, instead sound like they came from and belonged in the Bionicle universe.
Two scripts for the Bionicle movie were created, one by writer Alastair Swinnerton (also one of the original Bionicle creators) and one from the other, Henry Gilroy, to see who would write the better script. Due to time constraints, however, the Gilroy script was accepted with some of Alastair's ideas included. He reported that the creator Bob Thompson, who had reportedly had some of the characters in mind for years. "I really made it my duty to stick close by his vision, while bringing my ideas of comical character and big screen action, all the while staying true to the LEGO ideals of construction and community." As part of the world and character development, expressions and exclamations unique to the world were created: a cited example is Jaller saying "You could have been Lava-Bones" when Takua narrowly escapes being killed by a flood of lava. The Lego Company insists they would "never compromise their values for the bottom line." The movie was also an occasion for the expansion of the Bionicle universe by the addition of the Rahkshi and its line of toys.
The film premiered on September 13, 2003, at Legoland in Carlsbad, California, which featured a huge mosaic built of Lego and a special effects show. The DVD was one of the ten best selling premiere DVDs of 2003. Cartoon Network acquired the license to broadcast Mask of Light, airing for the first time on April 17, 2004 for the Saturday night block premiere of Toonami. A preview for Bionicle 2: Legends of Metru Nui was shown at the end of the premiere, which several hours before the movie premiered, the Bionicle website posted a question for the fans to quote Vakama's speech during the sneak peek in order to obtain special content on the website's Kanoka Club page.
Entertainment Weekly gave the first Bionicle movie a "B+" The film was thought to be spectacular with its visual effects and sound mix, but lacking in dynamic characters, and possessing a simple plot, though others thought that thanks to skilled voice acting, the characters were allowed to grow. The assumption that people are already familiar with the story made it difficult to follow for the uninitiated. Some reviewers noted references to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harry Potter and Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings lauded film trilogy (whose final film was released in December later the same year) throughout the story. A video game based on the movie was released on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance receiving below average reviews. There was also a novelization of the film and a line of toys from it.
Bionicle won the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in a DVD Premiere Movie. Composer Nathan Furst was nominated for his second consecutive DVD Exclusive Award for Best Original Score. Mask of Light was also nominated for Best Director, Best Animated Premiere Movie, Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score, and Best Editing.
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